Guide to Confession Large and Small in the Mexican Language, 1634

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Bartolome de Alva wrote his Guide to Confession in 1634 to help Catholic priests uncover pre-Columbian Aztec religious beliefs and customs that persisted in their penitents' lives. The Guide offers both a revealing glimpse of the practices and attitudes of the Hispanic clergy ministering to the Indians of Central Mexico during the early colonial period and a window into the Nahua world.

Alva was born near present-day Mexico City at the close of the sixteenth century. Because his father was Spanish and his mother a mestizo descendant of Nahua nobility, he grew up steeped in the languages of both cultures. After attending the University of Mexico, he entered the priesthood and in 1631 was assigned to the parish of Chiapa de Mota, northwest of Mexico City. There he wrote his only published work, the Confessionario, in an attempt both to correct the flawed Nahuatl being used by the Church and adjust the content of confession to serve a clergy endeavoring to root out Indian "idolatry".

This first full translation into English of a Nahuatl confessors' manual offers parallel translations of Alva's Spanish and Nahuatl versions of the guide. Introductory essays by Barry D. Sell, John Frederick Schwaller, and Lu Ann Homza explain the context of Alva's work and examine the enduring impact of the Guide on Mexican history and religion.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780806131450
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1999
  • Edition description: MANUAL
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 7.37 (w) x 10.40 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Table of Contents

1 Don Bartolome de Alva, Nahuatl Scholar of the Seventeenth Century 3
2 The Classical Age of Nahuatl Publications and Don Bartolome de Alva's Confessionario of 1634 17
3 The European Link to Mexican Penance: The Literary Antecedents to Alva's Confessionario 33
The Confessionario 49
Bibliography 165
Index 171
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