Thursday, January 10, 2013

Endogamy and the Melungeons


Alice C. Linsley

The term "Melungeon" refers to an Appalachian ethnic group with distinct physical, cultural, historical and genetic characteristics. These characteristics served to set Melungeons apart from other peoples dwelling in southeastern North America from the 1500's onward.

Today most Melungeons live in Kentucky. They practiced cousin marriage over an extended period of time (in some cases 400 years). Their marriage pattern is consistent with that of Sephardic Jews, Moors and Arabians. This makes sense since they are descendants of Semitic peoples, mostly Sephardic Jews and Moors banished from Spain. Many came to the United States via France and England. Having intermarried with Native Americans and converted mainly to the Primitive Baptist religion (some with serpent veneration), the Melugeons represent an isolated and mostly forgotten people. When remembered it is usually to crack a joke about them as backward people due to in-breeding (endogamy).

In his book The Genetic History of the Jewish People Harry Ostrer notes that the Sephardic Jews who were the focus of harsh treatment in Spain during the Inquisition, were more prone to marry outside their bloodlines whereas the Ashkenazim are relatively homogeneous despite the fact that they are spread throughout Europe and immigrated to the Americas. He reports that DNA studies confirm that there is a distinctive Jewish "race" but fails to mention that the Kohen Modal Haplotype is also found among Arabs of Horite blood.

Harry Ostrer, director of the human genetics program at the New York University School of Medicine, led one of the studies that compared the genetic makeup of Jewish populations from around the world with African populations. Ostrer found that modern Jewish populations have African ancestry. This confirms the Genesis 10 information that indicates Abraham's ancestors were Nilotes and Proto-Saharans.


Here is a review of Harry Ostrer's Legacy: A Genetic History of the Jewish People.
(Oxford University Press, 288 Pages, $24.95)

In his new book, “Legacy: A Genetic History of the Jewish People,” Harry Ostrer, a medical geneticist and professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, claims that Jews are different, and the differences are not just skin deep. Jews exhibit, he writes, a distinctive genetic signature. Considering that the Nazis tried to exterminate Jews based on their supposed racial distinctiveness, such a conclusion might be a cause for concern. But Ostrer sees it as central to Jewish identity.

“Who is a Jew?” has been a poignant question for Jews throughout our history. It evokes a complex tapestry of Jewish identity made up of different strains of religious beliefs, cultural practices and blood ties to ancient Palestine and modern Israel. But the question, with its echoes of genetic determinism, also has a dark side.

Geneticists have long been aware that certain diseases, from breast cancer to Tay-Sachs, disproportionately affect Jews. Ostrer, who is also director of genetic and genomic testing at Montefiore Medical Center, goes further, maintaining that Jews are a homogeneous group with all the scientific trappings of what we used to call a “race.”

Read it all here.


Related reading:  Eastern Kentucky LanguageThe Bible and the Question of RaceHebrew, Israelite or Jew?; Sub-Saharan DNA of Modern Jews; DNA Studies Confirm Mixed Ancestry of Jews; Abraham: Descendant of Both Shem and Ham


6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Alice,

David Hart has an article on the priesthood on Virtue Online. It reads,

" As important as Eucharistic sacrifice is, and as central as it is to the life and worship of the Church, we must not neglect a fully-formed understanding of the role of the Christian priest. Anglicanism knows nothing of "choir priests" who have been ordained only to minister at the altar, and who have no pastoral responsibilities. That is because the "choir priest" is a product of medieval imbalance, and was unknown to the ancient Church."


http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=14519#.UPIgSJj7D-s

My arguments are if this a medieval imbalance, why do the Orthodox hold to it too?

Nobody says, that the work of a priest is not pastoral, but that it is secondary, to the liturgy, because in the liturgy we are taken to a timeless place beyond time, where, Christ is born, dies, rises and ascends to heaven.


Savvy

Alice Linsley said...

With respect to Fr. Hart, I disagree with his understanding of the priesthood and we have debated this question. His view fails to take into consideration that the Christian priesthood was not established by Rome, but rather emerged organically from the Horite priest. The nexus is Jesus Christ of Horite descent, our High Priest and the one from whom all priests receive the priesthood.

The work of the priest is pastoral and most essentially Eucharistic. Others can serve in pastoral roles, but only the priest can offer sacrifices on behalf of the people of God. That sacrifice is both historical and beyond time, as you point out.

Anonymous said...

Alice,

If the priesthood is simply a pastoral role, it makes no sense to bar women from it. And women already do everything a Protestant minister does.

Another argument that the women do not run things, make doctrines etc. That the men are still in charge. This betrays an ignorance of Christian history.

Female saints have had a huge impact on shaping the church's theology. They could invoke awe and fear in a person at the same time.

Kings who were not afraid of the Pope, were afraid of Catherine of Sienna.

Is there a reason, why modern feminists do not inspire the same way?


Savvy

Alice Linsley said...

Your points are well taken, Savvy. I believe feminism is on faulty ideological ground and that is why their writings don't command much respect. On the other hand, as your examples demonstrate, women have been respected for their wisdom throughout history. Consider also St. Hildebrand and St. Hilda of Whitby. You may be interested in this:
http://lcaspanish.blogspot.com/2013/01/women-and-wisdom.html

Anonymous said...

Thanks Alice!


Savvy

Anonymous said...

Alice,

Another observation, I have made is that people who do not believe in the Eucharist, are also so concerned about who has the "right" to be a priest. This is either an attack, gaining momentum or some people just like to trample on what other's hold sacred.


Savvy