Sembrar la palabra divina

Solapas principales

Escolios: Folio 2, side 1, line 9 (“malas semillas”)

Escolios: Folio 2, side 2, line 31 (“sembrador de la palabra dívína”)

Here, Ximénez uses the language of “sowing” (sembrar) and “seeds” (semillas) as metaphors for the evangelization process. This metaphor originates in Christ’s parable of the sower, chronicled in Mark 4:1–20, wherein the effectiveness of the word of God depends on the condition of the soil (or soul) in which it is planted. Néstor Quiroa notes that Fray Antonio de Remesal, the official chronicler of the Dominican Order, employed this metaphor strongly in his Historia general de las Indias (1615), giving the direct order “Ut prius evellent de inde plantent” (“to uproot beforehand, thereafter to plant”). Quiroa elaborates:

It is important to highlight that with the axiom “to uproot beforehand, thereafter to plant,” the Dominican order affirmed its full commitment to the theoretical refutation of native religion. In other words, so that the neophytes could reach a fruitful commitment to Christianity, friars must first persuade them to detest their ancestral religion.

Under this Dominican metaphor, indigenous people were considered the “fertile soil” in which “trees of virtue” were to be planted. However, a fruitful out- come essentially depended on successfully uprooting the “trees of vices”—the indigenous stories, both oral and written. The indigenous stories were “the weed of superstition that must be de-rooted from the indigenous hearts.” Remesal further explained that the desire to eradicate the indigenous religious practices was the main reason that “friars who dealt with the idolatrous Indians were espe- cially interested in knowing their superstitious stories, the origin of their gods, the beginning of their idolatrous rituals and of their abominable sacrifices.” Thus, the main assumption under Ut prius evellant de inde plantent was that the act of recording the native stories would uncover their latent “erratic nature,” very much the same process as digging up roots from a tilled plot.