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The Origin of the JewsThe Quest for Roots in a Rootless Age$
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Steven Weitzman

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780691174600

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691174600.001.0001

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Genealogical Bewilderment

Genealogical Bewilderment

Lost Ancestors and Elusive Lineages

(p.25) Chapter One Genealogical Bewilderment
The Origin of the Jews

Steven Weitzman

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines genealogy as a method that frames the search for Jewish origins in terms of a research for roots, for distant ancestors. The root is one of the oldest and most pervasive metaphors for origin used today; it implies the existence of something flowing from the root into the trunk and branches—identity, culture, DNA—that connects everything together into an organic whole. The chapter assumes that the Jews are an organic and interconnected whole, a tree with many proliferating branches and stems that grow in different directions but that all arise from a firmly situated root composed of the ancestors from which the Jewish people descend. It considers the inadequacy of genealogy for exploring the origin of the Jews and why genealogical research does not fit well in a postmodern context, arguing that postmodernism is antigenealogy.

Keywords:   genealogy, Jewish origins, roots, ancestors, Jews, genealogical research, postmodernism, antigenealogy

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