Spiritual Perspectives


THE DA VINCI CODE (PART 1

Gary W. Summers

“…one particularly troubling earthly theme kept recurring in the gospels. Mary Magdalene.” He paused. “More specifically, her marriage to Jesus Christ.”

 

“I beg your pardon?”….

 

“It’s a matter of historical record” (244).

 

     The above conversation provides a sampling of the way that Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code, treats history and the Bible.  In fact, his inaccurate grasp of the historical record is exceeded only by his inadequate comprehension of religious matters.  He is not even aware, for example, that the Scriptures nowhere define the forbidden fruit (of the tree of knowledge of good and evil) as an apple.  He apparently assumes that certain traditions are correct.  This misinformation figures prominently in the novel. 

 

The Purposes of the Novel

 

     One purpose for Brown writing this novel is to entertain, and in that he has been successful.  The action moves swiftly along with only one major flaw.  Sophie, the heroine who works as a cryptographer with what is the equivalent of the French FBI, “forgets” that the armored car they stole would have a global positioning device that would enable the police to find her and the American Robert Langdon (who will be played by Tom Hanks in the movie version about to be released).  Obviously, Brown succeeds in entertaining, considering the success of the book on the best seller’s list. 

 

     The other purpose of the book is to be a propaganda piece for “goddess” worship.  Brown admits in the last paragraph of his “Acknowledgements” that he draws “heavily on the sacred feminine”; in truth, his novel is a shameless promotion of the pagan doctrine, which involves attempts to rewrite history.

     Brown seems to follow the pattern that James Redfield did in his popular book a decade ago, The Celestine Prophecy.  This New Age novel was on the best seller’s list for more than three years.  On May 18, 1997 this reviewer wrote the following comments:

 

The story itself concerns a man who is informed about this ancient manuscript by a friend. He decides to go to Peru to find out what he can be about it only to find that there is severe hostility against it on the part of the government (which is not only suppressing the manuscript but also denying its existence). Behind this government conspiracy to do away with the manuscript stands a Roman Catholic Cardinal who deems the manuscript dangerous and a threat to their religion. The main character spends half of his time fleeing from the persecutors and the other half being taught the contents of the manuscript by various individuals he comes in contact with (many of whom are Catholic priests).

 

Obviously, if Redfield had just written nine insights, he probably would not have had a best-seller on his hands, but by incorporating them into an adventure story he can sustain the reader's interest, much as Ayn Rand did with Atlas Shrugged (still a great novel despite her unworkable and flawed system of morality).

 

     Similarly, Dan Brown’s entire novel has at its core the teaching of “the sacred feminine.”  The only way “goddess” worship can be championed, however, is at the expense of Christianity.  Brown repeatedly attacks Constantine and the Roman Catholic Church of being anti-women and tampering with New Testament documents.  Of course, he offers no proof of anything, but the main characters all agree that these absurd and outrageous charges are true, such as the one highlighted at the beginning of this review.

Fact or Fiction?

 

     On the copyright page of the large-print edition of the book, at the very top of the page, are the words: “This book is a work of fiction,” which is a factual statement.  But then the reader comes to page one of the novel, and it begins with the word FACT, which is somewhat fictional.  What follows is a description of two Catholic organizations that are at odds with each other and which serve as the main source of conflict as the story unfolds.

 

     The first is the Priory of Sion, which really does exist today.  The other is called Opus Dei (meaning “the work of God”); they really do have a $47 million World Headquarters in New York City.  In the novel, the Priory of Sion is the group that is trying to preserve the “sacred feminine” ideology; Opus Dei is the faction that is trying to destroy it. 

 

     According to Stanley E. Porter, in a lengthy article titled, “The Da Vinci Code, Conspiracy Theory and Biblical Canon” (available on the Internet), the Priory of Sion was not established in 1099, as Brown claims, but rather in 1956 by  a “Frenchman named Plantard, who forged documents to try to establish the age of this organization” (5).  Obviously, Porter points out, Leonardo Da Vinci could hardly have been a member of such a group.  This is not the only fact that Brown has wrong.  (By the way, the difference between Brown and Porter is that Porter used 73 footnotes to cite historical sources for what he writes; Brown cites none.  Porter rightly wonders how any part of the book can be considered accurate “when the first page is in actuality part of the fiction” (4).

 

Goddess Theology

 

    In February of 1997, this writer reviewed a book that teaches the “goddess” philosophy—without all the adventure of a fast-paced work of fiction.  Riane Eisler published The Chalice and the Blade in 1987.  Comments from that review are given below:

 

In a nutshell, Eisler believes that in prehistoric times, men and women lived in relationships in which they shared work and responsibilities, worshipped “the goddess,” and experienced peace, all of which are symbolized by the term chalice. Then the blade was invented; men began to worship its power (xvii), and women became dominated….

 

She describes murals, statues, and figurines of what she calls “the Goddess, whose body is the divine Chalice containing the miracle of birth” (19).

 

     So the chalice and the blade not only metaphorically represent the female (peace) and the male (violence); they symbolize each gender physically as well.  Dan Brown teaches this same doctrine—only he is willing to specify that Mary Magdalene is a specific chalice—to be precise—“the Holy Grail” (244).  Since, according to Brown, she was the wife of Jesus, she bore His earthly seed, the child who came from this union.  By now, the reader is surely saying: “What?  What kind of nuthouse did Brown escape from?”  Unfortunately, he is serious.

 

     Most people have thought that all of the quests for the Holy Grail were searches for the cup Jesus used when He taught the disciples that the fruit of the vine represented His blood.  Such a notion is ridiculous to Brown (so much for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade).  He has an entirely different interpretation.  The character, Professor Teabing, explains:

 

“The legend of the Holy Grail is a legend about royal blood. When Grail legend speaks of ‘the chalice that holds the blood of Christ’ … it speaks, in fact, of Mary Magdalene—the female womb that carried Jesus’ royal bloodline” (ellipsis belongs to Brown).

 

“…the great cover-up in human history. Not only was Jesus Christ married, but He was a father. My dear, Mary Magdalene, was the Holy Vessel. She was the chalice that bore the royal bloodline of Jesus Christ” (249).

 

     Brown has left writing fiction and entered the land of blasphemous fantasy.  He has applied “goddess” theology in a way that far excels his predecessors.  One of Brown’s characters, Professor Teabing, has in his library a book that Brown has drawn upon: Holy Blood, Holy Grail.  The Internet Wikipedia describes this book:

 

In summary, the authors purport to argue that there is a possibility that Jesus might have been married to Mary Magdalene, and that their possible child or children emigrated to what is now southern France. Once there, they established what became the Merovingian dynasty, which is championed today by a secret society called the Priory of Sion.

 

An international bestseller upon its release, Holy Blood spurred interest in a number of ideas related to the authors' thesis. Response from mainstream historians and academics, however, was all but universally negative. Critics argued that the bulk of the claims, mysteries and conspiracies presented as fact, were concocted by the authors.

 

     This is the type of “historical record” upon which The Da Vinci Code is based.  With his source material deeply flawed, Brown can hardly be expected to have any credibility.  He also relies upon Gnostic material produced in the third century as reliable documents which were squelched by the church.  Although he decries conspiracy theorists (245), it is obvious to the reader that Brown is one.  Goddess worship is one of peace and love and harmony, and (according to this theory), “Jesus was the original feminist” (248), but His jealous disciples had to have masculine control.

 

Curiouser and Curiouser

 

     Alice in Wonderland would no doubt consider the theology of this book curiouser as it goes along.  Those who read The Da Vinci Code are handed the most curious exegesis of Matthew 16:18 they have ever heard.  Jesus taught in that passage: “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.”  Now the meaning of this passage has been given different meanings by different groups.

 

     Catholics, of course, like to say that Christ was saying the church would be built upon Peter.  One might think that interpretation is correct unless he looked at the entire context or considered how unlikely it would be to build a Divine institution—one prophesied for centuries—on a fallible human being.  Some Mormons have argued that the rock is continual revelation, since Jesus said flesh and blood had not revealed the truth to Peter (v. 17).  The rock, however, is the Deity of Christ, which Peter confessed in verse 16.  Jesus being the Son of God is what provides a foundation for Christianity that no other world religion can claim.  Still, the Catholic and the Mormon explanations look almost rational next to Brown’s.  Professor Teabing says, “I daresay Peter was something of a sexist,” to which the heroine is aghast (temporarily).  She counters:

 

“This is Saint Peter. The rock on which Jesus built His Church.”

 

“The same, except for one catch. According to these unaltered gospels (Brown’s premise is that the Gnostic ones that early Christians repudiated are unaltered and true; those in the Bible are cover-ups, gws), it was not Peter to whom Christ gave directions with which to establish the Christian Church. It was Mary Magdalene” (248).

 

     Well, sure, who else?  By this time the reader is so exhausted and bombarded by her name and accomplishments that, if Brown said Mary Magdalene was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, most would probably say, “I’m not surprised.”  Of course, it would probably do no good for the Bible student to say that Jesus chose twelve male apostles.  Brown would simply say, “You poor loon, don’t you know that those sexist males covered up Mary’s prominence?” 

 

     The problem with his thesis is that there is no evidence to substantiate it.  Some technical information will be presented later, but consider the ramifications of charge that the Bible has been rewritten.  If the life of Christ was revised by men (or women or aliens from outer space), the New Testament could not be trusted in anything it says.  Maybe Jesus cannot offer salvation from our sins after all.  Maybe that is just a male topic.  “Goddess” theology does not deal with sin—but with sex.  What has been changed or altered to fit a male-dominated church?  This whole notion ignores the fact that the Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit, who would not let puny mortals eliminate crucial teachings from it.

“Goddess” Worship

 

     When the reader is first introduced to Sophie (the Greek word for “wisdom”), she is clever, calculating, decisive, bold, and daring.  By the middle of the novel she mainly stands around, muttering, “Really?” to all of the “goddess” revelations.  She just accepts what is told to her with barely a feeble protest against the tripe that inundates her. 

 

     One example of this involves the estrangement she had felt for years against her grandfather, the murder victim in this tale.  She had been an inadvertent witness to something so shocking that she refused to communicate with the man who raised her and whom she loved deeply.  She had not spoken or written to him in more than ten years.

 

     Eventually, Robert Langdon, the “hero,” tells her that what she had witnessed was a “sacred” ceremony, called Hieros Gamos.  Around the time of the spring equinox a ritual is performed.  Certain men and women stand in a circle chanting, while a man and a woman are copulating on the floor in their midst.  When Sophie, as a college student, saw this ritual, she cut off all communication with her grandfather.  But Langdon explains the “spiritual” significance.

 

He explained that although what she saw probably looked like a sex ritual, Hieros Gamos had nothing to do with eroticism. It was a spiritual act…. Physical union with the female remained the sole means through which man could become spiritually complete and achieve gnosis—knowledge of the divine (308).

 

     Mic Jagger would probably agree.  Langdon also tries to justify Hieros Gamos as something Egyptian priests and priestesses performed “to celebrate the reproductive power of the female” (308).  How many unwed mothers do we have each year?  Is this something that needs its own celebration?  This “ceremony” is supposed to be a means of communion with God, which again is blasphemous.  Even though the bed is undefiled within marriage (Heb. 13:4), it was never designed as Langdon defines it—not in the Bible.  Only in pagan “goddess” worship is a physical act glorified as a spiritual one.

 

     In fact, to prepare Israel for receiving His holy commandments, God forbade marital privileges for three days (Ex. 19:15).  David and his men were only allowed by the high priest to eat of the showbread if they had kept themselves from women for three days (1 Sam. 21:4-5).  Obviously, men and women are not made more holy by availing themselves of what is lawful to do in marriage.  But in “goddess” worship, fleshly unity makes one spiritual.  Langdon assures Sophie, “What you saw was not about sex, it was about spirituality. The Hieros Gamos is not a perversion. It is a deeply sacrosanct ceremony” (309).  Sophie submits to this theological junk and forgives her grandfather.  Yech!

 

 

 

 

*Send comments or questions concerning this article to Gary Summers. Please refer to this article as: "Whatever the article name from above is (04/30/06)."

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