Q. Mike, have you read “The DA Vinci Code?” What do you think of the book’s views on Jesus, Mary Magdalene, the formation of the New Testament, and the Holy Grail?
Yes, I have recently read the book.
At first I found the book a little slow in developing. I like a good John Grisham novel or one by Nicholas Sparks, or Robert Crais. “The DA Vinci Code” is slow to develop. As I got into it a little more, I found it somewhat more interesting, but problematic because of the numerous historical errors and misrepresentations it presents about Bible characters, teachings and traditions.
Dan Brown obviously borrowed heavily from a number of sources for his concepts as can be clearly seen with in the text of his novel. A book called “Holy Blood, Holy Grail,” by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln released in 1982 contains the basic story line that Brown uses in “The DA Vinci Code.” It’s also obvious that the book borrows heavily from “The Gnostic Gospels” by Elaine Pagels; “The Templar Revelation: Secret Guardians of the True Identity of Christ” by Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince; “The Goddess in the Gospels”: Reclaiming the Sacred Feminine and “The Woman with the Alabaster Jar”: Mary Magdalene and the Holy Grail, both by Margaret Starbird; and “The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets” by Barbara G. Walker. Brown alludes to the Gnostic gospels of Phillip and Mary.
This book is another in a long line of “Searching for the Holy Grail” books which attempts to draw the reader into a desperate and impossible attempt to attain the Holy Grail, which this book now represents as Mary Magdalene and her blood line, since, as the book presents in novel form, Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and had a number of children. Whatever the Bible teaches on these subjects is of little consequence because, the book states, “almost everything our fathers taught us about Christ is false.” (DVC p. 235).
I would not even take the time to address this issue were it not for the fact that Brown makes a claim of scholarship in his book that will lead many astray from the truth. On a page titled “FACT”, one page ahead of his prologue, Brown states, “All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate.” I will demonstrate that his descriptions of “documents” are patently false and fabricated, twisted and misquoted, and deliberately misrepresented for the sake of Brown’s story.
(1) A key assertion in DVC is that Jesus was just a man who happened to be married to Mary Magdalene and that there was a Giant conspiracy to suppress this “truth.” “Almost everything our fathers taught us about Christ is false.” (DVC p. 235) The book further asserts that “a divine Christ was unknown in the church” before the Nicean council of 325 A.D.
It is asserted that the gospel accounts we have in our Bibles are not the earliest gospels, the earlier accounts (so says DVC) known today as the “Gnostic Gospels” discovered at Nag Hammadi, Egypt, are the earliest Christian records. In these texts we are told of the special relationship that existed between Mary and Jesus.
The book claims that the four gospels we have in our Bibles were selected by the Nicean council from 80 early gospels the majority of which would reveal the true nature of Jesus Christ. These “earlier gospels” were suppressed by a giant conspiracy, therefore this information is unknown today. Ben Witherington III, professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Ky. says:
“Among the 35 or so extant non canonical gospels are two Gnostic gospels that Dan Brown depends on most heavily in rewriting Jesus’ life: the Gospel of Philip and the Gospel of Mary. There is no credible evidence that either of these existed before late in the second century A.D. Indeed many scholars think they come from the third century A.D. By contrast, no scholars that I know, whatever their theological persuasion, think that the canonical Gospels are any later than the last half of the first century or (in the case of the gospel of John) the first few years of the second century A.D. Our earliest extant gospel fragment is a portion of a papyrus of John 18 dating to the early second century A.D.” (BAR article)
I have read and studied both gnostic gospels the “Gospel of Phillip” and the “Gospel of Mary”which DVC depends upon to present the concept of a close relationship between Mary and Jesus.
I will now read form the “proof” offered:
Gospel of Phillip :
“Some said, Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit, they are in error. They do not know what they are saying. When did a woman ever conceive by a woman? “
There it is, ladies and gentlemen, the PROOF TEXT of the new age movement. This is it. Notice what it says about the concept of God and inspiration.
Here is another example from the Gospel of Phillip:
Gospel of Phillip :
“The companion of the Savior is Mary Magdalene. But Christ loved her more than all the disciples and used to kiss her often on the mouth. The rest of the disciples were offended by it and expressed disapproval. They said to him Why do you love her more that all of us”
Another passage says:
“There were three who always walked with the Lord: Mary, his mother, and his sister and Magdalene, the one who was his companion. His sister and his mother and his companion were each a Mary.”
Here we have a real LAUGH in the book as Brown has his experts ARGUE that the word “companion” in the Aramaic really means “spouse”, therefore, the Gospel of Phillip is CLEARLY telling us that Jesus was married. This is a REAL LAUGH because the gnostic gospels were written in COPTIC while Brown’s “experts” define words from another language!
Let me give you a few examples of the gross Biblical errors found in the gospel of Phillip:
Gospel of Phillip:
“Some neither desire to sin nor are able to sin”
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”
1 Jn. 1:8-10
8* If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.
Gospel of Phillip:
“Adam came into being from two virgins, from the Spirit and from the virgin of earth.”
“Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”
Gospel of Phillip:
“There are two trees growing in Paradise. One Bears animals, the other bears men. Adam ate from the tree which bore animals. He became an animal and he brought forth animals. For this reason the children of Adam worship animals.”
8* The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed.
9 Out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Gospel of Phillip:
“The world came about through a mistake. For he who created it wanted to create it imperishable and immortal. He fell short of attaining his desire.”
“Ah Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You.”
“The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.
2 Day to day pours forth speech, And night to night reveals knowledge.”
“just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love”
“For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you”
As the above contradictions indicate the “gospel of Phillip” known to have been written by a gnostic in the third century teaches grievous doctrinal error.
Let me give you another example of a PROOF TEXT from the gospel of Mary.
Gospel of Mary
“Peter, you are always irate. Now I see that you are contending against the woman like the adversaries. But if the Savior made her worthy, who are you to reject her? Surely the Savior knew her very well. For this reason he loved her more than us.”
Folks, there it is, the PROOF that Brown and the new agers offer for the “sacred feminine” and the marriage of Jesus.
The “gospel of Mary” comes to us from the 3rd century A.D. It is written on papyrus, in Coptic, the first six pages have been lost. We have NO history as to the transmission or translation of the text. No scholars are attributed to the translation of either gnostic accounts we have cited above.
The Gnostic Gospels are a diverse collection of documents written by an early group of false teachers known as the “Gnostics” (Greek word for “higher knowledge”(epiginosis). The Gnostics were not even remotely concerned about giving a narrative of the life of Christ, as our inspired Gospel records or in recording a biography of the historical Jesus. The purpose of the Gnostics was to claim a “higher knowledge” then existed generally in the church. The emphasis in gnostic writings tends to be more on esoteric wisdom.
The Gnostics were followers of a variety of religious movements which stressed salvation through “gnosis” (Greek) or ‘knowledge’, above all of one’s origins. What is known as “Cosmological dualism” among scholars, was an essential feature of Gnosticism. The material creation is EVIL, only “Sophia” (spiritual wisdom) is good. Most Gnostics held that Christ was NOT truly incarnated, nor could he truly suffer on the cross. Since all matter is evil Christ would never have inhabited a physical body. The Gnostics taught that “higher knowledge” was needed to allow good Gnostics to escape from the prison of their bodies at death and traverse the planetary spheres of hostile demons to be reunited with God. Salvation was found in knowledge, not in faith. Some Gnostics indulged deliberately in licentious behavior. Carpocrates, for example, urged his followers to sin, and his son Epiphanes taught that promiscuity was God’s law.
Most Gnostics, however, took a radically “ascetic” attitude toward sex and marriage deeming the creation of woman the source of evil and the procreation of children but the multiplication of souls in bondage to the powers of darkness. They looked forward to the time when females would be transformed into males, as in Eden prior to the creation of woman.
2 John 7-11
7* For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist.
8 Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward.
9 Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son.
10* If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting;
11 for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.
By the middle of the 2nd century the early church fathers Irenaeus, Hippolytus and Tertullian criticized the gnostic gospels. They were NEVER considered inspired by the main stream church. They were NOT the earliest accounts, most scholars believe that the gnostics gospels did not arrive on the scene until the second half of the second century.
DVC says “Constantine attempted to eradicate “the earlier” gospels (gnostic gospels) but some survived. “The Dead Sea Scrolls were found in the 1950’s hidden in a cave near Qumran in the Judean desert. And of course the Coptic Scrolls in 1945 at Nag Hammadi.” (DVC p. 234)
DVC – “The scrolls highlight glaring historical discrepancies and fabrications, clearly confirming that the modern Bible was compiled and edited by men who possessed a political agenda – to promote the divinity of the man Jesus Christ.” (DVC p.234)
This is patently untrue. This one really makes me laugh. The Nag Hammadi texts were never considered part of the Bible, they date from the third century. The Dead Sea Scrolls have nothing to do with New Testament teaching, they were copies of Old Testament prophets. We know that the Dead Sea Scrolls were put into caves about 100 years B.C. There are absolutely no glaring discrepancies between the Scrolls and the Old Testament, in fact quite the opposite is true. Until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1948 the oldest copy of Isaiah in existence was from about 1000 A.D. When the Scroll of Isaiah found at Qumran was compaired with the Scroll from 1000 A.D. there were virtually NO DIFFERENCES.
What do the Scriptures Say?
Two important passages to consider:
2 Pet 1:1
“Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ”
“looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,”
As you know, the NAS’95 is probably the most accurate translation of the New Testament available today. Many discoveries have been made since the translation of the KJV. The “Grandville Sharpe Rule” (very technical) of Greek requires that “God and Savior Jesus Christ” be translated precisely in the way you see it in the above two verses.
Here are a few of passages to consider:
13 For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,
14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created through Him and for Him.
17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.
19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him,
20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,
6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,
7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways,
2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.
3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
4 having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.
1 ¶ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 He was in the beginning with God.
3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.
Many additional passages could be considered, but these should be enough to prove the point from the Scriptures that Jesus is God. Notice these clear statements:
Col. 1: 16 “For by Him all things were created”
Phil. 2:6 “He existed in the form of God”
Heb. 1:2 “through whom also He made the world”
Heb. 1:3 “He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature”
John 1:3“the Word was God”
There is not a single Scholar that I am aware of that dates these passages to some time AFTER the Nicean council of 325 A.D. These passages existed long before the council put their stamp of approval on the deity of Jesus.The early church fathers accepted all of the above passages as “god-breathed” and therefore as the final word concerning the deity of Jesus hundreds of years before the Nicean council.
(FROM BAR) Constantine was the bad guy who suppressed the earlier (Gnostic) Gospels and imposed the canonical Gospels and the doctrine of the divinity of Christ on the church. In fact, long before the days of Constantine, and even before the Gnostic Gospels existed, the four canonical Gospels were circulating together as authoritative sources in the church. This may have occurred as early as 125 A.D. since Irenaeus knows of this; the Muratorian fragment—the earliest canon list,** dating to the second or third century A.D.—lists the Four Gospels as authoritative for the church; in the second century, the heretic Marcion accepted the Gospel of Luke alone as the appropriate source for knowledge about the historical Jesus. By 325 A.D. the Alexandrian bishop Athanasius in the East and the papal see in the West recognized only the four canonical Gospels, and indeed only the 27 books we now know as the New Testament. It is simply not true that the Gnostic Gospels were suppressed prior to the formation of the canon: They just weren’t recognized as authoritative either by the eastern or western church. Lack of recognition is not the same as suppression.
DVC says “Constantine attempted to eradicate ‘the earlier’ gospels (gnostic gospels) but some survived. The Dead Sea Scrolls were found in the 1950’s hidden in a cave near qumran in the Judean desert. And of course the Coptic Scrolls in 1945 at Nag Hammadi.” (DVC p.234)
This is another lie. The “gnostic gospels” were never considered genuine and Constantine never attempted to eradicate them.
Another error – Jesus must have been married because he was a Jew.
The DVC calls into question the inspiration of the Scriptures. If you can’t trust “practically everything your fathers every told you about Christ” then practically everything in the Scriptures is a lie.
2 Tim. 3:16-17
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;
17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
1* I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:
2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,
4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.
In verse 16 the word translated “Scripture” is from the Greek word “graphe” used by the Holy Spirit to indicate the writings of the apostles and prophets of the first century. It is a special word adopted by the Holy Spirit to designate inspired writing. Notice:
2 Peter 3:16
“as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.”