Christianity is a solid institution in most societies of the world which had impose its’ heavy influence on socio-cultural facets and beliefs of almost any monotheistic groups and genres. Whereas, in the past two centuries, the so-called ‘Faith’, had been an indomitable and unquestionable Force, albeit opposed by few discrete groups, evolution in the society marked by the proliferation of science and technological penetration of culture, has opened the solid unquestionable faith precluded by Christianity to the attacks of veritable critics and skeptics.
The twentieth century attack on Christianity exist in non-random, semi-open attack patterns; ‘media’ and ‘literature’ has become an easier route to thwart the Christian Doctrine which replaces that of the anti-Jesus parallel movement of the following: (1) the atheist movement during the Socratic Classical Period, (2) the ‘docta ignorantia’ of the Middle Ages, and (3) the rise of the Calvinist and the Cult of Reason during the Revolution and the rise of free-thinkers. As a result of the combined effect of anti-Jesus parallel movement throughout the history following the knowledge conveyed by Science, the Church has lost its grasp in politics. Still, it cannot be denied that ‘Christianity’s power’ although not fully expressed in politics, held the most number of followers with an estimate of one-fourth of the world’s population.
Media and literature movement in the contemporary times may decapitate the power of the Church in terms of decreasing the potential number of followers thru enlightening them. The most stunning attack so far to Church the allusion of Power is Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code.
In the following paper, there is a general aim to elucidate the skeptic or the anti-Christianity faith demonstrated by the aforementioned conspiracy-detective story of Dan Brown. Alongside, the following queries will be questioned: (1) the reliability of the ‘evidences’ in the detective story, (2) the factual and fictional entities of the Da Vinci Code, (3) the implications on the biblical reality, (4) and finally, the general ‘eye-opening’ effect of the book on the faith [or the lack of it] of readers.
II. Da Vinci Code: Factual or Not?
The Da Vinci Code with its non-Christian/Catholic allegory sparked the general interest of the crowd in Christianity and history. Whereas the professorial character in the book, Robert Langdon, tried to save the world by masking the secrets of Jesus Christ’s genealogy, Dan Brown was apparently doing the exact opposite by suggesting innuendo’s against the teachings of the Church and the ‘falsified history’ supporting the Godly wisdom.
As detailed by the book, the famous Last Supper drawn by Leonardo Da Vinci, suggested that Mary Magdalene was actually the wife of Jesus Christ and was the famous ‘Holy Grail’. Mary Magdalene took the place of John, and the discrete V formation between her and Jesus signifies the ‘sacred feminine’ and her symbol as the grail. The color inverts may also suggest the characteristic marital bonding between the two characters. Additionally the geometry of her head fits exactly with the curve of Jesus Christ’s shoulder.
The book reveals the following: (1) non-physical identity of the Holy Grail, (2) the chalice is Mary Magdalene and the carrier of the bloodline of Christ, (3) old French term for the chalice San gréal/Sang réal, which translates to Royal Blood in Old French, (4) there are actually documents that would testify to the bloodline which were hidden by the Priory of Sion beneath the Rosslyn Chapel, (5) the Church was behind the conspiracy to hid the ‘Royal Blood Line’ (6) Mary Magdalene is not a prostitute but a descent of the Jewish House of Benjamin, (7) she was pregnant during time of Crucifixion, fled to Gaul, and sheltered by the Jewish people, (8) she gave birth to Sarah and the descents became the Merovingian Dynasty of France, (9) the Priory of Sion and the Knights Templar were organized to keep the secret of the royal lineage and (10) Mona Lisa denotes the is an androgyny for sacred union of Jesus-Mary Magdalene.
Is the The Vinci Code, a morass of factual or non-factual allegations? Many groups have sparked the interest of the Dan Brown’s claims, and most of them are religious organizations. The novel is actually a slap to the face of the Church, branding them as a liar and undermining the faith of millions of Christians in general. Dan Brown demonstrates pseudo-skepticism and what is worse is that he insinuates that the Catholic Church is a sinister and misogynist institution, and that theological Truth is merely a pre-fabricated knowledge of each person.
According to Ivan Ivereigh, press secretary to Britain’s top Catholic prelate Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, there are many who took Dan Brown’ s anti-Church claims seriously and not just a fictional entertainment. Opus Dei, an organization of the Roman Catholic Church that presumably teaches Catholics to assume personal responsibility in sanctifying the secular world from within, plays a dubious role in the The Da Vinci Code novel, with its devout members, specifically Silas, resorting to multiple murder to protect the Church. Opus Dei, since the release of the book, has been branded as a murderous sect, dedicated to do the ‘dirty deeds’ of the Church. This does not do well to the reputation of the group since they were generally known as good flocks and disseminators of faith within the locality that they served.
Dan Brown claimed that all illustrations of art, architecture, archaological documents, and secret rituals in the novel are 100 % accurate. Recent investigations, by the clergy and other interested historians, however, disputed the claims. Dan Brown’s writings are in fact, not an original but an adaptation of the Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh’s earlier work, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. How can he attest to the credibility of the claims of his work when he himself did not originally construct it? Findings of 50 ancient texts near the Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi in 1945, were not actually scrolls, as the book identifies, but rather, leather bound books known as the Gnostic Gospels, which paints Mary Magdalene as the head apostle and a feminist-advocate of the primary teachings of the Church. Dr. Ben Witherington, III of the Asbury Theological Seminary, clarified that Mary Magdalene was indeed not a prostitute, but the name was actually an allusion to her by the Pope Gregory the Great. Here is a text derived by Brown from the Book of Peter of the Gnostic Gospels:
And the companion of the Saviour is Mary Magdalene. Christ loved her more than all the disciples and used to kiss her often on her mouth. The rest of the disciples were offended by it and expressed disapproval. They said to him, “Why do you love her more than all of us?”
Her “kissing Jesus” and the “John 20: 17 clinging” may not be a spouse’s greeting but traditional ones for the Jews (e.g. Judas’ kiss). Additionally, most scripts have missing words which may be filled in ‘incorrectly’; blanks may be substituted for the term mouth instead of the hand. The Book of Phillip also expresses extreme dislike to ‘sexual relations’ and ‘marriage’ so how can it allude to the marriage of Jesus to Mary? Many authors and biblical scholars agree that the relation between the Jesus and Magdalene was hardly intimate. Vargas, in their quests to discover the truth revealed that Mary Magdalene was closed to Jesus but that the relationship was not marital as what Brown has led the people to believe. Also, the oldest writings that would refer to Jesus — The New Testament of the Bible, the writings of historians who were born during the first century, including Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius and Pliny the Younger, Talmud, and the First Epistle from St. Clement contained no allegation on the celibacy of Jesus Christ. Even the Israel Museum does not admit to the connection between Jesus and the so-called scrolls. The Gnostic writings is also not consistent with the writings of the Old Testament and the authors were unknown, which were the reason why the Church does not exactly acknowledge them. Additionally, Brown indicated that Jesus must be married because during their time, men were required by the law to get married. This is not true given that the prophet Jeremiah was a certified celibate throughout his life and Moses became a celibate for 40 years.
Dan Brown says that the ‘marriage’ was painted in Da Vinci’s Last Supper. Art historians do recognized that the right-handed person is not Mary Magdalene but the youthful Apostle John. Additionally, the painting does not present an overwhelming evidence of the ‘truth’ since Da Vinci was not present during the ‘Last Supper’ and it does not explain why John was excluded from the painting. Matthew 10:34 clearly identifies the twelve disciples participating in the Supper and not one of them is Mary Magdalene. Additionally, the contested ‘figure’ is not a female but a young male since the figure has ‘no breast’.
Scholars in Medieval History and Grail mythology assessed that the Knights Templar have no connection with Mary Magdalene and all of them were singular about the idea that Holy Grail is merely a literary fiction and that Priory of Sion is a non-existent group. Up to now, the Nag Hammadi Gnostics scripts have not been verified as an authentic theological document. The document, were dated to be written two centuries later and was thus written much after Jesus and his disciples had died. The Nag Hammadi actually focused not on deism of God but his marginalized humanity. The Council of Nicea, convoked by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in 325, did not actually debated on the deity of Christ but rather on his co-existance with the Father.
Dan Brown also committed the error of misrepresenting small historical facts. Take for instance, that Christianity was merely a copycat of Mithraism; in reality Mithraic studies reveals that it does not have anything to do with the terms ‘Son of God’, offering of gold, frankincense, and myrrh and death resurrection motif. Also, the sacred name of Jesus, has no paganistic origin, [as Dan Brown claims] but it is merely a melding of the consonants to the original form by the rabbis to indicate respect. The five-million-massacre [in Dan Brown’s book] was exaggerated and in fact, most historians would agree that the counts only range in thousands and that most of them were conducted in non-catholic countries. Dan Brown also thwarted the facts on the Vatican paganizing the worship, Constantine shaping the New Testament, subjugation of women by the Vatican, the anti-Christian Leonardo da Vinci, and on paganizing the worship day.
Apparently, Dan Brown’s work mimics that of skepticism, radical feminism and anti-Christian faith. He decorated his ‘fictional’ book with terms from archeology, theology and history to the point of exploiting them. His claims on the Catholic Church in general, were not sound and yet, to unknowledgeable readers, this may present factual scope. This is the saddest thing of all since it adds up to the decreasing rate of Christian flocks around the world. The next question, would be, would there ever be a literature in the future which would actually denigrate the Church with sound evidences or proofs? The question remains to be seen.