Thursday, September 24, 2009

"It doesn't damage my faith in any way."

The death of another sacred cow?

"Genetic researchers have revised an earlier hypothesis that members of the Jewish priestly caste, the Cohanim, can trace their paternal lineage to a single progenitor, perhaps the biblical Aaron, brother of Moses."

"Additional Y chromosome lineages that are distinct from that defined by the extended Cohen Modal Haplotype, but also shared among Cohanim from different Jewish communities, reveal that the priesthood was established by several unrelated male lines."

"I think it's still sort of amazing that there is a genetic marker. The question of whether it was one progenitor or was it four or five, it doesn't damage my faith in any way." said Sam Cohon, rabbi of Temple Emanu-El in Tucson.

Will Rabbi Yaakov Kleiman now add a chapter to his book consisting of only "Never mind."? Nah, expect OrthoFundies to put an interesting spin on this latest research, mitigating its significance.

An interesting side note: opponents of the Documentary Hypothesis have long been critical of the claim that in addition to the Ahronite priestly line there was also a rival "Mushite" priestly lineage that originated with Moses. It seems that the latest research suggests that such a claim, rather than being baseless, turns out to be quite a conservative suggestion!

News articles here and here, scientific abstract here.