“‘My father was a wandering Aramean'”     So, not a Jew then?       “Of course not, he wasn’t even an Israelite”      So, you’re telling me that Abraham wasn’t a Jew or an Israelite.     “You got it”       So, help me out here; what is ‘Jewishness’? I always thought it was an ethnicity”    “Hmmm. that’s more of a modern concept than a Biblical one”     Why bring the Bible into it?       “I already did, ‘My father was a wandering Aramean’, it’s in the Bible”.  The point is ethnicity in the Bible is a bit confusing. Think about it, Israel is Jacob, but Jacob is distinguished from Esau, who isn’t just his brother, they are twins,  same parents,  similar DNA.”       So, you’re saying…      “Hold on, we’re not done yet: think about Lot, ancestor of Moab, but Abraham’s nephew, same grandparents, similar DNA”          I see, so…      “Still not finished: if you want pure ethnicity – untarnished DNA – it’s not possible.  Think of Jacob’s sons; the sons of Israel.

Judah marries a Canaanite then has twins by his daughter-in-law, also probably a Canaanite;so his children are..what? Same with Simeon who has a Canaanite wife, and Joseph has an Egyptian wife which makes Ehpraim mixed race.  Oh, and by the way, Moses is identified as “an Egyptian” by his wife, so maybe Arameans and Egyptians looked the same to Midianites! ”    So, ethnic Jewishness is….        “problematic, to say the least. We’re on easier ground with ‘Israel'”      We are?  how’s that?     “Simple; Israel is about belief; it’s about religion and the culture that surrounds it. Israel, Biblically, was never really about land, and it certainly wasn’t about genes, and you can read that right through the prophets and up to Paul”      So what’s with Judaism then?       “Judaism is simply the post-exilic formalisation of the temple cult”     The who of the what..?       “After the 6th Century BC exile the returnees developed the ‘Second temple’ cult”           and….     ” Let’s give them credit: they preserved the story: but, they missed the point.  The story was never about DNA”      It wasn’t?        “Of course not, haven’t you been listening. The ‘faith of Abraham’ didn’t depend on the colour of hair or eyes, or the shape of your nose. It was about what you believed about God, and about what you did because of what you believed: as the good book says ‘You’ll know who they are by the way they behave'”.     Does it say that?        “Pretty much right the way through; Old and New”

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