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Similarities Between Quetzalcoatl and Mormon's Jesus Christ

Updated on November 18, 2016
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Katie has been a member of the LDS Church since her baptism at age 8. She graduated from seminary and will graduate from BYU in April.

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The Descending God: Quetzalcoatl

Both the Mayan and the Aztec people believe in a Descending or Diving God. He was known as Kukulcan, the Feathered Serpent, among the Mayans and as Quetzalcoatl among the Aztecs. These ancient peoples believed that He was the creator God, that He was born of a virgin, that He raised the dead, that He healed by the laying on of hands, and that He would return. The first record of a Feathered Serpent being worshiped was during the 1st century AD.

He is specifically mentioned in the Popul Vuh, the religious writings of the early Mayans, as one of several Creator Gods. Several temples were built to this God, including the Temple of Quetzalcoatl built by the Mayans at Teotihuacan and the “Templo del Dios Descendente” (Temple of the Descending God) at Tulum in the Yucatan.

The Aztecs believed that Quetzalcoatl would return. Legend has it that Montezuma met Hernan Cortés with peace when he arrived in Tenochtitlan on November 8, 1519 because he believed Cortés to be Quetzalcoatl returning.

Temple for the Descending God at Tulum

This is a picture of the temple for the Descending God at Tulum.
This is a picture of the temple for the Descending God at Tulum.

Christ

This Christus statue is housed on LDS Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah.
This Christus statue is housed on LDS Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah. | Source

Jesus Christ

In contrast, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) believe that Jesus of Nazareth atoned for the sins of the world, was crucified by the Jews, and was resurrected on the third day. Furthermore, they believe that after a 3 day ministry in the afterlife, He appeared to both His 12 disciples in Israel and to the Nephite and Lamanite peoples, the ancestors of the American Indians, Mayans and Aztecs, of Jewish descent, on the American continent. The history of His post-resurrection ministry on the American continent is recorded in the Book of Mormon. They believe that Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith in the 1800s and restored His gospel and reorganized His church on the American continent. And, they believe He will come again.

Feathered Serpents

The Mayans and Aztecs represent the Descending God (Kukulcan or Quetzalcoatl) as a Feathered Serpent. In 2 Nephi 25:20, in the Book of Mormon, a story is told of an ancient prophet, Moses, having held up a bronze feathered serpent for his people to look upon. His people had been bitten by serpents and were promised that if they would but look unto this feathered serpent, which represented Christ, they would be healed. Both Jesus Christ and the Descending God are represented as feathered serpents, all powerful and all knowing beings.

Similarities between Quetzalcoatl and Jesus Christ

Both groups believe that He was the creator God and that He was born of a virgin. Mormons believe He created the earth under the direction of God, the Eternal Father. This is in harmony with the Popul Vuh’s analysis of there being multiple creator Gods.

The Book of Mormon (ex: 3 Nephi 26:15-16) and Bible (ex: John 12:1, Mark 16:18) recount Christ healing by the laying on of hands and raising the dead. Both of which the Descending God is attributed with having done.

Both groups await His return. Because of the overwhelming similarities between the two traditions, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe the myths of the Descending God, Quetzalcoatl and Kukulcan to be morphed versions of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.

About the similarities between the two belief systems, John Taylor 3rd president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said: “"The story of the life of the Mexican divinity, Quetzalcoatl, closely resembles that of the Savior; so closely, indeed, that we can come to no other conclusion than that Quetzalcoatl and Christ are the same being. But the history of the former has been handed down to us through an impure Lamanitish source, which has sadly disfigured and perverted the original incidents and teachings of the Savior's life and ministry.“ (Taylor, John (1992 (1882)). Mediation and Atonement. Grandin Book co.)

Either way, Jesus Christ will come again.

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    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 16 months ago from Australia

      Lawrence

      I studied LDS extensively. There are many interesting early West characters in their history. If you read the "Doctrine and Covenants" you will find some real wisdom there.

      Polygamy was not illegal in the USA until the Mormons practiced it.

      Widows of the poor class in the 19th Century had few inheritance rights: plural marriage protected them from having to starve or prostitute themselves.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 16 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      This was interesting, I'll reserve 'judgement' on Joseph Smith but the information was really interesting.

      Lawrence

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 16 months ago from Australia

      There are too many bizarre coincidences in the BoMormon to just write it off. JSmith was a visionary no doubt; perhaps his mind filtered his vision. He was a deucedly good looking young man and there was an Elvis effect on women that no doubt helped the early movement. Women flocked to his movement. There is an early photo of Smith that shows he had an extraordinarily unusually handsome face. This combined with the crass morals of the old West gave a lot of impetus to the start of the movement. It was more than just these influences because JSmith came up with a huge new concept.

    • kbdressman profile image
      Author

      kbdressman 16 months ago from Harlem, New York

      Ah, sorry I misunderstood you originally, Otztinato. You bring up interesting points and an interesting philosophy.

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 16 months ago from Australia

      Kbd

      no I was talking about the steel bows used by Nephi.

      I have studied the BoMormon thoroughly. JSmith was right about elephants and horses being present in Ancient times in the Americas. Horses evolved in the Americas. The fossil record only became known in the 20th century.

      The two most valuable stones in Ancient American culture were Jadeite and Nephrite both of which have an uncanny phonetic resemblance to the Jaredites and the Nephites. The stone Jadeite is the only known stone to glow in the dark without the aid of fluorescent light. It is clear JSmiths mind influenced the way he wrote but he was a visionary.

      The word Phoenicians has the same phonetic root as Nephites (f-nee and nee-f ). Phoenicians were the best ancient seafarers in the old world and probably sailed across the Atlantic.

      There are many areas of interest.

      However JSmith had significant contact with school teachers regardless of his official education. The story of quetzecoatl was well known by any teacher.

      There is no doubt that JSmith was a prophet. I don't limit such prophets just to the LDS as prophets regularly appear throughout history.

    • kbdressman profile image
      Author

      kbdressman 16 months ago from Harlem, New York

      Unvrso, you're welcome! Thanks for giving me a topic to research and write about. If you come up with other subjects (on mormonism or ANYTHING else) feel free to email me your requests!

      Oztinato, Joseph Smith had about a 3rd grade education. If you visit the Joseph Smith Papers Project website you can see some of his original writing. From those samples, it's clear to me that he would NOT have known about Quetzalcoatl. What besides the elemental make up of the plates from which the Book of Mormon interests you? I might be able to provide hubs on these topics.

    • unvrso profile image

      Jose Juan Gutierrez 16 months ago from Mexico City

      Thanks for writing this hub. I had heard something out it before. This article opens more my vague understanding about the topic.

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 16 months ago from Australia

      There are certainly some very strange things about Ancient South American archaeology. It was quite impossible for JSmith to have known many strange archaeological facts but Quetzalcotal wasn't one of them as it was a well known story in his time. The occurrence of steel in the Book of Mormon seems to be an anomaly but after investigating this I found it to be highly likely as meterorites can contain high quality steel. It is these and other facts that interest me more.

      The "virgin birth" is a very common occurence in stories to do with many holy humans like JC etc. It is an archetype which symbolises that God was not "begotten" and hence had no father. The "virgin birth" is therefore in fact a symbol of God Himself.

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