such a writing. A systematic writingrnmay allude to or draw upon receivedrntexts, but does not recapitulate them,rnexcept for its own purposes and withinrnits own idiom of thought; it not onlyrndoes not recapitulate texts, it selects andrnorders them, imputes to them a wholerncogency (which their original authorshipsrnhave not expressed in and throughrnthe parts), and expresses through themrnits deepest logic. While the traditionrnis ongoing, the system begins exactlyrnwhere and when it ends. From the Pentateuchrnto the Bavli, Judaic authorshipsrnpresented not stages or chapters in anrnunfolding tradition but closed systems,rneach one of them constituting a statementrnthat followed upon a sustainedrnprocess of rigorous thought and inquiry,rnapplied logic and practical reason.rnI maintain that tradition and systemrncannot share a single throne and that arncrown cannot set on two heads. Diversernstatements of Judaisms constitute notrntraditional but systemic religious documents,rnwith a particular hermeneuticsrnof order and proportion—a reasonedrncontext—to tell us how to read eachrndocument. Because we cannot readrnthese writings in accordance with twornincompatible hermeneutical programs, Irnargue in favor of the philosophical andrnsystemic, rather than the agglutinativernand traditional hermeneutics.rnThe whole, then, works its way outrnthrough exegesis, and the history of anyrnreligious system—that is to say, the historyrnof religion writ small—is the exegesisrnof its exegesis. And the first rule ofrnthe exegesis of systems is the simplest:rnthe system does not recapitulate therncanon; the canon recapitulates the system.rnThe system forms a statement of arnsocial entity, specifying its world viewrnand way of life in such a way that, tornparticipants in the system, the wholernmakes sound sense and is beyond argument.rnSo from the beginning words arernnot of inner and intrinsic affinity, butrn(as Philo would have us say) the Word—rnthe Word awaiting only that labor of expositionrnand articulation that the faithful,rnfor centuries to come, will lavish atrnthe altar of the faith. A religious systemrnpresents a fact not of history butrnof immediacy, of the social present.rnThe phrase “the history of a system”rnis an oxymoron. Systems endure—andrntheir classic texts with them—in thatrneternal present they create. They evokernprecedent; they do not have a history.rnA system relates to context, but existsrnin an enduring moment (which, to bernsure, changes all the time). We capturernthe system in a moment; the worm consumesrnit an hour later. That is the wayrnof mortality, whether for us one by onernor for the works of humanity in society.rn]acob Neusner is DistinguishedrnResearch Professor of Religious Studiesrnat the University of South Florida andrnlife member of Clare Hall, CambridgernUniversity.rnJohn in New Yorkrnby Gloria G. BramernIt will be dark now, down that darkling street,rnas you plow homeward from furtive trysts,rnfree of frailty, toward hearth’s redemption,rnsaying and believing, O, the flesh is weak.rnNow your shirtsleeves brush sooted buildingsrnagainst whose backs she leaned and wept,rnyour heels fill grooves that her feet etched,rnfor all the city’s her body and scent.rnThe path to gray apartments will divide;rnyou’ll knock on someone’s door and anotherrnwill take you inside. Limbs will confusernlike golden chains at a casket’s core.rnThe light her gems reflect tricks the architectrnat the center of his labyrinthine plan.rnThe more you know, the less you feel:rnyou stand alone with your infidelities.rnFrom one woman to another to another woman.rnWife, Mistress, Mother, she’ll reclaim your sinsrnand give them grace. In flight, you’ll see amid limernand granite, sure, climbing towers taller than man,rnconsubstantial with him; but her strong legsrnare the girders of your dreams, your monuments.rnWhat sends you away? O, your flesh is weak,rnand the city’s gifts are seductive and real.rnBeyond the walls of the city of manrnsimmers promise of a cleansing, rising sunrnwhose every gentle shadow blankets every harm,rnforgives trespass on hallowed ground sealed by cement.rnEven as she vanishes before your restlessness,rnshe recalls what you confessed. The imperceptiblernsmiles of pavement cracks check your steps.rnForever stranger, in betrayal loving, always ardent.rn52/CHRONICLESrnrnrn