Hebrew DNA found in South America

Ok, I’m going quote exactly from the Nephi Project Newsletter.


The Nephi Project Newsletter

12 May 2008


Hebrew DNA found in American Indian populations in South America?

Just as George is preparing for his Book of Mormon research expedition to Peru and Bolivia, Scott R. Woodward, executive director of the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation has announced that a DNA marker called “Cohen modal haplotype” has been found in native people in Columbia, Brazil and Bolivia.

Why is this important?

Although Woodward warns about using DNA as evidence for or against the Book of Mormon, it is the first time a Hebrew specific DNA marker has been discovered among native people in the New World.

We encourage you to learn more about this discovery at:


Keep Exploring,

George Potter & Timothy Sedor


15 comments on “Hebrew DNA found in South America

  1. I don’t understand DNA. Don’t get me wrong, I took Biology 101, so I have a basic understanding of it, but that is the extent of it. Someone that has test-driven a car does not make them an auto-mechanic. However, I find the whole DNA controversy very interesting.

    DNA has had enough of an impact to get the church to change the introduction of the Book of Mormon from “principal ancestors of the American Indians” to “among the ancestors of the American Indians”.

    From the article, I found this quote to be interesting: “Woodward says that most likely, when higher-resolution tests are used, we will learn that the Hebrew DNA in native populations can be traced to conquistadors whose ancestors intermarried with Jewish people in Spain or even more modern migrations.”

    I also would like to comment on this quote:

    “as Hugh Nibley used to say, ‘Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.’ ”

    So in other words, you can not prove that something does not exist. You can not prove that there is not a pair of scissors floating around the planet Neptune. You can show how unlikely it is, and the odds would produce a number so low that it is basically zero. That is why in science, one should look at the evidence and think about what is more reasonable. However, in science, for it to be science, it has to be disprovable. So if something is not disprovable, it is not scientific.

    One other point I would like to make that is usually over-looked is that not only were Native Americans called “Lamanites” by early leaders of the church, but also in revelations given to Joseph Smith from the Lord in first person.

    D&C 32: 2
    “And that which I have appointed unto him is that he shall ago with my servants, Oliver Cowdery and Peter Whitmer, Jun., into the wilderness among the Lamanites.”

    D&C 54: 8
    “And thus you shall take your journey into the regions westward, unto the land of Missouri, unto the borders of the Lamanites.”

    D&C 28: 8-9, 14
    “8 And now, behold, I say unto you that you shall go unto the Lamanites and preach my gospel unto them; and inasmuch as they receive thy teachings thou shalt cause my church to be established among them; and thou shalt have revelations, but write them not by way of commandment.
    9 And now, behold, I say unto you that it is not revealed, and no man knoweth where the city Zion shall be built, but it shall be given hereafter. Behold, I say unto you that it shall be on the borders by the Lamanites.”

    And don’t forget Enos’ plea to the Lord

    Enos 1:12-18
    “12 And it came to pass that after I had prayed and labored with all diligence, the Lord said unto me: I will grant unto thee according to thy desires, because of thy faith.
    13 And now behold, this was the desire which I desired of him?that if it should so be, that my people, the Nephites, should fall into transgression, and by any means be destroyed, and the Lamanites should not be destroyed, that the Lord God would preserve a record of my people, the Nephites; even if it so be by the power of his holy arm, that it might be brought forth at some future day unto the Lamanites, that, perhaps, they might be brought unto salvation?
    14 For at the present our strugglings were vain in restoring them to the true faith. And they swore in their wrath that, if it were possible, they would destroy our records and us, and also all the traditions of our fathers.
    15 Wherefore, I knowing that the Lord God was able to preserve our records, I cried unto him continually, for he had said unto me: Whatsoever thing ye shall ask in faith, believing that ye shall receive in the name of Christ, ye shall receive it.
    16 And I had faith, and I did cry unto God that he would preserve the records; and he covenanted with me that he would bring them forth unto the Lamanites in his own due time.
    17 And I, Enos, knew it would be according to the covenant which he had made; wherefore my soul did rest.
    18 And the Lord said unto me: Thy fathers have also required of me this thing; and it shall be done unto them according to their faith; for their faith was like unto thine.”

  2. Zelph,

    You bring up some excellent points, and I don’t have any good rebuttals. It is obvious from these scriptures that Joseph was inspired to believe that the Book of Mormon lands were in North America.

    As I’ve mentioned before, there are several categories of theories. Lately, I’ve been looking closely at South America, NY, Central America, and a very odd one: the Malay Peninsula (which contains Thailand, Burma, and Malaysia.) All of these theories have significant problems.

    The Malay theory is really interesting to me. At first blush, it handles many of the thorny issues: elephants, horses, barley, wheels, and even DNA. It’s glaring deficiencies: (1) how in the world did the plates arrive from Malaysia to NY?, (2) how do we reconcile Joseph’s revelations and thoughts on this?

    Anyway, the website is http://www.mormonlocations.com/introduction.html and he has a short book out. I actually contacted the author, and he has an unpublished book that I have been reading. It is much better than his short book. I’ve actually asked him how the plates got here, and he said “I don’t know, but neither does Sorenson.” I guess we could chalk up the miracle that Moroni was an angel and could have transported them that way, but that doesn’t exactly hold scientific muster, nor does it explain the D&C scriptures you listed above. But it is quite interesting…. It matches the geography much better than some of the other theories I’ve been reading. (Incidentally, I also have a friend in Hawaii, supporting the Chilean Theory–he’s got some good points too.)

  3. It is very problematic if one is to believe that the revelations in D&C were literal direct revelations. If that is not the case, why did Joseph Smith present them with the lord speaking in first person?

    Thanks for the link. I am very interested in the Malay Peninsula theory, and of course the most obvious of them all is that once again, you would have to go against scripture.

    JS-H 1: 34
    ” 34 He said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang. He also said that the fulness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants;”

    So, are we to discredit Joseph’s statement? Did the angel Moroni really say THIS continent? You can see the dilemma. If we discredit the D&C as well as the Joseph Smith History to prove the veracity of the BoM, where does that leave us? See how it leaves us with more questions?

  4. Zelph,

    Olsen has quoted that exact scripture to me, but emphasizes it differently, instead emphasizing and the source from whence they sprang.

    He says the Source is the Malay Peninsula, and that is how to overcome this apparent discrepancy. I can see his point, but I know that is not a traditional understanding of that scripture, and I’m not sure I buy it completely.

    Olsen has even talked to Simon Southerton. While Southerton is generally thumbs down on the Book of Mormon, he did admit that Olsen’s theory matches the DNA problem better than any other theory.

    While I know this is pretty wild speculation, perhaps Joseph translated the Malay portion, because there are “hundreds” of other records that could possibly deal with a period after 400 AD, representing a remnant of the Malay peoples (ie Lamanites–of course the Nephites were annihilated a continent away)…. I know this is a major stretch.

    On a related note, I recently purchased “Quest for the Lost Tribes” by Simcha Jacobovici on DVD. The science isn’t perfect, but I was astonished when he made a claim that the Tribe of Manasseh was found in Burma (on the Malay Peninsula). There have been conflicting DNA results on this point, but if true, lends some credence to Olsen’s Malay Theory. I found it quite interesting that while Jacobovici (a Jew) is looking for the Lost 10 tribes, he independently possibly found material that could corroborate Olsen’s theory. Of course, more study needs to be done….

    Jacobovici’s take on this point is that when the Assyrians scattered the Northern Kingdom of Israel in about 700 BC, Manasseh ended up in Burma , and there are about 1,000,000 people in Burma claiming to be from this tribe. They are even convincing some rabbi’s of this claim.

    These people could certainly match the Mulekites also, as well as possible descendants of Lehi, who as we know was a descendant of Manasseh.

  5. I just found some interesting comments along this same line of thought at Hieing to Kolob http://kolobiv.blogspot.com/2008/05/why-dna-and-bom-dont-mix.html

  6. Ouch. Woodwards research posted on his website. They found “Cohen modal haplotype” among modern Europeans living in South America. They didn’t test Native Americans. Check it out yourself. It’s on Woodwards website. I though Woodwards comments very strange considering this little detail.

  7. Tom, thanks for the link. I did not know this important fact that the Native Americans had not been tested. This fact even diminishes further the possibility of jewish DNA among the Indians.

  8. Why were the Urim and Thummim and breastplate even needed? Can’t God just give you the power of translation?

  9. One question for everyone.Why were the Urim and Thummim and breastplate even needed? Can’t God just give you the power of translation? I went on a Mission! Did I miss something and/or is this a stupid question?

    Been trying to resolve the whole DNA thing in my head for a while now. Kind of a science freak. Does DNA really prove any thing other than many of our foremothers procreated a bunch or do we look at obvious physical and cultural equity.

  10. I encourage to you read the book “Rough Stone Rolling”, by Richard Bushman. Bushman is a former stake president, and highly regarded orthodox LDS scholar. He recently took the chair of Mormon Studies at Claremont University in California. (Claremont has a well-regarded religious studies dept.)

    Anyway, he goes into great detail, and you will learn that Joseph didn’t really use the Urim & Thummin very much. Once he got the “hang of it”, he translated much as you suggest. His bible translation was done completely without any aid of U-T, or seer stones. Now, Bushman removes much of the mythology of Joseph, so be prepared to learn some stuff the church doesn’t emphasize. Some people have been quite umcomfortable to learn this stuff, but it is true, meticulously researched, and Bushman shows that you don’t have to lose your testimony when you learn this stuff.

    I’m not sure what you mean by your DNA question. There is maternal and paternal DNA patterns, so one should be able to trace back to either the fathers father, or mothers mother.

    You may want to check out my post on Persians and Arabs, at http://www.mormonheretic.org/2008/09/25/whats-the-difference-between-arabs-persians/

    I go into a little bit about race identification there.

    Also, the Cohen gene post has more info as well at http://www.mormonheretic.org/2008/05/16/significance-of-cohen-haplotype/

    You can also click on my tag “DNA” to see most everything I’ve written on the subject.

  11. Zelph, I only skimmed parts of this, but I saw your comment on THIS CONTINENT. Many people consider the North and South American continents as one. I know for a fact that this is common in some Central American Countries, for example. I believe this view was held in the lifetime of Joseph Smith as our 10th Article of Faith says:

    We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.

    Many of the “mistakes” are similar.
    The Book of Mormon often calls anyone baptized, and thus at least adopted into the house of Israel, “Jews.” Why, then, would it be so odd for the Lord to call the Native Americans Lamanites, even if the majority of their DNA might come from the Jaredites, the Mulekites, etc?

  12. Keanan,

    I doubt South Americans were referred to as “Americans” in Joseph’s lifetime. An American is generally considered someone from the USA. Joseph also seemed pretty adamant that the New Jerusalem would be built in Missouri, not South or Central America.

    The Book of Mormon seems to refer to Columbus as a gentile, and seems to refer to the Mother of Gentiles as Britain. I’m not really following your line of logic that anyone baptized as a Jew. While the Jews practiced mikvah, this still seems quite different than a Christian baptism.

  13. […] recently claimed on his website that Hebrew DNA and iron were found here.  However, I believe the Jewish DNA claims could be related to Spanish […]

  14. […] previously quoted from Potter’s newsletter when he heralded an iron ore discovery and Cohen DNA in Peru. What do you […]

  15. The genome studies of indigenous populations in Colombia by Bianchi et al. (1998) Carvajal-Carmona et al. (2000), Bortolini et al. (2004), Rodríguez et al. (2009) and Cordoba et al. (2012) that show six Y-STR markers called Cohen modal hapotype (CMH) do not necessarily indicate Lamanite lineage. The 500 years since the Conquest has been ample time for Sephardic Jewish gene introgression into the study populations.

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