The Da Vinci code: The book and film.
The Da Vinci Code
The author of 'The Da Vinci Code' book, Dan Brown, believes that the Church has suppressed the true story of the human Jesus who was married to Mary Magdalene. In its place it has given us the false story of Jesus, as the Son of God. One of the characters in 'The Da Vinci Code' says: 'Almost everything our fathers taught us about Christ is false.' Brown also believes that this male-dominated story of Christianity has been responsible for all the conflict and bloodshed in the world for the past two thousand years. This will only be put right when the Church's story is dismissed, and masculine and feminine are brought back into mystical balance and unity.
In Dan Brown's book we read that the secret of Mary and Jesus bloodline has never been completely lost; theyt had a child. It is the truth that lies behind the legends of the Holy Grail. It has been hinted at in works of art, such as Leonardo Da Vinci's 'Last Supper.' It has been preserved in secret Gospels that have recently come to light again, and through a deposit of documents from the Temple in Jerusalem. These decuments, Brown says, were found by a group of knights in the Middle Ages, and subsequently protected by a secret society. At the right time, this society will come forward and make the secret public. When they do, it will mean the end of Christianity as we know it ? this he beliebves will be a good thing too. This is the background to the story of 'The Da Vinci Code'.
For some helpful reflection the real facts behind the claims of the book visit:
Dan Brown's second book, 'Angels and Demons' is now a major Hollywood film too.
MARK GREENE of The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity writes:
THE DA VINCI CODE
The Da Vinci Code is first and foremost a superb thriller. A mysterious murder in the Louvre takes us on a high-speed chase for the murderer and his motives. Along the way, there are secret societies - ecclesiastical and pagan - twists and turns and double and pre-Christian crosses, car chases and conspiracies, high-tech surveillance and medieval self-flagellation, an albino assassin and a burgundy-haired, green-eyed heroine. It's a pinball-table of a tale that grips from almost the first page to the last.
Brown cleverly and engagingly introduces us to a course in symbology, cryptology, art history, Egyptology, church history and paganism. There's a lot to learn - and we need to learn it to solve the mystery. So it is, in fact, interesting to discover that:
A 'crux gemmata' is a cross bearing 13 gems that symbolises Christ and the twelve disciples.
A pentacle is a pre-Christian symbol that relates to nature worship.
The mathematical progression of numbers 1-1-2-3-5-8-13-21? is called the Fibonacci sequence.
The Louvre has some 65,300 works of art.
Yet by the time you've taken in an assortment of uncontroversial, accurate facts, you may well find yourself trusting what Brown has to say about the life of Christ and the heart of the Gospel. His purpose is to undermine the credibility of the New Testament, the divinity of Christ and the witness of the Church.
'"What I mean," says Teabing [one of the Code's academic experts] "is that almost everything our fathers taught about Christ is false."'
Brown picks the easy targets first, gaining credibility for his argument that the Church suppressed the 'sacred feminine' by using the evidence of its historic suppression of women, the persecution and execution of witches, the paranoid presentation of 'woman as temptress' and of sex as problematic.
Although it is not a difficult case to make historically, Brown exaggerates wildly. He claims, for example, that five million witches died in Europe - while most scholars put the number at 40,000 between 1450 to 1750.
More important, Brown ignores the radical nature of Jesus and Paul's teaching in relation to women, together with that of the rest of the Bible. The Church's interpretation of this teaching has not always been helpful, but this does not alter the Bible's radical understanding of the essential equality of status and value of both male and female: 'Male and female he created them' (Genesis 1); 'In Christ there is no male or female' (Galatians 3.27-29) - and so on.
However, Brown does not view the chauvinism that has marred Church history as a failure to respond to Christ's teaching, nor as a failure to counter the patriarchal cultures of the surrounding societies. Instead, he sees it as a way of suppressing the truth of paganism and its liberating emphasis on the divine goddess.
As such, his assault on the Church's record has two objectives. First, he wants to make the case that paganism - which embraces the sacred feminine, the goddess - is Christianity's older, truer alternative. The goddess is not a personal being, but rather an impersonal feminine principle needed to bring life into being.
God, meanwhile, is not personal and does not exist outside of the created order; rather god is in all. The universe is one and everything shares the same essential nature - people, lizards, oak trees and granite.
The second reason for Brown's assault on the Church is that it gives him the credibility to undermine the reliability of the New Testament documents and thereby Christianity itself. So, for example, one of the 'scholars' in the book states:
'"These are photocopies of the Nag Hammadi and Dead Sea Scrolls? the earliest Christian records. Troublingly, they do not match up with the Gospels in the Bible?. The Gospel of Philip is always a good place to start."'
No scholar of any ideological persuasion believes that the Gospel of Philip was written before 150 AD. Similarly, the Gospel of Thomas is usually dated at around the same time (though some argue that it's based on an earlier document called 'Q', for which there is no archaeological or corollary textual evidence). By contrast, the bulk of the New Testament was committed to scrolls by AD 70 and all of it by AD 100.
In Cracking Da Vinci's Code, a very helpful riposte to Brown, authors James Garlow and Peter Jones argue against Brown's assertion that the Gospel of Thomas is the earliest Gospel. Some of its theology, they suggest, is very close to the heretic Marcion, who moved to Rome in AD 144, set up his own community, declared the Old Testament irrelevant, got rid of marriage, and only accepted the Gospel of Luke and ten of Paul's letters. If the Gospel of Thomas had been in circulation before Marcion it would have served his purposes well, but he never cited it.
Brown, however, doesn't just argue that the Gospel of Thomas is early; he claims that the whole New Testament canon was selected in order to serve Constantine's political agenda:
'Constantine commissioned and financed a new Bible, which omitted those gospels that spoke of Christ's human traits and embellished gospels that made him godlike. The earlier gospels were outlawed, gathered up, and burned.'
In reality, the Old Testament and most of the 27 books of the New Testament functioned as a canon long before they were settled upon in 350 AD. Other documents of the time frequently quote from the canon - such as the Epistle of Barnabas, the Didache (both dated circa 100 AD) and the letter to the Corinthian Church written by Clement, bishop of Rome (dated circa 96AD), as do the second-century Church fathers.
Certainly, some books - 1 and 2 Peter, the letters of John, Jude, James, Hebrews and Revelation - were not accepted by the churches in all regions in the second century, but the fourth-century declaration formalised what the Church had already discerned.
Furthermore, it's important to note that the Nag Hammadi scrolls differ not only in detail from the canonical Gospels but in their overall theology. These so-called Gnostic Gospels do not recognise a divine creator, and according to Garlow and Jones, they 'despise sexual distinctions, marriage and motherhood ? there is no sin, the fall of Genesis 3 is liberation, and the serpent of the garden speaks wisdom. The gnostic Jesus comes with the same message - not to free us from our sin, but to free us from our ignorance. We do not know who we really are. He brings us gnosis: knowledge. The knowledge is this - we are divine.'
As Langdon, the scholar-hero of the tale points out:
'"It was man, not God, who created the concept of ? sin."'
And the real Jesus married Mary Magdalene.
All of this has, according to Brown, been suppressed by the Catholic Church, but it's a truth that many, from Da Vinci to some of Disney's animators, have known and preserved in secret codes through the ages. Now that we have entered the Age of Aquarius, the truth will out.
We can only pray that it will - and that those who don't have the time or inclination to check Brown's assertions will not be taken in by the brilliance of his story or the persuasive power of what seems like wilfully deceptive rhetoric.