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Mark Christensen: Performing the Descent from the Cross in Yucatan

Thursday, February 29
11:00 AM
250 KMBL

Martin B. Hickman Outstanding Scholar Lecture

Mary, Christ, and the Maya: Performing the Descent from the Cross in Yucatan

What did the Maya of colonial Yucatan think of Christ and his Passion? How did they celebrate Holy Week? And how did common European instruction on the topic of Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection change when translated into Yucatec Maya? Fortunately, a performative sermon written in Maya intended for a Holy Week celebration exists to provide a few answers.

This lecture employs a pioneering examination and translation of this sermon to demonstrate how the Maya celebrated a key ritual of Good Friday: Christ’s removal, or descent, from the cross. In the process, this lecture explores the European and Maya influences on the sermon and performance itself ultimately offering another window into the religion of the Yucatec Maya, their instruction on the Passion, and the various versions of Catholicism offered in the New World.

Mark Christensen

Beginning his career in Massachusetts, Mark Christensen joined the History Department of Brigham Young University in 2018. He earned a BA from BYU, MA from the University of Utah, and a Ph.D. in 2010 from Penn State. As a Colonial Latin American Historian, his specialization includes Nahua (Aztec) and Maya ethnohistory in central Mexico and Yucatan, and the translation of Nahuatl and Maya texts. His research explores the colonial experience of Nahuas and Mayas to illustrate how they negotiated their everyday religious, economic, and social lives with Spanish colonialism. He is the author of six books and numerous book chapters and articles. His most recent book, Aztec and Maya Apocalypses (Oklahoma, 2022) employs religious texts written in Aztec and Maya to reveal what the Indigenous people were taught regarding the Christian Apocalypse, and how it was received and familiarized within preexisting worldviews. His current project involves the translation and analysis of Maya texts on the Passion of Christ. He lives in Mapleton, Utah, with his wife, Natalie, and their five children.

Students in the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences gain Experience Points for attending this lecture. Learn more about Experience Points.