Chapter

The Canonical Word

Joel Robbins

in Converting Words

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780520257702
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520944916 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520257702.003.0008
The Canonical Word

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The doctrinal works of the missionary lenguas—catechisms, a confessional manual, a manual for ministry to the sick, and sermons—constitute a substantial body of literature that has remained virtually unstudied beyond the scholarly introductions and notes of René Acuña. No scholars have attempted to compare the published doctrinal texts or to determine their relation to other colonial Maya texts. If one assumes that attendance at church was spotty and that the conversions were superficial, this lack of attention may seem justified, especially since the language of catechisms in Maya is marked by errors in spelling, neologisms, and other oddities. Based squarely on missionary templates grounded in European Christianity and written in an odd sort of Maya, the catechisms may seem little more than relics of an ineffectual project. This chapter argues that such a reading of the history is wrong and that this set of genres is pivotal in colonial discourse formation.

Keywords: Maya; catechisms; doctrinal works; prayer; doctrinal discourse

Chapter.  15471 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

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