Sunday, May 14, 2017

Legends of the Book of Mormon – Part III

Continuing from the previous post regarding looking for Book of Mormon legends and connections within the Western Hemisphere, in which such legends and connections were found in North America and Mesoamerica. Here we continue with those of Middle America. 
Also in Mesoamerica is the legend of the Totonicapan record of the Guatemalan Indians, which refers to their division into Seven Tribes, that correspond to the seven lineages in the Book of Mormon: Laman, Lemuel, Nephi, Zoram, Ishmael’s sons, Jacob, and Joseph. There are numerous art works depicting those seven tribes in Mesoamerican art contained in their lienzos (pieces of fabric with historical drawings or maps), illustrated books called codices, and post-Conquest documents that were shown to and translated for Spanish clergy, who made a record of the various accounts.
    There is also the old Xahlia record that states: "We were brought forth, coming we were begotten by our mothers and our father, as they say…with the seven tribes arriving first at Tullan."  He also said that the Xahila record also indicated a departure from an Old World Tulan (Bountiful) and the settlement of seven tribes in a principal homeland, Tullan (Bountiful), in the New World.” This is from one of the royal lines of the Quiches of the highlands of Guatemala, who left an account in the Maya tongue entitled Annals of the Cakchiquels, in which the above is more or less quoted.
    The account goes on to read: “our fathers and ancestors from Tulan,” and “as we came from the other side of the sea, from the land of Tulan, where we were brought forth and begotten by our mothers and our fathers.” There is also a mention of four clans: “Thus we were four clans when we came from Tulan,” mentioning directly the Cakchiquel, Cavek, Totomay and Xurcah clans. The writing also claims there are four Tulans, not just two. Later, seven tribes are mentioned: “They say that the seven tribes arrived first at Tulan…when the gate of Tulan was opened.” The writing goes on for 165 verses or more, and is very difficult to understand since it is convoluted and changes and intermingles the numbers talked about frequently.
In 1523, Pedro de Alvarado, who had previously served under Hernán Cortés, led an expeditionary force out of Mexico City towards Guatemala; the first military conquest was the following year when Alvarado’s army defeated K’ichee’ forces under the command of the famed leader Tecúm-Umán

    The connection lies in the scriptural facts as opposed to the legends of Mesoamerica. When the Lehi colony left the Valley of Lemuel after the marriages in Arabia, there were four tribes if we combine Sam with Nephi’s lineage, since the two were always considered as one (2 Nephi 4:11); on the other hand, after Ishmael died, Lehi’s four tribes became seven, with the addition of the two late sons of Lehi being born, Jacob and Joseph, and the addition after Ishmael’s death of his two sons that were always designated simply as Ishmaelites and never separated in the record. So it could be argued that seven tribes left Bountiful in Arabia.
    However, one of the apparent weaknesses of this story is that the Lehi Colony did not leave Bountiful, cross the sea, and land at a place called Bountiful; on the other hand, there is a simple explanation for this and we will cover it in the next installment of this series when we go beyond Mesoamerica. Right now we are covering the fact that there are Book of Mormon legends in Mesoamerica, which places Lehi's landing to the south of North America.
    Drawing upon a work entitled "The Lords of Totonicapan, written in 1554 A.D., in the Quiche language claimed to have been done by 15 elders of the Quiche Indians, it was later translated using Spanish characters, and then in 1834 A.D. into Spanish by the Catholic Father Dionisio Jose Chonay and added to the court's register of public instruments. In 1860 Abbe Brasseur de Bourbourg came across the translation and recognizing its value, made a copy, which he used in his work. This copy, after his death, was acquired by Alphonse Pinart and later passed to Comte de Charancey who translated it and published it in French and Spanish. This material was later collected and published by E. Renault de Broise at Alencon in 1885.
Kaqhikel Mayans today—the Mayan branch of the Mexican family. Their language is closely associated with the Quiche language. The Kaqhikel Chronicles consist of rare highland Maya texts, which trace the oral Kaqchikel Maya history from their legendary departure from Tollan/Tulan through their migrations, wars, and Spanish rule 

    Today, the whereabouts of the original Quiche text is unknown. Recinos made his translation in 1953 A.D. from Chonay's translation. The original transmittal letter for the translation was signed by Dionisio Jose Chonay. In it, he said: "Translation of the attached manuscript, written in the Quiche language by those who signed it in the year 1554, in accordance with the tradition held by their ancestors."
This writing contains a history of the creation, the posterity of Adam, following in every respect the same order as in Genesis, and the sacred books and many events down to the captivity in Babylonia. Chonay writes in his letter, quoting Recinos (1953), that the people of Mesoamerica were descendants of Israel, leaving there sometime after Shalmaneser was king (727-722 B.C.), and being reduced to perpetual captivity and who, finding themselves on the border of Assyria, resolved to emigrate.

   The rest of the history deals with three Quiche tribes that "came from the other part of the sea, from the East, from Pa-Tulan, Pa-Civan. They came from where the sun rises, descendants of Israel, of the same language and the same customs."
Obviously, then we find Book of Mormon or Hebrew references and legends within the Mesoamerican native Indian, which means that Lehi had to have landed south of North America. And we have found such legends in Mesoamerica, showing that Lehi did, in fact, land to the south of North America.
    Now, let’s take a look further south than Mesoamerica to see if any such legends or Book of Mormon references exist there to see if Lehi landed south of Mesoamerica. In doing this, we should keep in mind that in the beginning there were four adult and main brothers that came to the Land of Promise, all sons of Lehi:  Laman, Lemuel, Sam, and Nephi (1 Nephi 2:5). Certainly, only four adult brothers were among the Lehi Colony when it reached the Land of Promise. Consequently, one would think that the earliest legends would include some early settlement story that is comparable.
    Interestingly, such is found in ancient Peruvian legends, which the earliest chroniclers wrote about in their journals and histories of the Conquest and the people their conquered.
(See the next post, “Legends of the Book of Mormon – Part IV,” for a look into those lands south of Mesoamerica, namely, South America)

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