Book of Mormon/DNA evidence/Identification of "Jewish" or "Middle Eastern" DNA

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Identification of "Jewish" or "Middle Eastern" DNA

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Gospel Topics: "Much as critics and defenders of the Book of Mormon would like to use DNA studies to support their views, the evidence is simply inconclusive"

"Book of Mormon and DNA Studies," Gospel Topics on LDS.org:

Much as critics and defenders of the Book of Mormon would like to use DNA studies to support their views, the evidence is simply inconclusive. Nothing is known about the DNA of Book of Mormon peoples. Even if such information were known, processes such as population bottleneck and genetic drift make it unlikely that their DNA could be detected today. As Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles observed, “It is our position that secular evidence can neither prove nor disprove the authenticity of the Book of Mormon.”[1]


Question: How does one identify "Jewish" or "Middle Eastern" DNA?

Identifying DNA criteria for Manasseh and Ephraim may always be beyond our reach

Identifying DNA criteria for Manasseh and Ephraim may always be beyond our reach. But, even identifying markers for Jews—a group that has remained relatively cohesive and refrained from intermarriage with others more than most groups—is an extraordinarily difficult undertaking.

One author cautioned:

Studies of human genetic diversity have barely begun. Yet the fashion for genetic ancestry testing is booming. . . . Other groups, such as Jews, are now being targeted. This despite the fact that Jewish communities have little in common on their mitochondrial side—the maternal line down which Judaism is traditionally inherited. It's the male side that shows common ancestry between different Jewish communities—so, of course, that's what the geneticists focus on. . . . Geneticists—like preachers and philosophers before them—need to avoid promising more than they can deliver. [2]

Further reading

Articles which discuss the various criteria (and the difficulties involved) for identifying "Jewishness" via DNA include:

  • John M. Butler, "A Few Thoughts From a Believing DNA Scientist," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 12/1 (2003): 36–37. off-site wiki
  • John M. Butler, "Addressing Questions surrounding the Book of Mormon and DNA Research," FARMS Review 18/1 (2006): 101–108. off-site wiki
  • Ryan Parr, "Missing the Boat to Ancient America . . . Just Plain Missing the Boat (Review of: Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA, and the Mormon Church)," FARMS Review 17/1 (2005): 83–106. off-site
  • Daniel C. Peterson, "Editor's Introduction," FARMS Review 15/2 (2003): ix–lxii. off-site
  • David G. Stewart, Jr., "DNA and the Book of Mormon," FARMS Review 18/1 (2006): 109–138. off-site wiki FairMormon link  (Key source)
  • Brian D. Stubbs, "Elusive Israel and the Numerical Dynamics of Population Mixing," FARMS Review 15/2 (2003): 165–182. off-site


Notes

  1. "Book of Mormon and DNA Studies," Gospel Topics on LDS.org (January 31, 2014)
  2. Martin Richards, "Beware the Gene Genies," Guardian (21 February 2003), accessed 7 July 2006. off-site; cited by Stewart, "DNA and the Book of Mormon."