Popul Vuh is the sacred book of the ancient Quiché Maya of Guatemala. As one reads this book, numerous stories within the Bible seem to emerge. However, they all have been corrupted so that they give only a bare semblance of the original. Did the ancient people have contact with Biblical teachings prior to the coming of the Spanish missionaries? Or do Christian and ancient American teachings come from a common and more ancient source?
Students disagree on whether the ancient people learned the story of the creation from Christianity or from intellectuals before the arrival of the Christians. Thor Heyerdahl and Daniel G. Brinton relate myths from across the Americas of a white, bearded god who visited numerous aboriginal peoples. Elsewhere, there are reports that the Spanish missionaries found evidence of Biblical teachings when they arrived in the Americas. There is much conjecture in the academic world as to the origins of the people and their beliefs. Scholars in such fields as anthropology, archaeology, history, linguistics, and religion feel that they have answers. Who is right?
Following is a list of statements and events taken from Popul Vuh. The references to the book – part and chapter – where the point occurs are stated. They are listed in the order that they appear in Popul Vuh. Also, references to the Bible and the Book of Mormon of similar statements and events for each are given. The reader can decide for himself if he believes that there is any correlation.
- Introduction, page 9 – They emigrated from Asia, according to the Divine Book, or Teoamoxtli. (1 Nephi 1:1 – 5:217 [1-18])
- Preamble – They came from the other side of the sea. (1 Nephi 1:1 – 5:217 [1-18])
- I-1 – Prior to the creation, there were only sky, calm water, silence, and darkness. (Genesis 1:2)
- I-1 – Gucumatz was from the beginning (John 1:1, 2). According to Heyerdahl, Gucumatz, also known as Xbalanqué, was the white, bearded god who visited the Quiché of Guatemala.
- I-1 – Creation was instantly completed by the word of the two creators. (Genesis 1:3,6,7,11,14,15,24)
- I-3 – Early men were destroyed by a flood as a punishment. (Genesis 6:5-7; 7:17-24)
- I-5 – Two youths, or gods named Hunahpu and Xbalanqué, offered to the Heart of Heart, to overcome the harm done by the arrogant one. (Genesis 3:1-3 [Inspired Version]; Isaiah 53:5,6; Matthew 18:11; John 3:16-21)
- I-6 – The youths carried out the order of the Heart of Heaven. (Matthew 15:26; John 5:36)
- II-2 – Two men were overcome where four roads joined. The roads were red, black, white, and yellow. (Zechariah 6:1-3)
- II-5 – Twins were born to a virgin. (Matthew 1:18-25)
- II-10 – The two youths went through fire without being burned. (Daniel 3:19-27)
- II-12 – The twins sacrificed themselves and came back to life. (Matthew 27:27 – 28:10)
- II-14 – Two men ascended to heaven to dwell there. (Mark 16:19)
- III-2 – The first men were created, not begotten, by the Creator. (Genesis 1:26,27)
- III-3 – The first women were made when the first men slept. (Genesis 2:20-23)
- III-3 – They lived first in the east. (1 Nephi 1:1 – 5:217 [1-18])
- III-3 – The first people spoke the same language. (Genesis 11:1)
- III-4 – When the people arrived in a new place, their language changed. (Genesis 11:7, 8)
- III-4 – The early people wore skins of animals. (Genesis 4:21)
- III-6, footnote – When the god Quetzalcoatl died, he was changed into the Morning Star, which they worshiped most, next to the sun (Revelation 22:16). According to Heyerdahl, Quetzalcoatl was the white, bearded god who visited the Aztecs of Mexico.
- III-7 – The people walked on stones as they crossed the sea when the waters parted. (Exodus 14:15-22)
- III-8 – They came from the east. (1 Nephi 1:1 – 5:217 [1-18])
- III-9 – Four men were happy to see the Morning Star. They brought incense and three gifts with them from the East. (Matthew 2:9-11)
This book, containing the traditions and the history of the Quiché down to 1550, was written down, shortly after the Spanish conquest, from the oral by a Quiché man who had learned to read and write Spanish. To those who believe that it is only coincidence that there is any similarity at all to Christianity, Popul Vuh is mythology. To those who believe that the people had contact with Christianity, either before or after the coming of the European missionaries, Popul Vuh is legend. If this sacred book of the Mayas really had its origin in gospel teaching, the message certainly has been altered, almost to obscurity. One needs only to look to modern Christianity to see how it, too, has deteriorated from what was “originally” taught. This book shows how far a religion can be carried from the original doctrine. Therein is a lesson for all of us as we practise our chosen religion.