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Friday, 21 April 2017

Was Noah the First Albino?

Albinism continues to be the only topic which consistently draws the most people to this blog, month after month, so I've developed a label for it. Today, we address the question, Was Noah the first albino?
The pseudopigraphal Book of Enoch contains the following account:
And after some days my son Methuselah took a wife for his son Lamech, and she became pregnant by him and bore a son.
And his body was white as snow and red as the blooming of a rose, and the hair of his head and his long locks were white as wool, and his eyes beautiful.
And when he opened his eyes, he lighted up the whole house like the sun, and the whole house was very bright.
 And thereupon he arose in the hands of the midwife, opened his mouth, and conversed with the Lord of righteousness. And his father Lamech was afraid of him and fled, and came to his father Methuselah.
And he said unto him: 'I have begotten a strange son, diverse from and unlike man, and resembling the sons of the God of heaven; and his nature is different and he is not like us, and his eyes are as the rays of the sun, and his countenance is glorious.
And it seems to me that he is not sprung from me but from the angels, and I fear that in his days a wonder may be wrought on the earth.
And now, my father, I am here to petition thee and implore thee that thou mayest go to Enoch, our father, and learn from him the truth, for his dwelling-place is amongst the angels.'
And when Methuselah heard the words of his son, he came to me to the ends of the earth; for he had heard that I was there, and he cried aloud, and I heard his voice and I came to him. And 1 said unto him: 'Behold, here am I, my son, wherefore hast thou come to me?'
And he answered and said: 'Because of a great cause of anxiety have I come to thee, and because of a disturbing vision have I approached.
And now, my father, hear me: unto Lamech my son there hath been born a son, the like of whom there is none, and his nature is not like man's nature, and the colour of his body is whiter than snow and redder than the bloom of a rose, and the hair of his head is whiter than white wool, and his eyes are like the rays of the sun, and he opened his eyes and thereupon lighted up the whole house.
Thus it is that some people see albinistic traits in Noah. Since Lamech and his wife Batenosh (according to accounts contemporary with the Book of Enoch) were first cousins, it would have been Enoch who originated the albinism gene, passed it on to Methuselah and one of the parents of Lamech's wife, and thus through both of them to Noah, the first full albino.

I don't put any stock in this story. If Noah were albino, then all three of his sons would have been half-abino, and likely half of his grandchildren. Then, when they married each other, albinism would have broken out in a big way among his great-grandchildren. Suffice it to say that Noah may have been the first blue-eyed blond, and passed that trait on down to several of his great-grandchildren. But I don't even think that theory is sufficient to account for the existence of this story.

Furthermore, there are several different gene mutations that contribute to the various forms of albinism, each one probably arising independently. It's unlikely that Noah had them all.

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