Jacob’s Legacy: A Genetic View of Jewish History

David B. Goldstein, Author . Yale Univ. $26 (148p) ISBN 978-0-300-12583-2

Duke University geneticist Goldstein was part of a team that did groundbreaking, headline-making research on Jewish genetic history. Goldberg clearly and succinctly explains such concepts as “haplotypes” and “genetic drift” as he reviews such findings as that more than half of contemporary Cohanim , or priests—traditionally believed to descend from the biblical Aaron—actually share a genetic marker called the Cohen Modal Haplotype. Among other subjects, he also explores evidence consistent with the claim of the obscure Lemba tribe of southern Africa to be descendants of ancient Israel. Lastly, in taking on a 2005 study of a group of so-called Jewish genetic diseases—such as Tay-Sachs—and their putative evolutionary connection to high intelligence among Jews, Goldberg notes that this hypothesis is easily testable but firmly rejects “pseudoscientific genetic determinism.” Goldberg’s role in much of the research into Jewish genetic history, his sober, unsensationalist tone and his emphasis on the limited conclusions that can be drawn from such work lend credibility to his account of his stunning results. (June)

Reviewed on: 04/21/2008
Release date: 05/01/2008
Paperback - 148 pages - 978-0-300-15128-2
Open Ebook - 169 pages - 978-0-300-14510-6
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