Even so, at least part of Neusner’s heartnremains with Aphrahat’s rabbinic opponentsnand with all Jewish apologistsnengaged in a holding action against annalready triumphant Christianity. Turningnto a coded polemic in order tonexpress themselves against Christiannpersecutions, the rabbis moved towardnan increasingly veiled and esoteric relationshipnto the outside world. Thenclosed hermeneutic was the necessarynprice of Jewish national existence and ofna related Jewish spirituality. But Neusnerndoes not deny the redemptive valuenof Christianity’s open hermeneutic —nor the possibility that Judaism couldnincorporate Hellenic and Christiannmodes of discourse without ceasing tonbe Jewish. The Talmudic experiencenhas been indispensable for Jewish existence,nbut its closed hermeneutic,nNeusner says, has already been complementednby the Jewish absorption ofnWestern ideas.nNeusner, one should mention, is nonprovincial. He has studied or taught atnneariy half the Ivy League schools,nspent time at Oxford and Hebrew University,nand is presently associated withnthe Institute for Advanced Study atnPrinceton. When he laments — as henoften does — the degradation of Americannhigher learning, he is passing criticalnjudgments from Brown, where he onlynrecently retired as a distinguished universitynprofessor. The scion of a sociallynestablished family from West Hartford,nhe speaks of discovering his Judaism asnan already mostly forgotten ancestraln34/CHRONICLESnLIBERAL ARTSnON QUEER THEORY’nmemory. Unlike many other Jewishnintellectuals, Neusner gives no indicationnof suffering from status anxiety.nAlmost instinctively patriotic, he is anconservative Republican, and the proudnfather of an ensign in the U.S. Navy.nAlso, he seems to have friendlier (andncertainly less agonized) relations withnmany Christian thinkers and Christiannwriters — for example, Andrew Creeleyn— than with other Jewish intellectuals.nHis background helps us to see innproper perspective a provocative essaynthat he recently published in The Worldn& I: “Two Faiths Talking About DifferentnThings.” In this piece, Neusnernbegins by declaring that “Judaism andnChristianity are completely differentnreligions, not different versions of onenreligion. . . . The two faiths stand forndifferent people talking about differentnthings to different people.” Althoughnthe earliest Christians were indeed observantnand professing Jews, and althoughnChristianity and Judaism arenboth authentic Hebraic religions,nNeusner chooses to highlight their differences.nHe observes, for example,nthat “Christians saw Israel as a family;nPharisees saw it as a way of life.”nMoreover, “[t]he Christians carriednforward one aspect of Scripture’s doctrinenof Israel and the Pharisees another.”nNeusner piles one contrast onnanother: Judaism’s appeal to a historicncommunity as against Christianity’snconcern with individual salvation; thenChristian reconstruction of the IsraelinThe project of this conference is based on the theoreticalnhypothesis that sexual marginality, in particular homosexuality,nis no longer to be seen either as merely’transgressive orndeviant, according to the older, pathological model, vis-a-vis anproper sexuality (i.e., institutionalized reproductive sexuality).nNor is it just another, optional “lifestyle,” according to thenmodel of contemporary pluralism. In short, it is no longer tonbe seen as marginal with regard to a dominant, stable form ofnsexuality (heterosexuality) against which it would be definednby opposition or similarity (homology). Instead, male andnfemale homosexualities are to be reconceptualized as socialnand cultural forms in their own right, albeit emergent onesnand thus still fuzzily defined, undercoded, or discursivelyndependent on more established forms. . . .n—from the “Queer Theory” Conference Proposal of thenCenter for Cultural Studies, University of Californianat Santa Cruznnncovenant around all mankind undernChrist as opposed to Judaism’s covenantnbased on the continuity of ritualnlife and national cohesion.nThe point that needs to be recallednhere is that Neusner admires bothnJudaism and Christianity. He underlinesntheir differences not for the sakenof invidious comparison, but becausenhe wishes to show that the concept of an”Judeo-Christian religion” remainsnproblematic, though not for the reasonsnoften given in popular Jewishnpublications. What ulrimately stands innthe way of any mutual acceptance of anJudeo-Christian synthesis is neithernpersistent Chrisdan anti-Semitism nornJewish provincialism, nor an imaginednGnostic pollution of Judaism committednby New Testament authors. Neusnernbelieves that Jews and Christiansnfollow parallel but distinct paths tonsalvation, and that their theologicalndistinctness, combined with their theologicalnoverlap, has made their relationshipnuneasy. Neusner’s pluralistic universenhas a place for both religions, butnhe considers it important that the adherentsnof each recognize each other’snhonest differences. Without abandoningnhis own Jewish faith, Neusnernbelieves that Christianity represents andefensible alternative to the Jewish understandingnof Scripture. But he alsoninsists that the Christian view of Scripturenis not the same as the Jewish one.nThus, attempts to cobble together civilnreligions embracing both Judaism andnChristianity are bound to fail, or to endnin dishonesty.nAs a critic of false universalisms andna defender of community, Jacob Neusnerngoes beyond the field of Judaicnstudies, which he has done more thannanyone else to make academically respectable.nHe has become willy-nilly anpart of the intellectual counterrevolutionnalready taking place in Americannuniversities. Against those who usenhigher education to promote secularismnand cultural homogeneity, Neusnerndefends the communally-foundednvision of historic Judaism. Setting outnto define the closed hermeneutic ofnrabbinic Judaism, he has ultimatelynconfirmed the underiying premise ofn19th-century European sociology.nContrary to academic and journalisticnsuperstidon, social studies deal withnsituated peoples and nations, not withnan imaginary global village. <§>n