Rituals Of Accession And Apotheosis Theology Religion

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The male monarchs of ancient Mesoamerican civilisations were considered holy – imbued with a step of sacredness beyond that of mere persons – and upon decease they expected to be deified and bask an hereafter in the heavenly Eden of the Sun. A figure of of import rites were performed by these persons as portion of their coronation procedure, though the precise ritual activity varied from one metropolis to another or even within a individual civil order throughout its history ( Wright 2011 ) . Subsequent to accession, swayers engaged in relatively few rites, alternatively presuming a supervisory function as “ it [ was ] their mere presence that [ was ] of import, non so much their open activity ” ( Houston 1999:56 ) . The rites of accession, hence, were what ab initio infused the swayer with deity and established his flight towards ideal after decease. Mesoamerican anthropologist Susan Gillespie notes that “ startup ceremonials were extremely ritual events, because a sacral quality and non merely a political office was to be endowed upon a replacement ” ( Gillespie 2001:96 ) .

Though seldom expressed, the Book of Mormon makes scattered mentions to assorted facets of kingship as practiced by the Jaredites, Nephites, and Lamanites. Fruitful research has been done comparing specific ceremonials and constructs environing the establishment of kingship discussed in the Book of Mormon to Ancient Near Eastern patterns and beliefs ( Ricks 1998 ) .[ 1 ]However, since virtually all of the earthly lands discussed in the Book of Mormon refer to those established in the American land of promise, a comparing to New World cultures seems in order, specifically those Mesoamerican civilizations that existed during the Formative[ 2 ]( 1500 B.C. – A.D. 200 ) through Early Authoritative periods ( A.D. 200 – 600 ) , which overlap temporally with events described in the Book of Mormon. Based on convergent cultural and geographical informations, John Sorenson ( 1985 ) demonstrated that the events of the Book of Mormon can credibly be located within the limited country of southern Mexico and northern Central America known as Mesoamerica. Furthermore, as indicated by the authorised alteration made in 2007 to the Introduction to the Book of Mormon, the Lamanites are now decently understood to hold been “ among the ascendants ” of the American Indians instead than being regarded as the “ principle ascendants ” as originally postulated in the 1981 edition. Abundant archeological grounds that pre-dates all Book of Mormon civilizations makes it clear that neither the Jaredites nor the Lehites found an empty continent upon their reaching in the New World. Correspondingly, this treatment presupposes that the peoples of the Book of Mormon were surrounded by – and possibly entrenched within – preexistent Mesoamerican civilizations, much as modern Latter-day Saints throughout the universe are profoundly enculturated within their societies yet dependably maintain their individuality as members of the Church. The present treatment seeks to show that many of the rites of kingship that ensured the deification of ancient Mesoamerican swayers can be identified in the Book of Mormon. However, unlike typical Mesoamerican patterns, the Book of Mormon demonstrates that such rites were at times extended beyond the royal tribunal to righteous persons of all societal categories, dignifying them and fixing them to have a Godhead heritage and to sit enthroned in a glorious solar Eden.

Mesoamerican Kingship

Like many other ancient civilisations, Mesoamerican male monarchs were clearly linked to the supernatural kingdom and believed to hold divinely sanctioned authorization ( Houston and Stuart 1996 ) .

At the tallness of the Authoritative period Maya civilisation, the supreme swayers of the largest civil orders wielded the rubric k’uhul ajaw, which approximately translates to “ sacred Godhead ” ( Houston and Stuart 1996:295 ) .

The issue of how ‘divine ‘ these swayers really were is still a affair of argument among Mesoamericanists, but it is clear that during certain rites, they stood as mediators that bridged the spread between the natural and supernatural kingdoms.

Long-dead royal ascendants were often depicted as deified, active participants in rites that were being performed by the life swayers, and the life male monarchs expected to be apotheosized in similar manner after decease.

The swayers rarely, if of all time, made direct claims to being populating Gods on Earth, but they clearly depicted themselves in Communion with divinities and emphasized their particular function as mediators between the human and supernatural kingdoms ( Sanchez 2005:264 ) .

There appears to be merely one ritual where swayers or other high elites could presume full deity as persons, but the consequence was merely impermanent ( to be discussed below ) .

Although the focal point of the present treatment is the rites of Mesoamerican kingship, it is of import to observe that there were others within the royal tribunal that supported the swayers in their ritual activities. Authoritative Maya male monarchs, for illustration, clearly maintained a place of supreme authorization in both spiritual and ecclesiastical life. They presided as ex officio high priests and may hold been supported by a to the full organized priesthood with graded offices ( Zender 2004 ) .[ 3 ]One of the more outstanding priestly offices was that of ajk’uhuun, whose responsibilities included maintaining the sacred books ( called codices ) and appeasing the Gods in temples. Another of import office was that of the ti’sakhuun, who was “ a prophesier and oracular priest ” who served as both an “ intermediary between worlds and Gods and besides a spokesman for the male monarch ” ( Zender 2004: three ) . These priests were basically ritual helpers to the male monarch, who both participated with and gave support to the male monarch in all mode of ritual activity. Similarly, in the Book of Mormon we find a priestly category ( instructors, priests, seniors, high priests ) that was appointed by the male monarch or supreme swayer ( 2 Nephi 5:26 ; Mosiah 6:3 ; Mosiah 11:5 ; Mosiah 24:1 ; Alma 4:7 ) whose functions are correspondent to those of played by the ancient Maya priestly category.

The political orientation of Godhead kingship appears to hold begun working its manner into Nephite society by the late 2nd century BC. King Benjamin may hold been trying to disabuse his people of this erroneous impression when he stated, “ I have non commanded you to come up hither that ye should fear me, or that ye should believe that I of myself am more than a mortal adult male ” ( Mosiah 2:10 ) . Were the construct of godly kingship wholly unknown among the Nephites, Benjamin would hold had no demand to explicitly admonish them against believing he was supra-mortal. Furthermore, he assured them that he was created “ of the dust ” merely as his topics were ( Mosiah 2:25-26 ) .[ 4 ]Interestingly, the great Aztec emperor Motecuhzoma ( Montezuma ) is alleged to hold expressed similar sentiments while talking to the transcriber Dona Marina ( called La Malinche by the Aztecs ) :

Malinche, I know that these people of Tlascala with whom you are so friendly have told you that I am a kind of God or Teule, and maintain nil in any of my houses that is non made of Ag and gold and cherished stonesaĖ†Ā¦See now, Malinche, my organic structure is made of flesh and blood like yours, and my houses and castles are of rock, wood, and plaster ( Diaz 1963:224 ) .

The Lamanites besides seem to keep a belief in Godhead kingship, as suggested by the statements made by King Lamoni and his retainers in respects to Ammon ‘s supernatural powers of strength and understanding. They surmised he was the “ Great Spirit ” ( Alma 18:11 ) and heralded him as a “ powerful or great male monarch ” ( Alma 18:13 ) . Lamoni and his retainers likely knew that Ammon was the grandson of the great King Benjamin and one of the designated inheritors to King Mosiah2 ‘s throne at Zarahemla ( Mosiah 29:2-3 ) . But like his brothers, he refused the throne, which effectually brought an terminal to the reign of male monarchs in the mighty metropolis of Zarahemla ( Alma 17:6 ) and significantly altered the class of Nephite history. Just as King Benjamin had to stress his humanity to the Nephites in Zarahemla, his princely grandson Ammon had to make similarly among the Lamanites in the land of Ishmael. Arguably, by Mesoamerican criterions, they had both had experiences that elevated them above mere persons and qualified them as sanctum swayers. For illustration, both Benjamin ( Mosiah 3:2 ) and Ammon ( Mosiah 27:11 ) had interacted with supernatural existences, measure uping them in the eyes of the people to move as mediators between the human and godly kingdom.[ 5 ]

Divine Right to Govern

For the antediluvian Maya, the right to govern was frequently bolstered by claiming descent from the Gods, but typically these Gods were historical ascendants that merely became deified after their deceases. On Altar Q from Copan, we see a actual ‘passing of the torch ‘ of rulership from K’inich Yax K’uk Mo, the dynasty ‘s long-dead but apotheosized ascendant, to the 16th swayer, Yax Pasaj Chan Yoaat. By claiming descent from a deified ascendant, a male monarch imbued himself with a part of his ascendants ‘ deity through birthright, and his legitimacy as swayer therefore became steadfastly established in the head of the people ( Houston and Stuart 1996 ) . In the Book of Mormon, swayers placed a similar accent on following their family trees to their dynastic laminitiss ; frequently back to members of the original party that left Jerusalem.

For illustration, Lamoni traced his family tree back to Ishmael ( Alma 17:21 ) , King Ammoron ( Alma 52:3 ) traced his family tree back to Zoram ( Alma 54:23 ) , and among the Nephites, “ the land had been conferred upon none but those who were posterities of Nephi ” ( Mosiah 25:13 ) .

Even after the establishment of kingship was eliminated, all of the main Judgess and high priests that sat in rulership were posterities of Nephi ( Szink 2007 ) .

Even Nephi, the first male monarch among his people, is careful to state us he is a boy of Lehi, who is a descendent of Joseph, swayer over Egypt ( 1 Nephi 5:14 ) .

Among the Jaredites, Ether traced his family tree through about 30 predecessors, back to Jared, their dynastic laminitis ( Ether 1 ) .

King Benjamin, of all time the classless, did non practise his ain family tree back to a outstanding apotheosized swayer in an attempt to embroider himself.

Rather, he declared that all of his people were descended from the “ heavenly King ” ( Mosiah 2:19 ) because they had become “ kids of Christ, his boies, and his girls ; for behold, this twenty-four hours he hath spiritually begotten you ” ( Mosiah 5:7 ) .

All of King Benjamin ‘s people were given a godly heritage at the temple that twenty-four hours, and therefore they could anticipate to non merely come in the land of God, but to be inheritors of it ( Mosiah 15:11 ) .

Royal Succession

Heir appellation was an of import royal ritual in Mesoamerica. Ideally, the order of sequence was laid out by a swayer prior to his decease to decrease the potency for a contested throne after his passing. The best grounds for this comes from Palenque, on a stucco sculpture that dates to AD 679, four old ages before king K’inich Janaab Pakal ‘s decease. We are given the pre-accession names of the male monarch ‘s three boies, and the lettering states tz’akbuaj, “ ( they ) are arranged in order ” and tihmaj awohl atz’akbuij, “ You are satisfied ( that ) you put them in sequence ” ( Stuart and Stuart 2008:162 ) . Two of these boies finally acceded to the throne ; the eldest, K’inich Kan Bahlam II, followed by his younger brother K’inich K’an Joy Chitam II. The youngest brother, Tiwol Chan Mat, did non achieve the throne, but his boy K’inich Ahkal Mo ‘ Nabh III did. The public declaration of sequence order in this case was likely necessary since Pakal himself had acceded under questionable fortunes.

Royal sequence among the ancient Maya tended to be patrilinear, with the throne typically being passed from male parent to first-born boy, but sometimes it was passed from brother to brother ( as in the illustration above ) or even from hubby to married woman if there was no heir apparent ( Martin and Grube 2000:14 ; 171 ) . In the Book of Mormon, sequence besides appears to hold been mostly patrilinear and favoring primogeniture, although we do see rulership go throughing from brother to brother and perchance from hubby to married woman. For illustration, among the Nephite male monarchs, Mosiah1 passed the throne to his boy Benjamin, who so passed it to his boy Mosiah2. Although the Nephite office of head justice was originally intended to be ‘by the voice of the people ‘ ( Mosiah 29:25 ) , it instantly reverted back to dynastic regulation, which followed similar forms ; “ Helaman died, and his eldest boy Nephi began to reign in his position ” ( Helaman 3:37 ) . Among the Lamanites, after the supreme male monarch over the land of Nephi was murdered by Amalickiah ‘s retainers, the queen maintained the place of power until she married Amalickiah, at which point he was named male monarch ( Alma 47:34-35 ) . However, after Amalickiah was assassinated, his brother Ammoron was appointed male monarch ( Alma 52:3 ) . The text gives no indicant that Ammoron married the queen ; in fact he seems to hold done little more than inform her that he was now in power ( Alma 52:12 ) . After Ammoron was assassinated, the throne passed to his boy, Tubaloth ( Helaman 1:16 ) , instead than returning back to the queen, who seemingly had no inheritor from either of her hubbies. The sequence outlined above follows what we would anticipate from the established Mesoamerican form of sequence.

When Benjamin declared to his people that they had become “ kids of Christ, ” he was ceremonially denominating them inheritors to a heavenly throne. He assures them they “ shall be found at the right manus of God ” ( Mosiah 5:9 ) . Abinadi subsequently said of those who are redeemed of their wickednesss through the Atonement that “ these are his seed, or they are inheritors of the land of God ” . This relationship is reaffirmed centuries later in 4 Nephi, which states the righteous were “ the kids of Christ, and inheritors to the land of God ” ( v. 17 ) .

Temples as Topographic points of Royal Ritual

Public royal rites in Mesoamerica frequently took topographic point at or on a temple located at the bosom of a metropolis. Temple composites were designed with public public presentations in head ( Ringle and Bey 2001, 278 ) , whereas private rites could be performed in the privacy of royal castles or at sacred natural characteristics, such as caves. Mesoamerican temples “ served as a ‘focusing lens ‘ to concentrate attending on ideal theoretical accounts of being and behaviour ” ( Kowalski 2001:16 ) . Mesoamerican swayers used temples as topographic points to “ pass on with and act upon the Gods on behalf of the community ” ( Kowalski 2001:194-196 ) . Similarly, Nephite male monarchs acted as mediators between the people and their God in temple scenes. Benjamin, in his reference at the temple, taught his people the words that “ the angel of the Lord ” had given him ( Mosiah 4:1 ) .

The specific map of the temple is non discussed in much item in the Book of Mormon, although it is clear that it was a topographic point for assemblage ( 3 Nephi 11:1 ) , gospel direction ( Jacob 1:17 ; Alma 16:13 ) , forfeits and burned offerings ( Mosiah 2:3 ) , covenant-making ( Mosiah 5:5 ) , a topographic point to larn to pray and the order of supplication ( 3 Nephi 13:5-13 ; 3 Nephi 17:13-16 ) , a topographic point where God could attest himself ( Alma 10:2 ; 3 Nephi 11:8 ) , a topographic point for male monarchs to submit to the throne, and a topographic point where male monarchs could turn to their people ( Mosiah 2:5 ; Mosiah 7:17 ) .

Among the Authoritative period Maya, public ceremonials “ appear to hold involved the hard-on of scaffolds and other impermanent constructions ” in the temple place to let a greater figure of people to detect the ritual ( Inomata 2006:811 ) . The late discovered wall paintings from the West Wall of the Las Pinturas pyramid of the Preclassic site of San Bartolo in northeasterly Guatemala depict a male monarch having a royal Crown and headgear as he sits atop a wooden scaffold ( Houston 2006:1249 ) . The wall paintings day of the month to about 100 B.C. , which approximately coincide with the reign of Mosiah2, whose enthronement was likewise proclaimed before his people atop a tower, most probably a wooden scaffold ( Ricks 1998:195 ) .

In scenes of enthronement, the focal point is ever on the key participants, such as the male monarch, a few choice members of the royal tribunal, and possibly the Gods who are supervising the event. Royal graphics In Mesoamerica really seldom depicts common common people, and they are wholly absent from ancient enthronement scenes. This is non to state that they did non witness the event, merely that it is ne’er depicted iconographically. Ethnographic informations gathered from modern Maya festivals that celebrate godly rulership note the assemblage of communities to witness publically performed rites. During the Quiche Maya harvest festival dedicated to King San Martin – believed to be the swayer of the universe and male parent to all the Gods – “ people from throughout the part gathered at Utatlan, populating in impermanent shelters near the temple ” ( Christenson 1991:3 ) . Similarly, in the Book of Mormon we read that all of King Benjamin ‘s topics pitched their collapsible shelters near the temple to witness the passing of royal authorization from Benjamin to his boy Mosiah ( Mosiah 2:5-6 ) . Because the audience was so big, King Benjamin “ caused that the words which he spake should be written and sent Forth ” among his people ( Mosiah 2:8 ) . Similarly, many royal palace scenes painted on ceramic vass from the Authoritative Maya period show a Scribe at the pess of the swayer, dutifully composing in a bark paper book ( Reents-Budet 1994:47 ) .[ 6 ]

Anointing

The anointment of a new swayer in Mesoamerica began with a private ceremonial held in the royal castle, attended by priests, Scribes, and a choice few elites. The public presentation of the new male monarch occurred subsequently at the temple, where he would be displayed in his full royal regalia. Likewise, “ Mosiah was foremost designated male monarch in a private scene, presumptively at the royal castle ( Mosiah 1:9-12 ) , and so presented to the people in the public assemblage at the temple ” ( Ricks 1998:193 ) . The footings anoint and consecrate are both used in association with Book of Mormon rites of kingship, although the differentiation is non clearly drawn in the text. What is clear, nevertheless, is that person oversees the coronation and effectually places the male monarch on the throne. While there are no Maya glyphs that have been firmly translated as anoint or consecrate, there is an look that is normally used that suggests a similar construct.[ 7 ]The phrase u-kab-j-iij “ designates a hierarchal relationship between two swayers ” ( Stuart 2005:66 ) , and is used in contexts where a higher swayer is ‘overseeing ‘ or somehow responsible for the coronation of the lower swayer. For illustration, in the Temple XIX letterings from Palenque, the high priest is said to ‘oversee ‘ the male monarch ‘s coronation, but he actively participates by showing the swayer with the sacred crown that will decorate his caput. Interestingly, the text besides explicitly states that this is a reenactment of the premortal coronation of GI ( the rule member of the Palenque Triad[ 8 ]) under the custodies of the supreme Godhead divinity Itzamnaaj.[ 9 ]

Receiving a Throne Name

Ancient Maya male monarchs had at least two names, their ‘youthful ‘ or childhood name, and a new name received upon accession to the throne ( Colas 2003:275 ) . Harmonizing to Jacob, the Nephite swayers were besides called by a new name upon accession:

The people holding loved Nephi extremely. . . why, the people were wishful to retain in recollection his name. And whoso should reign in his position were called by the people 2nd Nephi, 3rd Nephi, and so forth, harmonizing to the reigns of the male monarchs ; and therefore they were called by the people, allow them be of whatever name they would[ 10 ]( Jacob 1:10-11 ) .

Maya swayers often took their names from one of their predecessors on the throne, and oftentimes it was the name of their male parent or gramps ( Martin and Grube 2000 ) . We find grounds for a similar naming pattern among Nephite swayers. For illustration, the main Judgess Pahoran and Lachoneaus were each named after their male parents and inherited the judgement-seat from them, and King Mosiah2 was named after his gramps who had earlier held the throne.

The new names chosen by Maya male monarchs were about ever associated with a heavenly divinity ( Colas 2003:269 ) . Most supreme swayers besides prefixed their name with the rubric K’inich, the name of the Sun God. By calling themselves after Gods, they emphasized their godly authorization and elevated themselves above everyone else ( Taube 2001:267 ) . King Benjamin, possibly in an attempt to distance his dynasty from the form of self-aggrandizement and reenforce the construct of equality among his people, gave all those that entered into the compact a new name, that of their heavenly divinity, Christ.[ 11 ]

Royal Insignia

Upon Mosiah ‘s accession, Benjamin presented him with the royal insignia that had been passed down for centuries from Nephi, their dynastic laminitis: the sacred records, the blade of Laban, and the Liahona ( Mosiah 1:16 ) . Maya male monarchs were likewise presented with royal insignia upon accession, and they “ were of great stuff and symbolic value, frequently inherited and passed down through coevalss ” ( Grube 2001:96 ) . Like the blade of Laban, swayers at Palenque were given a flint spearhead and a shield upon accession as “ symbols of war that would attach to the male monarch into conflict ” ( Grube 2001:97 ) .

A important portion of the accession ceremonial was the ‘taking of K’awiil, ‘ where the swayer would take ownership of a sceptre in the form of the snake-footed divinity ( Grube 2001:96 ) . Harmonizing to David Stuart,

K’awiil is more familiarly known as ‘God K, ‘ but it is of import to stress that it was non a divinity like most characters we know from Maya mythology. In the Authoritative beginnings he is ne’er shown as an active participant in a fabulous scene ; alternatively he occupies a far more inactive function in the iconography, shown emerging from snakes or being held in a swayer ‘s manus as a ‘manikin sceptre ‘ ( Stuart 2003:22 ) .

Although he played a inactive function in the iconography, K’awiil was ideologically linked with agricultural nutriment and with the power of royal dynasty and lineage ( Stuart 2003:11 ) . Among the Maya, one of the male monarch ‘s primary maps was to see agricultural birthrate ( Stuart 2003:11 ) , and this may hold been viewed as an of import function among Book of Mormon swayers every bit good. Like King Benjamin, Mosiah2 believed in a hands-on attack to agricultural birthrate, for he “ did do his people that they should till the Earth. And he besides, himself, did till the Earth, that thereby he might non go burdensome to his people, that he might make harmonizing to that which his male parent had done in all things ” ( Mosiah 6:7 ) . Significantly, the Liahona besides carries with it concepts of agricultural birthrate and rulership. On a temporal degree, every clip the Liahona was used, it was to take the Lehite party to fertile topographic points. Harmonizing to Nephi, “ we did follow the waies of the ball, which led us in the more fertile parts of the wilderness ” ( 1 Nephi 16:16 ) . They were so led to Bountiful, a topographic point so named because of its “ much fruit ” ( 1 Nephi 17:6 ) . Ultimately, it led them across the ocean ( 1 Nephi 18:21 ) to the land of promise, where they instantly began to till the Earth and workss seeds, “ And it came to go through that they did turn extremely ; wherefore, we were blessed in copiousness ” ( 1 Nephi 18:24 ) . Although clearly different in its physical signifier from the K’awiil sceptre, the conceptual significances associated with the Liahona and its inclusion as royal insignia among the Nephites would hold found a comfy tantrum within the ancient Maya paradigm. Among the Classic Maya, there is clear grounds that specific pieces of royal insignia associated with accession rites could be exchanged for a physically distinguishable but functionally tantamount object ( Schele and Miller 1986:111 ) .[ 12 ]

Kings as Mediators

Ancient Mesoamerican common mans were able to pray to their Gods in their ain places ( as evidenced by the copiousness of divinity statuettes and shrines found in non-elite families ) , but they do non look to hold engaged in any luxuriant ritual activity. Royalty, in contrast, did n’t simply petition unobserved divinities through supplication ; they claimed the privilege of being able to personally interact with them, even raising themselves to the degree of the Gods from clip to clip. Although they asserted they had particular entree to the Godhead kingdom, their interaction with the Gods was apparently on behalf of their topics. In their interactions with the Gods, the male monarchs had the power to exceed both infinite and clip. At the site of Quirigua in eastern Guatemala, for illustration, the letterings found on the stelae of king K’ahk ‘ Tiliw tie in his actions with those that occurred some one million millions of old ages ago in deep fabulous clip, and his portrayal depicts him standing on otherworldly toponyms, asseverating he had been present at that place ( Martin and Grube 2008:221 ) . Rulers literally inserted themselves into local creative activity mythologies, therefore promoting themselves to the position of the Gods.

A common rite used by swayers to interact straight with the supernatural kingdom was spirit conjuration. This pattern dates as far back as the Middle Formative period ( ~900-400 BC ) , such as La Venta Stela 2, which shows a swayer standing in full regalia with conjured divinities vibrating above his caput. It becomes more widespread by the Late Preclassic to Early Classic periods ( ~300 BC – AD 400 ) , where we find stelae from several sites that depict swayers raising the spirit existences that appear above them, such as Izapa Stela 4, Kaminaljuyu Stela 11, and El Baul Stela 1 ( Looper 2003:8 ) . The swayer appears to keep his humanity during these raising rites. They enter the presence of Gods ( or vice-versa ) , but they do non go Gods themselves ( Alexander 2004:3 ) .

A figure of Nephite swayers ( both male monarchs and main Judgess ) every bit good as other members of the royal household likewise interacted with the Godhead kingdom. In his early life, Nephi states that the Lord himself did “ visit ” him ( 1 Nephi 2:16 ) , and on another juncture he was guided on a spirit journey by two distinguishable supernatural existences – the Spirit of the Lord ( 1 Nephi 11:1 ) and an angel ( 1 Nephi 11:14 ) – brought about through his speculation and ardent supplication.[ 13 ]While interacting with these entities he was carried off “ into an extremely high mountain, which [ he ] ne’er had before seen, and upon which [ he ] ne’er had before set [ his ] pes ” and witnessed many future events ( 1 Nephi 11-14 ) . In other words, Nephi transcended both infinite and clip. Although Nephi was coming from an Ancient Near Eastern tradition, his coronation took topographic point after he and his people had been steadfastly established in the American land of promise, and some facets of his record ( written retrospectively ) appear to do deliberate attempts to warrant his right to govern ( Reynolds 1991 ; 1998 ) . Later Nephite swayers had similar experiences. Alma the Younger, who would go the first main justice of the Nephites, had his first visit from an angel as a portion of his prophetic call, and more beatific visits occurred later in his life ( Alma 8:14-18 ; 40:11 ) . These supernatural interactions would hold been culturally important, as they would hold reinforced to the people that Alma had a more unfastened line of communicating with the Godhead than did others ( Alma 16:5 ) .

King Benjamin explicitly stated he had interacted with an angel and was conveying the message he had received straight to his people. After his words had done for deep into their Black Marias, the people cried out “ Use the expiating blood of Christ that we may have forgiveness of our wickednesss, and our Black Marias may be purified ; for we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God ” ( Mosiah 4:2 ) . Significantly, it is Benjamin that they cry out to, non the Lord. By this statement, the people acknowledged him as the exclusive mediator that stood between them and their God. As their male monarch, he was viewed as the 1 who had the power to “ use the blood ” on their behalf. This statement is stating in visible radiation of the ritual importance of blood in antediluvian Mesoamerica. Equally early as the Formative period Olmec, human blood was believed to be a cherished, even sacred substance, and the blood of swayers was considered to be the most powerful ( Joyce et al. 1991:2 ) . The Gods are frequently shown offering their ain blood in fabulous scenes of forfeit, frequently linked to creative activity. Bloodletting, so, was a manner to symbolically reenact the forfeits the Gods themselves made. The sloughing of blood was symbolic of decease yet a beginning of life.

One of the most common rites performed by Classic Maya swayers was known as chok, which translates as “ spread, ” “ sow ” or “ dramatis personae. ” Iconographically, the swayer is typically shown with his arm extended downward with his thenar confronting up or inward, with blood ( or incense, its ritual parallel ) publishing from his manus. Rulers would ceremonially pierce themselves with irritants, stingray spinal columns, or obsidian blades to pull blood from their linguas, genitalias or other parts of the organic structure. Sacrificial blood was typically dripped on bark paper and burned within an offering bowl, and the fume lifting up would be a manner to both provender and prolong the Gods every bit good as supply a medium through which the Gods could attest themselves unto worlds ( Freidel et al. 1993:204 ) . The casting of beads of blood or incense besides mimicked the manner husbandmans would project seeds into the land and pour liquid offerings onto the field to appease the Gods ( Looper 2003:13-15 ) . Maya swayers sought to portray themselves as low agriculturists ( Miller 2001:203 ) , so royal sprinkling rites “ reproduced popular patterns, set uping connexions with common people but at the same clip veiling swayers in an aura of amazing religious power ” ( Looper 2003:15 ) . Such rites reinforced the swayer ‘s function as caretaker of his metropolis.

The offering of sacrificial blood was of class built-in to Nephite worship, as they sought to detect the jurisprudence of Moses. Amulek may hold been talking against the pattern of autosacrifice when he taught the destitute Zoramites that “ it shall non be a human forfeit ” ( Alma 34:10 ) that will salvage them, for,

there is non any adult male that can give his ain blood which will expiate for the wickednesss of anotheraĖ†Ā¦Therefore, it is expedient that there should be a great and last forfeit ; and so shall at that place be, or it is expedient there should be, a halt to the sloughing of blood ; so shall the jurisprudence of Moses be fulfilled ; yea, it shall be all fulfilled, every jot and shred, and none shall hold passed off ( Alma 34:11 ; 13 ) .

Among the Aztec, specific types of sacrificial victims were needed depending on the clip of twelvemonth, the God they were giving to, or the consequence they were trusting for.[ 14 ]For illustration, immature adult females were sacrificed to the maize goddess Xilonen ( Ingham 1984:391 ) and kids were sacrificed to the rain Gods Tlaloc and Chalchiuhtlicue ( Duran 1967:11 ) . These were mimetic rites, intending the birthrate associated with immature adult females was conceptually linked to that of maize, and the cryings of the sacrificed kids mimic the falling rain. As John Ingham ( 1984:393 ) provinces, “ During Atlcahualo, the first period of the solar twelvemonth, kids were sacrificed to the Gods of rain and H2O. They were really encouraged to shout, for it was thought that their cryings would convey rain. ” Significantly, in Mormon 4:14-15 it specifies that the Lamanites “ did take many captives both adult females and kids, and did offer them up as forfeits unto their idol Gods ” and the Nephites were “ angry because the Lamanites had sacrificed their adult females and their kids ” . John Sorensen has argued convincingly that warfare in the Book of Mormon, as in Mesoamerica, frequently took topographic point in the dry season ( 1990:447 ) . It is suiting so, that adult females and kids were captured by the Lamanites with the purpose of giving them to the Gods who would convey the rains and guarantee the birthrate of the harvests. In association with human forfeit, ritual cannibalism appears to hold been practiced to a limited grade in antediluvian Mesoamerica ( Ingham 1984:393 ) , and it may hold been a minor constituent associated with human forfeit in the Book of Mormon as good ( Moroni 9:8 ) .

God Impersonation Rituals

Possibly the most common and important act performed by Maya swayers after their accession was the rite of god caricature, more late given the refined appellation ‘deity concurrency ‘ ( Houston et Al. 2006:64 ) .

In divinity concurrency, a ritual specializer, typically the swayer or other baronial, puts on an etched mask or luxuriant headgear and transforms him or herself into the God whose mask or headgear they are have oning.

There is a glyphic expression that basically says, “ His holy image ( u-b’aah-il ) , that of God X, [ is upon ] Ruler Y ” .

The Maya used the caput metaphorically as a grade of individualism, and it stood as a representation of the whole organic structure ( Houston et Al. 2006:64 ) .

In their heads, they were non play-acting – they would literally go that God, moving as he would move, and executing the reverent responsibilities refering to that peculiar divinity.

As Houston et Al. ( 2006:270-271 ) province, “ There is no apparent ‘fiction ‘ , but there is, seemingly, a belief in reverent immanency and transubstantiation, of specific people who become, in particular minutes, figures from sacred fable and the Maya pantheon ” .

There are many state of affairss where divinity concurrency takes topographic point, and a broad assortment of divinities are impersonated, such as air current Gods, Gods of incense combustion, Gods of ballplaying, even major Gods such as the Sun God or the supreme Godhead divinity Itzamnaaj ( ibid 274 ) .

This pattern goes back to the Formative period, as attested to by cave pictures in Oxtotitlan dating to the eighth Century B.C. ( Grove 1970 ) .

There are intimations that this pattern was known among the Nephites every bit good. Alma 5 records the stirring discourse that Alma preached to the people of the church in Zarahemla in about 83 BC. Get downing in verse 14, he poses a series of inquiries to his hearers that were intended to arouse deeper self-contemplation into the province of their ain psyches. Modern readers have interpreted and applied these inquiries in a assortment of meaningful ways, but trying to put Alma ‘s words into their original ancient Mesoamerican context may uncover a more nuanced apprehension.

If the Nephites were so entrenched within Mesoamerican civilization, it would be plausible that a ritual of such significance to the larger society could happen its manner into apostate Nephite worship. Alma may hold been talking against divinity caricature rites affecting foreign Gods when he asked the heretical Nephites of Zarahemla, “ Have you received his image in your visages? ” ( emphasis mine ) , and specified in poetry 19 that it is the “ image of God ” that they needed to hold “ engraven upon [ their ] visages, ” instead than the legion false Gods that were being impersonated by the atheistic elites. This reading is strengthened when we read that after Alma left Zarahemla and went to Gideon, he lamented Zarahemla ‘s “ atrocious quandary ” and cried: “ I trust that you do non idolize graven images [ like they do in Zarahemla ] , but that ye do idolize the true and living God ” ( Alma 7:6 ) . It is possibly important that Alma ‘s male parent was converted by Abinadi ‘s powerful testimony, which included a recitation of the Ten Commandments and a charge to non do any “ sculpted images ” ( Mosiah 12:36 ) . The masks and headgears that were worn by divinity imitators were literally ‘graven, ‘ and legion antediluvian Maya ceramics depict creative persons in the act of carving them ( Reents-Budet 1994:38, 316 ) .

Mesoamerican caricature events may look foreign or bizarre at first bloom, but they are simply ritual reenactments of the yesteryear performed while emulating entities from a civilization ‘s mythology. Indeed, all rites are in some sense a reenactment of aboriginal events ( Eliade ) . Modern Latter-day Saint temple worship includes the donning of sacred regalia and presuming the name and actions of certain characters from our creative activity mythology. That is to state, we perform impersonation rites each clip we proceed through the temple.

Flower Mountain and the Glorious Afterlife

As noted earlier, Authoritative period swayers boldly proclaimed themselves to be holy, but they ne’er explicitly claimed to be Gods while in their mortal province ( Houston and Stuart 1996:296 ) . After decease, nevertheless, they were clearly venerated and finally apotheosized as divinities, wherein they would absorb the properties of the Gods ( Miller and Taube 1993:76 ) . Upon their Resurrection and ideal, swayers typically took on the pretense of the Maize God and/or the Sun God, and for obvious grounds. They were both linked to rhythms of birth, life, decease and Resurrection – the Sun in its day-to-day journey, and maize in its seasons of planting and crop.

Possibly the most well-known illustration of ideal as the Maize God comes from Pakal ‘s sarcophagus at the site of Palenque.

The scene depicts Pakal ‘s coincident descent into the jaws of the underworld and his Resurrection as the Maize God.

A beautiful illustration of ideal as the Sun God is found on the face of the Rosalila temple, built to honour K’inich Yax K’uk Mo ‘ , the laminitis of the Copan dynasty.

The caput of the Sun God ( K’inich ) is shown emerging from the oral cavities of serpent-winged birds, which are marked with characteristics of both quetzal birds ( k’uk ‘ ) and macaws ( mo ‘ ) .

The imagination non merely visually depicts the name K’inich Yax K’uk ‘ Mo ‘ but conveys the message that he had merged with and had hence been apotheosized as the Sun God after his decease.

Similar to the belief held by ancient Mesoamerican male monarchs that they would unify with one or more of their Gods of decease and metempsychosis, the Nephites expected to be made one with the raising Christ, who was himself 1 with the Father:

And for this cause ye shall hold fulness of joy ; and ye shall sit down in the land of my Father ; yea, your joy shall be full, even as the Father hath given me fulness of joy ; and ye shall be even as I am, and I am even as the Father ; and the Father and I are one ( 3 Nephi 28:10 ) ( accent mine ) .

This does non propose a consubstantial three ; the “ one-ness ” of the Father and Son ( along with the Holy Ghost ) is understood to be “ that all three are united in their ideas, actions, and purpose, with each holding a comprehensiveness of cognition, truth, and power. Each is a God. This does non connote a mystical brotherhood of substance or personality ” ( Dahl 1992:552 ) .

There is a common misconception that the lone hereafter expected by ancient Mesoamericans was the dark underworld, known by names such as Metnal or Xibalba ( which approximately translates to “ topographic point of fright ” ) . There was clearly a belief in an ambrosian Eden every bit good, reserved for those who could get the better of the Gods of the underworld. The ancient Maya associated the sky with the glorious heavenly kingdom and often depicted deified ascendants looking down from the skyband or celestial spheres, as opposed to looking up from the dark underworld. For illustration, on Tikal Stela 31, the asleep Yax Nuun Ayiin takes on the signifier of the hereditary Sun God as he overlooks his boy Siyaj Chan K’awiil II ( Martin and Grube 2000:34-35 ) . This pattern of picturing ascendants or Gods supervising the personal businesss of the Earth from the celestial spheres has its beginnings in Olmec art ( Martin and Grube 2000:26-27 ) . In the Book of Mormon, Ammon explained a similar construct to King Lamoni:

The celestial spheres is a topographic point where God dwells and all his sanctum angels. And king Lamoni said: Is it above the Earth? And Ammon said: Yea, and he looketh down upon all the kids of work forces ; and he knows all the ideas and purposes of the bosom ; for by his manus were they all created from the beginning. ( Alma 18:30-32 )

The heavenly Eden hoped for by Mesoamerican swayers has been dubbed ‘Flower Mountain ‘ ( Taube 2004 ) by bookmans, as it is portrayed in the iconography as a topographic point alcoholic with works and carnal life.[ 15 ]

Flower Mountain is depicted in Maya art non merely as the Eden of creative activity and beginning, but besides as the coveted finish after a swayer ‘s decease, where he would be deified as the Sun God.

Evidence for the belief in Flower Mountain dates to the Middle Formative Olmec ( 900-400 B.C. ) and is besides attested to among the Late Preclassic and Classic Maya every bit good ( 300 B.C. – A.D. 900 ) ( Taube 2004:69 ) .

Karl Taube ( ibid. 70 ) argues that “ although the impression of a flowered Eden recalls Christian ideals of the original garden of Eden and the hereafter, the solar constituent is entirely Mesoamerican. ”

To Latter-day Saints, nevertheless, the “ solar constituent ” of the hereafter likely feels ‘wholly Mormon, ‘ as we hope we will be among those “ whose organic structures are heavenly, whose glorification is that of the Sun, even the glorification of God, the highest of all, whose glorification the Sun of the celestial sphere is written of as being typical ” ( D & A ; C 76 ; californium. 1 Corinthians 15:41 ) .

Alma alluded to the correlativity between Christ ‘s heavenly glorification and the glow of the Sun when he stated “ Behold the glorification of the King of all the Earth ; and besides the King of heaven shall really shortly shine Forth among all the kids of work forces ” ( Alma 5:50 ) .

He uses the same linguistic communication to compare the province of the faithful unto Christ after their Resurrection ; “ so shall the righteous radiance Forth in the land of God ” ( Alma 40:25 ) .

If lone male monarchs could be deified in antediluvian Mesoamerica, how do we decide this with the philosophy taught in the Book of Mormon that all have the possible to inherit the land of God? King Benjamin gave us the reply – do everyone a kid of Christ and therefore inheritors to his throne in the land of Heaven. In kernel, together with the other rites and compacts that were entered into within the sacred precinct of the temple that twenty-four hours, each of King Benjamin ‘s topics received their gift and were set on the flight for deification ( Thomas 1998 ) .

Decision: Our Divine Inheritance

This work does non try to reason that the rites of rulership discussed in the Book of Mormon are alone to Mesoamerica ; so, many of them can be found in antediluvian lands throughout the universe ( Ricks and Sroka 1994 ) . Rather, at its nucleus, it seeks merely to show that kingship rites described in the Book of Mormon would non hold been out of topographic point among those known from antediluvian Mesoamerica ; so, many find a really comfy tantrum.

In amount, through rites performed at sacred temples, swayers in both Mesoamerica and the Book of Mormon were designated inheritors, given new names, presented with sacred regalia, seated upon thrones, empowered to reenact narrations of creative activity, and finally ensured a godly heritage in the glorious hereafter of the Sun. Likewise, as covenant kids of Christ, modern Latter-day Saints claim to hold a Godhead birthright. In this dispensation, the Prophet Joseph Smith taught that through temple rites “ work forces may have their gifts and be made male monarchs and priests unto the Most High God ” . Near the terminal of his life ( Smith 1976:359 ; 374 ) , the Prophet boldly taught that “ every adult male who reigns in heavenly glorification is a God to his rules ” and emphasized that “ those who have died in the religion are now in the heavenly land of God. And therefore ” he declares, “ is the glorification of the Sun. ”

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