Tuesday, October 23, 2018

5 Year Prophecies

In the book The Ancient Future of the Itza: The Book of Chilam Balam of Tizimin written by unknown Maya scribes over centuries and translated and annotated by Munro  S. Edmonson, (Austin: University of Texas Press: 1982), we find a significant correspondence with the Book of Mormon. Munro Sterling Edmonson (1924 - 2002) was a Mayanist on the faculty of the Middle American Research Institute (MARI) at Tulane. He is best known for a highly-acclaimed translation of the Popol Vuh published in 1971 that was the best available until BYU's Alan  Christenson came out with his superior translation in 2003. There are many books of Chilam Balam known by the Yucatecan city of their provenance (Chumayel, Mani, Teabo, etc.) and they share many characteristics as divinatory almanacs tied to the cyclical Maya calendar. They are sometimes called "prophetic history" because they contain both predictions for the coming katun (7,200 day or 20 year cycle) and a history of the past katun. Important elements in the books of Chilam Balam are where was the seat of government, who was the ruler, and what were the major events that took place during a given katun? All of this sounds very like what we read in the Book of Mormon.
Cover of Edmonson with Drawing of Mayapan
by Tatiana Proskouriakoff
One parallel caught my attention. In his introduction, Edmonson says the predictions were usually given 5 years before the beginning of a katun (The Ancient Future of the Itza, p. xii).  We have a brilliant example of a five year prophecy by Samuel the Lamanite in Helaman 14:2. We have known for years that Samuel the Lamanite's four hundred year prophecies in Helaman 13:5, 9 are examples of Mesoamerican (Maya) baktun prophecies. A baktun is 20 katuns, 144,000 days or 400 years. Another clear example of a baktun prophecy is Alma 45:10. Moroni reports baktun history in Mormon 8:6. Then, to erase all doubt about the time reckoning system his culture used, Moroni ends his record by reporting one final katun history Moroni 10:1.