The Popol Vuh represents the most studied indigenous text of Mesoamerica, with its breadth of detail concerning Maya worldview, religion, cosmology, and society. Regarded as an ethnohistorical treasure, this narrative has been read exclusively as a freestanding, self-contained text to inquire into a history far removed from when it was actually created. Consequently, the colonial context of the text itself has been omitted, including the central role of Dominican friar Francisco Ximénez as transcriber and translator of the only available copy. This article reframes the Popol Vuh within its historical and physical ecclesiastic context, recovering Friar Ximénez’s voice within his manuscript. It is argued that his work was first and foremost intended to be a religious treatise to carry out the conversion of the K’iche’ to Christianity. This study offers an alternative, holistic understanding of Friar Ximénez’s manuscript by tracing two historical moments that contributed to the transformation of the Popol Vuh narrative from a religious treatise into what it is now in the prevailing view, an ancient text or “sacred book.”

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