“He Did Show Himself Unto Them Oft”

Alan C. Miner

Jesus told the Nephites on the American continent: "Ye are they of whom I said: Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd." According to Warren, Yorgason and Brown, although we tend to think of Christ's visit to the Nephites as a single event at Bountiful, we cannot rule out the possibility that Christ might have visited and ministered to some of his "other sheep" in Mesoamerica at the same time. Though the Book of Mormon mentions that "he [Christ] did show himself unto them [the Nephites] oft" (3 Nephi 26:13), it is silent on Jesus' other contacts with people on the American continent. However, the Mesoamerican record keepers are not. Ixtlilxochitl was an Aztec prince who took it upon himself to record their history. As part of this history, Ixtlilxochitl wrote about a Toltec priest king called Tolpiltzin, who had taken upon himself the name Quetzalcoatl because of many circumstances in his life which paralleled the original Quetzalcoatl god. He also apparently patterned his life according to those parallels. With this in mind, Ixtlilxochitl's words take on added interest:

He [Quetzalcoatl], having preached . . . in the majority of the cities of the Ulmecas and Xicalancas and in particular in that of Cholula, . . . returned through the same part from when he had come, which was by the orient [east] disappearing through Coatzalcoalco" (Ixtlilxochitl, translation in Hunter and Ferguson 1950:218; Quetzalcoatl's departure, in Kingsborough 1848)

The cities of the Ulmecas (Olmecs) and Xicalancas are in the southern Gulf Coast of Tabasco (which means abundance [Scholes and Roys 1948]) near the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. This region correlates with some major Book of Mormon geographical models as the land of Bountiful and the "eastern" coastal territory near the narrow neck of land. Quetzalcoatl's place of departure ("Coatzalcoalco") is today still named Coatzalcoalcos, and is located east southeast from Cholula, Mexico. Moreover, when Ixtlilxochitl states that Quetzalcoatl visited Cholula of the "Ulmecas" or Olmecs, he is dating the ministry of the Fair God to an early era many centuries before Aztec times. A whole series of Olmec communities were flourishing in Mesoamerica in the days of Jesus, Cholula among them. Thus, if Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl's journeys paralleled those of the ancient Quetzalcoatl, then Christ would have also visited Cholula before returning and departing from the proposed land of Bountiful near Coatzalcoalcos. [Bruce W. Warren, Blaine M. Yorgason, Harold Brown, New Evidences of Christ in Mesoamerica, Unpublished Manuscript]

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