Editor: Delia Goetz and Sylvanus G. Morley
Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press, 1950
Although this book does not come from ancient Judaic or Christian sources, it does contain stories that do, but with considerable variation. However, there is an admission that the author of the second translation was influenced somewhat by Christianity.
The Popol Vuh is the sacred book of the Quiché, a branch of the ancient Maya race. It contains an account of the cosmogony, mythology, traditions, and history of this native American people, who were the most powerful nation of the Guatemalan highlands in pre-Conquest times. It is written in an exalted and elegant style, and is an epic of the most distinguished literary quality.
It seems first to have been put into writing (in Latin characters) in the middle of the 16th century from oral traditions of the Quiché by an unknown but highly educated member of that people. However, the original translation has been lost. At the beginning of the 17th century, a parish priest, Francisco Ximénez, again copied it from the Quiché language.
In a book about the Popol Vuh by Lewis Spence, the author is quoted in the Introduction to the edition herein being reviewed: The very fact that it was composed in the Quiché tongue is almost suffiecient proof of its genuine American character. The scholarship of the 19th century was unequal to the adequate translation of the Popol Vuh; the 20th century has as yet shown no signs of being able to accomplish the task. It is therefore not difficult to credit that if modern scholarship is unable to translate the work properly, that the 18th century was unable to create it.
Part I (9 chapters)
Part II (14 chapters)
Part III (10 chapters)
Part IV (12 chapters)