Research Programs: Scholarly Editions and Translations

Period of Performance

10/1/2016 - 9/30/2022

Funding Totals

$290,000.00 (approved)
$290,000.00 (awarded)

The Theologia Indorum: A Critical Translation of Friar Domingo de Vico's Theology for and of the Maya, Volume I

FAIN: RQ-249905-16

George Mason University (Fairfax, VA 22030-4444)
Garry Sparks (Project Director: December 2015 to present)

Participating institutions:
George Mason University (Fairfax, VA) - Applicant/Recipient
American Philosophical Society (Philadelphia, PA) - Participating Institution

Preparation of a critical edition and English translation of the 16th-century Theologia Indorum (Theology of the Indians) composed in Maya, the first work of Christian theology written in an indigenous American language.

The Theologia Indorum (“Theology for the Indians” or “Theology of the Indians”) by Spanish Dominican friar Domingo de Vico is the first original Christian theology written in either North or South America and remains to this day the longest single text ever written in any Native American language. And yet, since its composition in the central Maya highlands of Guatemala in the 1550s the Theologia Indorum has never been translated into any non-Mayan language, apart from some sporadic sections periodically by various scholars since the 1980s. Whereas most of the scholarship on the early colonial Maya has focused on their now famous writings—such as the Popol Wuj, Xajil Chronicles (or Annals of the Kaqchikel), the nine Books of Chilam Balam, et cetera—which consist of the earliest post-contact literature by indigenous American peoples, critical studies of the specific influences of Catholicism in these Maya texts has only recently been begun within the past decade.

Media Coverage

Pic of the Week: Team of Linguists Translate Rare Mayan-Language Manuscript (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Wendi Maloney
Publication: Library of Congress Blog
Date: 3/16/2018
Abstract: On March 13 and 14, an international team of linguists visited the Library of Congress to transcribe and translate, for the first time, the “Guatemalan Priests Handbook,” a rare and important manuscript in the Library’s Jay I. Kislak Collection.

The Theologia Indorum: A Critical Translation of Friar Domingo de Vico’s Theology for and of the Maya (Media Coverage)
Date: 2/9/2023

Einblicke in die Gedanken der Maya: Schriften eines frühen Missionars übersetzt (Media Coverage)
Date: 2/9/2023

Christentum klug vermittelt (Media Coverage)
Date: 12/13/2018

Ancient Text Yields New Understanding (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Anne Reynolds
Publication: Mason Spirit
Date: 11/26/2018

Associated Products

Theologia Indorum (Web Resource)
Title: Theologia Indorum
Author: Garry Sparks
Abstract: The website consists of high-resolution scans of the entire volume I of the Theologia Indorum and the initial 16 sections (i.e., “chapters”) of transcription and translations went live. Not only will subsequent chapters (transcription and translations) be uploaded as they are completed but it is also hoped that future work on volume II of the Theologia Indorum (for a complete reconstruction of the entire text) may be added in the future, along with links to libraries that are currently scanning and making available online other manuscripts of this text.
Year: 2020
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Project website containing manuscript scans, transcriptions, and translations.