“Behold I Am Jesus Christ, Whom the Prophets Testified Shall Come into the World”

Alan C. Miner

According to Joseph Allen, virtually all 16th Century writers wrote about a white god called Quetzalcoatl (Ket-sahl-kwah-tull). In the Aztec language of Mexico, the word "coatl" means serpent. The word "quetzal" means feathers. The gorgeous national bird of Guatemala is called the quetzal bird. By placing the word "quetzal" in front of the word "coatl", we convey the idea of a "feathered serpent.." The symbolic association of Jesus Christ with the tradition of the white god, Quetzalcoatl is indeed impressive. The fact that the serpent is associated with Satan in the Garden of Eden may suggest that Christ was originally associated with the serpent and that in the Garden of Eden, Satan, as the great counterfeiter, took upon himself the identity of Christ to deceive Eve. Christ as a "serpent" is spoken of in both the Bible and the Book of Mormon (See John 3:14; 2 Nephi 25:20; Alma 33:19-20; Helaman 8:14-15). The beautiful quetzal bird is symbolic of the heavens, and the serpent is symbolic of the earth. Christ is God over both the heaven and earth. Christ descended to the earth and took upon himself flesh. As the serpent, he descended lower than man and was scourged and hung upon the cross. Like the quetzal, Christ ascended to heaven, and through the atonement, we may also resurrect and ascend to heaven. We should, however, exercise caution as we read about the legends of Quetzalcoatl because throughout pre-Columbian Mexican history, scores of individuals, both mythological and real, were given the name or title of Quetzalcoatl. Nevertheless, similarities of Christ and Quetzalcoatl include the following:

1. Both Christ and Quetzalcoatl were recognized as creator of all things. (Mosiah 4:2; Saenz 1962:19,40)

2. Both Christ and Quetzalcoatl were born of virgins. (Alma 7:10; Gamiz 95)

3. Both Christ and Quetzalcoatl are described as being white or as wearing a white robe. (3 Nephi 11:8; Torquemada 47)

4. Both Christ and Quetzalcoatl performed miracles. (3 Nephi 26:15; Sejourne 136-137)

5. Both Christ and Quetzalcoatl taught the ordinance of baptism. (3 Nephi 11:23; Irwin 1963:170)

6. Both Christ and Quetzalcoatl prophesied of future events. (Ixtlilxochitl:40)

7. Both Christ and Quetzalcoatl were universal as opposed to just being recognized as local gods. (3 Nephi 16:1; Sejourne 1962)

8. A great destruction was associated with both Christ and Quetzalcoatl at exactly the same time period in history. (3 Nephi 8:5; Ixtlilxochitl:40)

9. The cross was a symbol to both Christ and Quetzalcoatl. (3 Nephi 27:14; Irwin 1963:165)

10. Both Christ and Quetzalcoatl sent out disciples to preach their word. (3 Nephi 12:1; Wirth 1978:55)

11. Both Christ and Quetzalcoatl promised they would come a second time. (2 Nephi 6:14; Sahagun 1:40)

12. A new star is associated with both Christ and Quetzalcoatl. (3 Nephi 1:21; Anales de Cauhtitlan 7)

13. The children of both Christ and Quetzalcoatl will become lords and heirs of the earth. (4 Nephi 1:17; Ixtlilxochitl:40)

[Joseph L. Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, pp. 159-161]

3 Nephi 11:11 Behold, I am the light and the life of the world ([Illustration]): The Quetzal Bird] [Joseph L. Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, p. 160]

3 Nephi 11:13 The Lord spake unto them [at the temple] ([Illustration]): Christ at the Temple [Robert T. Barrett, Verse Markers, Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, p. 6]

Step by Step Through the Book of Mormon: A Cultural Commentary