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Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

A priest, a minister, and a rabbi walk into a bar. The bartender says, "What is this, a joke?"

Complete the joke as you will, the punch line that interests me is already implicit in the first sentence. Priest-minister-rabbi jokes are clichés in early twenty-first-century American culture, and there is nothing especially surprising or funny about the fact that these members of the clergy would walk into a bar together-the punch line comes as that scenario unfolds. Until recently, however, the scenario itself would have been inconceivable, for a host of reasons. This study focuses on one of those reasons: the bar.

Allow me to change the venue of this encounter from a bar to a restaurant so that an imam can join in on the joke. If our religious figures adhered to all of the dietary restrictions found in the classical sources of their respective traditions, their efforts to go out for dinner might prove quite comic. The imam, if a Sunni, would have no difficulty: if he did not want simply to order vegetarian, he could make a case for eating most meat dishes served at this (presumably Christian-operated) restaurant. A Shiʿi, however, might find himself eating an undressed salad at his own table. The rabbi would likely order a salad as well, although for different reasons than his Shiʿi counterpart. The two Christians might be willing to eat everything on the menu so long as the cooks aren't Jewish, yet they, like the Shiʿi, would demand a separate table (perhaps tables?) as well. Under such circumstances, it seems unlikely that these members of diverse religious communities would bother walking into a restaurant together in the first place. At a certain level, that's precisely the point.

An anthropological textbook succinctly expresses the reality we often take for granted: "Probably in every society to offer food (and sometimes drink) is to offer love, affection, and friendship. To accept proffered food is to acknowledge and accept the feelings expressed and to reciprocate them." The acts of sharing and exchanging food thus establish and reinforce a sense of commonality, of community. The converse is true as well: "To fail to offer food in a context in which it is expected culturally is to express anger or hostility. Equally, to reject proffered food is to reject an offer of love or friendship, to express hostility toward the giver."1 Refusal to share or exchange food is a profound expression of the notion that the would-be participants in such interaction are, to a significant degree, different one from the other. Injunctions demanding such evidently hostile behavior toward certain classes of people convey powerfully the message that the divide between Us and Them ought not be bridged. These injunctions, moreover, construct the otherness of those classified as Them so as to more fully articulate the identity of Us.

Through the exploration of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic norms regarding food prepared by religious foreigners and the act of eating with such outsiders, this study illuminates the ways in which ancient and medieval scholars conceptualize the identities of Us and Them, as well as the broader social order which both subsets of humanity populate.2 Regulations governing other people's food relate directly to the border lines demarcating religious communities, and advocates of such regulations embrace the proverb at the core of Robert Frost's "Mending Wall": "Good fences make good neighbors." By examining the classifications of foreigners and of foodstuffs embedded in these regulations, this study reveals several distinct definitions of what constitutes "good fences" and engages the insistent question of Frost's speaker: "Why do they make good neighbors?" In the process, this work also offers a model for the classificatory activity of contemporary academic scholars of religion.

Foreign Food Restrictions and Imagined Identities

Food is not merely a source of vital nutrients. Because of its central role in human life and its practically infinite diversity, food also serves as a powerful medium for the expression and transmission of culture and, more specifically, of communal identity. Indeed, many of the choices individuals make regarding which food to eat and which food to avoid relate to their senses of identity. As Claude Fischler observes, humans are omnivores, biologically speaking, yet every culture classifies certain edible items as unacceptable in a civilized diet. "Human beings mark their membership of a culture or a group by asserting the specificity of what they eat, or more precisely-but it amounts to the same thing-by defining the otherness, the difference of others" who make different choices about what one should eat.3 Indeed, individuals and communities frequently identify themselves, or are caricatured by others, in terms of their dietary practices; among Fischler's examples, the English call the French "Frogs" while the French depict the English as "Roastbeefs." By their implicitly reciprocal nature-They eat food x but We do not-these metonymic characterizations reflect Our perceptions of both Our identity and Theirs. Because these identity markers depend on the existence of a significant difference between the food practices of insiders and outsiders, however, they raise the uncomfortable possibility that the distinction between these groups could collapse: if insiders eat food x, might We become Them?4 Willful abstention from foods associated (accurately or inaccurately) with a particular foreign community expresses the conviction that the distinction between Us and Them must remain intact; this conviction underlies the decision by some Americans who supported the 2003 Iraq War, a war opposed by France, to avoid consuming French wine and to rename the foodstuff commonly called "French fries."

Not all choices about food, however, serve to mark a distinctive communal identity or are understood in terms of that function. A parent telling a young child, "We don't eat worms," is not enculturating the child into a particular community. The statement by that parent, "We don't eat frogs," could convey the same generic message-some foods are unfit for consumption by civilized people-but it could also convey the message, "We are not French." A statement about Our food practices is only a marker of communal identity when accompanied, explicitly or implicitly, by a contrast with Their food practices. (A statement about Their food practices usually implies a contrast with Our own: the English do not characterize the French as "Fish," even though per capita consumption of fish is surely higher in France than that of frogs, because the English eat fish too.)

This caveat to the identity-marking function of food practices also applies to religiously inspired practices of avoiding certain foodstuffs. Although ingredient-based religious food restrictions have certainly marked the identity of their adherents in various times and places, this function is not intrinsic to these laws but depends instead on the difference between insiders and outsiders which these laws may or may not establish. To cite an example from the Hebrew Bible, the statement "We do not eat the meat of pigs" is, on its own, no more a statement of identity than "We do not eat the meat of vultures" or "We do not eat the meat of rock badgers," other animals on the Biblical list of forbidden species.5 The pork taboo only marks its adherents as distinctive within the context of other people who regularly eat pork, and it only constitutes a marker of communal boundaries in the minds of those who contrast one group's refusal to eat pork with another group's willingness to eat it. Ingredient-based food restrictions classify foodstuffs-the meat of some animal species is permitted, but that of pigs and rock badgers, among others, is not-without necessarily classifying people in the process. For that reason, the function of these restrictions as identity markers that distinguish Us from Them is indirect and only latent: it may not be active at any given time nor intended by any given legislator or interpreter.6 Thus, from the perspective of American Jews and Muslims, abstention from pork constitutes a significant marker of identity but abstention from the meat of vultures does not.7

There are, however, two types of religious food restrictions that manifestly and directly contribute to the formation and maintenance of a communal identity because they address not only foodstuffs but also the distinction between Us and Them. Commensality-based regulations prohibit the sharing of meals with certain people-think racially segregated lunch counters or middle school cafeteria cliques-and preparer-based regulations prohibit eating food made by certain people. By regulating food-related interaction across the border separating two groups, commensality-based and preparer-based food restrictions establish and reaffirm the distinct identities of each group while ascribing authority to a particular conception regarding the place of these groups within the broader social order. Some commensality-based and preparer-based restrictions regulate interaction over food with certain classes of co-religionists, prohibiting, for example, shared meals with heretics or consumption of food prepared by those who do not subscribe to sectarian norms. This study focuses on laws regulating the involvement of religious outsiders in preparing or sharing food. These "foreign food restrictions," as I call them for ease of reference, prohibit eating otherwise unproblematic food specifically because of the role played in its preparation or consumption by someone who adheres to a religion other than one's own.8 Discussions of foreign food restrictions reflect the ideas of religious scholars about the systems of classification which these restrictions reinforce, systems that underpin conceptions of communal identity and of the ordered world itself. Food, as Claude Lévi-Strauss famously observed, is not merely good to eat but also "good to think," and foreign food restrictions are especially good for thinking about foreigners and the relationship between Us and Them.9

Social scientists have long recognized the significant role which commensality plays in the classification of interpersonal relationships and, consequently, in the formation of group identity and a sense of the proper social order. In the words of William Robertson Smith, a late nineteenth-century Orientalist, "those who eat and drink together are by this very act tied to one another by a bond of friendship and mutual obligation.... Commensality can be thought of (1) as confirming or even (2) as constituting kinship in a very real sense."10 Claude Grignon, writing over a century later, emphasizes the converse of this observation, namely the significant function that excluding outsiders from shared meals plays in defining the limits of one's group and strengthening the bonds that unite insiders.11 Mary Douglas, in turn, demonstrates the ways in which norms regarding suitable dining partners reflect patterns of social relations and ideas about "different degrees of hierarchy, inclusion and exclusion, boundaries and transactions across the boundaries. Like sex, the taking of food has a social component, as well as a biological one."12 Prohibitions of commensality with foreigners, like the closely related prohibition of engaging in sexual relations with such individuals, constitute fences intended to preserve communal cohesiveness by "walling in" insiders and "walling out" outsiders. The authors of these restrictions focus on the importance of distinguishing between Us and Them and, in many cases, segregating the members of these groups. For that reason, they do not share the concern of Frost's speaker regarding "whom I was like to give offense" by erecting such walls.

Prohibitions against eating food prepared by outsiders not only impede social intercourse with foreigners but also, symbolically, prevent adherents of these restrictions from internalizing "foreign" attributes. Such injunctions reflect the notion that prepared foodstuffs embody the identity of their preparers. Lévi-Strauss distinguishes between the "raw" and the "cooked"; the latter, a reference to foods that have been subjected to "cultural transformation," symbolically embodies culture itself.13 Fischler presents the act of food preparation as a symbolic means of assimilating natural ingredients into human culture before literally incorporating them into the human body. "{hr}'Raw' food is fraught with danger, a 'wildness' that is tamed by culinary treatment. Once marked in this way, it is seen as less dangerous. It can safely take its place on the plate and then in the eater's body."14 "Cooked" food, however, can be fraught with its own form of danger: through preparation by an outsider, food can be seen to take on certain essentially foreign characteristics which the insider would then ingest. Some of the preparer-based foreign food restrictions we will encounter are based solely on the fact that a foreigner participated in the preparation process, while others specifically prohibit food which foreigners have prepared in the context of a religious ritual, such as an idolatrous sacrifice. (Self-respecting participants in such a sacrifice would never call it "idolatrous," but we will not see the world through their eyes in this study.)

Foreign food restrictions based on the foreignness of the preparer differ qualitatively from restrictions based on the idolatrous manner of the food's preparation. The former mark certain food and certain food preparers as Them-We may not eat Their food because They are not Us-but this marker says nothing about the identities of Us and Them beyond the fact that these identities are distinct. The latter, in contrast, convey a specific message about these identities: whereas They worship idols, We worship God alone and therefore abstain from all food associated with idolatry. Foreign food restrictions like the prohibition against consuming food sacrificed to idols not only mark the otherness of foreigners but also define the identity of those others (They are idolaters) and of Ourselves (We are monotheists). Embedded in such a definition is an evaluative judgment: We are superior to Them because We possess a positive attribute which They lack or because They possess a negative attribute from which We are free. Restrictions that convey content about the identity of others and thus ascribe different value to different groups can also be used to classify foreigners in greater detail: We, as monotheists, may not eat group A's food because They are idolaters, but We may eat group B's food, even though They are not Us, because They, like Us, do not worship idols. In this format, foreign food restrictions not only define but also relativize the otherness of foreigners by expressing the notion that members of group B are less inferior-indeed, less foreign-to Us than members of group A.

By marking, defining, or relativizing the otherness of foreigners, foreign food restrictions construct powerful and nuanced distinctions between Us and Them; these various types of distinctions contribute in significant ways to communal conceptions of both otherness and self-identity. Different types of distinctions, however, demand different kinds of restrictions. These restrictions, moreover, may limit access to desirable foodstuffs or result in undesirable social repercussions. It is no wonder, then, that over time boulders spill off these walls, at times leaving "gaps even two can pass abreast." The authors and heroes of religious texts, like the figures in Frost's poem, periodically mend these walls or decry the acts of those who wantonly breach them. In other contexts, however, we will see that these custodians of the tradition are sometimes themselves the hunters who

{ems}{ems}have left not one stone on a stone,

But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,

To please the yelping dogs.

I mean by this analogy that religious scholars sometimes reconfigure or even dismantle traditional food fences in the service of their own agendas, classificatory and otherwise.

Because discussions of foreign food restrictions express particular systems of classifying insiders and outsiders, they reveal the ways in which their participants imagine their own communities, other religious communities in their midst, and the broader social order in which these communities are embedded. I use the term imagination in the same manner as Benedict Anderson, whose definition of modern nations as "imagined communities" both limited in scope and sovereign in nature applies well to premodern religions.15 Such a community "is imagined because the members of even the smallest nation [or, I would add, religious tradition] will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion.... In fact, all communities larger than primordial villages of face-to-face contact (and perhaps even these) are imagined. Communities are to be distinguished, not by their falsity/genuineness, but by the style in which they are imagined."16

A major finding of the present study is that Jews, Christians, and Muslims have imagined their respective communities in qualitatively different "styles." The different methods members of these communities employ when classifying humanity reflect these differences in self-identification. Frost's speaker and his neighbor can only erect a shared wall because both of them embrace the same notions of ownership and acknowledge the validity of the same property line; they employ the same "style" of thought in conceptualizing their real estate claims. The religious elites who are the subjects of this study, in contrast, often do not construct their walls in the same places as their counterparts from other religious communities. They draw incongruent border lines around their respective communities and establish different kinds of barriers along these borders because they imagine the proper social order in fundamentally different ways.

Anderson's work demonstrates the considerable degree to which the image of a particular group's "communion"-and its mirror-image, reflecting the group's lack of communion with foreigners-is shaped by the ideas of the educated elites who undertake to speak on the group's behalf. The elites who speak on behalf of a religious community, like their nation-oriented counterparts, are keenly aware of the boundaries surrounding their community and the presence of others beyond these bounds. They seek to disseminate ideas about Us and Them within their community through its institutions of education and enculturation.17 These elites, moreover, take for granted the sovereignty of their community's religious tradition, which is to say the sovereign authority of the sacred texts at the core of the community's educational curriculum. By extension, religious authority rests in the hands of the very elites whose education qualifies them to interpret these sources properly and enables them to produce texts later incorporated into the curriculum.

We can, therefore, speak of both these texts and these interpreters as religious authorities. The ideas of these authorities about communal borders and food-related interaction across such lines contribute in significant ways to the imagined identity of their religious communities and, thus, to the ways members of these communities imagine otherness. By expressing these ideas and their underlying systems of classification within the traditional curricula, educated elites construct the notions of communal identity which future generations of scholars internalize. To the extent that these notions assume the quality of objective facts that shape the behaviors of community members, they have an even greater impact on the community's collective self-understanding: as Jordan D. Rosenblum puts it, "texts prescribe practices; practices index identity."18 Religious ideas regarding a community's identity and boundaries, however, are embedded in scholarly texts, so their diffusion among nonscholars often remains limited. Here, the parallel between modern nations and premodern religious communities begins to break down, as modern governments possess far more powerful means of communicating and imposing their classificatory systems upon society than do premodern religious authorities.

Tzvi Abusch, describing the Code of Hammurabi, explains that "the code is not binding and does not necessarily reflect actual practice; it is, however, a literary and intellectual construct that gives expression to legal thinking and moral values."19 The same may be said regarding most of the works we will examine in this study: they do not reveal the extent to which foreign food restrictions were followed within any given community, let alone the degree to which the broader public internalized elite ideas regarding foreigners. They do, however, capture the ideas and thought processes that underlie these restrictions. For that reason, this study of texts about foreign food restrictions is a history not of social reality but rather of intellectual imagination.

The concept of imagination helps us appreciate the intellectual and inventive nature of the communal identities and boundaries which religious authorities express, in part, through foreign food restrictions. It also helps us understand the nature of the concerns about interaction with foreigners that underlie many of these restrictions. François Hartog, among others, has demonstrated the degree to which portrayals of foreigners reflect the imaginations of their authors rather than the reality they ostensibly depict. As such, these portrayals function not as windows onto a foreign landscape but rather as mirrors reflecting and intensifying the manner in which their authors understand their own community and its place within the broader social order.20 It will become clear that the foreigners addressed by foreign food restrictions are frequently products of such imaginative activity, much as the neighbor in "Mending Wall" becomes "an old-stone savage armed" in the mischievous and increasingly mean-spirited imagination of the speaker. Indeed, one might even say regarding this speaker and his religious counterparts that walls and their classificatory foundations themselves foster vicious stereotypes about those on the other side of the divide. This is a further reason why foreign food restrictions are both unreliable as sources of social history and especially valuable as data through which to explore the intellectual activity of religious authorities as they construct the otherness of religious foreigners.

What interests me in studying texts about foreign food restrictions is neither "law in action," how laws function in society, nor merely "law in books," but rather what William Ewald calls "law in minds," the context of ideas upon which scholars of the law call when they formulate and interpret the rules found in legal literature.21 This context is considerably narrower than the full panoply of religious ideas, so a history of normative ideas can only reflect one facet of religious attitudes toward communal identity and the otherness of foreigners. I have not, however, restricted myself to the study of legal literature in the strict sense of that term because religious authorities engage in normative discourse within other literary genres as well.

Contexts and Comparisons

Ewald defines the field he calls "comparative jurisprudence," in contrast to comparative law as commonly taught in American law schools, as the study of law produced in a culture other than one's own for the purpose of understanding how participants in that culture's legal system think about their own law.

When we study a foreign legal system, the principal thing to grasp is not the external aspects-say, the sociological statistics about judges or the economic functioning of the rules or even the details of the black-letter doctrines-but rather what might be called the "cognitive structure" of the legal system. Recall that our goal is to be able to communicate with the foreign jurists; and communication requires not just that we observe their external behavior, but that we come to understand their style of thought and the reasons for which they act: that we regard them as conscious agents. We must therefore seek to embed the black-letter rules within a web of beliefs, ideals, choices, desires, interests, justifications, principles, techniques, reasons, and assumptions. The hope is that, in this way, we will come to understand the legal system from within and be able to think about it as a foreigner thinks.22

Law, as Ewald approaches it, is a conscious mental activity whose practitioners seek correct answers to legal questions within the framework of their system of norms. In order to understand the answers which foreign jurists provide, one must be able to think like a foreign jurist, a skill that depends on familiarity with the intellectual context of these jurists.23 Indeed, familiarity with this context can often help us not only to understand the statements of foreign jurists but also to account for why they offer one answer to a particular question rather than another.

The present work of comparative jurisprudence examines ancient and medieval foreign food restrictions so as to understand the styles of thought which Jewish, Christian, and Islamic authorities employ when classifying foreigners and foodstuffs and, thus, to gain insights into the styles in which these authorities imagine the identities of their own communities. This study, however, is comparative in more ways than the one that gives "comparative jurisprudence" its title. Ewald calls his approach "comparative" because attention to similarity and difference is implicit when a law student from one culture analyzes law produced in another. In addition to this implicit act of comparison, I seek explicitly to account for similarities and differences between the distinct legal cultures associated with Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. I also seek to understand similarities and differences within the legal culture of individual religious traditions across different time periods, geographic regions, and schools of thought.

To accomplish these tasks, I construct what might be called horizontal, vertical, and diagonal comparisons among the foreign food restrictions which I analyze. By "horizontal," I mean comparisons that address norms articulated within the context of a single time period or cultural milieu, such as the ancient Hellenistic world or the medieval Islamic Near East. By "vertical," I mean comparisons that address norms articulated in different time periods within a single intellectual tradition, such as norms found in the Bible, the writings of Church Fathers, and the works of medieval Christian authorities. Synchronic and diachronic comparisons of these sorts are commonplace, even within scholarship that is not self-consciously comparative, because they reflect the fact that religious authorities both root themselves in a particular intellectual tradition and live in a specific historical and cultural environment. We should bear in mind, however, that vertical and horizontal comparisons sometimes involve norms associated with more than one religious community. The intellectual patrimonies of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam include sources that predate the formation of these traditions (e.g., the Christian "Old Testament"), and religious authorities often interpret their own tradition within a cultural milieu shaped in significant ways by members of another religious community (e.g., rabbis in the "Islamic" Near East).

Less commonplace is the use of "diagonal" comparisons-those addressing norms that share neither a common intellectual tradition nor a common cultural milieu (e.g., Rabbinic norms originating in the ancient Hellenistic world and medieval Islamic norms). Diagonal comparisons are artificial in the sense that the relationship between the comparands would not exist had the comparativist not imagined it. Jonathan Z. Smith, however, observes that the same may be said regarding all comparisons.

There is nothing "natural" about the enterprise of comparison. Similarity and difference are not "given." They are the result of mental operations. In this sense, all comparisons are properly analogical and fall under J.S. Mill's dictum, "If we have the slightest reason to suppose any real connection between ... A and B, the argument is no longer one of analogy." In the case of the study of religion, as in any disciplined inquiry, comparison, in its strongest form, brings differences together within the space of the scholar's mind for the scholar's own intellectual reasons. It is the scholar who makes their cohabitation-their "sameness"-possible, not "natural" affinities or processes of history.24

Even seemingly "natural" comparisons, such as those between two texts from the same tradition or the same cultural and historical context, are the products of scholarly imagination. Comparisons that involve data from multiple traditions, locations, and time periods, diagonal or otherwise, serve to broaden the interpretive context associated with any given norm and thus enable us better to understand that norm and its authors.

I often use comparisons to generate hypotheses, viewing one comparand through the lens provided by another so as to see it from a perspective I might not otherwise have considered.25 Because no explanatory weight rests on such an act of comparison, the artificiality of the relationship between its comparands is irrelevant. I frequently construct vertical or horizontal comparisons rather than diagonal comparisons to limit the degree of difference between the comparands, but the comparison of texts that, from most perspectives, stem from quite different contexts can provide especially valuable insights. By placing the analysis of disparate texts between the covers of a single volume, moreover, I implicitly invite readers to draw their own lines of comparison and adopt a variety of perspectives into our subject matter.

I also employ comparison as the basis for constructing generic categories within the class of texts I have brought together under the title "foreign food restrictions." Taxonomy, like the acts of comparison that contribute to it, is an act of imagination that enables us to better understand specific norms by placing them in cohabitation with other norms as exemplars of generic categories. The application of multiple overlapping taxonomic criteria-religious tradition, time period, geographic region, type of food restriction, and style of classifying foreigners, to name only a few-yields greater insight into these norms.26 This practice also serves to highlight the imagined nature of the resulting categories: because sources grouped together in one system of classification are separate in another, we are constantly reminded that there is no single "right" way to classify the data set under examination. This reminder is especially useful while studying the imagination-driven categories used by Jewish, Christian, and Islamic authorities to define Us and Them, categories that are often taken for granted.

The imagined nature of the relationships I construct through comparison should not obscure the fact that actual relationships also exist among many of the works I study. At the broadest level, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are all monotheistic religions that revere the traditions (if not the text) of the Hebrew Bible and that draw on elements of the common Near Eastern culture out of which they emerged and on the intellectual heritage of Greek philosophy. The same cultural and intellectual currents often affected religious authorities active in the same region irrespective of their traditional affiliation. These common factors contribute in significant ways to the formation and development of ideas about foreign food restrictions within all three traditions. Most specifically, the educational curriculum at the core of each tradition ensures that each tradition's authorities know the same foundational texts and ideas. One can often find sufficient evidence to demonstrate a given scholar's familiarity with the works of his predecessors and, sometimes, those of his contemporaries as well. Evidence for historical relationships among texts about foreign food restrictions allows us to trace the evolution of ideas about classification systems and communal identities, while the insights gleaned from our own comparative endeavors furthers our ability to understand both specific conceptions of foreign food restrictions and the phenomenon of foreign food restrictions as a whole.

An Overview of This Study

Shaye J.D. Cohen, in his study of the boundaries that members of the educated Jewish elite created around their community, concludes as follows: "Jewishness, the conscious affirmation of the qualities that make Jews Jews, presumes a contrast between Us and Them. The Jews constitute an Us; all the rest of humanity, or, in Jewish language, the nations of the world, the gentiles, constitute a Them. Between Us and Them is a line, a boundary, drawn not in sand or stone but in the mind. The line is no less real for being imaginary, since both Us and Them agree that it exists. Although there is a boundary that separates the two, it is crossable and not always distinct."27 The nature of the imagined boundary and the degree to which religious authorities tolerate its permeability reflect an aspect of the way those who speak on behalf of their communities define "Jewishness," "Christianness," and "Muslimness." This study examines the evolving conceptions of Us, Them, and the broader social order reflected in foreign food restrictions. The present chapter has laid out both the significance of the work's subject matter and the methods of comparison it employs.

Chapter 2, on food restrictions in the Hebrew Bible, introduces several themes that will recur throughout this study: the association of dietary practices with a distinctive communal identity, the anathematization of idolatry, notions regarding the proper method of slaughtering an animal, and conceptions of impurity. Discussion of the Hebrew Bible appears in part I of this study, the introductory unit, for two related reasons. The texts of the Hebrew Bible are foundational for both Judaism and Christianity-and also for Islam, albeit in a very different manner and to a much more limited extent-but they are not properly speaking the products of these religious communities. As Cohen makes clear, "Judaism" as a religious identity first develops within the Hellenistic world of the final centuries before the Common Era, after the composition of almost all of the Hebrew Bible; Christianity and Islam, of course, develop even later.28 The second, and more important, reason for treating Biblical texts as prefatory is that these texts-with the telling exception of a work from the Hellenistic era, Daniel-contain no foreign food restrictions. Indeed, I will argue that pre-Hellenistic Biblical texts, in contrast to later interpretations of those texts, do not imagine Israelite food practices in contradistinction to those of non-Israelites. This conception of Biblical dietary laws emerges in tandem with the development, during the Hellenistic era, of a conception of Jewishness that is not purely ethnic. Chapter 2 illustrates an understanding of dietary laws different from that embraced by most of the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic authorities whose ideas we will explore subsequently. This chapter thus offers a valuable contrast to later discussions of foreign food restrictions.

The core of this study consists of three parts, one each for Jewish, Christian, and Islamic sources. Each part comprises three chapters that analyze the development of ideas regarding foreign food restrictions from their origins through their formalization in legal literature. Chapter 3 examines the reasons why foreign food restrictions develop among some Jewish elites within the Hellenistic world but not others, while chapters 4 and 5 consider what happens to these restrictions when subjected to Rabbinic analysis and presentation. Chapter 6 examines the ways in which New Testament passages about food restrictions, particularly foreign food restrictions, reflect an effort by early Christ-believers to create a unified community that spans the border between Jews and gentiles. Chapters 7 and 8 explore the ways in which those who speak for Christianity in its first millennium use foreign food restrictions to establish new borders around their religious community so as to exclude both idolatrous gentiles and, especially, Jews. Chapter 9 analyzes the roles that discourse about foreigners and food restrictions plays in the Qurʾan. In chapters 10 and 11, we will examine the ways in which Sunni and Shiʿi authorities employ discourse about food associated with foreigners to express distinctive conceptions regarding the nature of Judaism and Christianity and, more importantly, of Islam itself.

In addition to its focus on sources associated with a single religious tradition, each of the core units of this study discusses a specific factor that shapes discourse about foreigners and their food in all three traditions. Part II, particularly chapters 4-5, uses Rabbinic literature as a means of exploring the influence of the mode of thinking known as scholasticism on discourse about foreign food restrictions. Part III, specifically chapter 8, examines the impact on such discourse of conceptions regarding impurity, using Christian portrayals of Jews as the primary exemplar of this phenomenon. In part IV, chapter 11 considers the use of scripture in discourse about foreigners and food restrictions; this analysis draws both on instances of Qurʾanic exegesis and also examples of Biblical exegesis encountered in prior chapters. The case studies that comprise the final part of this study (chapters 12-14) reflect the impact of these three factors-scholasticism, conceptions of impurity, and the use of scripture-on medieval discourse about foreign food restrictions.

Part V examines five cases in which medieval Jewish, Christian, and Islamic authorities apply traditional foreign food restrictions to adherents of fellow "Abrahamic" traditions. Chapter 12 considers Islamic and Christian discourse about meat that Jews refuse to eat; in chapter 13, we examine Islamic and Christian discourse about one another's food. Chapter 14 is devoted to the subject of Jewish conceptions of Muslims and Christians, as reflected in regulations governing wine associated with gentiles. These case studies highlight the importance that medieval authorities ascribe to their respective approaches to classifying humanity. They also show how distinctively Jewish, Christian, and Islamic styles of thought on this subject result in divergent responses to questions about the application of foreign food restrictions to contemporary foreigners. Chapter 12 begins with a brief synopsis of the conclusions to be drawn from previous chapters regarding the significance of ideas about foreigners to the manner in which Jewish, Christian, and Islamic authorities imagine their own communities. Chapter 14 concludes by reflecting on the implications of this bond between attitudes toward Them and conceptions of Our own identity, both for the academic description of these ideas and for contemporary efforts at improving relations between different religious communities.

The present study demonstrates that Jewish, Christian, and Islamic foreign food restrictions rest upon different systems of classifying humanity, what Ewald might call distinct "styles of thought" particular to each religious community. In general, Jewish foreign food restrictions mark the otherness of non-Jews as "not Us" without drawing distinctions among gentiles. Christian foreign food restrictions define the otherness of certain non-Christians, distinguishing between gentile non-Christians, who are merely "not Us," and Jews, who are emphatically "anti-Us." Islamic foreign food restrictions-in ways that differ significantly between Sunnis and Shiʿis-relativize the otherness of non-Muslims as "like Us" and "unlike Us." These differences in how Jewish, Christian, Sunni, and Shiʿi authorities think about outsiders reflect what Anderson calls the distinct "styles" in which these authorities imagine their own communities.

The orientation of the three central parts of this study toward change over time within a single tradition foregrounds the task of historical and cultural contextualization. In this manner, I seek to avoid three pitfalls often found in works of comparative religion, summarized by Barbara Holdrege as (1) insufficient attention to differences, (2) insufficient attention to changes over time, and (3) insufficient attention to original context. Holdrege, in her comparative study of Hindu and Jewish conceptions of scripture, addresses these critiques by interpreting Hindu and Jewish sources independently, turning to comparative analysis only after thorough contextual analysis and reserving consideration of the significance of her comparative findings until her conclusion.29

The structure of Holdrege's work resembles a wedding cake: layers of tradition-specific cake, one on top of the other, some comparative icing between them, more cake and more icing, and finally smiling figurines on top representing the relationship between Jewish and Hindu sources. Although this structure is both effective and methodologically neat, it would be unduly artificial for the present study. I have chosen instead to blend comparison into each unit in a manner that more accurately reflects the integration of comparison at every stage of my own research and writing. The comparative content of this work increases as the study progresses and its readers encounter a wider range of sources for themselves, but early chapters are occasionally enriched with comparative observations and insights derived from later chapters, especially when comparison played a major role in shaping my own understanding of the sources I present. The end result of this structure is something more closely resembling a marble cake than a layered wedding cake, although perhaps a better metaphor-and one that would be acceptable to all of the religious authorities we left in that restaurant-is a salad, lightly tossed.