The Jesuit and the Incas: The Extraordinary Life of Padre Blas Valera, S.J

By Klaiber, Jeffrey | International Bulletin of Missionary Research, October 2004 | Go to article overview

The Jesuit and the Incas: The Extraordinary Life of Padre Blas Valera, S.J


Klaiber, Jeffrey, International Bulletin of Missionary Research


The Jesuit and the Incas: The Extraordinary Life of Padre Blas Valera, S.J. By Sabine Hyland. Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press, 2003. Pp. xii, 269. $30.

In the mid-199Os a major controversy broke out among Andean scholars over a relatively obscure colonial Peruvian Jesuit, Bias Valera (1549-97), the author of a history of the Incas and a short chronicle on the Inca religion. Recent documents discovered in Italy, however, claim that this Peruvian Jesuit, who had been exiled to Spain for some crime or misconduct and who presumably died there, in fact returned to his homeland and went on to become the intellectual author of another chronicle, which bears the name of Felipe Guamán Poma de Ayala. After much heated debate, most authorities came to the conclusion that the so-called Naples documents were false.

Sabine Hyland's work on Bias Valera is guaranteed to reopen the debate. Certainly this new and intriguing biography of Valera will catch the attention of many scholars, especially now that Bias Valera is the center of a major controversy. Based on the author's extensive research, this work tells the story of Valera's life and step-by-step establishes her principal thesis: that the "crime" for which Valera was punished was not sexual misconduct but his belief that the Incas were practically Christians before the Gospel arrived. …

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