In The Cavity of a Rock

In The Cavity of a Rock
Father Lehi

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Book of Mormon when compared to Mayan diety impersonation and divine kingship rituals

Most Mormons are familiar with the phrase in Alma 5:14, "Have ye received his image in your countenances?" but recently I stumbled across some added insights on this phrase as well as one of King Benjamins opening remarks when he preached to his people upon the newly erected tower at the temple in Mosiah 2:10-11, he says, " I have not commanded you to come up hither that ye should fear me, or that ye should think that I of myself am more than a mortal man. But I am like as yourselves, subject to all manner of infirmities in body and mind"

These two phrases or scriptures take on added meaning when placed in the midst of the Mayan civilization. Alma the youngers question of receiving the Lords image in your countenances takes on a whole new meaning when compared to to the Mayans ancient diety impersonation rituals, where kings and high ranking officials would actually put on engraven masks of their gods and impersonate them believing this would make them divine. When you take this in consideration along with the Mayan kings belief in "divine kingship" a litteral belief that the kings actually became divine beings especially when dressed in their masks and religious paraphanilia.

It would make since why King Benjamin would start his great speech or address to his people by reassuring them that he was mearly a human being and nothing more, also subject to the frailties of man completely removing himself from the pagan belief of being a divine king. This also help the understanding of Alma's question about receiving the Lords image in your countenances, because these were a people or a mixture of people who had either in the past had believed in or knew surrounding societies of people who believed in these pagan beliefs on becoming a god upon placing these pagan ceremonial masks on and practicing pagan sacrifices (sometimes human sacrifices) to their gods. This would be something Alma would have been preaching against when asking the Nephites if they had received the Lord Jesus Christs image in their countenances.

The first picture above is from the movie Apocolypto which painted a picture of a very blood thirst society which may not have always been the case in the Mayan civilization but it did have perfect examples of some of these costumes and masks and headdresses believed to add divine power. I find this ironic when compared to the beliefs of the Hopi on their kachina masks which I previously posted about. It becomes easy to see how a society (the Mayans and others) could easily mix teachings or fall away from beliefs of representation in to a full fledged belief of divine kingship. Thus we see one more piece of evidence that when certain senarios in the Book of Mormon are placed in the mesoamerican setting it only adds authenticity to the book and once more this is something that wouldn't have been known during Joseph Smith's time. Mear coincodence? I think not!

For more information on this check out the following link provided by the Neal A. Maxwell Institute from their DVD "The New World, Journey of Faith".

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