strtoupper('“M')osiah Discovered That the People of Zarahemla Came out from Jerusalem”

According to an article in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, edited by John Sorenson, for decades immediately after World War II, blood group data seemed to provide a magic key to open up the history of the world's populations. But critics soon gave reasons to backtrack from those hasty conclusions. The notion had been held that scientist could draw their sample for blood group studies from all who spoke a particular "native" language, on the assumption that common language would mean common biology. Eventually this assumption was recognized as unrealistic and misleading. In fact, this criticism called into question the whole concept of trying to compare the biology of say "Polynesians" with American Indians." The genetic makeup of speakers of the same language turned out to be highly variable and the basis for an American Indian sample might be as much geographical as biological.

So doing historical reconstruction today using blood group comparisons is essentially passe. D. Allbrook felt that studies have shown but little historically sensible patterning when viewed against linguistic and archaeological date.

The DNA studies concluded that any comprehensive solution to questions about the relationships among and origins of the American Indians must await a substantially larger, and more costly suite of tests on DNA than those now in use. Clearly the DNA technique is not the ultimate answer to the problems of ancient population movements that lay people (and some experts) have hoped it might be. [John L. Sorenson, "New Light: The Problematic Role of DNA Testing in Unraveling Human History," in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Vol. 9, Num. 2, pp. 67, 70] [See the commentary on 2 Nephi 28:10]

“Mosiah Discovered That the People of Zarahemla Came out from Jerusalem”

According to Jeff Lindsay, genetic data are just becoming available to allow us to examine the relationships of Native Americans to other peoples in the world. The picture is far more complex than was previously thought. Interestingly, recent scientific research points to a possible link between Eurasians, including some Israelis, and Native Americans (See Virginia Morell, "Genes May Link Ancient Eurasians, Native Americans" in Science, vol. 280, April 24, 1998, p. 520.) For the benefit of the reader, the following are a few excerpts from that April '98 Science publication:

The new data, from a genetic marker appropriately called Lineage X, suggest a "definite--if ancient--link between Eurasians and Native Americans," says Theodore Schurr, a molecular anthropologist from Emory University. . . . A team, led by Emory researchers Michael Brown and Douglas Wallace, and including Antonio Torroni from the University of Rome and Hans-Jurgen Bandelt from the University of Hamburg in Germany, was searching for the source population of a puzzling marker known as X. This marker is found at low frequencies throughout modern Native Americans and has also turned up in the remains of ancient Americans. Identified as a unique suite of genetic variations, X is found on the DNA in the cellular organelle called the mitochondrion, which is inherited only from the mother.

Researchers had already identified four common genetic variants, called haplogroups A, B, C, and D, in the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of living Native Americans (Science, 4 October 1996, p. 31). These haplogroups turned up in various Asian populations, lending genetic support for the leading theory that Native Americans descended primarily from these peoples. But researchers also found a handful of other less common variants one of which was later identified as X.

Haplogroup X was different. It was spotted by Torroni in a small number of European populations. So the Emory group set out to explore the marker's source. They analyzed blood samples from Native American, European, and Asian populations and reviewed published studies. "We fully expected to find it in Asia," like the other four Native American markers, says Brown.

To their surprise, however, haplogroup X was only confirmed in the genes of a smattering of living people in Europe and Asia Minor, including Italians, Finns, and certain Israelis.

Now this doesn't prove the Book of Mormon is true. The haplogroup X which links "certain Israelis" and Europeans with Native Americans may have no relation to the Nephites, the Jaredites, or the Mulekites. But this new study does much to eliminate a common allegation of Book of Mormon critics. They claim that there are no scientific reasons and particularly no genetic evidence to accept the possibility of ancient migrations from the Middle East to the Americas. Based on the latest findings in science, they are wrong.

Note* Dr. Theodore G. Schurr has published further work in the highly respected publication, American Scientist. His article, "Mitochondrial DNA and the Peopling of the New World" (Vol. 88, No. 3, May-June 2000, pp. 246-253) discusses the wide diversity of Native American genotypes and provides many intriguing photographs showing great diversity. He demonstrates that the distribution of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) groups in the New World is much more complicated than previously thought, and cannot be explained solely by Siberian genes arriving via the Bering Strait. [Jeff Lindsay, "Book of Mormon Evidences," []]

Alan C. Miner -

Alan C. Miner

Step by Step Through the Book of Mormon: A Cultural Commentary