Thursday, May 4, 2017

A People in Search of a History


Science Tells the Story

It would come as something of a shock to be told by Ancestry.com or one of the other family tree websites that you have no family.

   Nope. None. We can trace your family back to 1920, and then it disappears. Yup. No great grandparents. No history. No homeland. That's it.

  That is what the Jews are being told by the New Biblical Scholars: the Jews are a people without a history or a homeland.

   What about the Tanakh? Doesn't it tell our story?

   Nope. It is all fiction.



   And then along came DNA, and the Jewish people came alive again.

   An article in Pub Med, "Extended Y chromosome haplotypes resolve multiple and unique lineages of the Jewish priesthood," published on a US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health website " reports on a study of DNA and Jewish ancestry:




"These results support the hypothesis of a common origin of the CMH in the Near East well before the dispersion of the Jewish people into separate communities, and indicate that the majority of contemporary Jewish priests descend from a limited number of paternal lineages,"

and that
"Dating based on variation associated with five of these six Y-STRs suggested that contemporary CMH chromosomes trace to a common ancestral chromosome 2,100–3,250 years ago (Thomas et al. 1998). This time roughly corresponds to the period between the biblical exodus and the destruction of the first temple."
   Suddenly science has given new life to the Jews.

   That of course, comes as no surprise to the Jews.

   Despite the dire conclusions of the New Biblical Scholars, the Jews have a narrative of their history that extends back to the time indicted by the DNA and earlier. Included in that narrative, which is called by the Jews the Tanakh or the Hebrew Scriptures, are the traditions and laws that defined their lives, the heroes of the nation, descriptions of the wonderful architectural creations like the first temple, the battles they fought, and the wonderful body of literature called the Psalms. And it includes the story of the origin of their nation in an event that is still celebrated yearly by Jews worldwide, Passover.

   It is that story that prompted my quest to explore the historicity of the exodus, the point in history when it all began. As an aficionado of history and a lifelong student of literature, I was interested in whether those disciplines might shed light on the questions arising from the exodus. I determined to trace back the history of the Jews by following the trail of the traditions and the heroes in the biblical narrative using the principles history and literary analysis, backed by the many artifacts that corroborate the narrative.

   It will be a fascinating journey. Wait for Part 2.

Thomas MG, Skorecki K, Ben-Ami H, Parfitt T, Bradman N, Goldstein DB (1998) Origins of Old Testament priests. Nature 394:138–140

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