Elusive Israel and the Numerical Dynamics of Population Mixing

Elusive Israel and the Numerical Dynamics of Population Mixing

Brian D. Stubbs

Ethnic mixing viewed through the glimpse of a single lifetime can seem negligible.
However, a detailed examination of the mathematics of population mixing over a
few lifetimes reveals how quickly and thoroughly populations mix over time. Even
scholars seldom realize how dynamic the cumulative effect of this mixing is upon
a pedigree. The passage of only five hundred years can result in 98 percent of
a tribe’s or community’s posterity not being pure- or full-blooded.
This article examines the numerical dynamics of population mixing and their significance
for Book of Mormon peoples in the New World and for Israel generally throughout
the world.

As a potential candidate for being in an ethnically mixed marriage, I have given
the matter of mixing considerable thought: my wife is from Argentina, while my
known/recorded ancestry comes out of the British Isles. I call myself a potential
candidate because the common views used to determine this sort of distinction
are oversimplified, if not erroneous, so I have doubts that my wife and I qualify
any more than most others would. The lineage of most persons and groups consists
of genetic contributions from several ethnic varieties. The three numerically
prominent population groups in the history of Western Europe are the Celts, the
Germanic peoples, and the Romans. Everyone with roots out of Western Europe would
have all three well represented in his or her ancestry, whether verifiable or
not. As I look at my pedigree from 1700 to 1850, half the marriages are unions
between a Germanic spouse (English) and a Celtic spouse (Welsh, Scottish, or Irish),
though each of those individuals would already have been a thorough Germanic-Celtic

The Romans ruled Britain from the middle of the first century AD to the year
4101 and during that time undoubtedly bestowed a considerable genetic contribution
upon the island population. Whatever islanders missed out on Roman genes through
that episode probably picked up some from their pre-English Germanic ancestors
on the continent, who also mixed with and were ruled by the Romans through the
same centuries before crossing the channel in the middle of the fifth century
AD. And if those two episodes didn’t make enough of a genetic impact, a
third opportunity came in the centuries after 1066 during the rule of the Norman
French, who were themselves at least a four-way mix of Norsemen (hence the name
Norman), Germanic Franks, Celtic Gauls, and (of course) Romans, whose Latin was
largely the progenitor of the French language. So I—and everyone from the
British Isles—would have quite a thorough mix of Germanic, Celtic, and Roman

My wife’s ancestors are primarily from Spain and Italy, with a probable,
though unverifiable, Native American line or two. (Of course, I may have one,
too.) In areas now labeled Spain and Italy, the Celtiberians (a Celtic-Iberian
mix) in Spain and other Celtic groups lived in or bordered and mixed with the
populations of both areas more centuries than they did not. Similarly, the Visigoths
and other Germanic peoples were also prominent in the histories and pedigrees
of those areas; and, of course, the Romans came out of Italy and ruled Spain for
some time. So if I am 40 percent Germanic, 30 percent Celtic, 20 percent Roman,
and 10 percent other, and if my wife is 20 percent Germanic, 30 percent Celtic,
40 percent Roman, and 10 percent other, are we more different than most random
couples of Western European extraction? She and I are distant cousins three ways!
Even the geneticists find national identities in Europe rather indistinguishable.2

Israel Disseminated

According to mathematical probabilities that will be detailed below, Israel’s
permeation of world populations affects the genetic heritage of at least a hundred
times more people than is obvious or known—in the Old World and the New.
The linguistic variety in the Americas3 and John Sorenson’s population analysis4
both suggest that many other peoples dwelt in ancient America in addition to Book
of Mormon groups.5 After the Book of Mormon groups arrived in the New World, the
diffusion of Israel in the New World would in many ways have paralleled that in
the Old World. In both hemispheres, many persons, families, and groups regularly
left the several main bodies to seek perceived “greener pastures”
of land, opportunity, or marriage. For example, even before Christ’s time,
enough Jews had left Palestine that the Jewish population outside of Palestine
was likely greater than the Jewish population in Palestine.6

Similar diffusions of Lehites and Mulekites into surrounding populations of the
New World (or assimilations of outside populations into Lehite and Mulekite groups)
were undoubtedly occurring throughout Book of Mormon history and since.7 For example,
the Mulekite group that the Nephites found in Zarahemla may have been only one
of many groups splintered off since their original disembarkment, just as the
Nephites who found them were but a fraction of Lehi’s posterity in the Americas
at that time. Then the several splinter groups would subsequently have mixed with
other pre-Columbian populations.

Besides revealing a magnified extent of population mixing, an understanding of
the numerical dynamics behind it also discourages the common oversimplification
that a person is either “of Israel” or is “not of Israel.”
The likelihood of a person having a high percentage of Israelite blood these days
is improbable to impossible, yet in many areas the likelihood of high percentages
of people having some Israelite ancestry is probable. No one has a lot, but a
lot have a little.

No one is a “pure Israelite,” nor ever has been, except Israel (Jacob)
himself. Jacob’s twelve sons—who were only half Israelite—presumably
did not marry sisters, so Jacob’s grandchildren, who made the trek into
Egypt to meet their uncle Joseph, were already only one-quarter Israelite, Israel
(Jacob) being only one of the four grandparents of each of his son’s children.
How many of those grandchildren married cousins and how many married outside the
group is not known. Some of Jacob’s posterity probably married into the
ethnic group to which Joseph’s wife and children belonged. Regardless, by
the time Jacob died in Egypt, most of his posterity were probably from a quarter
to one thirty-second Israelite, genetically speaking. Those proportions diminished
through succeeding centuries as Israelites married Midianites, Moabites, Hittites,
and so on. Following the various dispersions, the percentages of Israelite ancestry
within each person would diminish at more accelerated rates.8

As a result, few, if any, could be as much as 25 percent Israelite (even in Jewish
communities), yet the numerical dynamics of population mixing suggest that smaller
percentages of the literal “blood of Israel” are likely to be in many
more persons than ever suspected. However, the thoroughness, extent, and rapidity
of the spread and diffusion of Israel in both hemispheres cannot be fully appreciated
without a careful consideration of the actual mathematics involved.

Tracking the Numbers

Neighboring populations mix whether they are comparable or different in size,
but small populations mix even faster because the smaller the group, the greater
the percentage that marries outside the group. For example, in an Amerindian tribe
or Jewish community of 1,000 to 2,000, there may be 50 to 100 unmarried persons
of marriageable age at any given time. Therefore, about 25 to 50 potential partners
of the opposite gender exist within one’s own group, which is not a wide
selection. Even though a certain number will marry one of those 25 to 50 within
the group, it is likely that others will marry outside the group. So the percentage
of a small population that will marry outside its group, due simply to a lack
of prospective partners within the group, is much higher than the percentage of
a large population that will marry into an outside or neighboring group.9

Consider a hypothetical and simplified but realistic scenario for a tribe, a Jewish
community, or some other minority population living among a larger population
of “outsiders.” Jewish families or communities are as cohesive as
any, yet they, too, naturally diffuse into neighboring populations—and they
allow incursions by genetic outsiders through conversions. This is apparent by
the facts that many Jews in Africa are black, that the Jews in China look oriental,10
that the Jews in Europe look more European than Mediterranean, and so on. Suppose
that a small percentage of the children born into a Jewish community marries outside
the group. Even if the “outsider” spouse was not a convert to Judaism,
the children of this marriage would likely know of their Jewish heritage and might
be acquainted with their Jewish grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. But
the children of these children—that is, the great-grandchildren of the last
regular reader of the Torah—may or may not know that they are of Jewish
descent, that their great-grandfather was the last orthodox observer in their
line, and that their second cousins and their parents’ cousins are Jewish.
I know my thirty aunts and uncles and my eighty first cousins well, but I knew
none of my parents’ cousins or my second cousins until I moved to a small
town three hundred miles away, made new friends, and after several years of acquaintance
discovered that three of them were my second cousins. In other words, the passage
of a few generations often obscures ancestral identities.

Returning to the example, it is instructive to chart the numerical impact over
several generations of even a fraction of the community’s young people marrying
outside the community, as I have done in table 1 (see p. 172). To facilitate the
math, I have calculated the ratio of those who marry outside the community at
10 percent; the number of discrete generations per century as three—or 33
years per generation, which is actually longer than the average; and a constant
population growth rate of 2.5 children per couple. This latter figure might be
slightly high considering the infant mortality rate of past centuries, but the
percentages shown on the table would be valid regardless. I have also assumed
equal gender ratios and a constant rate of diffusion in each generation. These
are simplifications, certainly, but they do not diminish the value of the illustration.

Table 1. The Numerical Dynamics of Population Mixing


those with ancestry exclusively from within the ethnic group those with ancestry from outside the group
generation adults (ai) % of ax couples (ci) offspring* (cix2.5) adults (ao) % of ax couples (co) offspring (cox2.5) total adults descended from group (ai + ao = ax)
1 900 90% 450 1,125=1,013+112 100 10% 100 250 1000
112+250=362 adults with mixed ancestry in the 2nd generation
2 1,013 74% 506 1,265=1,139+126 362 26% 362 905 1,375
126+905=1,031 adults with mixed ancestry in the 3rd generation
3 1,139 52% 570 1,425=1,283+142 1031 48% 1,031 2,577 2,170
142+2,577=2,719 adults with mixed ancestry in the 4th generation
4 1,283 32% 640 1,600=1,440+160 2,719 68% 2,719 6,797 4,002
5 1,440 17% 720 1,800=1,620+180 6,957 83% 6,957 17,392 8,397
6 1,620 8% 810 2,025=1,823+202 17,572 92% 17,572 43,930 19,192
7 1,823 4% 911 2,277=2,050+227 44,132 96% 44,132 110,330 45,955
8 2,050 2% 1025 2,562=2,306+256 110,557 98% 110,557 276,392 112,607

*In this column, the total number of offspring with ancestry exclusively from within the group is broken into figures representing 90 percent and 10 percent of that total. The 90-percent figure becomes the ai figure for the next generation, while the 10-percent figure is added to the cox2.5 figure of the same generation to yield the ao figure of the next generation.

On the table, the generation number is on the left. The next four numbers then
follow for those whose ancestry comes exclusively from within the ethnic group:
the number of adults with ancestry from exclusively within the group, the percentage
they represent of the total number of adults in that generation that are related
to the group, the number of couples that those adults would form if everyone married,
and the number of offspring of those couples if couples averaged 2.5 children
who reached adulthood. In the next four columns to the right are parallel figures
for those marrying partners with ancestry from outside the group; the fourth of
these columns, labeled “offspring,” represents those born to these
marriages, having ancestry partly from outside the original group and partly from
within it. The last column shows the total number of adults of that generation,
of whatever ancestry, who are descended from it.

Let’s walk through the first few generations. From a community including,
say, 1,000 adults of one generation, 900, or 90 percent, marry within the group
to form 450 couples (ci)—half the number of individuals, since both spouses
come from within the group. The other 10 percent, or 100, marry outside the group
to form 100 couples (co), since the partner of each member of the group comes
from outside the group. This factor alone accounts for a phenomenal geometric
growth of posterity with ancestry from outside the group that increases much faster
than the number of posterity with ancestry from exclusively within the group.
However, each succeeding generation with ancestry from outside the group will
have ever smaller fractions of their ancestry from within the group.

At a population growth rate of 2.5 children per couple, the 450 couples that marry
within the ethnic group would have 1,125 children (ci x 2.5), 90 percent of whom
(1,013) marry within the group and 10 percent of whom (112) marry outside the
group—meaning that they marry someone whose ancestors were not exclusively
from within the group, even if some of them were. The 112 marrying outside the
group in this second generation combine with the 250 born to those with one parent
from outside the group for a total of 362 persons descended from the group but
with ancestry from outside of it in the second generation. Those 362 comprise
26 percent of the total 1,375 (that is, 1,013 + 362, or ax) descended from the
group in the second generation. Those 362 persons marry an equal number with ancestry
from outside the group to form 362 couples who in turn have 905 children, while
the 1,013 who marry within the group form 506 couples (assuming that one did not
marry) and have 1,265 children. Of those 1,265 children, 10 percent, or 126, marry
partners with ancestry from outside the group in the third generation, combining
with their 905 relatives with ancestry from outside the group for a total of 1,031
adults with ancestry from outside the group in the third generation. Keep in mind
that the number of related adults with ancestry from outside the group for any
given generation (ao) is the 10 percent of the previous generation that married
outsiders or partners of mixed ancestry added to the offspring with mixed ancestry
born in that generation. The related adults with ancestry from outside the group
in the fifth generation, for example, is 6,957, adding the numbers 160 + 6,797
from the fourth generation. The percentage figure to the right of each figure
in the “adults” columns is the percentage that number of adults comprises
of the total adult population related to the group, of whatever ancestry (ax).
For example, in the fifth generation, 1,440 adults with ancestry from exclusively
within the group comprise 17 percent of the total 8,397 adults related to the
group, while the remaining 83 percent are the 6,957 adults of mixed ancestry.

After only eight generations (approximately 267 years), only 2 percent of the
group’s posterity still has ancestry exclusively from within the group and
98 percent of those related to the group have mixed ancestry. In actuality, the
numbers of individuals with ancestry from outside the group will not multiply
quite as rapidly as table 1 portrays because, as indicated, many in surrounding
areas will be distant relatives with some ancestry from within the group; that
is, not every person who marries outside the group will marry a person totally
unrelated to the group. Some would marry outside partners who themselves are 1/8
or 1/64 Jewish, Hopi, Zuñi, or whatever; thus, after the first generation,
the number of marriageable adults with some ancestry from outside the group (ao)
will not quite equal that same number of new couples (co), as portrayed in the
table. The argument that Jews or other groups are more strictly cohesive than
to allow 10 percent to leave may occasionally apply, but even 3 percent would
yield the same result, though this would come about in 800 years instead of 267:
2 to 10 percent with ancestry from exclusively within the group versus 90 to 98
percent with ancestry from outside the group.

The dynamics of this phenomenon also explain why thousands of the present descendants
of the Cherokee look Caucasian. The Cherokee may have mixed with Europeans more
than any tribe; thus, claims of Cherokee ancestry made by people who do not look
remotely Amerindian are not necessarily fictitious but may simply reflect these
figures—that 2 to 10 percent of Cherokee descendants are still in the group
and look Amerindian, while 90 to 98 percent of Cherokee descendants are Caucasian-looking
Americans.11 Continuing the math over a millennium or two would leave less than
1 percent of today’s literal descendants of the Cherokee, Hopi, Kiowa, Jews,
or whatever minority population knowing about that heritage, while more than 99
percent would not know about it and would label themselves according to their
most recent ancestry, since a knowledge of one’s ancestors beyond great-grandparents
is often lost.

For example, I once told a Navaho friend that he looked Hopi to me. As a fluent
speaker of Navaho, born and raised by two Navaho parents, he replied confidently,
“I’m full-blooded Navaho.” I asked where his family was from
originally, and it was an area not far from Hopi land. Two years later he reminded
me of my previous observation and told me that he had recently learned from a
grandparent that some of his ancestral lines were Hopi. As I told him, it is probable
that many Navahos and Hopis near the joint-use area are about half-Hopi and half-Navaho
and are thus blood brothers who feud only according to most recent ancestry. The
same would be true of ethnic groups in many parts of the world. Some studies find
Jews and Palestinians nearly indistinguishable genetically.12

Some may claim that in former, less-mobile times, peoples and places were more
homogenous than they are today. However, many historical accounts (such as Acts
2:5-12) show that international travel was as common and ethnic variety
in many places as diverse as they are today. Historical records of pre-Columbian
American life are rare, but what sixteenth- to nineteenth-century accounts we
do have suggest a “melting-pot” effect in Native Americans at least
as dynamic as today.13

Let us use a different method to figure how many persons and families of Europe,
for example, could have traces of Jewish or Israelite ancestry. It will use simplifications
similar to those in the previous hypothetical scenario, but again, they do not
lessen its value as an illustration. Ralph Marcus writes that at the time of Christ,
10 percent of the Roman Empire was Jewish, comprising about 6 million of a total
population of 60 million. They were identified in two hundred communities around
the Mediterranean besides Palestine, and their numbers appear to have been significant
in Spain, Italy, and Greek-speaking areas.14 Because such estimates could be high—although
it should be borne in mind that they reflect only those known to be Jewish—we
will cut them in half to be conservative and estimate the total Jewish population
at 3 million instead of 6 million. Most Jewish emigrations occurred between the
destructions of the First and Second Temples—586 BC to AD 70. The destinations
of choice were Africa, Arabia, Europe, or deeper into Asia. But of the four possible
areas, let us not assume that a full fourth of the Jewish population immigrated
to Europe—let’s assume a total of perhaps 120,000, representing only
4 percent of the 3 million.

Estimates of Europe’s population in those times usually range from 30 to
40 million.15 For mathematical convenience, let’s select an intermediate estimate
of 36 million. Calculating about 4.5 people per family, 36 million would yield
8 million families in Europe. The 120,000 Jews living in Europe at a given
time would represent about three generations, so if one in 20 of the 40,000
in the generation of marriageable age married a non-Jew at a constant rate
of diffusion, then 2,000 “gentile,” or non-Jewish, families would receive
a new member having Jewish ancestry in the first generation. If each of those
mixed couples had two children that reached adulthood and married (which represents
zero population growth, again for the sake of mathematical simplicity), then
in the second generation, 4,000 families would receive some Jewish heritage
through them, plus another 2,000 families who would receive from among the
next generation of Jews a new member—the one in 20 that would marry outside
their Jewish community—for a total of 6,000 families with some Jewish heritage.
The two offspring from each of those 6,000 families would unite with offspring
from 12,000 gentile families, and an additional 2,000 of the next Jewish generation
would marry outside their community, for a total of 14,000 families containing
a member with some Jewish heritage. This pattern would continue as follows:

Table 2. Jewish Diffusions into the Families of Europe

generation Jews marrying into outside families part-Jewish persons creating families total families
1 2,000 none 2,000
2 2,000 4,000 6,000
3 2,000 12,000 14,000
4 2,000 28,000 30,000
5 2,000 60,000 62,000
6 2,000 124,000 126,000
7 2,000 252,000 254,000
8 2,000 508,000 510,000
9 2,000 1,020,000 1,022,000
10 2,000 2,044,000 2,046,000
11 2,000 4,092,000 4,094,000
12 2,000 8,188,000 8,190,000

In 12 generations—only 400 years—the total number of affected families
has already surpassed the approximate total number of families in Europe, according
to our population estimate. Even if the number of families were actually double
our estimate, it would take only one more generation for all to be affected;
if quadruple that, only two more generations. In other words, whether our initial
estimates are entirely accurate or not hardly matters, since the passage of
time would fill out the established pattern very rapidly in any case.

However, the numbers in table 2 do not mean that all the families of Europe
would be affected in 400 years, because families nearer the Jewish communities
would be impacted several times during these centuries, while other families
further away would not be affected at all in the early generations. That is,
certain areas would receive higher proportions of the total “offshoots”
or available “diffusions” from each Jewish generation, while other
areas would receive few to none, early in the process at least. From the twelfth
generation on, the 2,000 “pure” Jews leaving the main groups each
generation is so minuscule compared to the number who are part Jewish and producing
posterity that one could leave out that part of the calculation, to simplify
the math even further, and merely double the number of those who are part Jewish
each generation for an approximation of the number of diffusional branches sent
out each generation. Rounding our twelfth-generation number off to 8 million
and doubling that for 33 more generations, for a total time period of 1,500
years or 45 generations—say, from the time of Christ to AD 1500—we
would reach a billion familial contributions at the nineteenth generation, a
trillion at the twenty-ninth, and about 64 quadrillion after 45 generations,16
which exceeds by many times the population of the earth, let alone the number
of families in Europe. However, once again, the numbers would not grow as rapidly
as the tables portray because many of these part-Jewish people would be marrying
each other, creating only one new family instead of two. Said differently, many
persons, families, or areas would be receiving dozens to hundreds of these infusions
into their ancestry over the generations and may have surprisingly high percentages
of Jewish ancestry; others, of course, would have less. However, with even a
fraction of that number of diffusional branches being sent out over 1,500 years,
how many persons in Europe would not have Jewish ancestry? Probably very few.

So, as mentioned, it may be misleading to think of persons as either “of
Israel” or “not of Israel.” Even Jacob’s grandchildren
were only one-quarter (25 percent) “of Israel,” and the percentages
among Israelites can only have decreased since. On the other hand, a surprisingly
high percentage of the world’s present population may have traces of Israelite
ancestry, and Abraham’s descendants may indeed be numbered as the stars
in the sky and the sands of the seashore (Genesis 22:17).

The Meaning of It All

So what is the significance of all this to the Amerindians in the New World
and to peoples in the Old World and to you and me? It means that no one is “pure”
Israelite but that very many are part Israelite. In the Old World, it probably
means that if Joseph Smith, whose known and more recent ancestry is out of the
British Isles, was as much Ephraimite as any on earth, as has been said of him,17
and if the roots of most early church leaders came out of the same areas, then
it stands to reason that a migration of Ephraimites entered northwestern Europe
and the British Isles in the distant past. As for other places in the Old World,
we have mentioned the large numbers of Jews living in Rome and Spain even before
Christ was born, and the substantial Jewish and Yiddish-speaking presence in
central and eastern Europe speaks for the probability that significant numbers
throughout Europe and Asia have Israelite ancestry. The same is possible for
much of the world.

In the New World, the numerical dynamics of population mixing make easily feasible
the views of Mark E. Petersen and Ted E. Brewerton that most Amerindians are
descended from Book of Mormon peoples,18 even if Book of Mormon peoples
were originally a minority of ancient American populations and are thus only
a part of the ancestry of most individuals. Exact numbers and percentages must
await more sophisticated and accurate measures, but the pattern makes such views
easily possible, if not probable.

The latest sensation for Book of Mormon critics is DNA. A video produced by
Living Hope Ministries entitled DNA vs. the Book of Mormon discusses both Native
American DNA and linguistic data in an attempt to discount the Book of Mormon.
I am not a microbiologist, but I am a linguist, and for scholarship’s
sake, I hope that the treatment of the genetic data was more credible than the
comments on the linguistic data. In that poorly documented “documentary,”
Thomas Murphy, listed as an anthropologist and scholar, claimed that the linguistic
data of Amerindian languages generally show a link with Asia.19 That is 2 percent
true and 98 percent false. Of some hundred-plus Amerindian language families,20
one (Eskimo-Aleut) still straddles the Bering Strait and one other (Na-Dene,
or at least Athapaskan) shows promise for demonstrable language origins from
Asia.21 However, the other ninety-eight or so language families show no demonstrable
linguistic tie with Asia. Most linguists, like most scholars, assume that those
languages came from Asia, but too long ago to have retained a verifiable link
due to too much change over too many centuries. But that is an assumption. Any
credible linguist would agree that no one has identified a linguistic connection
between East Asian languages and any of the other language families except the
two mentioned.

Even the film’s claim that 99 percent of Amerindian DNA is of Asian origin,
with no sign of Jewish DNA, raised many questions in my mind: (1) First, in
the European gene pool, have microbiologists been able to identify Celtic DNA
as opposed to Germanic or Roman? Even if Celtic DNA could be isolated, to say
that 99 percent of Europeans have Celtic DNA would be misleading, since similarly
high percentages would also have Germanic, Roman, Greek, Basque, Jewish, and
several other kinds of DNA—that is, most individuals in Europe would have
those several kinds of DNA—if the science were advanced enough to identify
the DNA supplied by all the varied people who filled an individual’s billion
ancestral slots eight hundred years ago.22 (2) Bering Strait DNA will, of course,
exist throughout the Americas, just like Celtic DNA exists throughout Europe.
So if Celtic DNA cannot be isolated, given the well-documented history of Europe,
what can definitively be said of the varieties of DNA (besides East Asian) that
may exist in the Americas? Though 99 percent of samples from Amerindians may
show Asian DNA, 75 percent could also show Lehite DNA, as soon as, or if, it
is ever identified—because it will not be the same as Jewish DNA.23 Lehi
and Ishmael were Josephites, not Jewish; though the two tribes are distantly
related, the genetic compositions of both have been highly diluted in the millennia
since Judah and Joseph were born to the same father through different mothers.
(3) Is it even possible to identify Josephite DNA? Are there any Israelite human
remains from northern Palestine dating between 1000 and 600 BC that might
be used for a test? (4) Even if a comparison with Jewish DNA is allowed, what
Jewish DNA have the studies dealt with—the Jews in Europe, or the black
Jews in Africa, or the Jews in China, or whatever DNA all these groups have
in common? (5) Has molecular science been sufficiently refined to measure dates
or amounts of change over a given time period or for a given number of generations?
(6) Of the trillion-plus ancestral slots on anyone’s pedigree chart forty
generations back (ca. 1,200 years), how many individual ancestors could the
science presently identify?

I understand that the science of DNA identification is still in its infancy,
that only small percentages of the DNA strands have been dealt with successfully,
and that even though tremendous potential exists, most of that potential remains
to be realized.24 I am excited about the potential, but I am less than overwhelmed
by the premature shots in the dark and unfounded assumptions based upon perhaps
the first 5 percent of that potential. It may be only a matter of time until
evidence for multitudes of Lehite posterity in the Americas becomes clear. The
numerical dynamics of population mixing would undoubtedly be involved; for in
both the Old World and the New, the parable of the olive tree in Jacob 5, with
its grafts being transplanted into populations the world over, is profoundly


  1. Albert C. Baugh and Thomas Cable, A History of the English Language, 3rd
    ed. (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1978), 44-46; Winston L. S.
    Churchill, Churchill’s History of the English-Speaking Peoples, originally
    published as four volumes in 1955, arranged for one volume by Henry S. Commager
    (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1995), 3-12. Although Julius Caesar mounted
    invasions of Britain in 55 and 54 BC, Roman influence was neither widespread
    nor lasting until the conquest begun by Claudius in AD 43.
  2. Nancy Shute, “Where We Come From,” U.S. News and World Report,
    29 January 2001, 36, states that “most people of European origin are so
    genetically mixed that it’s impossible to tell German from Frenchman,
    Bosnian from Serb.”
  3. Of course, this line of thinking concerns biology more than culture, the other
    dimension of ethnicity, but culture preservation has been an elusive ideal among
    civilized peoples ever since they decided what culture is. I know nothing about
    the culture(s) of my Celtic ancestors except that they played bagpipes instead
    of CDs. Even the more recent pioneer culture from which so many Latter-day Saints
    in the western United States spring is becoming a poorly comprehended past for
    most youth. The only culture those youth and I know very well is the present
    U.S. culture, with its valued visitation rights to Wal-Mart and McDonalds—our
    favorite Celtic restaurant.

  4. Lyle Campbell, Historical Linguistics: An Introduction (Cambridge, Mass.:
    MIT Press, 1999), 163; Johanna Nichols, Linguistic Diversity in Space and Time
    (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), 233. Campbell and Nichols are
    among the foremost specialists in Amerindian languages. Campbell sets the number
    of Amerindian language families at over 150; Nichols offers a number of 157;
    I have seen other counts around 100 and as low as 80. A language family is a
    group of languages that linguists can demonstrate to be related to one another
    and descended from a common parent language spoken anciently. In size, language
    families can range from a small number of languages, or an isolate not verifiably
    related to anything else, to large numbers, like the Algonkian and the Uto-Aztecan
    language families, which consist of about 30 languages each.
  5. John L. Sorenson, “When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land, Did
    They Find Others There?” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 1/1 (1992):
  6. See Matthew Roper, “Nephi’s Neighbors: Book of Mormon Peoples
    and Pre-Columbian Populations,” in this number, pages 91-128; John
    L. Sorenson and Matthew Roper, “Before DNA,” Journal of Book of
    Mormon Studies
    12/1 (2003): 13-23.
  7. Ralph Marcus, “The Challenge of Greco-Roman Culture,” in Great
    Ages and Ideas of the Jewish People
    , ed. Leo W. Schwarz (New York: Random, 1956),
    114-15, states that by the time of Christ, the Jewish population comprised
    10 percent of the Roman Empire and was found in two hundred communities throughout
    southern Europe, western Asia, and northern Africa.
  8. See Matthew Roper, “Swimming in the Gene Pool: Israelite Kinship Relations,
    Genes, and Genealogy,” in this number, 129-64.
  9. See ibid.
  10. For example, about half of the small population of Utes on the White Mesa
    Ute Reservation in southeastern Utah (about 250 persons) marry another Ute;
    the other half marry non-Utes. That pattern over the last five or ten generations
    would result in few if any of them being “pure Ute.”
  11. The Jewish Encyclopedia (New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1907), 4:33-38,
    s.v. “China,” discusses customs of Jewish groups in China that point
    to the possibility that they left Palestine before rabbinic Judaism developed,
    eventually arriving in China about 2,000 years ago. A photo in the article shows
    Chinese Jews to be indistinguishable from Chinese non-Jews. See also the photographic
    essay depicting Jews with a wide range of physical features in “The Problematic
    Role of DNA Testing in Unraveling Human History,” Journal of Book of Mormon
    9/2 (2000): 66-74.
  12. It has been reported to me by part-Cherokee persons that these ratios are
    apparent at tribal reunions, where the majority of Cherokee descendants look
  13. Shute, “Where We Come From,” 39, cites a study by Michael Hammer
    and states that “although Palestinian and Jewish men may be political
    foes, they are also brethren, so closely related as to be genetically indistinguishable.”
  14. My monograph “Athapaskans, Puebloans, and the Prehistory of the Navaho
    People,” a manuscript in process, cites several examples of eighteenth-
    and nineteenth-century historical accounts addressing the frequency of intertribal
    mixing, especially as it applies to the Puebloan ancestry of the Navaho people.
  15. Marcus, “Challenge of Greco-Roman Culture,” 114-15; Haim
    Beinart, Atlas of Medieval Jewish History (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992),
    80-82; Cecil Roth, ed., The Standard Jewish Encyclopedia, new rev. ed.
    (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1966), 791, 1608, 1744-46, and 1753-56.
  16. J. M. Roberts, History of the World (New York: Oxford University Press,
    1993), 334, 409, suggests a population of about 40 million in AD 1000; “Medieval
    Sourcebook: Tables on Population in Medieval Europe,” online at www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/pop-in-eur.html
    (accessed 3 October 2003), offers population figures of 27.5 million in AD
    500, 18 million in AD 650, and 38.5 million in AD 1000; several other sources
    in similar ranges are not cited.
  17. For doubters, I shall complete the chart: 12th generation = 8 million; 13th
    = 16 million; 14th = 32 million; 15th = 64 million; 16th = 128 million; 17th
    = 256 million; 18th = 512 million; 19th = 1 billion (rounded off); 20th = 2
    billion; 21st = 4 billion; 22nd = 8 billion; 23rd = 16 billion; 24th = 32 billion;
    25th = 64 billion; 26th = 128 billion; 27th = 256 billion; 28th = 512 billion;
    29th = 1 trillion (rounded off); 30th = 2 trillion; 31st = 4 trillion; 32nd
    = 8 trillion; 33rd = 16 trillion; 34th = 32 trillion; 35th = 64 trillion; 36th
    = 128 trillion; 37th = 256 trillion; 38th = 512 trillion; 39th = 1 quadrillion
    (rounded off); 40th = 2 quadrillion; 41st = 4 quadrillion; 42nd = 8 quadrillion;
    43rd = 16 quadrillion; 44th = 32 quadrillion; 45th = 64 quadrillion. In numerals,
    a quadrillion is written as a 1 followed by 15 zeros.
  18. In addition to 2 Nephi 3:11, several other sources assert the literal descent
    of Joseph Smith Jr. from Joseph in Egypt and his son Ephraim, though the term
    pure is used loosely in some of them: Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses,
    2:269 (8 April 1855); Joseph Fielding McConkie, “Joseph, Son of Jacob,”
    in Encyclopedia of Mormonism (New York: Macmillan, 1992), 2:760-61; W.
    Cleon Skousen, The Fourth Thousand Years (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966),
  19. Mark E. Petersen, Children of Promise: The Lamanites, Yesterday and Today
    (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1981), 31; Ted E. Brewerton, “The Book of
    Mormon: A Sacred Ancient Record,” Ensign, November 1995, 30.
  20. DNA vs. The Book of Mormon, videocassette (Brigham City, Utah: Living Hope
    Ministries, 2003).
  21. See note 3 above.
  22. Robert Shafer, “Athapaskan and Sino-Tibetan,” International
    Journal of American Linguistics
    18/1 (1952): 12-19. Before becoming aware
    of Shafer’s article, I served a Navaho-speaking mission and found enough
    semantic similarity between Athapaskan and Asian languages to convince me of
    a probable connection between the two; but even if their language is largely
    from across the Bering Strait, the Navaho are genetically an Athapaskan-Puebloan
    mix. I will address this issue in “Athapaskans, Puebloans, and the Prehistory
    of the Navaho People.”
  23. One’s ancestral slots double each generation back: 2 parents; 4 grandparents;
    8; 16; 32; 64; 128; 256; 512; 1,024 (only 10 generations back, or 267 years
    ago). One can continue doubling or else calculate that each of those 1,024 have
    1,024 progenitors of their own 10 generations back, totaling over a million
    slots 20 generations back, or 533 years ago. Each 10 generations, or 267 years,
    adds three more digits to the number of ancestral slots—though it does
    not add that number of ancestors, since the number of one’s ancestral
    slots would soon exceed the population of the earth; instead, the same persons
    begin appearing several times in one’s pedigree.
  24. See Roper, “Swimming in the Gene Pool,” in this number.
  25. See Martin Jones, The Molecule Hunt: Archaeology and the Search for Ancient
    (New York: Arcade, 2001).