If one is citing a g'mara in a scholarly article, what is the proper publication information to use, including title, etc.? I can't seem to find reliable examples in either English or Hebrew.

This question extends (and becomes even less clear to me) when it comes to citing m'farshim whose comments appear in the back of the same volume.

The "editor" of the particular volume is almost completely irrelevant, considering how minimally one would alter the standard page, including text, format, notation, etc. Authorship is a bit fishy in terms of accurately pinning down an individual whose naming would truly portray their contribution to the volume in question. But it doesn't seem right or correct to skip all of the (publishing, printing, editing) middlemen and only name the original author because sometimes variation does occur and it could be significant and irresponsible to leave that information out.


2 Answers 2


Let's assume MLA style.

eHow has this:

Lastly, if your source is a sacred text, such as the Bible or Talmud, cite the edition, book, chapter, and verse. This may vary according to each text.

([Edition], [Book]. [Chapter].[Verse])

So treat Talmud like Bible.

Purdue University's writing lab has this:

Citing the Bible

In your first parenthetical citation, you want to make clear which Bible you're using (and underline or italicize the title), as each version varies in its translation, followed by book (do not italicize or underline), chapter and verse. For example: Ezekiel saw "what seemed to be four living creatures," each with faces of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle (New Jerusalem Bible, Ezek. 1.5-10).

If future references employ the same edition of the Bible you’re using, list only the book, chapter, and verse in the parenthetical citation.

I would thus assume your in-line citations would look like this:

The obligation to pay one's taxes is made clear by the Talmudic sage Shmuel (Mechon Mamre Talmud Bavli, Ned. 28a). The later sage Rav Safra was said to exemplify truthfulness (Mak. 24a).

My sense is for sacred texts, you don't list Ravina and Rav Ashi from 1500 years ago as its editors in your Works Cited section; just whatever information about the edition you were using. (See a bit more here.)

  • Thanks! That's all well and good for the text of the g'mara itself, but what if I'm citing - for example - a Ri"f? Or better yet, a Tosefta?
    – WAF
    May 11, 2011 at 3:43
  • @WAF, same thing, no? "Isaac al-Fasi, Halachot, Shab. 10a"; "Tosefta, Sotah 6:4"; and similar (then add a specific edition if needed, such as where there are textual variations).
    – Alex
    May 11, 2011 at 16:16
  • 1
    Tosefta is name of a sacred work, not an edition, hence no italics.
    – Shalom
    May 11, 2011 at 16:37

The format of the citation depends on the house style you’re using (e.g., Chicago or MLA); I’ll address the content of the citation.

Mentioning the particular printing of the Talmud you’re using is only meaningful if you’re quoting the translation or if the edition has a different girsa that you’re specifically referring to. Otherwise, the “edition” is either “Talmud Bavli” or “Talmud Yerushalmi” (or translations, e.g., “Jerusalem Talmud”).

The masechta must be mentioned, of course, in full or in abbreviation as house style demands. Unlike the Books of Tanach, I don’t know if there are “standard” abbreviations for the various masechtos.

The Gemara is cited by folio following the standard Bomburg pagination for Bavli and Vilna for Yerushalmi, e.g., “29a” or “62b”. (Vilna paginiation for Bavli follows Bomburg.)

Mishna (Tosefta is similar) is cited by chapter & mishna, in a format similar to how house style cites Biblical verses, e.g., “Mak. 2:1”. Since there are differences in how the Mishna is divided, you may need to mention the edition used.

Commentaries (not only those printed on the Vilna page like Rashi & Tosafos) should be cited by the page (or mishna) they refer to. E.g., “Mishna Berachos 2:1, Tosafos Yomtov ad loc.” or “Rashi on Mak. 13b”. Again, the format of these citations depends on the house style.

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