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The Da Vinci Code: Truth? Fiction? Both?. By Doug Krueger 5/27/06. A Novel, A Movie, A Controversy. The Da Vinci Code is a mystery novel and now a movie. The author is Dan Brown. The book was published in April 2003 and has remained a best-seller.

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The Da Vinci Code: Truth? Fiction? Both?


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a novel a movie a controversy
A Novel, A Movie, A Controversy
  • The Da Vinci Code is a mystery novel and now a movie.
  • The author is Dan Brown. The book was published in April 2003 and has remained a best-seller.
  • The movie based on the book had the second most successful worldwide opening on 19 May 2006.
  • Why are so many Christian believers upset about a work of fiction?

Look:

Now a video game too!

the plot
The Plot
  • Jacques Saunière, curator of the Louvre, is murdered by a Catholic albino in his own museum.
  • Side note: Albino advocates are not happy about this.

Actor Paul Bettany as Silas

the clues blues
The Clues Blues
  • The murder victim was a DaVinci aficionado, and leaves clues about his murderer’s identity and motives in DaVinci-related, puzzling ways as he expires. Sort of like a Batman villain in reverse.
  • It was probably the most protracted death since Leonard Nimoy in The Search for Spock.
the hero heroine
The Hero & Heroine
  • Robert Langdon, Professor of Religious Symbology at Harvard, becomes a suspect.
  • Sophie Neveu, a French cryptographer for the Judicial Police, helps Langdon work to prove his innocence.

Clockwise from left: Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon, Mona Lisa, and

Audrey Tautou as Sophie Neveu

gandalf helps
Gandalf Helps
  • Sir Leigh Teabing, an expert on Holy Grail related matters, joins in the hunt for the solution.
  • Together, they reveal many startling bits of information.

Sir Ian McKellen as Sir Leigh Teabing

(He was Gandalf in Lord of the Rings)

slide7

A page from The DaVinci Code

The DaVinci Code purports to base its plot on specific facts that are at odds with mainstream Christian beliefs.

“All descriptions of artwork,

architecture, documents,

and secret rituals in this

novel are accurate.”

The novel also portrays the Catholic organization Opus Dei as a secretive, manipulative, aggressive, CIA-like arm of the Vatican.

the source
The Source
  • Frenchman Pierre Plantard wrote a book about the descendants of Jesus that was never published.
  • In 1967, Gérard de Sède’s rewrite of that work was published as L'Or de Rennes (later Le Trésor Maudit).
  • In 1982 Henry Lincoln, Michael Baigent, and Richard Leigh wrote The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail was based on the BBC documentary of their work.

“It is typical of my unregenerable soul that I can only see this as a marvellous theme for a novel.” — Anthony Burgess, in The Observer.

lawsuit
Lawsuit
  • Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail sued Dan Brown claiming he plagiarized from their work in creating The DaVinci Code.
  • They lost on appeal.
the code thesis
The Code Thesis

Here are five claims from The DaVinci Code that many Christians dispute. Let us call these and supporting claims the “Code Thesis”:

  • Jesus and Mary Magdalene married and had children. Mary Magdalene and the bloodline are the real Holy Grail.
  • The Roman Catholic Church worked to suppress this information because it wanted to subvert divine feminine aspects and emphasize divine masculine characteristics.
  • The descendants of Jesus and Mary Magdalene exist today as the French Merovingian royal family.
  • Evidence of the real Holy Grail was discovered in 1099 and a group called The Priory of Sion was formed to guard the secret and protect the bloodline.
  • Leaders of the Priory of Sion such as Leonardo DaVinci sometimes left clues about this secret in works of art and architecture.

Let’s survey the evidence.

the priory of sion

The Priory of Sion

  • Much of the evidence for the Code Thesis depends on the existence of the secret Priory of Sion.
  • This organization allegedly guards the evidence for Jesus’ marriage and bloodline and allegedly created the famous Knights Templar as their military wing.
the rich priest
The Rich Priest
  • Father Bérenger Saunière, who ran a French church in Rennes-le-Château renovated the church well beyond his means.
  • It was discovered that he was taking money for more prayer services than he could perform.
  • He was sued for “trafficking in masses,” resigned his priesthood, and died penniless.

Fr. Bérenger Saunière (1852–1917)

pierre plantard 1920 2000
Pierre Plantard(1920-2000)
  • Pierre Plantard was a professional con man with a history of creating fictional organizations.
  • Plantard held that Saunière got rich by discovering the Priory’s documentation of the real Holy Grail and blackmailing the Church.
  • Plantard’s past included jail time for fraud and embezzlement.
the grandmaster
The Grandmaster?
  • In 1975 parchments known as Les Dossiers Secrets were discovered in Paris’s Bibliothèque Nationale identifying “Grandmasters” (leaders) of the Priory of Sion, including Sir Isaac Newton, Botticelli, Victor Hugo, and Leonardo da Vinci.
  • Pierre Plantard is identified in the secret papers as the most recent Grandmaster of the Priory of Sion by virtue of his ties to the Merovingian royal family.
priory of sion founded in 1956
Priory of Sion--Founded in 1956!
  • The Priory was really founded in 1956 by Pierre Plantard and Andre Bonhomme. The Priory’s purpose was to promote the “Defense and Liberty of Low-Cost Housing.”
  • The Priory of Sion had nothing to do with the Holy Grail, or related matters, according to co-founder Bonhomme.
  • There is no evidence linking Plantard’s Priory organization with any ancient group.
priory of sion deux
Priory of Sion Deux

Plantard retracted his extravagant Priory claims after critiques by legitimate scholars.

In the 1980s he revised the list of Grandmasters and insisted that the earlier list was written while he was on acid. On the new list, Plantard’s son Thomas was the latest grandmaster.

In 1993, Plantard claimed that a prominent politician’s dead son was a grandmaster. Legal action ensued. Papers were found in Plantard’s possession declaring him the true King of France.

In court, Plantard confessed that all of it was a hoax.

LSD Molecule

the clues
The Clues?
  • But what of the “clues” in works of art, such as DaVinci’s The Last Supper?
  • If there is no ancient Priory of Sion, there is no known evidence that Leonardo DaVinci or any other alleged “Grandmaster” was in a position to determine whether or not Jesus was married.
  • According to the Code Thesis, the person usually identified as the apostle John in “The Last Supper” is really Mary Magdalene.

Leonardo DaVinci (1452-1519)

da vinci s the last supper 1495 1498
Da Vinci’s The Last Supper (1495-1498)

On the wall of the refectory of the Dominican monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy.

detail from the last supper
Detail from The Last Supper
  • This is the character portrayed as Mary Magdalene in The DaVinci Code.
  • Mary Magdalene, or John, “the apostle Jesus loved” (Jn. 13:23)?
davinci s john the baptist
DaVinci’s John the Baptist

Depicting men as less than macho was not uncommon.

1513-16. Musée du Louvre, Paris

del castagno 1447
Del Castagno, 1447

Andrea del

Castano,

1390-1457,

Florentine

painter

The Apostle John

da ponte 1542
Da Ponte, 1542

Giacomo da Ponte, 1510-1592, Venetian painter

The Apostle John

ghirlandaio s last supper 1486

Domenico Ghirlandaio,1449-1494, Florentine painter

Ghirlandaio’s Last Supper,1486

If John the Apostle was typically represented as effeminate, perhaps The Last Supper does not depict a woman at all.

the divine feminine
The “Divine Feminine”
  • The Code Thesis also asserts that the “V” shape between the figures is the sign of the “divine feminine.”
  • The opposite, a “∧” represents the masculine.
the m word
The “M” Word
  • The Code Thesis also suggests that an “M” can be found in the figures.
  • The “M” can be for Mary, Magdalene, or Marriage.
  • This is called “data mining” and is useless as evidence, since many shapes could be found in the bodies.
i m famous
I’m Famous!

“Doug” is in The Last Supper too!

davinci s mona lisa
DaVinci’s Mona Lisa

“…Mona Lisa is neither male nor female. It carries a subtle message of androgyny…that…is DaVinci’s little secret, and the reason for Mona Lisa’s knowing smile.”—The DaVinci Code

Painted between 1503 and 1506. Louvre, Paris.

This is mere speculation.

a cover up
A Cover-up?
  • Did the Roman Catholic Church work to subvert divine feminine aspects and emphasize divine masculine characteristics?
  • The Code Thesis asserts that the Emperor Constantine, specifically, commissioned new versions of the New Testament books that omitted mention of a Jesus-Mary relationship and slanted the emphasis toward the masculine.

Flavius Valerius Constantinus

(285? – 337 CE)

slide30
“Constantine and his male successors successfully converted the world from a matriarchal paganism to patriarchal Christianity by waging a campaign of propaganda that demonized the sacred feminine, obliterating the goddess from modern religion forever.” The DaVinci Code, page 124.
the matriarchal claim is unsupported
The Matriarchal Claim is Unsupported
  • Most religions have always been strongly anti-woman.
  • In the Greek and Roman pantheons, the leaders of the gods were always men.
  • That religions of the world were originally matriarchal is a discredited thesis.

Venus of Willendorf 20-30,000 years old

oppression of fellow believers
Oppression of Fellow Believers
  • Constantine asked bishops to convene in Arelate (Arles) in 314 CE to resolve theological disputes with the Donatists, who emphasized mysticism and the separation of church and state. He oppressed the Donatist view.
  • There is no evidence that anti-feminine views were a concern of Constantine’s actions here.
  • Athanasius of Alexandria compiled the first list of currently accepted 27 NT books in 367, after Constantine.
  • The canon of the Bible was not official until 405 CE when the Pope accepts the canon and ratifies it.
was jesus god before constantine
Was Jesus God Before Constantine?
  • Did Constantine skew the view of Jesus to make him divine?
  • The Church DID alter the text of New Testament works to oppose the adoptionist view of Jesus.
  • Adoptionist—Jesus became the son of God at his baptism.
  • These alterations did not begin or end with Constantine, however.
was jesus married
Was Jesus Married?
  • Rabbis were usually married.
  • However, John the Baptist and Paul were not married.
  • The New Testament documents AND the apocrypha do not state whether Jesus was married.
paul s mentions married leaders
Paul’s Mentions Married Leaders

1Cor 9:3-5 (NIV) This is my defense to those who sit in judgment on me. Don't we have the right to food and drink? Don't we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord's brothers and Cephas {That is, Peter}?

Or is it only I and Barnabas who must work for a living?

scriptural clues
Scriptural Clues
  • In John 20:17 Jesus tells Mary M. not to touch him (KJV) or not to hold him (RSV), because he has not yet ascended.
  • The actual word in the original Greek is haptomai, "to attach oneself to," and is related to hapto meaning "to fasten" and also "to set on fire."
the gospel of mary
The Gospel of Mary
  • In the Gospel of Mary, Peter says to Mary, "Sister, we know that the Savior loved you more than the rest of women. Tell us the words of the Savior that you remember, which you know [but] we do not. Nor have we heard them."
  • In this Gospel, Mary M. gets information that the other apostles don’t get.
the gospel of philip
The Gospel of Philip
  • “And the companion of the ... Mary Magdalene [... loved] her more than [all] the disciples [and used to] kiss her often on her ... The rest of the ... they said, ‘Why do you love her more than us?’”
  • Jesus seems to have been more affectionate to Mary M. than to the other apostles, to the point of jealousy.
dating the gnostic gospels
Dating the Gnostic Gospels
  • The Nag Hammadi scrolls, from which we get most of these apocryphal gospels, are from the 4th century.
  • Since they are probably copies, they may be even earlier.
  • The Nag Hammadi Library in English states that Philip was “probably written in Syria in the second half of the third century C.E.”
  • The Gospel of Mary is probably about the early third century.
a basic problem
A Basic Problem
  • The canonical (accepted) Gospels are much earlier than those of Philip and Mary.
  • If Jesus had been married, one would expect that early traditions would have reflected that.
  • The same would be true if Jesus and Mary M. had had children.
another problem
Another Problem
  • Discussion of the Gospels all too often assumes that they are historical. They are not.
  • Even the canonical Gospels are anonymous, as are the apocryphal ones.
  • The actual details of Jesus’ life are mostly unknown.
  • Since little or nothing of Jesus’ life can be known with certainty, Jesus could have been married, but this hypothesis must be relegated to mere speculation.
the final verdict
The Final Verdict?
  • While The DaVinci Code has many correct statements about ancient texts, many of its basic premises are false.
  • The book is a fascinating read.
  • Most people seem to oppose The DaVinci Code for the wrong reasons.
  • It is not blasphemy, it is fiction.