Abraham's Children: Race, Identity, and the DNA of the Chosen People

Abraham's Children: Race, Identity, and the DNA of the Chosen People

Jon Entine

Language: English

Pages: 432

ISBN: 0446580635

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Could our sense of who we are really turn on a sliver of DNA? In our multiethnic world, questions of individual identity are becoming increasingly unclear. Now in ABRAHAM'S CHILDREN bestselling author Jon Entine vividly brings to life the profound human implications of the Age of Genetics while illuminating one of today's most controversial topics: the connection between genetics and who we are, and specifically the question "Who is a Jew?"

Entine weaves a fascinating narrative, using breakthroughs in genetic genealogy to reconstruct the Jewish biblical tradition of the chosen people and the hereditary Israelite priestly caste of Cohanim. Synagogues in the mountains of India and China and Catholic churches with a Jewish identity in New Mexico and Colorado provide different patterns of connection within the tangled history of the Jewish diaspora. Legendary accounts of the Hebrew lineage of Ethiopian tribesmen, the building of Africa's Great Zimbabwe fortress, and even the so-called Lost Tribes are reexamined in light of advanced DNA technology. Entine also reveals the shared ancestry of Israelites and Christians.

As people from across the world discover their Israelite roots, their riveting stories unveil exciting new approaches to defining one's identity. Not least, Entine addresses possible connections between DNA and Jewish intelligence and the controversial notion that Jews are a "race apart." ABRAHAM'S CHILDREN is a compelling reinterpretation of biblical history and a challenging and exciting illustration of the promise and power of genetic research.

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and removes carbon dioxide from the body. Proteins, one of the products of genes, turned out to be far more representative proxies to study how genes worked than the potentially misleading story using blood types. When mutated, proteins can result in dysfunction and disease. They also provide a scratchy window into the workings of genes, which scientists of this time did not yet have the technical ability to observe. Zuckerkandl, working with the biochemist Linus Pauling, speculated that the

tapping out e-mails, wearing a sport shirt and shorts, workday clothes in the summer in Tucson, where the noonday temperature can soar well past 110 degrees. His laboratory can be found a few floors belowground in the bowels of the Life Sciences Building, where the drudgery of genetics, the real science, is done. Over the last decade, his lab has pursued studies of variation on the male chromosome as a model system for exploring human evolution. A graduate student in the early 1980s, when

tradition had held firm and religious Jews were faithful, the priestly inheritance—the lineage of the Levites and especially the subgroup of high priests, the Cohanim—should be relatively intact because almost no recombination occurs on the Y. If his hunch was correct, all Cohanim should share a marker for a common ancestor who lived in the Levant during biblical times. “I like clean sorts of questions that you can get closure on with a study,” Skorecki told me. “I thought this would be a great

originally Canaanites!” Unknown to history, sometime around 1000 BCE, a people calling themselves Israelites emerged as a local power in Canaan. They shared a common history but were divided into twelve often fractious tribes, which originally consisted of Jacob’s sons: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin, and Joseph. Levi’s descendants, the Levites, were the priests who were scattered through all the tribes. Jacob subsequently replaced the tribe

treks through Armenia, Kurdistan, and across the Mediterranean basin, he saw these communities for what they likely were—not biblical exiles, but Jewish traders who had put down roots in distant lands. For the Jewish people living within diaspora communities that numbered in the hundreds, the Lost Tribe stories provided solace during times of persecution—the promise of a return to a future homeland and ultimately salvation. But it is in Christianity that the fascination with the biblical exile

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