Jits van Straten - the controversy unraveled

August 2014.

Last week i read a very interesting book by Jits van Straten: The Origin of Ashkenazi Jewry: The Controversy Unraveled. New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2011. xii + 234 pp. $120.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-3-11-023605-7. Actually i read the Dutch version, which appeared two years earlier and had a better price.

I also read a review by Paul Wexler on the book.

The "Controversy" in the title was raised by Renan in 1883: The Jewish population in Eastern Europe is too large to accept the common thought that the Ashkenazim went from Germany to Eastern Europe. Probably they descend from the South-Russian Khazaria, which was ruled by a Royal family and upper class that chose Jewish as a religion. They are not genetic descendants from Judea. If they would descend from German Jews who arrived at the end of the middle ages, the required population growth would be unrealistic high.

The book has five parts:

Jils van Straten does a good job and gives a good overview on the subjects of the book, in particular the historic facts and discussions. I was disappointed on the DNA-chapter. Apart from the incorrect statements, the knowledge has changed dramatically. I considered his model on population growth interesting, but only interesting on the period 1500-1900. The model and DNA-knowledge as discussed on this website has the opportunity to compare model with observations in the years 0-1900 CE.

The title of the book suggests a clear final conclusion. This is not present in the book.


The book gives good arguments for the following conclusions:

Consistent results with this website

On the subject of population growth of Jews in Eastern Europe the model he uses has great similarities with the model presented on this website:

Inconsistent results with this website

He also gives arguments which are insufficient and probably incorrect: