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Tongues of FireLanguage and Evangelization in Colonial Mexico$
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Nancy Farriss

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190884109

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190884109.001.0001

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Speaking the Word of God

Speaking the Word of God

(p.111) Chapter 5 Speaking the Word of God
Tongues of Fire

Nancy Farriss

Oxford University Press

The success of the language program was ultimately to be judged by the ability to communicate the gospel message to the Indian neophytes. The same criterion regulated the fierce competition within the colonial clergy for Indian parishes, or doctrinas. Secular priests vied with regular clergy and locally born creoles with peninsular Spaniards for control of these lucrative benefices, for which the principal qualification was competence in the parish’s main indigenous language or languages. Despite diocesan language examinations to ensure sufficient mastery to preach and administer the sacrament of confession, definitions and standards of proficiency varied widely. Over time the secular clergy, dominated by often bilingual creoles, began to edge out the more formally trained regulars. But the minority languages, especially in distant, impoverished doctrinas, remained ill served.

Keywords:   creole-peninsular rivalry, secularization of doctrinas, Dominicans, Oaxaca, Zapotec, colonial Mexico, preaching

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