Epilogue - The Great Apostasy

 

 

     EPILOGUE---THE GREAT APOSTASY

 

 

     Assuming a Mesoamerican setting for the Book of Mormon, Joseph Allen offers this summation of life in Mesoamerica after the destruction of the Nephite nation:

 

The Classic Maya Period

     Clearly, the golden age of the Nephites is not the same as the Classic civilization of the Maya. The Nephite golden age dates from the coming of Christ, approximately A.D. 34, to the year A.D. 200. The difference is in definition. The golden age of the Nephites had more to do with the nature of the people to live the commandments of God. The Classic Era of the Maya is recognized for the size and number of their buildings. During the Maya Classic era the priests were in total control, and a zealous building program continued for most of the period.

   The writings of Ixtlilxochitl provide us with a history of the people called Toltecs who were dispersed form their homeland beginning at A.D. 387. Their homeland was the area around the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, the same area proposed as the homeland of the Nephites, who date to the same time period. A correlation was proposed earlier in this text between the early Tultecas and the Nephites. Some of the dates recorded by Ixtlilxochitl during the Maya Classic Period are interesting, as they deal with the dispersion of these Tultecas.

 

A.D. 344

     The dispersion of the Nephites from the lands of their inheritances may be compared to the dispersion of the Jews from Jerusalem. The initial dispersion, according to Ixtlilxochitl began in A.D. 344, which is the beginning of the wars between the Lamanites and Nephites . The tulteca dispersion carried them to the coast of Baja California.

 

A.D. 556

     Some of the dispersed Tultecas established their headquarters in a place called Tula. The Tula that Ixtlilxochitl is referring to here is apparently Tula, Hidalgo, which was just north of Mexico City, and which subsequently became the capital for the warring Toltecs from A.D. 900 to A.D. 1200.

 

A.D. 778

     Ixtlilxochitl recorded a date of A.D. 778 wherein he gave the date of the death of a king by the name of Huetzin. He discussed the manner of government that was set down by the people's forefathers. He says that "these kings were tall of body and white and had beards like the Spaniards." For that reason, when Cortez and his men came, they were considered to be of this lineage.

 

THE POSTCLASSIC PERIOD (A.D. 900 -- A.D. 1519)

 

A.D. 935

     A.D. 935 is considered to be the year that Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl was born at Tula, Hidalgo. The history of Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl has been confused with the deity or symbolism of Quetzalcoatl that dates back to the time of Christ. The Tultecas continued to wear long white tunics. In one war, the astronomical figure of 3,200,000 people were killed on one side and 2,400,000 were killed on the other. The warring Toltec nation began to decline by A.D. 1200. This decline set the stage for the coming of the barbaric Aztec nation.

 

The Aztec Era (A.D. 1325 -- A.D. 1519)

     Most people are somewhat familiar with the great Aztec nation. The Aztecs are the latecomers on the Mesoamerican scene. They are vastly removed from the Book of Mormon time period. Just before the Aztecs came to power, throughout Mesoamerica, many of the great city centers began to be abandoned. The priestcraft society had worn out its welcome. The flickering candle had gone out. The dark years, as prophesied by the Book of Mormon prophets had spread throughout all of Mesoamerica.

     The Aztec rise to power begins with a legend surrounding the establishment of their sacred city called Tenochtitlan (Mexico City). Two hundred years prior to the time of the Spanish Conquest in 1519, their ancient prophet Huitzilopochtli told them, "When you see an eagle standing on a cactus with a serpent in its mouth, that is where you are to establish my sacred city." They saw the eagle all right. but it was standing on a cactus in a lake. Therefore, Mexico City was literally built on a lake in a valley 7,200 feet above sea level. To this very day, the symbol of the eagle standing on the cactus with a serpent in its mouth serves as the national emblem on Mexico's flag and on the Mexican peso.

     A great deal of literature has been written about the Aztec culture. As a result, I will not give a detailed history of them.

     When the Spaniards arrived in Mexico in the year 1519, the Conquest of Mexico began. The story of the Conquest is an amazing one. A handful of soldiers, about 400, conquered one of the most ferocious and bloodthirsty nations of all time, the Aztecs.

     Some historians say that Montezuma II, who was the emperor of Mexico at the time of the Conquest, believed that Cortez was either Quetzalcoatl or that the Spaniards were the sons of Quetzalcoatl returning.

     Regardless of all the reasons, the great apostasy in Mesoamerica happened. And it was prophesied more than 2,000 years earlier:

           I beheld the wrath of God, that it was upon the seed of my brethren; and they were scattered before the Gentiles and were smitten. (1 Nephi 13:14)

 

     The Spaniards arrived in Mexico 100 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth rock. Bernal Diaz, a soldier in the army of Cortez, recorded his feelings as they entered Mexico for the first time:

           Gazing on such wonderful sights, we did not know what to say, or whether what appeared before us was real, for on the one side, on the land, there were great cities, and in the lake ever so many more, and the lake itself was crowded with canoes, and in the Causeway were many bridges at intervals, and in front of us stood the great City of Mexico, and we--we did not even number four hundred soldiers. (Diaz 1972;192)

 

     Historians estimate that over 2 million people lived in Mexico City at the time of the Conquest. Today, over 22 million people live there. Some estimations report that over 85 percent of the people have native blood running through their veins. [Joseph L. Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, pp. 391-401]

 

Epilogue (Illustration): Sunset behind the post-classic Temple of Kukulcan, Chichen Itza, Yucatan] [F.A.R.M.S. Staff, "Lands of the Book Of Mormon," Slide #113]

 

Epilogue The Spanish Conquest:

 

     Massimo Franceshini has recorded that in the book "The 100", which ranks the most influential persons in history, Michael H. Hart notes the following about Pizarro and Cortes:

           When, in 1967, the Israelis won a dramatic victory over Arab nations which greatly outnumbered them, and which possessed far more military equipment, many persons were surprised. It was an impressive triumph; but history is studded with examples of military victories won against sizable numerical odds. However, Pizarro's conquest of an empire of over 6 million with a force of only 180 men is the most astonishing military feat in history. The numerical odds he overcame were considerably higher than those which faced Cortes, who invaded an empire of roughly 5 million with a force of 600 men. But, one might ask, did not Spanish firearms give them an overwhelming tactical advantage? Not at all. Arquebuses, the primitive firearms of the time, had a small range and took a long time to reload. Although they made a frightening noise, they were actually less effective than good bows and arrows. In any event, when Pizarro entered Cajamarca, only 3 of his men had arquebuses, and no more than 20 had crossbows. Most of the Indians were killed by conventional weapons such as swords and spears. Despite their possessions of a few horses and firearms, it is plain that the Spanish entered the conflict at an overwhelming military disadvantage. What then happened? Speaking about Cortes and mentioning the same things the writer added: "Cortes was also aided by Aztec legends concerning the god Quetzalcoatl. According to Indian legend, this God had instructed the Indians in agriculture, metallurgy, and government; He had been tall, with white skin and a flowing beard. After promising to revisit the Indians, He had departed. To Montezuma, it seemed very possible that Cortes was the returning god, and this fear seems to have markedly influenced his behavior. Certainly Montezuma's reaction to the Spanish invasion was very weak and indecisive. At this point is a clue, but what a clue!!!

[Massimo Franceshini, http://www.fortunecity.com/millenium/tinkywinky/316/The_Book_of_Mormon.htm]

 

Epilogue The Aztec Era -- Spanish Conquest (Illustration): By bravery and audacity, the Spaniards defeated their opponents against vast odds. The Aztecs, used to certain cultural norms for the conduct of war, found they could not cope with the completely foreign Spanish practices and superior technology (especially their horses). After the Aztecs gave up, other Mesoamerican peoples put up relatively light resistance, suspecting that they could not succeed where Montezuma's feared forces had failed. [John L. Sorenson, Images of Ancient America, p. 213]

 

Epilogue The Aztec Era -- Spanish Conquest (Illustration): Diego Rivera's famed mural shows the Spaniards making slaves of Mexican Indians during the colonial era. Recall that Nephi1 had prophetically seen "the seed of my brethren" being "scattered before the Gentiles and . . . smitten" (1 Nephi 13:14). [John L. Sorenson, Images of Ancient America, p. 213]