During the first week of May 2006, for several reasons, I decided to read the book The Da Vinci Code (note: unless otherwise specified, all references are to the book, not movie, version).
Reasons for reading it included the fact that it is the best selling novel of all time, the book focuses on history and religion, I have interest in history, I have just developed major website additions on early Christianity, R.C. Meredith of the Living Church of God said that I might find it of interest, two of my employees recommended it (plus lent me a copy), and the release of the movie version of the book on May 19, 2006.
In this article, I will try to discuss some of the good, as well as some of the bad, in the book (this article is too short to cover it all).
Why the Fuss Over Fiction?
Since the book is fiction, why is there all this fuss about it?
Mainly, because it does not come across as purely fiction.
On page one (the page before the novel portion begins), which is titled FACT, the author of The Da Vinci Code states:
All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate (Brown D. The Da Vinci Code. Doubleday, New York, 2003, page 1).
Prior to the above, in the Acknowledgements portion of the book, the author thanks many for "their generous assistance in the research of the book" and lists a variety of organizations (some prestigious), then he also thanks:
...five members of Opus Dei (three active, two former) who recounted their stories, both positive and negative, regarding experiences inside Opus Dei (The Da Vinci Code, Acknowledgements).
The novel itself contains many sections where alleged scholars are talking together or informing someone else. These "scholars" frequently are discussing information of some historical/religious significance.
Hence, the introductions prior to the novel, as well as the novel itself, gives the impression that what you read in The Da Vinci Code is historically sound and not simply intended as fictional entertainment. Furthermore, a survey released in the Spring of 2006 found that many people sadly consider The Da Vinci Code to be as reliable as the Bible--thus I, in this article, I will attempt to deal with some of its many inaccurate statements.
The Basic Plot
The basic plot of the book is that a conservative group associated with the Roman Catholic Church, called Opus Dei, is so concerned that people may learn that Jesus supposedly was married and had children, that they are torturing people to death to hopefully learn where the "proof" of this is (presumably because this will allow Opus Dei to suppress the "truth"). The idea of Jesus being married and having offspring to the present time is possibly the most repeated heretical theme of the book.
The book's major "historical view" seems to be that the Roman Church eliminated books from the Bible in order to exalt males and to deprive females of their proper societal role (the truth is the that the Roman Catholic Church did no such thing, please see The New Testament Canon - From the Bible Itself). The Da Vinci Code essentially seems to encourage a form of pagan Mother Earth worship with certain sexual, and other, ceremonies. Foul language is peppered throughout portions of the book. As are attempts to claim that interpretations of certain paintings by Leonardo Da Vinci are somehow proof that Christianity has suppressed the feminine.
The book also falsely claims that the Catholic Church needed to make Jesus divine (as opposed to a normal mortal) in order to justify some type of male supremacy. The Da Vinci Code (on page 233) teaches that the idea of Jesus being divine was not determined until the Council of Nicea (which was convened at the bequest of Emperor Constantine in 325 A.D.). The truth is that Jesus' divinity was accepted from the first century A.D. onwards (please see Jesus is God, But Was Made Man).
The major portion of the book has the two leading characters (Langdon and Sophie) attempting to learn what one of the victims of an "Opus Dei" murder was trying to tell them through a series of clues, while they are attempting to evade police and other capture. Much of the book reads like a conspiracy thriller.
Some Basic Answers
While it is certainly true that many associated with the Roman Catholic Church have been responsible for the deaths of many throughout history (including those truly in the Church of God, please see the articles Persecutions by Church and State, Europa and the Beast, and the Churches of Revelation 2 & 3), the idea that any group significantly associated with it is now actively killing people to suppress some ancient secret is absurd.
It should be noted that there actually is a somewhat secretive Roman Catholic associated group called Opus Dei. Though I know little about them, I do not believe they are currently focused on assassinating or torturing those who are hiding ancient secrets (although I do believe that some who profess Roman Catholicism will sanction killing in the future, per Revelation 17:6;13:7; see also Persecutions by Church and State).
Regarding the book's interpretations of certain writings and paintings by Leonardo Da Vinci, I will refrain from comment, other than to say that any subtle messages that may have been intended by Leonardo Da Vinci do not in any way change biblical revelation. While I actually have been to the Louvre and have seen Da Vinci's Mona Lisa and some other works, I did not look at them close enough to determine if the book's claims about their alleged feminine properties have any validity.
The idea of Jesus being in some manner divine is not some late development, but was the belief of the original apostolic as well as immediate post-apostolic church (this is clearly documented in the Bible and early history, please see the article Binitarian View: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning).
Also, the idea that the true Christian church did not know what the books of the Bible were until the fourth century or later is in error (please see the articles The Old Testament Canon and The New Testament Canon - From the Bible Itself).
The idea of Jesus being married was not proven by in The Da Vinci Code--although it made many assertions (all of these claims are discussed later in this article).
Constantine and Pagan Influence
The Da Vinci Code also essentially claims that Constantinian Christianity added a variety of pagan elements and deviated from original Christianity. Unlike most of the other significant claims in the book, this one is basically correct.
Furthermore, The Da Vinci Code seems to understand that the message that Jesus preached was one of peace, yet many who profess the Christian religion are into violence (please see the article Military Service and the Churches of God: Do Real Christians Participate in Carnal Warfare?).
The author of The Da Vinci Code seems to have a desire to point out certain hypocritical aspects of mainstream Christianity towards the beginning of the book in order to set the stage for other more questionable points that come later. For example, The Da Vinci Code does correctly teach that Jesus taught a message of non-violence:
Jesus' message is one of peace . . . of nonviolence . . . of love. This was the message Silas had been taught from the beginning...For two millennia, Christian soldiers had defended their faith...Tonight, Silas had been called to battle (The Da Vinci Code, page 31).
At that stage of the book, the "Christian" assassin Silas had already killed four people.
Thus, on that page of The Da Vinci Code, the book gets its first major dig against mainstream "Christianity" by showing that someone who claimed to follow Christ was killing people and thinking he was doing God a service (see also John 16:2).
The Da Vinci Code is correct that certain supporters of the Roman Catholic Church (as well as some of its Protestant opponents) have long used violence (and political influence) to try to suppress the teachings of those they disapprove of (three articles of related interest might be Europa and the Beast, Persecutions by Church and State, and the Churches of Revelation 2 & 3.).
What is distressing, of course, is that the idea of Christian soldiers engaging in killing or assassination is accepted by nearly everyone today. The truth is that The Da Vinci Code is somewhat helpful for pointing out this hypocrisy. But it is in error by suggesting that there are such things as truly "Christian" carnal soldiers and assassins.
Even early Roman Catholic accepted writers (such as Tertullian) understood that Christians were not only to not be in the military, they were not to attend gladiatorial or other intentionally violent sports activities. And this is still the position of the faithful of the real Church of God. Historical and biblical proof of this can be found in the article Military Service and the Churches Of God.
The book also mentions (on page 107) that there was an obelisk in a particular Roman Catholic Church. Obelisks were considered both symbols of sex (phallus) and sun worship by pagans. Interestingly, there is a rather large obelisk in St. Peter's square in the Vatican (which I have seen many times). And while The Da Vinci Code did not comment on the pagan connections with the obelisk, the following (from Wikipedia) does:
While we in the genuine Church of God consider that objects associated with sun-worship are pagan and un-Christian, the Vatican and others still use them.
The obelisk symbolized the sun god Ra and during the brief religious reformation of Akhenaten was said to be a petrified ray of the aten, the sundisk. It was also thought that the god existed within the structure.
The Romans were infatuated with obelisks, to the extent that there are now more than twice as many obelisks standing in Rome as remain in Egypt...
Rome is the obelisk capital of the world. The most prominent is the 25.5 m obelisk at Saint Peter's Square in Rome. The obelisk had stood since A.D. 37 on its site on the wall of the Circus of Nero, flanking St Peter's Basilica:
"The elder Pliny in his Natural History refers to the obelisk's transportation from Egypt to Rome by order of the Emperor Gaius (Caligula) as an outstanding event. The barge that carried it had a huge mast of fir wood which four men's arms could not encircle. One hundred and twenty bushels of lentils were needed for ballast. Having fulfilled its purpose, the gigantic vessel was no longer wanted. Therefore, filled with stones and cement, it was sunk to form the foundations of the foremost quay of the new harbour at Ostia." (James Lees-Milne, Saint Peter's (1967).
Sunday and Other Pagan Holidays
The Da Vinci Code does correctly teach that what now passes for mainstream Christianity is NOT the same as true early Christianity. The book correctly teaches that Sunday, Christmas, and halos are pagan, even if some of the specifics (such as too much credit to Constantine) are somewhat fictionalized.
Here are a couple of passages from the book that I found of interest in this area:
In Constantine's day, Rome's official religion was sun worship--the cult of Sol Invictus, or the Invincible Sun--and Constantine was its high priest...By fusing pagan symbols, dates, and rituals into the growing Christian tradition, he created a kind of hybrid religion...
Nothing in Christianity is original. The pre-Christian God Mithras – called the Son of God and the Light of the World – was born on December 25, died, was buried in a rock tomb, and then resurrected in three days. By the way, December 25 is also the birthday of Osiris, Adonis, and Dionysus. The newborn Krishna (of Hinduism) was presented with gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Even Christianity’s weekly holy day was stolen from the pagans...Originally...Christianity honored the Jewish Sabbath of Saturday, but Constantine shifted it to coincide with the pagan’s veneration day of the sun...To this day, most churchgoers attend services on Sunday morning with no idea that they are there on account of the pagan sun god’s weekly tribute – Sunday. (The Da Vinci Code, pages 232-233).
While the book's statement that "Nothing in Christianity is original" is in error (there are a variety of points in true Christianity that were not previously found in other religious teachings), a hybrid of paganism and Christianity, is still pagan, as the book suggests. And while The Da Vinci Code contains much error, the message that what now passes for Christianity is not the original Christianity as Jesus taught, is correct.
It must be understood as a historical fact that Christmas WAS NOT celebrated in Rome until after Constantine. It did first appear in Egypt, where Osiris came from. This is documented in the article What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days?
It is also a historical fact that Constantine was a pagan sun-worshiper and that he enacted the first Sunday rest law in 321 A.D. One error in The Da Vinci Code is the suggestion that Constantine himself came up with the idea of Sunday. Sunday was a compromise that occurred apparently in the second century by many in Rome and Alexandria (please see the article on Sunday), though it was Constantine who essentially mandated it in various areas (Sunday was specifically mandated by the Council of Laodicea several decades after Constantine's death).
The Da Vinci Code is correct that originally, Christians kept the Sabbath. However, what The Da Vinci Code fails to point out is that true Christians still keep the Sabbath and never have accepted Sunday. Please see the articles The Sabbath and the Early Church and Is Revelation 1:10 talking about Sunday or the Day of the Lord?
Finally, The Da Vinci Code was also basically correct about Constantine when it stated:
Constantine...was a lifelong pagan who was baptized on his deathbed, too weak to protest...he decided to unify Rome under a single religion...Historians still marvel at the brilliance which Constantine converted sun-worshipping pagans to Christianity. By fusing pagan symbols, dates, and rituals into the growing Christian tradition, he created a type of hybrid religion that was acceptable to both parties (The Da Vinci Code, page 232).
I used the term "basically" because the form of "Christianity" that he advocated was so hostile to early Christianity, that Constantine ordered the persecution of true Christians (see article on the Smyrna Church). But it was acceptable to many in Rome, Antioch, Constantinople, and Alexandria who had began to make various doctrinal changes (please see the articles Apostolic Succession and the Orthodox Church).
I perhaps should add here that it is my understanding that Constantine had himself buried in a grave that was dedicated to a sun god.
Yet most who profess Roman or Orthodox Catholicism claim Constantine as a major Christian leader. Those of us in the genuine Church of God consider him to have been a major tool to foist a non-biblical form of Christianity on the world--a form that commits fornication with the kings of the earth (see Revelation 17:1-2;18:9-10).
The Da Vinci Code teaches that the idea of Jesus being divine was not determined until the Council of Nicea (325 A.D.):
Constantine...held a famous ecumenical gathering known as the Council of Nicaea...
until that moment in history, Jesus as viewed by His followers was a mortal prophet . . . a great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless. A mortal...
Jesus' establishment as 'the Son of God' was officially proposed and voted on by the Council of Nicaea (The Da Vinci Code, page 233).
Yet, I should add that Christianity Today reports that the movie version changes this part of the story:
And the film's version of Langdon explicitly says that Constantine did not invent the divinity of Jesus—which is almost the exact opposite of what the book's version of Langdon says (The Da Vinci Code. Review by Peter T. Chattaway | posted 05/18/06) .
Hence, perhaps the author of the screenplay was a bit more into checking out details than the author of the book was.
But what about the divinity of Jesus?
While there are a variety of unitarian groups (with the Jehovah's Witnesses being probably the largest) that deny the deity of Jesus, the plain truth is that Jesus' divinity was taught from the beginning. It is both in the Bible and in early second century writings.
Here are three New Testament references on this subject:
Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us" (Matthew 1:23, NKJV except where otherwise noted).
And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (John 20:28-29).
For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:9).
Here are a few second century references on the subject. Here is one from Polycarp who was appointed by the apostles to lead the churches from Smyrna:
Now may the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the eternal High-priest Himself, the [Son of] God Jesus Christ, build you up in faith and truth, and in all gentleness and in all avoidance of wrath and in forbearance and long suffering and in patient endurance and in purity; and may He grant unto you a lot and portion among His saints, and to us with you, and to all that are under heaven, who shall believe on our Lord and God Jesus Christ and on His Father (The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians in APOSTOLIC FATHERS (as translated by J.B. LIGHTFOOT) 12:6,7).
It probably should be noted that Dr. Lightfoot left out "Son of" in his translation, which is in the Latin. But either way, this passage does refer to Jesus as God.
Also, Ignatius, who was known by Polycarp (and praised in this same Polycarp epistle) wrote around 100-110 A.D.,
For our God, Jesus Christ, was conceived by Mary in accord with God's plan: of the seed of David, it is true, but also of the Holy Spirit. He was born and baptized so that by His submission He might purify the water (Ignatius of Antioch, Letters to the Ephesians 18,2--note this is translated the same by at least three separate translations as done by Dr. Lightfoot, J.H. Srawley, and Roberts & Donaldson).
Hence, both the Bible and early writings show that Jesus was considered to be divine well prior to the Council of Nicea (325 A.D.)
What may have been confusing to the author of The Da Vinci Code, as well as to others, is that the idea of God being some type of trinity was not fully accepted until around Constantine's time. Even Dr. Arius, who presumably The Da Vinci Code is hinting considered Jesus to have been simply mortal, understood that Jesus was divine (he just misunderstood a few points about the divinity, please see the article Binitarian View).
The historical truth is that history clearly demonstrates that the Bible and early writers supported the concept of a binitarian, not trinitarian Godhead.
The Da Vinci Code strongly teaches that Jesus must have been married to Mary Magdalene. It seems that the author, Dan Brown, may actually believe this inaccuracy. The book goes so far as to state:
Mary Magdalene..More specifically her marriage to Jesus Christ...It's a matter of historical record " (The Da Vinci Code, page 244).
Now this is not a matter of historical record, but simply the opinion of some of those who do not prefer not to believe the Bible.
One such support of this "historical record" in The Da Vinci Code was this claim:
...the social decorum during that time virtually forbid a Jewish man to be unmarried (The Da Vinci Code, page 245).
However, that "record" is not evidence.
The Bible shows that the Apostle Paul was unmarried (1 Corinthians 7:8). And the Bible shows that on many occasions was allowed to speak in Jewish synagogues (e.g. Acts 17:1-2,10,17)--thus Jewish social custom did not prevent single male religious leaders. Thus, The Da Vinci Code is in error on this "proof".
Another so-called proof from the "historical record" is that the Bible does not say that Jesus was unmarried:
If Jesus were not married, at least one of the Bible's gospels would have mentioned it (The Da Vinci Code, page 245).
The above statement is a logical error. Arguing from what is not said is rarely proof.
Actually, since the Bible DOES mention Mary Magdalene, it would make more sense that it would say or somehow imply that she was married to Jesus. Yet no relationship like that is at all hinted at in the New Testament. If she was married to Jesus, it is likely that Luke, when mentioning her, would not have had to explain that she was one who Jesus cast demons out of her (Luke 8:2-3), but could have somehow said she was married to Jesus. The fact that Luke had to do that, actually suggests that he felt that she was a relatively unknown figure when he penned his account of the gospel.
The "Gospel of Philip"
The other so-called historical proofs of Jesus' alleged marriage seem to be related to gnostic accounts. Yet, while claiming them as proof, The Da Vinci Code states:
The Gnostic Gospels...The earliest Christian records. Troublingly, they do not match up with the gospels in the Bible (The Da Vinci Code, pages 245-246).
The last statement is is true, which is part of why they were rejected from being considered as part of the Bible. Yet, The Da Vinci Code fails to mention that the gnostic gospels do not agree among themselves either. The gnostic accounts do not read like the biblical accounts, nor do they have the harmony of the biblical accounts. The Da Vinci Code also fails to point out that nearly all of them were not written until well after the last book of the New Testament (Revelation, which was written towards the end of the life of the oldest of the original apostles) was written--hence they are not truly "The earliest Christian records."
When Jesus was dying, He made provisions for the Apostle John to take care of His mother Mary:
25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, "Woman, behold your son!" 27 Then He said to the disciple, "Behold your mother!" And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home. (John 19:25-27)
If He was married to Mary Magdalene and/or He had young children, Jesus obviously would have tried to make provisions for them, but He did not. Jesus did not have any children nor was He married to Mary Magdalene. The gospels record that people like Peter had a wife, and it would be logical that if Jesus had one that this would have been mentioned.
The biggest single "proof" in The Da Vinci Code that Jesus was married is this passage from the so-called Gospel of Philip. The Gospel of Philip, however, was apparently not written until the end of the second century (and some scholars believe that it was not written until the third century), hence it was written AFTER the books of the New Testament were all known. Hence to call it part of "The earliest Christian records," which The Da Vinci Code, is historically inaccurate.
Anyway, here is the passage from it cited in The Da Vinci Code to attempt to "prove" that Jesus was married:
There were three who always walked with the Lord: Mary, his mother, and her sister, and Magdalene, the one who was called his companion. His sister and his mother and his companion were each a Mary (The Gospel of Philip. Translated by Wesley W. Isenberg. THE GNOSTIC SOCIETY LIBRARY. James M. Robinson, ed., The Nag Hammadi Library, revised edition. HarperCollins, San Francisco, 1990, http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/gop.html 5/10/06).
The Da Vinci Code suggests that the so-called Gospel of Philip was rejected for that passage.
The truth is that it was rejected because it was written over a century after the Apostle Philip died (thus Philip did not write it), and no one in or even affiliated with the true Church ever accepted it.
A related claim in the book was:
More than eighty gospels were considered for the New Testament, and yet only a relative few were chosen for inclusion--Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (The Da Vinci Code, page 231).
The above may have some truth as far as the Roman and Orthodox Catholics are concerned (as they and many secular scholars prefer to believe in the late canonization theory, as they do not realize that the true Church Of God knew them by the end of the first century), but not as far as the true Church is concerned. The true Church knew all the books of the Bible (including the gospels) by the time of the death of John. Almost none of those eighty gospels were even written by then.
Even Irenaeus recognized that there were only four gospel accounts, no more, no less by 180 A.D. (Adversus haereses. Book III, Chapter 11, Verse 8), and the so-called Gospel of Philip (which appears to have been written after Irenaeus wrote) was not among them (please see the article The New Testament Canon).
Notice that even this spurious account simply says that some CALLED Mary Magdalene His companion. That is simply not the same things as stating that this was Jesus' lawful spouse.
Since the Bible, in Hebrews 4:15, records that Jesus did not sin, any sexual partner would have had to have been a lawful spouse. Jesus did not have some type of consort or concubine, nor a daughter (which The Da Vinci Code claims was named Sarah, page 255).
If Jesus did have a wife and daughter, it would have made more sense that He would have made provisions for them when He was dying--instead He only made provisions for His mother Mary (a photo at the location where it is believe Mary last lived is available at the Ephesus photo page), according to the Bible (see John 9:26-27).
My reading of the so-called Gospel of Philip suggests to me it is simply called the Gospel of Philip because it allegedly quotes the Apostle Philip in ONE passage:
Philip the apostle said, "Joseph the carpenter planted a garden because he needed wood for his trade. It was he who made the cross from the trees which he planted. His own offspring hung on that which he planted. His offspring was Jesus, and the planting was the cross."
There is nothing in the Bible to suggest, or even hint, that the above is true. Nor is there any indication in the Bible that Philip ever said anything about a cross.
The fact is that the Bible records that there was an apostle named Philip (John 1:45-48). In the late second century, Polycrates records that the Apostle Philip kept the Passover on the 14th, and he and the other followers of Christ, did what the scriptures said.
Furthermore, the so-called Gospel of Philip has virtually nothing in common with the canononical gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). The so-called Gospel of Philip simply does not read like a gospel account. It does not have the narrative of Jesus' death and resurrection, does not discuss miracles, nor does it even much discuss His teachings.
It reads like a Gnostic account of mystic knowledge. Here is one such passage:
Light and Darkness, life and death, right and left, are brothers of one another. They are inseparable. Because of this neither are the good good, nor evil evil, nor is life life, nor death death. For this reason each one will dissolve into its earliest origin. But those who are exalted above the world are indissoluble, eternal.
Names given to the worldly are very deceptive, for they divert our thoughts from what is correct to what is incorrect. Thus one who hears the word "God" does not perceive what is correct, but perceives what is incorrect (The Gospel of Philip. Translated by Wesley W. Isenberg. THE GNOSTIC SOCIETY LIBRARY. James M. Robinson, ed., The Nag Hammadi Library, revised edition. HarperCollins, San Francisco, 1990, http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/gop.html 5/10/06).
Another problem with the so-called Gospel of Philip is that it clearly contradicts the biblical accounts in various areas. Here is one such contradictory passage:
Some said, "Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit." They are in error (ibid).
Yet, the Bible itself teaches:
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!" But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end." Then Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I do not know a man?" And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible." Then Mary said, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her (Luke 1:26-38).
Hence it is clear that no one who professes Christ and believes in the virgin birth, as taught in the Bible, could possibly accept the claims in the Philip "gospel" account. Hence, there is no reason for any to consider that Jesus was married based upon someone's impressions of the so-called "Gospel of Philip."
Perhaps it needs to be mentioned that the so-called gospels of Thomas, Mary Magdalene, Judas, James, Peter, Philip, or Barnabas were not written by the famous people in their titles. Nor were they accepted by faithful Christians as inspired by God (though some Greco-Roman types accepted some of them for a while).
The Gospel of Thomas is held by certain scholars to be the earliest of the "gnostic" gospels composed. Scholars generally date the the Gnostic 'gospels' text to the early-late 2nd century (Ehrman B. Lost Christianities. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003, pp. xi–xii.).
Most scholars do not believe that any of them were written until after John, the last of the original apostles, died (e.g. Ibid).
All the books accepted by the Continuing Church of God and most other churches were written before the close of the first century (please see the article The New Testament Canon).
Alternative History and Women?
The feminine contribution to humankind, and Christianity's alleged suppression of it, is a major theme of The Da Vinci Code.
But the book seems to confuse certain points here. For example, it states:
Sadly, Christian philosophy decided to embezzle the female's creative power...Genesis was the beginning of the end for the goddess (The Da Vinci Code, page 238).
The Book of Genesis is in what is commonly referred to as "The Old Testament." The book of Genesis was the first of the five original books of the Bible that was written. It was accepted as scripture for over 1,000 years before Jesus was born. Therefore, the Genesis accounts greatly preceeded any so-called attempt by "Christian philosophy" to minimize female/goddess influence.
One of the book's most absurd claims is this section where it discusses the so-called "Gospel of Mary Magdalene", another false gnostic account:
...Jesus suspects that He will soon be captured and crucified. So He gives Mary Magdalene instructions on how to carry on His Church after He is gone. As a result, Peter expresses his discontent over playing second fiddle to a woman. I daresay Peter was something of a sexist.
Sophie was trying to keep up. "This is Saint Peter. The rock on which Jesus built His Church."
"The same, except for one catch. According to these unaltered gospels, it was not Peter to whom Christ gave directions with which to establish the Christian Church. It was Mary Magdalene...Jesus was the original feminist. He intended for the future of His Church to be in the hands of Mary Magdalene" (The Da Vinci Code, pages 247-248).
This false "Gospel of Mary Magdalene", like the "Gospel of Philip", is not like any of the canonical gospel accounts (nor do either of these two "gospels" seem to have much in common).
The account above in The Da Vinci Code contradicts the rest of the New Testament which clearly states that the true church was to be built upon the foundation of the apostles and the prophets (Ephesians 2:19-22). Since Mary Magdalene was neither of those, then it is not possible that Jesus intended to build the church upon her.
Furthermore, the extant portions of the "Gospel of Mary Magdalene" DO NOT say anything about Mary Magdalene being the rock that the church was built upon, only that Jesus gave her some message. And the parts in "Mary's Gospel" that remain of the so-called "message from Jesus" do not sound like anything that Jesus told Peter in Matthew 16:18-19 (more information can be found in the article Was Peter the Rock Who Alone Received the Keys of the Kingdom?). There is simply nothing I have seen in this so-called "Gospel of Mary Magdalene" that states that she was to be in charge of or build the church.
Actually, the "Gospel of Mary Magdalene" is so unlike the rest of the Bible, that even within it, it states that one of the apostles did not believe that Jesus had spoken various things to Mary Magdalene:
1) When Mary had said this, she fell silent, since it was to this point that the Savior had spoken with her.
2) But Andrew answered and said to the brethren, Say what you wish to say about what she has said. I at least do not believe that the Savior said this. For certainly these teachings are strange ideas (The Gospel According to Mary Magdalene. THE GNOSTIC SOCIETY LIBRARY, Gnostic Scriptures and Fragments. http://www.webcom.com/gnosis/library/marygosp.htm 5/17/06).
In other words, even within the so-called "Gospel of Mary Magdalene" an original apostle allegedly states that it contains strange teachings. Hence when The Da Vinci Code suggests that it is a true and original gospel that should be relied upon by Christians, it is on a rather shaky ground. Furthermore, the account above MAKES IT CLEAR THAT THE APOSTLE ANDREW DID NOT UNDERSTAND THAT MARY MAGDALENE WAS CHOSEN BY CHRIST TO BUILD THE CHURCH. Therefore, the so-called proof given in The Da Vinci Code actually DISPROVES the contention in the book about Mary Magdalene.
The Da Vinci Code also states:
There is an enormous difference between hypothetically discussing an alternate history of Christ...And presenting to the world thousands of ancient documents as scientific evidence that the New Testament is false testimony (The Da Vinci Code, page 341).
Actually, the so-called alternate history described above is what is in error. The fact that there are thousands of documents about other false versions of Christianity does not disprove the New Testament. And the book fails to mention that there are more documents all or part of the New Testament (many thousands) than any comparable ancient writings.
The correct alternate history of the New Testament is NOT that the Council of Nicea and later councils rejected uninspired and gnostic texts. The real alternate history is to simply accept that the Bible teaches that the true Christian church had to have had the complete New Testament before the last of its writers died (please see the article The New Testament Canon) and those part of the true Church still live by the Bible and not traditions of men.
The Da Vinci Code repeatedly suggests that the purpose of the current Bible and Christianity is to suppress the female--and to keep humanity from unity of the whole of nature.
Roman Catholic celibacy for the priesthood is another such "proof" it provides.
What the book fails to mention is that celibacy was also a post-Constantinian development not practiced by the early church (this is documented in the article Was Celibacy Required for Early Bishops or Presbyters?).
The New Testament is NOT a false testimony, as The Da Vinci Code states. Nor was it adopted to suppress women as the book suggests.
Furthermore, The Da Vinci Code fails to mention that the New Testament actually improved the lives and status of women. And while it is true that certain Roman Catholic supporting leaders had anti-female views, for the most part, those views were not biblically-justified.
While The Da Vinci Code claims:
The Church needed to defame Mary Magdalene in order to cover up her dangerous secret (The Da Vinci Code, page 244).
By "the Church", I presume the book is referring to the Roman Catholic Church, as neither the New Testament nor any early Church Of God writings defame Mary Magdalene (actually, she is shown in a very positive light in the New Testament).
An article of related interest may be Women of the New Testament Church, as it provides biblical and historical evidence that the current New Testament increased the rights and status of women. Hence, the premise of The Da Vinci Code that books were accepted or rejected in the New Testament in order to somehow denigrate the role of women shows a complete lack of understanding the type of Christianity actually taught in the New Testament.
Other Points of Possible Interest
There is a statement in the book, made allegedly to the assassin Silas while he was sleeping (shortly after murdering his fourth victim), that was of some interest to me:
I am here, Jesus said. The stone has been rolled aside, and you are born again (The Da Vinci Code, page 57).
While Protestants and Catholics will see little if anything wrong there, we of the Philadelphia remnant of the Church of God do.
First, Jesus never made any similar statement in the Bible (including after when the stone in front of His grave was rolled aside). The second point will be made in a moment as Silas also told himself:
You have been reborn (The Da Vinci Code, page 73).
The truth is that the Bible does not teach that we are NOW born-again.
The Bible (and those associated with the early Church) teaches that we are begotten now, but will be born-again later. This is discussed in the article Born Again: A Matter of Semantics? This is one of the many areas that we in the real Church of God differ from what passes as mainstream Protestant Christianity (see Hope of Salvation: How the Genuine Church of God Differs from Protestantism).
And the third point is that Silas was deceiving himself. He who just murdered his fourth person is not then born-again possessing eternal life. Notice that John wrote:
Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him (1 John 3:15).
The above is also scriptural evidence against true Christians being part of the military in this age (please see the article on Military Service).
Another section of interest to me was the following:
"Jesus had but one true message," Sister Sandrine said defiantly. "I cannot see that message in Opus Dei" (The Da Vinci Code, page 136).
And while we in the real Church of God would agree with that, we would most likely disagree with what Sandrine thinks the true message is. Jesus came to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God, but many seem to not understand that message. An article of related interest may be The Gospel of the Kingdom of God was the Emphasis of Jesus and the Early Church.
An unsubstantiated claim in The Da Vinci Code about Noah of the Ark I found of interest was:
Were you not aware that Noah himself was an albino (The Da Vinci Code, page 166).
There is nothing in the Bible to substantiate that claim. Since The Da Vinci Code provided no proof or references as to where this claim came from, I presume it is based on a passage in the spurious book of Enoch (a book not in the Bible). Apparently many albinos must believe this to be so as there is a national organization called NOAH (National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation).
Speaking of unsubstantiated claims, here is another:
Age of Pisces--the fish, which is also the sign of Jesus (The Da Vinci Code, page 267).
Pisces is claimed to be the period of February 20-March 20. There is nothing in the Bible to indicate that Jesus was born then. According to Luke, Jesus was born during a time of a census when shepherds were spending the night with their flocks (Luke 2:1-8).
As it is probably too cold for shepherds to spend the night with their flocks at that time of year, the New Testament account seems to argue against this time period, as well as the fact that winter would probably not be an appropriate time for a census (see also the article on Christmas). No substantiation is given to prove why Jesus was allegedly born then is in the book.
The Da Vinci Code was a wildly popular novel. And it does have some interesting historical tidbits that correctly imply that what is now accepted as mainstream Christianity, is not true Christianity.
However, repeatedly The Da Vinci Code falsely suggests that Jesus was married and had children. It falsely suggests that the gnostic writings are a truer testimony than the New Testament. It falsely claims that Jesus' divinity was a later addition to Christianity. And it falsely suggests that the New Testament books were partially determined by how they somehow repressed the feminine.
The claims about murderous Roman Catholic affiliated sects trying to suppress ancient knowledge, I presume was meant as fictional. And I do not believe that there is any Roman Catholic group with that specific agenda (though this will change once the Beast and Antichrist rise up).
The truth is that the Sabbath was kept by early Christians, Christmas was not kept by early Christians, the early church knew the Books of the New Testament, and true Christians have always been pacifists. But I doubt that most of the book's critics will properly address these points (and hopefully I have).
And thus while there is some good in The Da Vinci Code, it has so many errors, that it sadly contains a lot of bad.
The Bible teaches:
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15-16, KJV).
Therefore, I hope that those inclined to believe parts of The Da Vinci Code will look into the subject in sufficient depth to be able to rightly discern between the good and the bad in it.
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Thiel B., Ph.D. The Da Vinci Code: Some Good and Lots Bad. www.cogwriter.com (c) 2006 2007 2009 2012 2014 1111