This is the second part of an article I wrote in 2005 about The Da Vinci Code.
(2) Mary Magdalene and the Catholic Church
Dan Brown claims that the Gnostic Gospel of Mary Magdalene consists of Mary Magdalene’s own words (1) and that,
“According to these unaltered gospels, it was not Peter whom Christ gave directions to establish the Christian Church. It was Mary Magdalene… Jesus was the original feminist. He intended for the future of His Church to be in the hands of Mary Magdalene.” (2)
No expert on the Gnostic writings believes the Gospel of Mary was actually written by Mary Magdalene. Bart Ehrman has written in Lost Christianities,
“Almost all of the “lost” Scriptures of the early Christians were forgeries. On this scholars of every stripe agree. Liberal and conservative, fundamentalist and atheist….. The same holds true of nearly all of the Gospels, Acts, Epistles, and Apocalypses that came to be excluded from the canon: forgeries in the name of famous apostles and their companions.” (3)
Neither the Gospel of Mary nor any other Gnostic writing said that Jesus intended for Mary Magdalene to be the head of the Church. Brown appears to have copied this idea from The Templar Revelation (4) without checking if there is any evidence for it.
Furthermore, the author of the Gospel of Mary did not say that she was married to Jesus.
Teabing says that Mary was from the tribe of Benjamin (5) and of royal descent and that the marriage of Jesus and Mary was a union of the two Israelite royal houses, “creating a political union with the potential of making a legitimate claim to the throne and restoring the line of kings as it was under Solomon.” (6)
Brown appears to have got the idea that Mary Magdalene was from the tribe of Benjamin from The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. There is nothing in the New Testament nor the Gnostic writings to suggest she was a Benjaminite (7).
On one page Brown says that Jesus intended for Mary to be the head of the Church, implying that he was not going to be around to be the head of the Church himself. Then on the next page their marriage was intended to re-establish the throne of Solomon and a royal dynasty. Was Jesus supposed to be establishing a Church or a political dynasty? Brown does not appear to be sure about what he thinks Jesus’ supposed real intentions were.
Teabing continues that after Jesus’ crucifixion Mary Magdalene travelled to southern France where she gave birth to Jesus’ daughter Sarah and her descendants later married into the Merovingian dynasty;
” ‘According to the Priory,’ Teabing continued, ‘Mary Magdalene was pregnant at the time of the crucifixion. For the safety of Christ’s unborn child, she had no choice but to flee the Holy Land. With the help of Jesus’ trusted uncle, Joseph of Arimathea, Mary Magdalene secretly travelled to France, then known as Gaul. There she found safe refuge in the Jewish community. It was here in France that she gave birth to a daughter. Her name was Sarah.” (8)
” Nonetheless, Christ’s line grew quietly under cover in France until making a bold move in the fifth century, when it intermarried with French royal blood and created a lineage known as the Merovingian bloodline.” (9)
As we shall see, the so-called Priory of Sion does not believe any of this. It is the invention of the authors of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail.
There are medieval legends about Mary Magdalene travelling to southern France after Jesus’ crucifixion. The Templar Revelation says,
“The main story is as follows: shortly after the Crucifixion, Mary Magdalene, together with her siblings Martha and Lazarus, plus several others – their identity varies depending on the version of the story – travelled by sea to the coast of what is now Provence. Among this movable cast of extras is St Maximin, said to have been one of the seventy-two disciples of Jesus and the legendary first bishop of Provence; Mary Jacobi and Mary Salome, allegedly Jesus’ aunts, a black servant girl called Sarah; and Joseph of Arimathea, a rich friend of Jesus who is more often linked to the Glastonbury story…..
The story goes that the Magdalene preached throughout the region, converting the heathen before becoming a hermit in a cave at Sainte-Baume. Some stories have her living there for the implausible but biblically time-honoured period of forty years, spending what must have been very long days repenting of her sins and meditating on Jesus. To add a bit of spice to the story, she is believed to have spent all this time naked except for curiously abundant hair…” (10)
(The Penitent Magdalene in a Landscape, Annibale Carraci, 1598)
However, these legends about Mary Magdalene in France first appeared in the early eleventh century about 1000 years after they were supposed to have happened (11). The whole Mary Magdalene in France story sounds like one of the many dubious medieval Catholic legends about saints and relics which were made up to attract pilgrims and their money to an area. It is unlikely to have any historical value. There were earlier Greek Christian legends about Mary Magdalene travelling to Ephesus in Turkey. In some versions she married the apostle John (12). Because these legends were earlier, they should be considered more historically reliable than the French ones, but we still cannot be sure if they are true.
(Death of Mary Magdalene, artist unknown)
Moreover, there was another early Christian saint called Mary. Mary the Egyptian (344-421) was a prostitute from Alexandria. After she became a Christian, she lived as a hermit for 30 years. She was naked but covered by long hair. (13) These details were obviously copied by the authors of the French legends about Mary Magdalene, which further suggests that the story of Mary Magdalene travelling to France is fiction, rather than historical.
None of these French legends say that the daughter of Mary Magdalene went with her to France. However, Margaret Starbird says and Lynn Picknett implies that the young girl Sarah the Egyptian, who accompanied Mary Magdalene to France, (not to be confused with Mary the Egyptian mentioned above) was her daughter (14). Actually, Mary Magdalene was not accompanied by Sarah the Egyptian. Mary Magdalene was believed to have travelled to Marseilles, however, Sarah the Egyptian was the servant of Mary Jacobi and Mary Salome who on a separate journey landed at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, about 80 kilometres further west (15). Starbird and Picknett appear to have merged two separate medieval legends into one in order to claim that Sarah was Mary Magdalene’s daughter. Quite frankly, I doubt that Sarah the Egyptian existed at all. She was most likely just made up in the Middle Ages.
Furthermore, Sarah, who became the patron saint of gypsies, was said to have been black, so she does not sound like the daughter of two Jews from Palestine. Lynn Picknett gets around this by claiming that Mary Magdalene was black – “a black goddess-worshipping priestess” (16). You could tell that from reading the New Testament, couldn’t you! This would mean that she could not have been a Benjaminite. Brown has compiled his facts from contradictory sources.
There is no historical evidence that the supposed descendants of Jesus and Mary Magdalene married into the Merovingian dynasty. Our main historical source for the early Merovingians is The History of the Franks written by Gregory of Tours (538-594). Gregory did not say anything about Mary Magdalene in southern France or her descendants marrying into the Merovingians. This is because those medieval legends were made up several hundred years later. Gregory wrote in another book The Glory of the Martyrs that Mary Magdalene was buried in Ephesus (17).
Mary Magdalene the prostitute
(Conversion of Mary Magdalene, Paolo Veronese, 1547)
Teabing claims that the Catholic Church tried to discredit Mary Magdalene and her descendants by smearing her as a prostitute;
“The threat Mary Magdalene posed to the men of the Church was potentially ruinous. Not only was she the woman to whom Jesus had assigned the task of founding the Church, but she also had physical proof that the Church’s newly proclaimed deity had spawned a mortal bloodline. The Church, in order to defend itself against the Magdalene’s power perpetuated her image as a whore and buried evidence of Christ’s marriage to her, thereby defusing any potential claims that Christ had a bloodline and was a mortal prophet.” (18)
“Magdalene was no such thing [a prostitute]. That unfortunate misconception is the legacy of a smear campaign launched by the early Church. The Church needed to defame Mary Magdalene in order to cover up her dangerous secret – her role as the Holy Grail.” (19)
“Because her name was forbidden by the Church, Mary Magdalene became secretly known by many pseudonyms – the Chalice, the Holy Grail and the Rose.” (20)
There is a tradition that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute, however the New Testament does not say that she was one. As we shall see, Brown claims that Constantine altered the New Testament to make Jesus appear more divine. If Constantine did tamper with the New Testament and the Church really was so afraid of Mary Magdalene and wanted to discredit her, one wonders why Constantine did not have some passages inserted clearly saying that she was a prostitute. Instead, anyone, who reads the New Testament, can see there is no primary historical evidence for the prostitute tradition.
Pope Gregory the Great (560-604) is usually credited with or blamed for declaring that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute (21). This does not appear to be true. Pope Gregory described her as a repentant sinner, just like any other Christian, and made her into a Catholic saint (22). He did however misidentify Mary Magdalene with Mary of Bethany (23). When those, who claim Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married, equate her with Mary of Bethany to argue their case, they are basing it on the mistake of Pope Gregory who they accuse of saying Mary Magdalene was a prostitute.
As we have seen, details about the life of Saint Mary the Egyptian, a former prostitute, were grafted onto the legends about Mary Magdalene in France. Perhaps this is also responsible for the tradition that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute.
Teabing’s claim that Mary Magdalene’s name “was forbidden by the Church” (24) does not make sense and is clearly wrong. Catholics could still read about her in the New Testament. The Church was supposed to have forbidden her name, but at the same time smeared her as a prostitute. In fact, the Catholic Church made her into a saint. Her feast day is on July 22. They made up these legends about her and there were pilgrimages to see her remains. During the Thirteenth Century two churches in France, one in Vezelay, Burgundy, and the other in Saint-Maximin, Provence, both claimed to have the bones of Mary Magdalene. The pope decided that Saint-Maximin had the authentic ones. (25)
Dan Brown ignores both Vezelay and Saint-Maximin and wrote that the remains of Mary Magdalene are under the inverted pyramid ( La Pyramide Inversee) in the tunnel between the Louvre and the railway station (26). In the preface to The Da Vinci Code Brown claims, “All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents and secret rituals in this novel are accurate.” (27) Does he really believe the remains of Mary Magdalene are buried here? In her book The Real History Behind The Da Vinci Code, Sharan Newman comments,
“The setting isn’t exactly solemn, though. Surrounding the pyramid are a record store, a clothing shop, a restaurant and a movie theatre. It may be just be me, but if I wanted to place a sacred relic in an appropriate place, I wouldn’t choose the middle of a shopping mall.” (28)
The Catholic Church and goddess worship
Dan Brown claims Constantine and the Catholic Church “demonized the sacred feminine, obliterating the goddess from modern religion forever.” (29) However, in the past, Protestants have argued the opposite, accusing the Catholic Church of syncretism, of incorporating pagan goddess worship in the guise of the Virgin Mary into Christianity. Loraine Boettner wrote in his 1962 book Roman Catholicism,
“But after Constantine’s decree making Christianity the preferred religion, the Greek-Roman pagan religions with their male gods and female goddesses exerted an increasingly stronger influence on the church. Thousands of the people who entered the church brought with them the superstitions and devotions which they had long given to Isis, Ishtar, Diana, Athena, Artemis, Aphrodite and other goddesses, which were then conveniently transferred to Mary. Statues were dedicated to her, as there had been statues to Isis, Diana, and others, and before them the people kneeled and prayed as they had been accustomed to do before the statues of the heathen goddesses.” (30)
Likewise, Dave Hunt wrote on A Woman Rides the Beast,
“The most prominent figure by far in Roman Catholicism is a woman. She overshadows all else, including God Himself. More prayers are offered to the Catholic Mary and more attention and honour is given to her than to Christ and God combined. There are thousands of shrines to Mary around the world (and hundreds of shrines to other “saints”), but scarcely more than a handful of minor shrines to Christ himself.
Some Catholic leaders even boast that in this day of burgeoning “goddess consciousness” and “women’s liberation” the Catholic Church is right in tune with the times: A woman holds the position of highest honour and power. In Catholicism it is a woman through whom all graces, gifts, blessing and power flow.” (31)
Even a conservative Protestant like me has to feel a little sorry for the Catholic Church here. First, they were accused of incorporating and practicing goddess worship. Now, they are being accused of suppressing goddess worship. They just can’t win.
Mary Magdalene and the Holy Grail
Teabing claims that the royal bloodline of Jesus and Mary Magdalene was represented by the Holy Grail;
“Teabing looked excited now. ‘The legend of the Holy Grail is a legend about royal blood. When Grail legend speaks of “the chalice that held the blood of Christ”… it speaks, in fact, of Mary Magdalene – the female womb that carried Jesus’ royal bloodline.’ “ (32)
“Mary Magdalene was the Holy Vessel. She was the chalice that bore the royal bloodline of Jesus Christ.” (33)
” ‘Quite literally,’ Teabing said, ‘The [French] word Sangreal derives from San Greal – or Holy Grail. But in its most ancient form, the word Sangreal was divided in a different spot.’ Teabing wrote on a piece of scrap paper and handed it to her
She read what he had written.
Instantly, Sophie recognized the translation.
Sang Real literally meant Royal Blood.” (34)
When Langdon says, “Virgin is the term Grail enthusiasts use to describe anyone who has never heard the true Grail story” (35), Brown gives his readers the impression that everyone, who has studied the Holy Grail legend, understands that the Holy Grail really represents Mary Magdalene. In fact, the idea that the Holy Grail was Mary Magdalene was unknown until The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail was published in 1982. It had never occurred to anyone reading the Holy Grail stories in the 800 years before then. I doubt if any medieval historian or “Grail enthusiast”, who was already familiar with the subject, believed the book. Richard Barber devotes only three pages of his 464 page book The Holy Grail – Imagination and Myth to The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail which he calls “the most notorious of all the Grail pseudo-histories” (36) and he does not mention Mary Magdalene at all.
Brown’s statement that “in its most ancient form” Holy Grail or San Greal was written as Sang Real, meaning “Royal Blood” is not true. In the “most ancient form” of the Holy Grail story, The Story of the Grail, written by Chretien de Troyes around 1180-90, it is just called the “grail” or graal, not the “holy grail” or sangreal (37). Therefore, it could not have originally been intended to be a pun on “royal blood”.
The Holy Grail stories are believed to have their roots in pre-Christian Celtic legends about a magic cauldron (38), so the Grail could not have originally intended to be about Mary Magdalene.
Brown also writes that there have been “countless Grail quests throughout history.” (39) He does not seem to understand that the Holy Grail stories were basically medieval novels. Real-life knights in the Middle Ages did not go on quests for the Holy Grail, any more than they went out and killed dragons.
(Sorry, I don’t know how this got in here.)
(1) The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 333
(2) Ibid., p 334
(3) Bart Ehrman, Lost Christianities, Oxford University Press, 2003, p 6
(4) The Templar Revelation, op cit., p 82, 464
(5) The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 334
(6) Ibid., p 335
(7) The Da Vinci Hoax, op cit., p 104
(8) The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 342
(9) Ibid., p 345
(10) The Templar Revelation, op cit., p 86-87
(11) The Real History Behind The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 154
(12) The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, Chicago, 2002 Volume 7, p 901
(13) The Real History Behind The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 152
(14) The Woman with the Alabaster Jar, op cit., p 60-61, Mary Magdalene, op cit., p 94
(15) The Real Da Vinci Code, op cit., Secrets of the Code, op cit., p 36-37
(16) Mary Magdalene, op cit., p 241
(17) Gregory of Tours, The Glory of the Martyrs, Liverpool University Press, 1988, p 47
(18) The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 340
(19) Ibid., p 328
(20) Ibid., p 341
(21) Mary Magdalene, op cit., p 47
(22) The Real History Behind The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 153
(23) The Woman with the Alabaster Jar, op cit., p 29
(24) The Da Vinci Code, op cit., 341
(25) Mary Magdalene, op cit., p 99
(26) The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 590-593
(27) Ibid., p 15
(28) The Real History Behind The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 226
(29) The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 172
(30) Loraine Boettner, Roman Catholicism, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, New Jersey, 1989, p 136
(31) Dave Hunt, A Woman Rides the Beast, Harvest House, Oregon, 1994, p 435
(32) The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 335
(33) Ibid., p 336
(34) Ibid., p 336
(35) Ibid., p 310
(36) Richard Barber, The Holy Grail, Allen Lane, London, 2004, p 310
(37) Ibid., p 15-26, The Truth Behind The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 46
(38) John Matthews, The Grail, The Truth Behind the Myth, Gosfield Press, London, 2005, p 26-47
(39) The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 344
(3) The Divinity of Jesus and the Origins of the New Testament
In The Da Vinci Code Leigh Teabing makes the sweeping statement to Sophie that “almost everything our fathers taught us about Christ is false.” (1) It would be more accurate to say that almost everything Teabing tells Sophie about the divinity of Christ and the formation of the New Testament is false.
Teabing tells Sophie that Jesus’ followers did not believe that he was divine until the bishops voted on it at the Council of Nicea called by Constantine in 325
” ‘At this gathering,’ Teabing said, ‘many aspects of Christianity were debated and voted upon – the date of Easter, the role of the bishops, the administration of sacraments, and, of course, the divinity of Jesus.’
‘I don’t follow. His divinity?’
‘My dear,’ Teabing declared, ‘until that moment in history, Jesus was viewed by His followers as a mortal prophet… a great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless. A mortal.’
‘Not the Son of God?’
‘Right,’ Teabing said, ‘Jesus’ establishment as “the Son of God” was officially proposed and voted on by the Council of Nicea.’
‘Hold on. You’re saying Jesus’ divinity was the result of a vote?’
‘A relatively close one at that,’ Teabing added.” (2)
This is clearly false. It can easily be shown by quotes from the New Testament and the Church Fathers that Christians believed Jesus was divine and the Son of God centuries before Constantine.
About 20 to 25 years after Jesus’ death, Paul wrote about Jesus,
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the pre-eminence.” (Colossians 1: 15-18)
“For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” (Colossians 2:9
In the mid 90s the Apostle John wrote,
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” (John 1: 1-3)
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1: 14)
“But these things are written that you may believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20: 31)
Quotes from Christian writers in the Second Century show that they already believed Jesus was divine. Ignatius (30-107) wrote in his Epistle to the Ephesians,
“For the Son of God, who was begotten before time began, and established all things according to the will of the Father, He was conceived in the womb of Mary, according to the appointment of God, of the seed of David, and by the Holy Spirit…. God being manifested as a man, and man displaying power as God.” (3)
Around 125, Aristides wrote in The Apology of Aristides,
“The Christians, then, trace the beginning of their religion from Jesus the Messiah; and he is named the Son of God Most High. And it is said that God came down from heaven, and from a Hebrew virgin assumed and clothed himself with flesh.” (4)
Justin Martyr (110-165) wrote in his First Apology,
“We have been taught that Christ is the first-born of God… who through the power of the Word, according to the will of God the Father and Lord of all, He was born of a virgin as a man, and was named Jesus, and was crucified, and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven.” (5)
“For the prophets have proclaimed two advents of His: the one that which is already past, when He came as a dishonoured and suffering Man; but the second, when, according to prophecy, He shall come from heaven with glory, accompanied by His angelic host, when also He shall raise the bodies of all men who have lived.” (6)
Does this passage sound like Justin Martyr thought Jesus was an ordinary mortal man as Dan Brown claims all Christians did before Constantine?
Even pagan Romans before Constantine understood that the Christians believed Jesus was divine. One of the earliest Roman references to Christianity is in one of the letters of Pliny the Younger (61-113), the Roman administrator in Bithynia. Around 111-113, Pliny wrote to the Emperor Trajan about the local Christians, saying that “they had met regularly before dawn on a fixed day to chant verse alternately amongst themselves in honour of Christ as to a god. ” (7)
One of Brown’s sources, The Templar Revelation comments about Pliny’s letter, “What is particularly interesting about his account, however, is the fact that it shows that this Christ was already regarded as a god.” (8)
The debate over Jesus’ divinity at the Council of Nicea was not whether or not Jesus was divine, but rather, how he was divine. On one side was Arius, a priest from Alexandria, who believed Jesus was the Son of God, but he had not always existed, he had been created at some stage by God the Father, and he was not equal to God, but was a lesser god. If Arius were alive today, he would probably be a Jehovah’s Witness. On the other side was Athanasius, also from Alexandria, who represented the orthodox view. He argued that Jesus had always existed and was equal to God the Father. The vote was 316 to 2 in favour of Athanasius, which Teabing calls “a relatively close vote at that.” (9) Very relative.
Leigh Teabing further claims that Constantine had the Bible rewritten and decided what books went in it;
“More than eighty gospels were considered for the New Testament, and yet only a relative few were chosen for inclusion – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John among them….. The fundamental irony of Christianity! The Bible, as we know it today, was collated by the pagan Roman emperor Constantine the Great.” (10)
” ‘Because Constantine upgraded Jesus’ status almost four centuries after Jesus’ death, thousands of documents already existed chronicling His life as a mortal man. To rewrite the history books, Constantine knew he would need a bold stroke. From this sprang the most profound moment in Christian history.’ Teabing paused, eyeing Sophie. ‘Constantine commissioned and financed a new Bible, which omitted those gospels that spoke of Christ’s human traits and embellished those gospels that made Him godlike. The earlier gospels were outlawed, gathered up and burned.’ “ (11)
Constantine did commission Eusebius of Caesarea to produce fifty copies of the Bible, but contrary to the impression Brown gives, the books of the New Testament were not decided by Constantine nor at Nicea. Eusebius’ Bible may not have been “the Bible as we know it today” as it might have included the apocryphal books, the Epistle of
Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermas (12).
Athanasius decided on the final list of New Testament books in 367. This was not so much a decision as to what the authentic, canonical gospels were. Rather, it was a ratification of what the Church already believed.
Brown’s claim that “more than eighty gospels were considered for the New Testament” is groundless. There were about twelve Gnostic and apocryphal books called gospels – the Gospels of the Ebionites, the Hebrews, the Nazoreans, the Egyptians, Pseudo-Matthew, Peter, Nicodemus, Thomas, Philip, Mary Magdalene, the Infancy Gospel of Thomas and the Arabic Infancy Gospel. (13) None of them were ever considered for inclusion in the New Testament. Long before the canon was finally ratified, the early Christians believed there were only four authentic gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. By the middle of the Second Century the majority of the New Testament, including the four gospels, had already been agreed on. The only controversy was whether all the General Epistles, such as Hebrews, James, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, and other early Christian writings, such as the Revelation of Peter, the Epistle of Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermas, should be included (14). Nothing written after about 120, gospel or epistle, was ever considered for the New Testament canon (15). Christians in the Second or Third Centuries were not going to take seriously a gospel, supposedly written by Philip or some other apostle, which they had never heard of before, which a Gnostic suddenly presents, presumably on brand new papyrus with the ink still drying, which blatantly contradicted Christian doctrine about the nature of God and Jesus.
Around 160, Tatian, the founder of a Christian sect called the Encratites in Mesopotamia compiled a harmony of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John called the Diatessaron, meaning “from four”. The Diatessaron shows that in 160 only four gospels were considered authentic and they already said Jesus was divine. (16)
Tatian was only one of dozens of Christian writers of the Second and Third Centuries who quoted the New Testament. Josh McDowell, author of several books on Christian apologetics, has suggested that “the quotations are so numerous and widespread that if no manuscripts of the New Testament were extant, the New Testament could be reproduced from the writings of the early Fathers alone.” (17).
The quotations of Tatian, and the other early Christian writers prove that Christians before Constantine already believed that Jesus was divine and that the New Testament, which they quoted from, was the same as ours. It was not altered by Constantine.
” ‘Fortunately for historians,’ Teabing said, ‘some of the gospels that Constantine attempted to eradicate survived. The Dead Sea Scrolls were found in the 1950s hidden in a cave near Qumran in the Judean desert. And, of course, the Coptic Scrolls in 1945 at Nag Hammadi. In addition to telling the true Grail story, these documents speak of Christ’s ministry in very human terms. Of course, the Vatican, in keeping with their tradition of misinformation tried very hard to suppress the release of these scrolls. And why wouldn’t they? The scrolls highlight glaring historical discrepancies and fabrications, clearly confirming that the modern Bible was compiled by men who possessed a political agenda – to promote the divinity of the man Jesus Christ and use His influence to solidify their own power base.’ “ (18)
Brown seems to be saying that Constantine tried to destroy the Dead Sea Scrolls which were gospels describing Jesus’ human side. The Dead Sea Scrolls were hidden in about 68 A.D., over 260 years before Constantine and Nicea. Constantine did not try to destroy them because he did not know they existed. Furthermore, the Dead Sea Scrolls were first discovered in 1947, not the 1950s.
Neither the Dead Sea Scrolls nor the “Coptic Scrolls” “highlight glaring historical discrepancies and fabrications” about Jesus and his divinity. As already mentioned, the Dead Sea Scrolls were Jewish, not Christian, documents. They were not gospels and they said nothing about Jesus. The Nag Hammadi writings were not scrolls but books. They were written at least 100 years after Jesus’ death by people in an altered state of consciousness and contain no historical information about First Century Palestine.
Brown has Teabing say that the Nag Hammadi writings “speak of Christ’s ministry in very human terms” and that Constantine’s Bible “omitted those gospels that spoke of Christ’s human traits” (19) which presumably means the Gnostic gospels. He gives the impression that the Gnostic gospels only spoke of the human side of Jesus and said he was only a mortal prophet. It makes me wonder if Brown has ever actually read the Nag Hammadi writings. The New Testament gospels do not deny the human side of Jesus. They said he had a physical body. Jesus grew (Luke 2:40), eats and drinks (Luke 5;30, 15;2), gets hungry (Luke 4:2), sleeps (Luke 8: 23), touches people and can be touched(Luke 5;13, 8:44-46) and spits (John 9:6). They also said Jesus was divine (John 1:1-14, 14:1-11, 20:31). It was the Gnostic gospels which downplayed or even denied Jesus’ human side. Some Gnostics did not even believe Jesus had a physical body. He was supposed to have been a spiritual being who only appeared to have a physical body. (20) This would presumably have made having sex with Mary Magdalene and having children somewhat difficult.
None of the Gnostic writings “tell the true Grail story.” The Grail stories appeared about 1000 years later. They do not say Jesus and Mary Magdalene had descendants. No one suggested this was the “true Grail story” until the 1980s.
Teabing also says,
“Nothing in Christianity is original. The pre-Christian God Mithras – called the Son of God and the Light of the World – was born on December 25, died, was buried in a rock tomb, and then resurrected in three days. By the way, December 25 is also the birthday of Osiris, Adonis and Dionysus. The new-born Krishna was presented with gold, frankincense and myrrh.” (21)
Brown appears to be contradicting himself. First, he accused Constantine and the Catholic Church of repressing paganism. Now, the Church is supposed to have copied paganism and incorporated pagan belief into Christianity.
It appears to be true that the Roman Catholic Church stole December 25 from the pagans, but this is a later tradition and cannot be found in the Bible which does not say at what time of the year Jesus was born. However, I have heard the argument that Jesus could not have been born in December because shepherds would not have had their sheep out in the fields at night in the middle of winter (Luke 2:8).
Everything else in the above quote is false.
Some scholars used to believe that Christianity had borrowed from the pagan religions, but this theory has been disapproved. Ronald Nash writes in The Gospel and the Greeks,
“During a period of time running roughly from about 1890 to 1940, scholars often alleged that primitive Christianity had been heavily influenced by Platonism, Stoicism, the pagan mystery religions or other movements in the Hellenistic world. Largely as a result of a series of scholarly books and articles written in rebuttal, allegations of early Christianity’s dependence on its Hellenistic environment began to appear less frequently in the publications of Bible scholars and classical scholars. Today most Bible scholars regard the question as a dead issue.” (22)
This theory has been resurrected in recent years mainly by esoteric writers, who do not appear to be aware that it has been discredited, including one of The Da Vinci Code‘s main sources Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince, authors of The Templar Revelation. They use it to support their claims that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had a sexual relationship by suggesting that Jesus was deliberately enacting the role of the dying and rising god while Mary took the role of his goddess partner (23).
However, when one looks at what the pagan myths actually said, as opposed to what modern writers claim they said, it becomes apparent that these supposed parallels and borrowings do not exist, but have been largely fabricated by modern authors. (24)
Mithras was not called the “Son of God” or the “light of the World” (25). In the Mithraic myths he did not die, was not buried in a rock tomb and did not raise again three days later (26). Other writers have claimed Mithras was born of a virgin. In fact, Mithras was believed to have emerged fully grown out a rock (27).
There is nothing in the Hindu texts, the Bhagavad-Gita, the Harivamsa Purama or Bhagavata Purama about Krishna receiving any gifts, let alone gold, frankincense and myrrh, when he was born (28).
Plagiarism from The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail
Perhaps some of Dan Brown’s clearly absurd claims about Constantine and the formation of the New Testament can be excused because he appears to have copied them out of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, as the following quotes suggest;
The Da Vinci Code;
” ‘Because Jesus was a Jew,’ Langdon said, taking over while Teabing searched for his book, ‘and social decorum during that time virtually forbade a Jewish man to be unmarried. According to Jewish custom, celibacy was condemned, and the obligation for a Jewish father was to find a suitable wife for his son. If Jesus were not married, at least one of the gospels would have mentioned it and offered some explanation for His unnatural state of bachelorhood.’ “ (29)
The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail;
“According to Judiac custom at the time it was not only usual, but almost mandatory that a man be married. Except among certain Essenes in certain communities, celibacy was condemned. And it was as obligatory for a Jewish father to find a wife for his son as it was to ensure his son be circumcised.
If Jesus were not married, this fact should have been glaringly obvious….. If this were the case, surely one at least of the Gospel accounts would make mention of so marked a deviation from custom?” (30)
The Da Vinci Code;
“He [Constantine] was a lifelong pagan who was baptized on his deathbed too weak to protest.” (31)
The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail;
“The state religion of Rome under Constantine was, in fact, pagan sun worship, and Constantine, all his life, acted as its chief priest…. He himself was not even baptised until 337 – when he lay on his deathbed and was apparently too weak or too apathetic to protest.” (32)
The Da Vinci Code;
” ‘At this gathering [ the Council of Nicea],’ Teabing said, ‘many aspects of Christianity were debated and voted upon – the date of Easter, the role of bishops, the administration of sacraments, and of course, the divinity of Jesus…. [U]ntil that moment in history, Jesus was viewed by His followers as a mortal prophet….Jesus’ establishment as “the Son of God” was officially proposed and voted on by the Council of Nicea.'” (33)
The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail;
“At this council the dating of Easter was established. Rules were framed which defined the authority of bishops….Most important of all, the Council of Nice decided, by vote, that Jesus was a god, not a mortal prophet.” (34
The Da Vinci Code;
“Constantine commissioned and financed a new Bible, which omitted those gospels that spoke of Christ’s human traits and embellished those gospels that made Him godlike.” (35)
The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail;
“Then in A.D. 331, he commissioned and financed new copies of the Bible….. When Constantine commissioned new versions of these documents, it enabled the custodians of orthodoxy to revise, edit and rewrite their material as they saw fit, in accordance with their tenets.” (36)
In October 2004, Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, two of the co-authors of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, filed a law suit against Dan Brown accusing him of plagiarism.
(1) The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 318
(2) Ibid., p 315
(3) Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (editors), Ante-Nicene Fathers, Hendrickson Publishers, Massachusetts, 1995, Volume 1, p 57
(4) Ante-Nicene Fathers, op cit., Volume 9, p 265
(5) Ante-Nicene Fathers, op cit., Volume 1, p 178
(6) Ibid., p 180
(7) Pliny, The Letters of the Younger Pliny, Penguin, London, 1969, p 295
(8) The Templar Revelation, op cit., p 351
(9) The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 315
(10) Ibid., p 313
(11) Ibid., p 316-317
(12) Bart Ehrman, Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code, Oxford University Press, 2004, p 91-92, The Da Vinci Hoax, op cit., p 176
(13) C. Marvin Pate and Sheryl L. Pate, Crucified in the Media, Baker Books, Michigan, 2005, p 53-55
(14) Paul Wegner, The Journey from Texts to Translations, Baker House, Michigan, 1999, p 142-143
(15) The Gospel Code, op cit., p 126
(16) Ante-Nicene Fathers, op cit, Volume 9, p 43-129
(17) Josh McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, Thomas Nelson, Nashville, p 43
(18) The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 317
(20) The Gnostic Gospels, op cit., p 91-92, Breaking The Da Vinci Code, op cit., 76-80
(21) The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 314
(22) Ronald H. Nash, The Gospel and the Greeks, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, New Jersey, 2003, p 1
(23) The Templar Revelation, op cit., p 349-399
(25) James Patrick Holding, “Not InDavincible, A Review and Critique of The Da Vinci Code”, http://tektonics.org/davincicrude.htm
(26) The Gospel and the Greeks, op cit., p 136-137
(27) James Patrick Holding, “Mighty Mithraic Madness”,
(28) The Da Vinci Hoax, op cit., p 152
(29) The Da Vinci Code, op cit, p 330
(30) The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, op cit., p 347
(31) The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 313
(32) The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, op cit., p 386
(33) The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 315
(34) The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, op cit., p 388
(35) The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 317
(36) The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, op cit., p 388-389