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[XTalk] Re: The Miracle Maker

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  • Mahlon H. Smith
    ... Not to quibble about being honest, Bob, but isn t your comparison just a bit too much of an anachronism for an anthropologist? As a historian I would
    Message 1 of 8 , Apr 1, 2000
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      Bob Schacht wrote:

      >
      > Oh, honestly! Being "geographically identifiable" is useless. New York is
      > geographically identifiable, but is not exactly the kind of place to look
      > for stable ethnic groups. As for being "stable," please remember that
      > Palestine sits at the juncture of two continents, and at the time of Jesus
      > this crossroads was ruled by people from a third continent (Europe.) This
      > is just about the worst possible place (other than New York city, maybe) to
      > expect any kind of stable physiognomic markers to develop.

      Not to quibble about being honest, Bob, but isn't your comparison just a
      bit too much of an anachronism for an anthropologist? As a historian I
      would hardly compare pre-1st c. Galilee with NYC as far as population
      stability is concerned unless I was trying to stress differences. Unlike
      NYC all interstate highways did not lead to or thru Galilee. In fact,
      there were only three readily traversable routes on Galilee's western,
      southern & eastern borders (the Phoenicia coastal route from Sidon to
      Ptolemaic (Akko), the Jordan Valley from Caesarea Philippi to
      Scythopolis (Beth Shean) & the east-west Plain of Esdraelon, most of
      which in NT times lay in the province of Samaria to the south of
      Galilee. Most of Galilee was as mountainous & as difficult to access as
      Appalachia & like Appalachia was topically designed to support a stable
      ethnically homogeneous indigenous population, which is one of the
      factors that led Horsley to suggest the survival of a native northern
      Israelite "small" oral tradition of local heroes like Elijah & Elisha in
      1st c. Galilee (independent of Judean scripture) more than 700 years
      after the fall of Samaria.

      But we've been thru that discussion before on the old Crosstalk & I
      don't care to rehash it in detail here. My point is simply to question
      your sweeping statement that Galilee "is just about the worst possible
      place (other than New York city, maybe) to expect any kind of stable
      physiognomic markers to develop." Where do you find historical evidence
      of invading armies other than the Israelites sweeping thru or settling
      in Galilee proper?

      True, there were substantial Greek colonies in the Decapolis, most of
      which was is in Transjordan, to the South & East of Galilee. And some
      ancient Semitic settlements in strategic places (e.g., Philoteria on the
      southern tip of the Sea of Galilee) had been Hellenized before the time
      of Jesus. From ancient times there was a regular stream of commerce on
      the so-called Via Maris that led from Damascus to the Mediterranean
      along the west side of the Sea of Galilee & passed just to the south of
      Nazareth. But most of the traffic on that route throughout history was
      probably regional trade between various Semitic peoples (Hebrews,
      Syrians, Phoenicians, Itureans, etc.).

      Most importantly for the question of mixing populations, however, is the
      fact that before the time of the Herods there was no major city in
      Galilee proper which could act as a magnet for attracting diverse ethnic
      groups. Before the time of Jesus, Sepphoris was at best a regional
      administrative center. It was Antipas who turned it into a Romanized
      city during Jesus' youth. Jesus may have already been an adult before
      Tiberias was built. And Tiberias is the only center in Galilee for which
      we have evidence of (forced!) settlement by a mixture of ethnic groups.
      Where is there any evidence of Romans or other non-Israelites in
      Galilee's rural hillside villages like Nazareth?

      Add to this the fact that early Xn tradition regularly represented Jesus
      as a "Jew" with Judean roots. Even if one questions his alleged Davidic
      lineage as legendary, where would you find any evidence that Jesus had
      non-Semitic genes apart from the rather late legend that he was sired by
      a Roman soldier? BTW even if the rabbinic designation of Jesus as "bern
      Pantera" is given credence, it would not prove Jesus had European genes.
      For the 1st c. Roman soldier Tiberius Julius Abdes Pantera whose
      tombstone was found in Germany in 1859 is specifically identified as a
      Sidonian & therefore probably an ethnic Phoenician & a Semite.

      I conclude there are no good historical grounds for concluding that
      Jesus was anything but a full-blooded Semite & probably an ethnic Hebrew
      of Judean extraction.

      Shalom!

      Mahlon

      --

      *********************

      Mahlon H. Smith, http://religion.rutgers.edu/mh_smith.html
      Associate Professor
      Department of Religion Virtual Religion Index
      Rutgers University http://religion.rutgers.edu/vri/
      New Brunswick NJ

      Into His Own: Perspective on the World of Jesus
      http://religion.rutgers.edu/iho/

      A Synoptic Gospels Primer
      http://religion.rutgers.edu/nt/primer/

      Jesus Seminar Forum
      http://religion.rutgers.edu/jseminar/
    • Jack Kilmon
      ... Although all you say is true, you would not require geographical isolation when there was social and religiously motivated sexual isolation. I don t know
      Message 2 of 8 , Apr 1, 2000
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        Bob Schacht wrote:
        >
        > At 07:42 PM 03/31/00 , you wrote:
        > >...
        > >Oh, honestly! Surely Political Correctness does not require us to
        > >pretend that there are no physiognomic markers for stable,
        > >geographically identifiable ethnic groups! ...
        >
        > Oh, honestly! Being "geographically identifiable" is useless. New York is
        > geographically identifiable, but is not exactly the kind of place to look
        > for stable ethnic groups. As for being "stable," please remember that
        > Palestine sits at the juncture of two continents, and at the time of Jesus
        > this crossroads was ruled by people from a third continent (Europe.) This
        > is just about the worst possible place (other than New York city, maybe) to
        > expect any kind of stable physiognomic markers to develop. Besides, you
        > have your terminology wrong. One of the few situations in which
        > physiognomic markers of ethnic groups have any hope of being identifiable
        > is where they are geographically *isolated,* not merely geographically
        > "identifiable," and as I have pointed out, Palestine is anything but
        > geographically isolated. It is not political correctness that requires us
        > to pretend anything, but thinking of physiognomic markers of Jews as being
        > stable that requires pretending quite a lot.

        Although all you say is true, you would not require geographical
        isolation
        when there was social and religiously motivated sexual isolation. I
        don't
        know how valid ethnologist Carlton Coon's "Noble Semitic"
        characteristics
        are since I never read his paper on this, assuming there is one.

        Jack
        --
        ______________________________________________

        taybutheh d'maran yeshua masheecha am kulkon

        Jack Kilmon
        jkilmon@...

        http://www.historian.net

        sharing a meal for free.
        http://www.thehungersite.com/
      • Nichael Cramer
        ... Actually, though, New York (I assume you mean NYC) is nothing of the sort. You d be darn hardpressed to find anyone who lives there who has a single
        Message 3 of 8 , Apr 1, 2000
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          Bob Schacht wrote:
          >Oh, honestly! Being "geographically identifiable" is useless. New York is
          >geographically identifiable, but is not exactly the kind of place to look
          >for stable ethnic groups. [...]

          Actually, though, New York (I assume you mean NYC) is nothing of the sort.
          You'd be darn hardpressed to find anyone who lives there who has a single
          ancestor has been in North America for more the three centuries.

          The difference here is that in Palestine, during the time being discussed,
          the major cultural group(s) had roots that reached back millenia. And
          while it's true, as you say, there may well have been passers-through (e.g.
          on trade-routes, etc) it's quite probable that the vast majority of the
          population never traveled more than a hundred --if not a dozen-- miles from
          their birthplace through their entire lives.

          N
          --
          Nichael Cramer Gather the folks, tell the stories
          nichael@... break the bread. -- John Shea
          http://www.sover.net/~nichael/
        • Robert M. Schacht
          ... York is ... look ... Jesus ... This ... maybe) to ... Mahlon replied, ... Mahlon, Well, of course, NYC is not the best parallel. But if you ll go back and
          Message 4 of 8 , Apr 1, 2000
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            At 07:32 AM 04/01/00 , Mahlon H. Smith wrote:
            >Bob Schacht wrote:
            >
            >>
            >> Oh, honestly! Being "geographically identifiable" is useless. New
            York is
            >> geographically identifiable, but is not exactly the kind of place to
            look
            >> for stable ethnic groups. As for being "stable," please remember that
            >> Palestine sits at the juncture of two continents, and at the time of
            Jesus
            >> this crossroads was ruled by people from a third continent (Europe.)
            This
            >> is just about the worst possible place (other than New York city,
            maybe) to
            >> expect any kind of stable physiognomic markers to develop.

            Mahlon replied,
            >
            >Not to quibble about being honest, Bob, but isn't your comparison just a
            >bit too much of an anachronism for an anthropologist? As a historian I
            >would hardly compare pre-1st c. Galilee with NYC as far as population
            >stability is concerned unless I was trying to stress differences. Unlike
            >NYC all interstate highways did not lead to or thru Galilee. In fact,
            >there were only three readily traversable routes on Galilee's western,
            >southern & eastern borders (the Phoenicia coastal route from Sidon to
            >Ptolemaic (Akko), the Jordan Valley from Caesarea Philippi to
            >Scythopolis (Beth Shean) & the east-west Plain of Esdraelon, most of
            >which in NT times lay in the province of Samaria to the south of
            >Galilee. Most of Galilee was as mountainous & as difficult to access as
            >Appalachia & like Appalachia was topically designed to support a stable
            >ethnically homogeneous indigenous population, which is one of the
            >factors that led Horsley to suggest the survival of a native northern
            >Israelite "small" oral tradition of local heroes like Elijah & Elisha in
            >1st c. Galilee (independent of Judean scripture) more than 700 years
            >after the fall of Samaria.
            >
            >But we've been thru that discussion before on the old Crosstalk & I
            >don't care to rehash it in detail here. My point is simply to question
            >your sweeping statement that Galilee "is just about the worst possible
            >place (other than New York city, maybe) to expect any kind of stable
            >physiognomic markers to develop." Where do you find historical evidence
            >of invading armies other than the Israelites sweeping thru or settling
            >in Galilee proper?
            >

            Mahlon,
            Well, of course, NYC is not the best parallel. But if you'll go back and
            read what I wrote, I was writing not about Galilee, but about Palestine.
            And as for invading armies, is not Megiddo (from which we derive
            Armeggidon) located on the threshhold between Galilee and Samaria? Is not
            the Plain of Esdraelon the historical battle ground of numerous campaigns
            by Egyptian vs. Assyrian or Bablylonian armies? When I was with the
            archaeological team excavating at Tell Ta'anach, 5 miles down the road
            from Megiddo, there were anti-tank trenches carved into the summit of the
            Tell (not that they did any good in the war of 1967, when Israel went by
            so fast that the Palestinians didn't have time to man their guns). On one
            of my holidays, I got out the topomaps and tried to retrace on foot the
            path one of the Egyptian armies probably took thousands of years ago.

            >True, there were substantial Greek colonies in the Decapolis, most of
            >which was is in Transjordan, to the South & East of Galilee. And some
            >ancient Semitic settlements in strategic places (e.g., Philoteria on the
            >southern tip of the Sea of Galilee) had been Hellenized before the time
            >of Jesus.

            Q.E.D.

            > From ancient times there was a regular stream of commerce on
            >the so-called Via Maris that led from Damascus to the Mediterranean
            >along the west side of the Sea of Galilee & passed just to the south of
            >Nazareth. But most of the traffic on that route throughout history was
            >probably regional trade between various Semitic peoples (Hebrews,
            >Syrians, Phoenicians, Itureans, etc.).
            >

            Um, well, maybe so at *some* (to borrow some of your asterisks) times in
            history, but your sweeping statement that this applies "throughtout"
            history can hardly be sustained. Besides, some historians consider the
            overland traffic from Egypt to Damascus historically significant since
            the time of the Middle Kingdom in Egypt? And doesn't Crossan argue that
            the lesson of Sepphoris and Tiberias argue for outside interest in
            exporing the resources of Galilee? Just as my field experience at Tell
            Ta'anach influenced me, so yours in the rugged hills of northern Galilee
            has influenced you into thinking of Galilee as a kind of boondocks place.

            >Most importantly for the question of mixing populations, however, is the
            >fact that before the time of the Herods there was no major city in
            >Galilee proper which could act as a magnet for attracting diverse ethnic
            >groups.

            Acco? (well, of course, you'll say that's not Galilee proper). Let's keep
            scale in mind here. Even in ancient times, it didn't take that long to
            travel from Damascus to Acco.

            > Before the time of Jesus, Sepphoris was at best a regional
            >administrative center. It was Antipas who turned it into a Romanized
            >city during Jesus' youth. Jesus may have already been an adult before
            >Tiberias was built. And Tiberias is the only center in Galilee for which
            >we have evidence of (forced!) settlement by a mixture of ethnic groups.
            >Where is there any evidence of Romans or other non-Israelites in
            >Galilee's rural hillside villages like Nazareth?

            So? Why make so much of Nazareth, when it was only 4 miles from
            Sepphoris? Is that distance genetically significant?

            >
            >Add to this the fact that early Xn tradition regularly represented Jesus
            >as a "Jew" with Judean roots.

            I thought you were arguing for *Galilean* isolation of Jesus. Now you're
            saying that he's regularly represented as a Jew with Judean roots. Well,
            so much for Galilean isolation, I guess.

            > Even if one questions his alleged Davidic
            >lineage as legendary, where would you find any evidence that Jesus had
            >non-Semitic genes apart from the rather late legend that he was sired by
            >a Roman soldier? ...

            >I conclude there are no good historical grounds for concluding that
            >Jesus was anything but a full-blooded Semite & probably an ethnic Hebrew
            >of Judean extraction.
            >

            I quite agree with your conclusion. However, what Crutchfield was arguing
            went beyond this to make the claim that Jews (including Jesus) had a
            known physiognomic type that was readily distinguishable from other
            peoples, which is simply a racist absurdity. (I'm sorry for the strong
            language, but I think it is appropriate.) The reason for this requires an
            understanding of what it takes for a genetically isolated population
            (assuming one existed in this case) to develop distinctive and
            recognizable phenotypic characteristics (e.g., facial features, hair
            color, eye color) different from those of surrounding populations.

            Jack Kilmon raised the issue that social and religiously-motivated sexual
            isolation could accomplish the same thing as geographical isolation. This
            is true, but I doubt that the necessary degree of isolation can be
            demonstrated, even if Jesus' Davidic lineage that you referred to was
            historical. For then David would only be one ancestor out of... well,
            let's see now. Matthew lists something like 25 generations from David to
            Jesus, so besides David, Jesus had about 2 to the 25th power ancestors
            contemporary with David, which is more than 33 million ancestors, I
            believe. And this lineage includes the Babylonian exile.

            Didn't MIchener write a novel about Palestine? Ah, yes; The Source, I
            believe it was called. I think the theme of the whole book is how many
            people have laid a claim to Palestine at one time or another. You
            yourself mentioned the Hellenistic cities--- representing a prior
            conquest of this link between Asia and Africa by a European power.

            There is absolutely no way, given my training in population biology, that
            I can see that a distinctive "jewish" physical type could have been
            maintained.

            Yes, Jesus was a Jew. But does that really tell us anything about how he
            looked?

            Bob
          • Mahlon H. Smith
            ... Since NYC was of course not the best parallel, I only meant to question your emphatic use of it (twice in the same paragraph) to contest the stability --
            Message 5 of 8 , Apr 2, 2000
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              I wrote:

              > >Not to quibble about being honest, Bob, but isn't your comparison just a
              > bit too much of an anachronism for an anthropologist? As a historian I
              > would hardly compare pre-1st c. Galilee with NYC as far as population
              > stability is concerned unless I was trying to stress differences.

              To which Bob Schacht replied:

              > Well, of course, NYC is not the best parallel. But if you'll go back and
              > read what I wrote, I was writing not about Galilee, but about Palestine.

              Since NYC was "of course" not the best parallel, I only meant to
              question your emphatic use of it (twice in the same paragraph) to
              contest the stability -- and therefore identifiable physiognomic
              features -- of the population of 1st c. Palestine. I realized that you
              were writing with broad strokes from the vantage point of a sweeping
              historical panorama over thousands of years.

              My point in focusing on Galilee should be evident from the title of this
              thread, which began with Mark Goodacre's quite innocent observation that
              the Jesus in this movie "looked Jewish," which Jim Crutchfield wrote to
              support. I take it that the point of this discussion on XTalk has
              something to do with an accurate conception of HJ rather than the
              history of Palestine or the Near East in general. So the purpose of my
              post was (a) to refocus that discussion on the probable region from
              which HJ came and (b) to point out that as far as we have evidence
              *that* particular region was *not* quite the "crossroads" that you were
              describing.

              No matter how many armies in history marched through Palestine in
              general, where is there evidence of a people other than the Israelites
              *settling* in the hilly region that was identified by ancient Semites as
              *haGalil*? The only candidate I can think of is the Semitic Itureans,
              from whom Josephus claims Aristobulus I wrested control of Galilee in
              104 BCE (Ant 13.318), but (note!) does not claim were actual residents
              of that region. Cf. my *Into His Own* URL:


              http://religion.rutgers.edu/iho/hasmon.html#Aristobulus

              I thought you were meaning to assert that the population from which HJ
              probably came was exposed to such a mixture of ethnic groups resident in
              the same area that it was impossible to narrow down what genes &
              physical features he probably had. If you weren't, I apologize for
              misinterpreting you. But if that *was* your point, then pardon me for
              suggesting that you were probably wrong & asking you to supply evidence
              to support your denial of a relatively stable gene pool for native
              Galileans.

              You continued:

              > And as for invading armies, is not Megiddo (from which we derive
              > Armeggidon) located on the threshhold between Galilee and Samaria? Is not
              > the Plain of Esdraelon the historical battle ground of numerous campaigns
              > by Egyptian vs. Assyrian or Bablylonian armies?

              The obvious answer to both questions is "of course." But note four
              points: (a) the last of the invasions you referred to occurred almost 6
              centuries before HJ; (b) there is no historical record of these armies
              settling among the population in the area north of Megiddo (which is
              Galilee proper); (c) aside from the Egyptians who last *controlled* that
              area ca. 1200 BCE, the armies you mention were also composed of Semites;
              (d) no matter how many Israelite women these armies raped during their
              conquest, there are no historical grounds for suggesting that their
              off-spring settled the region from which HJ himself came.

              You wrote:

              > On one
              > of my holidays, I got out the topomaps and tried to retrace on foot the
              > path one of the Egyptian armies probably took thousands of years ago.
              >

              Precisely my point about the temporal gap between non-Semitic invaders
              of this region & HJ. Did your "probable" path take you to Nazareth?

              I wrote:


              > > But most of the traffic on that route [the Via Maris] throughout history was
              > >probably regional trade between various Semitic peoples (Hebrews,
              > >Syrians, Phoenicians, Itureans, etc.).

              To which you replied:

              > Um, well, maybe so at *some* (to borrow some of your asterisks) times in
              > history, but your sweeping statement that this applies "throughtout"
              > history can hardly be sustained.

              You're right, I over-generalized. To be accurate I should have qualified
              that to read "throughout the period of *ancient* history relevant to
              population studies of Jesus' native region *prior* to his birth." Or do
              you have evidence of an Egyptian tradepost or Greek or Roman settlement
              in the Galilean segment of the Via Maris in the millennium prior to HJ's
              birth?

              You continued:

              > Besides, some historians consider the
              > overland traffic from Egypt to Damascus historically significant since
              > the time of the Middle Kingdom in Egypt?

              What has that do with the ethnic homogeneity of Galilee in the 1st c.
              BCE? I grew up in rural Bergen County NJ in the shadow of NYC where the
              interstate traffic was so dense that old time local residents literally
              had to head to the hills to escape the noise & pollution. But settlement
              of out-of-staters in my native region was rare before the 1950s. In
              fact, one of the major highways that bisected my home borough of Paramus
              (Route 17) became a major artery for cosmopolitan development only in my
              college years. Further up toward the NY state border Route 17 cut thru
              Mahwah which remained less developed than areas of the Catskills until
              the 1980s. Less than two decades ago Mahwah was still home to a
              physically distinct ethnic group known locally as "Jackson whites."
              These were descendents of the old Dutch population in the area & freed
              Negro slaves who settled in the hills of NJ during the 1850s. Jackson
              whites were readily identifiable by inbred
              physical traits: a light brown complexion, reddish brown hair, blue
              eyes, &
              freckles. I went thru high school with several of them, who lived right
              off Route 17. Thus, the mere fact that an interstate highway passed
              through a given region is *not* admissable evidence against the survival
              of a genetically stable rural ethnic population, even in modern times.

              You wrote:

              > And doesn't Crossan argue that
              > the lesson of Sepphoris and Tiberias argue for outside interest in
              > exporing the resources of Galilee?

              As I wrote, Sepphoris & Tiberias are evidence only of what happened
              *after* the birth of HJ. They prove nothing about his probable genetic
              roots.

              > Just as my field experience at Tell
              > Ta'anach influenced me, so yours in the rugged hills of northern Galilee
              > has influenced you into thinking of Galilee as a kind of boondocks place.
              >

              I beg your pardon. But my personal experience of Galilee also includes
              the
              region around the Lake Gennesaret & the southern tier from Tabor to
              Sepphoris. So I am well aware of the differences between upper & lower
              Galilee. I also know that in the 1st c. CE Tell Ta'anach was not located
              in the province of Galilee. So what might have been true there cannot be
              generalized with regard to the region from which HJ came. Moreover,
              social historians of Galilee like Horsley & those scholars dependent on
              them like Crossan & myself, stress that the urbanization & thus the
              cosmopolitanization of Galilee proper was begun by Herod Antipas as I
              wrote below:

              > >Most importantly for the question of mixing populations,
              however, is the
              > >fact that before the time of the Herods there was no major
              city in
              > >Galilee proper which could act as a magnet for attracting
              diverse ethnic
              > >groups.

              To which you replied:

              >
              > Acco? (well, of course, you'll say that's not Galilee
              proper). Let's keep
              > scale in mind here. Even in ancient times, it didn't take
              that long to
              > travel from Damascus to Acco.
              >

              The question is not travel but residency of local populations, unless
              one
              thinks that every travelling salesman in antiquity sowed his seed along
              the path. Where in the gospels do you find any evidence that either the
              family or followers of HJ gravitated towards the Hellenized *Phoenician*
              city of Akko (Ptolemais)? At any rate, Damascus & Akko were centers of
              Semitic populations who were genetically related to the Israelites &
              therefore shared similar Semitic physical traits.

              I wrote:

              > >Where is there any evidence of Romans or other
              non-Israelites in
              > >Galilee's rural hillside villages like Nazareth?

              To which you replied:

              > So? Why make so much of Nazareth, when it was only 4 miles from
              > Sepphoris? Is that distance genetically significant?

              Absolutely! Both genetically & culturally. My hometown of Paramus lies
              only 4 miles from the George Washington bridge. But until my teenage
              years practically all the native population of the area was of
              Dutch/English/Scottish/German extraction -- quintessential WASPS. The
              influx of Irish, Italians, Poles, etc. began only after WW2 & really
              became noticeable only in my teenage years. Where do you find historical
              evidence of such urban cultural sprawl in Galilee even during the reign
              of that deliberate Romanizer, Herod Antipas? And where do you find *any*
              reason to think that such cosmopolitan development affected HJ's own
              family roots?

              I wrote:

              > >Add to this the fact that early Xn tradition regularly
              represented Jesus
              > >as a "Jew" with Judean roots.

              To which you replied:

              > I thought you were arguing for *Galilean* isolation of Jesus. Now you're
              > saying that he's regularly represented as a Jew with Judean roots. Well,
              > so much for Galilean isolation, I guess.
              >

              If you'll read my post, I did not claim "isolation of Jesus" but merely
              that Galilee was "topically designed to support a stable ethnically
              homogeneous indigenous population." We have historical evidence of the
              Judean conquest & Judaization of at least some of Galilee a century
              before HJ. Where are there records of similar campaigns by Greeks,
              Romans or anyone else in this area?


              >
              > >I conclude there are no good historical grounds for concluding that
              > >Jesus was anything but a full-blooded Semite & probably an ethnic Hebrew
              > >of Judean extraction.
              > >
              To which you replied:

              > I quite agree with your conclusion. However, what Crutchfield was arguing
              > went beyond this to make the claim that Jews (including Jesus) had a
              > known physiognomic type that was readily distinguishable from other
              > peoples, which is simply a racist absurdity.

              Unless you were referring to some other post than I got in my in-box,
              all Jim Crutchfield wrote was that "Jesus must certainly have shared the
              *general physical features* common to most of the peoples of the Eastern
              Mediterranean." I don't know how you can get out of that that he meant
              that Jews could be "readily distinguished from other peoples." The
              features he listed are *general* Semitic traits.

              As far as this being "racist absurdity": are you inferring that races
              and ethnic groups cannot be distinguished by readily distinguishable
              physical traits? Then how is it that ethnologists can track the path of
              Norman conquests by noting the occurrence of red hair & blue eyes in
              populations from Scotland & Ireland to Sicily? Or how could my wife,
              whose family was of Germanic extraction but lived in Hungary for more
              than 500 years, be told by a Hungarian she had just met: "Your ancestors
              obviously weren't Magyar"? Recognition of distinguishing physical traits
              does not make one a racist. But to pretend that there are no typical
              physical features of different ethnic groups is unscientific nonsense.

              You wrote:

              > The reason for this requires an
              > understanding of what it takes for a genetically isolated population
              > (assuming one existed in this case) to develop distinctive and
              > recognizable phenotypic characteristics (e.g., facial features, hair
              > color, eye color) different from those of surrounding populations.
              >
              > Jack Kilmon raised the issue that social and religiously-motivated sexual
              > isolation could accomplish the same thing as geographical isolation. This
              > is true, but I doubt that the necessary degree of isolation can be
              > demonstrated...

              I would agree that some degree of geographical/cultural isolation was
              necessary in primitive populations for differences in physical features
              to develop & become inbred in particular groups. But once those
              differences have developed all one needs is the human animal's tendency
              towards tribalism to keep those features inbred. Throughout history all
              over the world tribes have coexisted in relative geographic proximity
              without significant inter-breeding (e.g., the Serbs & Albanians of
              Kosovo, the Watusi & pygmies of Africa, various castes in India,
              Mongolians & Koreans -- all of whom have physical features that make
              them readily distinguishable from each other). Tribal solidarity is what
              Israelite history was all about. Without it Jews would have disappeared
              as a distinct people a long time ago. One of the things that made HJ &
              the movement he spawned seem so socially radical to other contemporary
              Jews is that he & they challenged the whole ancient practice of basing
              social relations on tribalism.

              You wrote:
              >
              > There is absolutely no way, given my training in population biology, that
              > I can see that a distinctive "jewish" physical type could have been
              > maintained.
              >

              But Bob, that's not what Mark G., Jim Crutchfield or I have have been
              trying to say. When a WASP says that "Jesus looked Jewish" he simply
              means that HJ probably had physical features that Jews in general share
              with other Semitic peoples in general rather than features common among
              those of European extraction. If anyone had said that you could tell
              Jesus was a Jew (rather than Lebanese or Syrian or Samaritan) just by
              looking at him, I would have been the first to protest.

              This whole mountain of correspondence has been generated by a simple
              celebration on the part of two very WASPy scholars that *finally* there
              is an artistic work in which we have a Jesus who doesn't look like an
              Anglo-Saxon or some other European ethnic type -- a Jesus who looks more
              like his own people than us. Isn't that something to celebrate rather
              than protest?

              It may be a minor thing, but it could help make western Xns more aware
              of what that self-styled "Hebrew of Hebrews" Paul tried to get the
              gentile Xns at Rome to accept about his non-Xn "brothers by common
              genes" (TWN ADELFWN TWN SUGGENWN):

              "To *them* belong the fathers, and from *them* is the Messiah according
              to the *flesh*. God who is over all be blessed forever. Amen!" (Rom
              9:5).

              Should Paul be accused of "racist absurdity" for insisting that Jesus'
              flesh was genetically akin to that of the Hebrew patriarchs & non-Xn 1st
              c. Jews? If not, then what's wrong with saying that he probably looked
              Semitic rather than European? More Jewish than Greek? That his skin was
              probably swarthy rather than pasty white, that his hair was probably
              black rather than having golden highlights (like so many "portraits" of
              Jesus), that his eyes were probably brown rather than blue, that his
              nose was probably more hooked than straight, that his face was probably
              more elongated than square-jawed, etc.? I don't care what Semitic
              physical traits one imagines; isn't it high time that we western Xns
              *stop* representing Jesus as looking like *us* rather than his fellow
              Jews?

              Shalom!

              Mahlon

              --

              *********************

              Mahlon H. Smith, http://religion.rutgers.edu/mh_smith.html
              Associate Professor
              Department of Religion Virtual Religion Index
              Rutgers University http://religion.rutgers.edu/vri/
              New Brunswick NJ

              Into His Own: Perspective on the World of Jesus
              http://religion.rutgers.edu/iho/

              A Synoptic Gospels Primer
              http://religion.rutgers.edu/nt/primer/

              Jesus Seminar Forum
              http://religion.rutgers.edu/jseminar/
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