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Their assimilation to the civilizing god-hero did not last long. There were, on the other hand, among the revolts that stirred the indigenous world, a number of messianic movements led by prophets who, confronted by the first wave of colonization and evangelization now under way, preached the coming of new times or, in other words, the return to ancient times when there was no Spanish tribute and there were no missionaries or diseases. Some of these nativistic movements were violent, like the revolt in the Guadalajara region in 15411542, which involved several of western Mexico's sedentary and nomadic 28 THE HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF APOCALYPTICISM tribes.

To be sure, the matter is not one of a messianic hailing of the New World, as with Las Casas, Francisco de la Cruz, or Gonzalo Tenorio, and even up to a certain point Motolinia or Mendieta. But a typically Hispanic American slant can be observed in the dreams of these disciples of Gregorio Lopez; some believed in the permanence of sexual life and generation in millennial society. Like Francisco de la Cruz, they thus justified ideally the greater looseness of MILHOU: CENTRAL AND SOUTH AMERICAN COLONIALISM 19 morals that existed in America when compared to Spain.

But while they might have had a low estimation of the barbarous nature of the Moxo, Chiquito, Tupi, and Guarani Indians, they did try to make the best possible Christians out of them through fatherly and stern methods. In that respect, they were following the moderate thesis, far removed from any kind of messianism, of Father Jose de Acosta (1538-1599), the celebrated author of one of the most outstanding colonial missionary treatises, the De procuranda Indorum salute (1588). Much could be said about the ambiguous nature of the good savage myth.

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Apocalypticism in the Modern Period and the Contemporary Age by Stephen J. Stein


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