Cannibal Theologies in Colonial Portuguese America (1549-1759)

Translating the Christian Eucharist as the Tupinambá Pledge of Vengeance

in Journal of Early Modern History
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This article examines Jesuit-signed texts written in the Brasílica lingua franca and used in the religious conversion of native peoples in colonial Portuguese America (1549-1759). I study translation strategies for conveying the sacrament of Communion, arguing that doctrinal explanations and word choices recorded in catechisms and dictionaries reflect Tupi-Guarani beliefs that shaped Christianity. These translations merged the theophagous doctrine of the Eucharist with Tupinambá vengeance and exocannibalism, which were central to rituals enacted to bring about that earthly utopia that the Indians called the Land Without Evil. Thus did a distinct eschatology form, compressed with thick layers of Tupi-Guarani and Iberian Catholicism in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In late colony, these became reinterpreted by non-Tupi-Guarani Indians who renamed the Eucharist. But in every telling, the promise of the Eucharist remained the same: that the eating of an other gave access to salvation and eternal bliss.

Cannibal Theologies in Colonial Portuguese America (1549-1759)

Translating the Christian Eucharist as the Tupinambá Pledge of Vengeance

in Journal of Early Modern History

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References

1

José de Anchieta“Carta trimensal, de maio a agosto de 1556,” in Cartas do Pe. José de Anchieta: Correspondência ativa e passivaed. Hélio Abranches Viotti (São Paulo 1984) 109.

14

José Ribamar Bessa Freire“Da ‘fala boa’ ao português na amazônia brasileira,” Amerindia 8 (1983): 39-83; Aryon Dall’Igna Rodrigues Línguas brasileiras para o conhecimento das línguas indígenas (São Paulo 1986). The mutually-incomprehensible tongues included Amerindian language families (Tupi-Guarani Arawak Jê Karib); Indo-European tongues (Romance; Semitic Germanic); and African tongues (Kwa Akan Ajan Yoruba and Bantu) to name the more prominent ones.

19

Bessa Freire“Da ‘fala boa’” 50; Lee “Conversing in Colony” 177-202.

25

Bessa Freire“Da ‘fala boa’” 50; Lee “Conversing in Colony” 177-202.

32

AraújoCatecismo na Língua Brasílica4 10v 11v-12.

33

Ibid.8586v 87v 88.

34

Araújo and LeamCatecismo Brasilico152 154; Bettendorff Compendio da Doutrina Christam 84 85 83 85 87.

39

Ibid.8385 87.

41

BettendorffCompendio da Doutrina Christam83.

45

M. Kittiya Lee“Translation as International Collaboration: The European Promise of Militant Christianity for the Tupinambá of Portuguese America, 1550s-1612,” in Words and Worlds Turned Around: Indigenous Christianities in Latin Americaed. Davíd Tavárez and Louise Burkhart (Boulder forthcoming).

46

PardoOrigins of Mexican Catholicism138-139.

49

CardimTratados da terra e gente do Brasil146.

51

Anne B. McGuinness“Between Subjection and Accommodation: The Development of José de Anchieta’s Missionary Project in Colonial Brazil,” Journal of Jesuit Studies 1 (2014): 227.

54

Anne B. McGuinness“Transforming Indigenous Vice to Virtue on the Stages of Colonial Brazil: an analysis of Jesuit Theater and the plays of José de Anchieta,” Lusitania Sacra23 (Jan.-Jun. 2011): 47 56.

55

McGuinness“Between Subjection and Accomodation” 244.

60

LéryHistory112; Abbeville História da Missão 335. See also the quoted passages from sixteenth century Portuguese writers in Viveiros de Castro The Inconstancy of the Indian Soul 54-55.

63

Viveiros de CastroThe Inconstancy of the Indian Soul83.

69

ClastresSociety Against the State104; Viveiros de Castro The Inconstancy of the Indian Soul 100.

71

Staden et al.True History54.

73

Ibid.129-131.

79

Bessa Freire“Da ‘fala boa’ ”; Lee “Conversing in Colony” 209-237; Barros “ ‘Papera’: O português escrito.”

80

MolinaTo overcome oneself189-190.

81

NóbregaCartas do Brasil e mais escritos21; Abbeville História da Missão 371; Léry History 134 though Tupinambá recognition of an immortal soul separate from the mortal body led the French Calvinist to concede their awareness of an eschatological order 136. See also the discussion in Viveiros de Castro The Inconstancy of the Indian Soul 11-18 38-44.

83

Viveiros de CastroThe Inconstancy of the Indian Soul30.

85

MétrauxA religião dos tupinambás31-32.

86

RollerAmazonian Routes22-23.

87

João Daniel“Tesouro descoberto no Rio Amazonas,” Anais da Biblioteca Nacional do Rio de Janeiro 95 no. 1-2 ([1757-1776] 1975): 227.

93

MyscofskiAmazons Wives Nuns & Witches225.

94

SchwartzAll Can Be Saved188.

96

Glória Kok“Os ameríndios nas redes do sobrenatural cristão,” Espaço Ameríndio 2 no. 1 (Porto Alegre Jan./Jun. 2008): 13.

98

VainfãsA heresia dos índios105.

99

Viveiros de CastroThe Inconstancy of the Indian Soul103.

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