The Da Vinci Code Deception Part Three

This is part three of an article I wrote in 2005 about The Da Vinci Code.

(4) The Priory of Sion Hoax

In The Da Vinci Code Sophie Neveau learns that her murdered grandfather Jacques Sauniere was the Grand Master of a secret society, the Priory of Sion, which Dan Brown believes really exists. The following supposed information about the Priory of Sion can be gleamed from The Da Vinci Code;

The Priory “was founded in 1099 by a French king named Godefroi de Bouillon.” (1) Godefroi’s family had been in possession of a secret since the time of Christ, so he founded the Priory to pass down the secret to succeeding generations. The Priory believes Mary was pregnant at the time of the crucifixion and afterwards she went to France and gave birth to a daughter Sarah (2). Their descendants married into the Merovingian dynasty. After the last Merovingian king Dagobert was assassinated, his son Sigisbert escaped and the line survived through him down to Godefroi de Bouillon who founded the Priory of Sion (3).

Documents found in the National Library in Paris are supposed to confirm the existence of the Priory of Sion and identify its Grand Masters. Dan Brown writes,

“After all, previous Priory Grand Masters had also been distinguished public figures with artistic souls. Proof of that had been uncovered years ago in Paris’ Bibliotheque Nationale in papers that became known as Les Dossiers Secret… [The] Dossiers Secrets had been authenticated by many specialists and incontrovertibly confirmed what historians suspected for a long time: Priory Grand Masters included Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Sir Isaac Newton, and more recently, Jean Cocteau, the famous Parisian artist. “ (4)

The Priory is a “pagan goddess worship cult” and “has a well-documented history of reverence for the sacred feminine” (5) and “believes that Constantine and his successors successfully converted the world from matriarchal paganism to patriarchal Christianity by waging a campaign of propaganda that demonized the sacred feminine, obliterating the goddess from modern religion forever.” (6)

The Priory practice the hieros gamos or sacred marriage ritual which believes that man can only achieve knowledge of the divine through intercourse (7).

“The Priory of Sion, to this day, still worships Mary Magdalene as the Goddess, the Holy Grail, the Rose and the Divine Mother.” (8)

“Theirs is a threefold charge. The brotherhood must protect the Sangreal documents. They must protect the tomb of Mary Magdalene. And, of course, they must nurture and protect the bloodline of Christ – the few members of the Merovingian bloodline who have survived into modern times.” (9)

None of this is true. Before The Da Vinci Code was published, it had already been established that the Priory of Sion was a hoax. This chapter will show how the Priory of Sion hoax developed and how the case of a French country priest trafficking in Masses got turned into a story about Jesus and Mary Magdalene having descendants.

The Case of Berenger Sauniere

800px-Abad_Saunier_de_Rennes-le-Château_(Francia)_France

Berenger Sauniere was a French priest who was born in 1852. The name of the character Jacques Sauniere in The Da Vinci Code is based on him. In 1885 he was appointed parish priest of Rennes-le-Chateau, a village in southern France. The church and village were run-down and in 1888 Sauniere began a rebuilding program. He renovated and redecorated the church, gave the village a proper water supply, built a new access road and built a new house for himself, the Villa Bethany, including the Tower of Magdala which contained his library.

800px-Le_Razès_vue_de_Rennes-le-Château

In 1909 the local bishop Monseigneur Paul-Felix Beauvain de Beausejour wondered where Sauniere got the money to afford all this and he began to investigate him for trafficking in Masses.

Sauniere would advertise in newspapers or write to people offering to say Mass for them for a fee, however he did not say all the Masses he was paid for. Rene Descadeillas writes,

“Moreover, at certain periods, the cure of Rennes received a large number of postal orders each day – as many as 100 or 150 – for small amounts of cash ranging from 5 to 40 francs. Some of these were postal orders paid to him in Rennes; many were addressed ‘poste restante’ to Couiza, where he went to convert them to cash. Others were in the name of Marie Denarnaud. In fact, one of the postmistresses who cashed them was still alive in 1958. These postal orders were very diverse in origin. Many of them came from France, but there were also many from Belgium, the Rhineland, Switzerland and Northern Italy. A large number were from religious communities. These postal orders were intended to pay for ‘mass intentions’. Abbe Sauniere was trafficking in masses.” (10)

Some of Sauniere’s records of his trafficking still exist. It has been calculated that between 1893 and 1915 he received a minimum of 100,000 requests for Masses (11).

In July 1910 Sauniere was found guilty of trafficking in Masses by an ecclesiastical court. The authors of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail claim, “Sauniere appealed to the Vatican which exonerated and reinstated him.” (12) This is not true. He did appeal but in October 1910, he was found guilty again. He was investigated again and in December 1911 he was suspended as a priest until he would account for his income, which he never did. He remained suspended until he died in 1916 (13).

rennes

Sauniere’s housekeeper Marie Denardaud inherited his estate. In 1946 she sold the Villa Bethany to a business man Noel Corbu who turned it into a hotel. In 1956 Corbu invented the story that Bernard Sauniere had discovered a lost treasure which he used to finance his building program. Corbu told a local newspaper that while Sauniere was renovating the church, he found some parchments in wooden tubes inside a pillar supporting the altar. These led him to a treasure worth 50 billion francs. (14).

This story cannot be true because the pillar, which is now in the local museum, is not hollow. There is a hole, but it is only 7 cm deep, too small for the wooden tubes to fit. (15). There is no mention of Sauniere finding any parchments before 1956 (16). Everyone attributed Sauniere’s wealth to his trafficking in Masses. Corbu appears to have made up the treasure story as a publicity gimmick for his hotel (17). Judging by the number of people visiting the Rennes-le-Chateau area ever since looking for the lost treasure, he succeeded. One of these visitors was Pierre Plantard who added the next piece of the hoax.

Pierre Plantard

Pierre Plantard was born in Paris in 1920. In the 1960s Plantard would begin to claim to represent a powerful and influential secret society, the Priory of Sion, which was almost 1000 years old and had over 900 members. However, it is clear from French police investigations of Plantard carried out in the 1940s that he had a tendency to invent phantom organisations to make himself appear influential and important.

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(Pierre Plantard in 1982 in The HolyBlood and the Holy Grail, photo by Michael Baigent)

In 1940 France surrendered to Germany and the southern half of France was administered by Vichy France, a German puppet government headed by Marshall Henri Petain. In December 1940 Pierre Plantard wrote to Petain claiming there was a Jewish Masonic conspiracy and that the Jews had started World War II, which sounds like the sort of thing the Nazis said. (18)

The French police investigated Plantard. Their report, dated 8 February 1941, described Plantard as “anti-Semitic and anti-Masonic” and concluded, “In fact, Plantard, who boasts of having links with numerous politicians, appears to be one of those dotty, pretentious young men who run more or less fictitious groups in an effort to look important.” (19)

In 1941 Plantard attempted to set up an organisation called French National Renewal. A police report on this organisation, dated 9 May 1941, says that it “seems to be a ‘phantom’ group whose existence is a figment of the imagination of M. Plantard. Plantard claims 3245 members, whereas this organisation currently only has four…” (20)

In 1942 Plantard founded another organisation called Alpha Galates with a similar structure to the future Priory of Sion (21). Its journal Vaincre contained articles about chivalry and the renewal of France, as well as theosophical, esoteric and anti-Semitic themes (22). One of the influences on Plantard’s thinking appears to have been the Italian fascist philosopher Julius Evola (23). Part of a 13 February 1945 police report on Alpha Galates says,

“Plantard seems to be an odd young man who has gone off the rails, as he seems to believe that he alone is capable of providing French youth with effective leadership…… According to the information we have gathered, this organisation had not up to that time engaged in any activity. It has had about 50 members, who resigned one after the other as soon as they sussed out the President of the association and worked out that it was not a serious enterprise.” (24)

On December 17, 1953 Plantard was sentenced to six months in prison for fraud and embezzlement (25)

In 1956 Plantard and three others founded the Priory of Sion. This was not a secret society, but a tenants association, and was named after a hill in France, not Mount Zion in Jerusalem. Plantard was the treasurer. Its first president was Andre Bonhomme. Paul Smith writes,

“Andre Bonhomme definitely existed – I have spoken to him myself – as have many other researchers – and he has constantly confirmed that the original Priory of Sion had nothing to do with Berenger Sauniere, Rennes-le-Chateau, politics or secret societies – the story goes that one day, when someone commented on the state of the lodgings – it was decided to form a society devoted to the cause of Low-Cost Housing: and the Priory of Sion was created! It was actually named after the hill of Mont Sion located outside the town of St-Julien-en-Genovoise. They produced an amateur journal called “Circuit” devoted to the cause of Low-Cost Housing, that simply comprised of A4 ages stapled together, and containing a crude text that was both stencilled and printed.” (26)

The Priory of Sion’s statutes, which were registered in 1956, stated that all Catholics over 21 were eligible for membership (27). This does not sound like the “pagan goddess worship cult” with the secret, which could destroy its enemy, the Catholic Church, described in The Da Vinci Code.

In October 1956 the Priory’s journal reported that the Priory was now in the business of transporting children by bus to nurseries and schools. Then, in December 1956 Plantard was sentenced to 12 months in prison for “abuse of a minor” (28). The first version of the Priory of Sion disbanded after that.

In the late 1950s or early 1960s Plantard and a friend Phillipe de Cherisey visited the Rennes-le-Chateau area, met Noel Corbu and heard his story about the parchments and treasure supposedly found by Berenger Sauniere (29). Plantard had already come up with idea of claiming to be a descendant of the Merovingian kings (30) and in the early 1960s he reformed the Priory of Sion which was now supposed to be a secret society founded in Jerusalem in 1099. Plantard and de Cherisey decided to build on Corbu’s story of the coded parchments, which Sauniere was supposed to have found, and fabricated their own versions of them (31). One of these parchments contained the hidden message, “TO DAGOBERT II, KING, AND TO SION BELONGS THIS TREAURE AND HE IS THERE DEAD.” (32) This apparently connected the treasure Sauniere had supposedly found to the Merovingian king Dagobert II.

They also fabricated the documents, which became known as Les Dossiers Secrets or the Secret Dossiers. These consisted of articles, letters and genealogical charts and were intended to supplement and explain the coded parchments and to substantiate Plantard’s claims about the Priory of Sion and the Merovingians. Between 1964 and 1967 they planted these documents in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. (33)

One of these documents, Genealogy of the Merovingian Kings, says that the Merovingian king Dagobert II (676-679) had a son Sigisbert IV who was the ancestor of Godefroi de Bouillon and the Plantard family. (34). Godefroi supposedly founded the Priory of Sion in Jerusalem in 1099. Sigisbert IV is clearly the link in Plantard’s plan, connecting Godefroi to the Merovingian kings. However, Sigisbert IV and his mother Giselle de Razes never existed (35). Plantard invented them and falsified the genealogy in order to claim to be a descendant of the otherwise apparently extinct Merovingian line.

Godefroi was not a French king as The Da Vinci Code claims (36), but only the Duke of Lower Lorraine. The Order of Our Lady of Zion was established at Mount Zion in Jerusalem around 1099, but Godefroi does not appear to have had anything to do with it (37). This was supposed to have been the Priory of Sion, which survived to the present, but it was simply a Catholic monastic order, not a secret society, and was disbanded in 1617 (38).

Another of these documents The Secret File of Henri Lobineau contains a list of the supposed Grand Masters of the Priory of Sion including Leonardo da Vinci. Dan Brown claims that the Dossiers “inconvertibly confirmed what historians suspected for a long time” about the Priory’s Grand Masters (39). This is not true because no one had ever heard of the Priory of Sion and its Grand Masters before these documents were “discovered”. In fact, this list of Grand Masters appears to have copied from a list of the supposed Grand Masters of an esoteric society called the Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis (AMORC), a branch of the Rosicrucians, founded in the United States in 1915. Plantard simply added a couple of French names like the artist Jean Cocteau (40).

At first, Plantard and de Cherisey intended to use the coded parchments for a radio program, but this did not eventuate (41). Then, Plantard attempted to write a book on the subject but he could not get it published (42). They approached an author Gerard de Sede to write the book for them and showed him the documents in the Bibliotheque Nationale which de Sede believed were authentic (43). In 1967 Gerard de Sede’s book The Gold of Rennes was published.

The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail

In 1969 Henry Lincoln an English scriptwriter, whose credits included three Doctor Who stories, read de Sede’s book and decided to make a series of documentaries about Rennes-le-Chateau for the BBC series Chronicle. These were The Lost Treasure of Jerusalem in 1972, The Priest, the Painter and the Devil in 1974 and The Shadow of the Templars in 1979. While he was working on the third documentary, Henry Lincoln met Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh. They went on to write The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail which was published in 1982. This book contained the earlier themes of Rennes-le-Chateau, the Secret Dossiers and the Priory of Sion. However it did not mention how in 1971 there was a dispute over royalties for The Gold of Rennes and both Plantard and de Cherisey had said that the coded parchments were forgeries (44).

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Dan Brown says in The Da Vinci Code that the Priory of Sion believes that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and that the Priory’s purpose is to protect their descendants (45). However, before The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail was published, neither Noel Corbu, Pierre Plantard, Gerard de Sede, the Secret Dossiers nor Henry Lincoln’s documentaries had said anything about Jesus and Mary Magdalene being married and their descendants. The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail introduced the idea that Jesus and Mary were married and their descendants, symbolized by the Holy Grail, married into the Merovingians, but they did not get these ideas from Pierre Plantard and there is no evidence that the Priory of Sion believes this.

In fact, Plantard said he did not believe it. In a 1983 article, “Jesus Christ, his wife and the Merovingians”, by de Cherisey, Plantard said,

“I admit that “the Sacred Enigma” [The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail] is a good book, but one must say that there is a part that owes more to fiction than to fact, especially in the part that deals with the lineage of Jesus. How can you prove a lineage of four centuries from Jesus to the Merovingians? I never put myself forward as a descendant of Jesus Christ.” (46)

If someone were to write a non-fiction book, saying Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and were the ancestors of the Merovingians, I would assume they would have some historical evidence to base their claims on. However, as we have seen, the authors of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail have openly said that there is no evidence Jesus and Mary Magdalene had any children. I have read The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail several times and I cannot see how they could have logically come to their conclusions and made the jump from a story about the Merovingians, lost treasure and a secret society to believing that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and the ancestors of the Merovingians. There is no evidence which could have led them to that conclusion.

The ideas about Jesus, Mary Magdalene, the Holy Grail and a secret society which knows the secret can be found in a novel about the prophet Nostradamus, The Dreamer and the Vine, by an astrologer Liz Greene, published in 1980, two years before The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. This is significant because Liz Greene was the girlfriend of Michael Baigent and the sister of Richard Leigh (47).

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Henry Lincoln had not mentioned the supposed marriage of Jesus and Mary Magdalene in his documentaries about Rennes-le-Chateau. It was only after he joined forces with Baigent and Leigh that it became part of the Rennes-le-Chateau/ Priory of Sion legend. It looks like they got the idea that Jesus and Mary were married from Liz Greene’s novel and added it to the story for The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, presumably in order to make it more interesting and controversial and sell more books. It worked. Pierre Plantard had only claimed to be a descendant of the Merovingians. The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail had made him into a descendant of Jesus Christ.

Although Dan Brown says that the Priory of Sion worships Mary Magdalene and the sacred feminine and practices the hieros gamos sex rite, there is nothing in The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, the Secret Dossiers and the claims of Pierre Plantard to suggest this. These ideas come from Margaret Starbird who read The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail and built on their claims by adding her feminist ideas about the hieros gamos, the sacred feminine and Mary Magdalene as the goddess in her 1993 book The Woman with the Alabaster Jar.

    In 1997, The Templar Revelation by Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince claimed that the Priory of Sion were Mary Magdalene goddess worshippers (48). They even wrote, “The Priory of Sion believe that Mary Magdalene is one and the same as Mary of Bethany, the sister of Lazarus, and the one who anoints Jesus’ feet.” (49). How do they know the Priory of Sion believes the two Marys were the same person, especially since, as we shall see, four years before The Templar Revelation was published, Pierre Plantard had admitted in court that the Priory of Sion was a hoax? Picknett and Prince appear to have read The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail and thought that the Priory of Sion believes Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married – something which they never said. Because Picknett and Prince argued that Mary Magdalene and Mary of Bethany were the same person in order to make their claims Jesus and Mary Magdalene had a sexual relationship more convincing, they seem to have assumed that the Priory must also believe this.

Like Margaret Starbird, Picknett and Prince wrote that Jesus and Mary practiced the hieros gamos (50), but they did not explicitly say that the Priory of Sion does. However, Dan Brown read their books and appears to have assumed that the Priory of Sion also practices the hieros gamos. These authors have no evidence the Priory of Sion believes these things. They are reading their own speculations into this fictitious secret society and assuming that because they believe them, the Priory of Sion must also believe them.

The Decline and Fall of the Priory of Sion

In The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail the authors wrote how they suspected someone with their own vested interest had been leaking information about Rennes-le-Chateau and the Merovingians. This turned out to be Pierre Plantard (51). They describe when they met Plantard in a Paris cinema in 1979 and he told them that the Priory of Sion had the lost treasure from the Temple in Jerusalem. They do not appear to have questioned this claim. (52)

The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail does not mention how Plantard originally told them in this meeting that the coded parchments were forgeries. They do acknowledge this in the sequel The Messianic Legacy,

“In 1979, when we first met M. Plantard, we were told both of the ciphered texts were in fact forgeries concocted in 1956 by the Marquis de Cherisey for a short television program. We challenged this assertion. The staggering effort required to devise the ciphers seemed inappropriate, indeed ridiculous, for such a purpose. M. Plantard conceded that the forgeries were based very closely on the originals.”(53)

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Plantard had already said the parchments were forgeries in 1971. Based on his past attention-seeking behaviour, it seems that because of the interest the authors were showing in him and the Priory of Sion, he decided to now claim there still were authentic documents.

Jean-Luc Chaumeil, an associate of Plantard, who arranged the meeting with the three authors (54), says he also told Henry Lincoln the coded parchments were fakes. Paul Smith writes,

“I first met Jean-Luc Chaumeil in Paris in September 1982 – and the meeting was an eye-opener! There he showed me a lot of evidence that the Priory of Son was a hoax, that the parchments as allegedly discovered by Sauniere were really Philippe de Cherisey fakes, and that Plantard was an outright charlatan. Not only this, but Chaumeil had actually informed Lincoln of all this prior to the publication of ‘The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail’. Jean-Luc Chaumeil was a very disappointed man.” (55)

Plantard gave Chaumeil the original coded parchments. In a 1996 BBC documentary The History of a Mystery, Chauneil showed that Plantard had written across one of the parchments in red ink, “This is the original document, faked by Philippe de Cherisey, which Gerard de Sede used in his book the Gold of Rennes.” (56) The parchment, with the writing saying it is a fake is also shown in the 2004 documentary The Real Da Vinci Code (57).

Philippe de Cherisey has also said that he told Henry Lincoln that the Secret Dossiers were fakes (58).

Thus, even before The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail was published, the authors should have at least been suspicious about the Priory of Sion and the coded parchments. At worst, they knew it was all a hoax, but published it anyway. (59)

A split developed between Plantard and Chaumeil presumably because Chaumeil knew the Priory of Sion, which was now receiving so much publicity after the publication of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, was a hoax, and also because Chaumeil had become aware of Plantard’s criminal record which he began to publicise. (60)

In July 1984, apparently as a result of Chaumeil’s activity, Plantard announced that he had resigned as Grand Master of the Priory of Sion for health reasons and the actions of “our English and American brethren” who most likely only existed in Plantard’s imagination. In The Messianic Legacy, Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln add, “And there was one other motive which, he stated, contributed to his decision – namely, the publication, ‘in the press, in books and in duplicated pamphlets deposited in the Bibliotheque Nationale’ of various ‘false or falsified documents’ pertaining to him.” (61) Plantard appeared to be saying that the Secret Dossiers were forgeries.

After Plantard resigned, the Priory of Sion disappeared. (62)

Philippe de Cherisey died in 1985. The Templar Revelation reports that in 1984 de Cherisey again said that he had faked the coded parchments (63). He had also written an unpublished manuscript called Stone and Paper in which he explained how he faked them (64).

In 1988 Gerard de Sede also said that de Cherisey had faked the parchments and claimed that he had known it when he wrote The Gold of Rennes in 1967 (65).

Although Dan Brown claims that the Secret Dossiers “had been authenticated by many specialists” (66), both Plantard and de Cherisey have acknowledged that they forged the Secret Dossiers and the coded parchments.

Even Lynn Picknett, one of The Da Vinci Code‘s main sources, now believes they are fakes. In her 2003 book, Mary Magdalene, Christianity’s Hidden Goddess, she wrote,

“Unfortunately, it is extremely unlikely that Sauniere was a member of the Priory of Sion, or even its hapless tool, for research shows that the organisation has only existed since the 1950s. And the coded parchments that the priest was believed to have found were, it has been revealed, fabricated by two of its founders. Indeed, the Priory as a whole seems to have a penchant for fakery and elaborate practical jokes, which even includes smuggling faked documents into the Bibliotheque Nationale in order to impress the likes of Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln.” (67)

Readers of The Da Vinci Code will not learn this, but in 1989 Plantard returned with a third version of the Priory of Sion, distancing himself from the earlier versions and the Merovingians. This time he said the Priory of Sion had been founded in 1681, not 1099, and he made the strange claim that the Priory’s secret was a black rock of immense energy (68). He repeated his earlier statement that the coded parchments had been forged by Philippe de Cherisey (69).

Plantard produced a new list of the Priory’s supposed Grand Masters. One of these was Roger-Patrice Pelat who was a friend of French President Francois Mitterand.

In 1993 Pelat was involved in an insider trading scandal and committed suicide. Because there appeared to be a connection between Plantard and Pelat, Judge Thierry Jean-Pierre, who headed the inquiry into the scandal, ordered a search of Plantard’s house. The police found documents which said that Plantard was the true king of France. Plantard subsequently admitted that he made the whole thing up. The judge let him go with a severe warning. No one in France took the Priory of Sion seriously after that. Plantard died in Paris in 2000. (70)

It is interesting to see how the Rennes-le Chateau story grew. It started out with a priest trafficking in Masses. Noel Corbu added the coded parchments and lost treasure. Pierre Plantard added the Secret Dossiers, the Merovingians and the Priory of SIon. The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail added the descendants of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. The Woman with the Alabaster Jar added goddess worship, the sacred feminine and the hieros gamos.

Ten years before The Da Vinci Code was published, the Priory of Sion had been exposed as a hoax, yet Dan Brown still claims it is a real secret society. In fact, many people in the English speaking world still believe there is some secret to Rennes-le-Chateau or that the Priory of Sion is real. A documentary Did Jesus Die?, which was shown on the ABC’s Compass program on April 11, 2004, still claimed that Berenger Sauniere found coded parchments which made him rich (71). Two books published about The Da Vinci Code in 2004, Cracking the Da Vinci Code by Simon Cox and Da Vinci Decoded by Martin Lunn still claimed that the Priory of Sion was a real secret society and the Dossiers Secrets were authentic and said nothing about Pierre Plantard’s 1993 admissions (72).Their only excuse is that most of the research debunking the Rennes-le-Chateau story and the Priory of Sion is in French and has not been published in English. I read several books about the supposed bloodline of Jesus and Mary Magdalene during the 1990s and did not hear that Pierre Plantard had admitted the Priory of SIon was a hoax in 1993 until 2004.

Notes

(1) The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 21

(2) Ibid., p 342

(3) Ibid., p 345

(4) Ibid., p 280

(5) Ibid., p 15

(6) Ibid., p 172

(7) Ibid., p 409-410

(8) Ibid., p 342

(9) Ibid., p 345-346

(10) Jean-Jacques Bedu, “Rennes-le-Chateau – Autopsie d’un mythe (1990) pp 115-148”
http://priory-of-sion.com/bedu/autopsie.html

(11) Ibid.

(12) The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, op cit., p 30

(13) Bill Putnam and John Edwin Wood, The Treasure of Rennes-le-Chateau, Sutton Publishing, UK, 2003, p 16-17

(14) Ibid., p 10-13

(15) Ibid., p 92

(16) Ibid., p 9

(17) Ibid., p 16, Paul Smith, “Priory of Sion Parchments and Steven Mizrach”,
http://priory-of-sion.com/posd/parchments.html

(18) Paul Smith, “Pierre Plantard’s Letter to Marshall Petain dated 16 December 1940”,
http://priory-of-sion.com/psp/id175.html

(19) Paul Smith, “Police Report on Pierre Plantard dated 8 February 1941”, http://priory-of-sion.com/psp/id174.html

(20) Paul Smith, “Police Report on ‘French National Renewal’ dated 9 May 1941”, http://priory-of-sion.com/psp/id16.html

(21) Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln, The Messianic Legacy, Corgi Books, London, 1987, p 390

(22) Ibid., p 387-389

(23) Robert Richardson, “The Priory of Sion Fraud”, New Dawn, July-August, 2000, p 59

(24) Paul Smith, “Police Report on the Statutes of the Alpha Galates dated 13 February 1945”,
http://priory-of-sion.com/psp/id163.html

(25) Paul Smith, “The Real Historical Origin of the Priory of Sion”, http://priory-of-sion.com/psp/id43.html , Paul Smith, “Pierre Plantard’s Criminal Convictions – A Chronology”,
http://priory-of-sion.com/psp/convchron.html

(26) Paul Smith, “Priory of Sion Debunked”,
http://priory-of-sion.com/posd/posdebunking.html

(27) The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, op cit., p 210

(28) “Pierre Plantard’s Criminal Convictions – A Chronology”, op cit

(29) The Treasure of Rennes-le-Chateau, op cit., p 119, “Priory of Sion Parchments and Steven Mizrach”, op cit.

(30) The Treasure of Rennes-le-Chateau, op cit., p 117,119

(31) Ibid., p 118-122, “Priory of Sion Parchments and Steven Mizrach”, op cit.

(32) The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, op cit., p 26

(33) The Treasure of Rennes-le-Chateau, op cit., p 236-237

(34) Ibid., p 101-102, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, op cit., p 237-281

(35) The Treasure of Rennes-le-Chateau, op cit., p 77, “The Priory of Sion Fraud”, op cit., p 59

(36) The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 217

(37) The Real History Behind The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 95

(38) The Truth Behind The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 48, The Da Vinci Hoax, op cit., p 232-233

(39) The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 280

(40) Paul Smith, “Pierre Plantard Profile”,
http://priory-of-sion.com/psp/id84.html , Massimo Introvigne, “The Da Vinci Code FAQ, or Will the Real Priory of Sion Please Stand Up?”, http://www.censur.org/2005/mi_02_03d.htm

(41) The Treasure of Rennes-le-Chateau, op cit., p 120-121

(42) “Priory of Sion Parchments and Steven Mizrach”, op cit.

(43) The Treasure of Rennes-le-Chateau, op cit., p 123, “Priory of Sion Parchments and Steven Mizrach”, op cit.

(44) Patricia Briel, “Pierre Plantard, founder of the Priory of Sion, an oddball in search of royal descent”,
http://priory-of-sion.com/psp/id80.html, “Pierre Plantard Profile”, op cit.

(45) The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 342, 344-345

(46) Philippe de Cherisey, “Jesus Christ, his wife and the Merovingians”, http://priory-of-sion.com/psp/id152.html

(47) Cracking The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 73

(48) The Templar Revelation, op cit., p 197,215, 257, 341, 475

(49) Ibid., p 307

(50) Ibid., p 348, 398

(51) The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, op cit, p 94-95, 230

(52) Ibid., p 235-236

(53) The Messianic Legacy, op cit., p 301

(54) The Treasure of Rennes-le-Chateau, op cit., p 115

(55) Paul Smith, “Debunking the Mysteries of Rennes-le-Chateau”,
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-newns/1033438/posts.

(56) The Treasure of Rennes-le-Chateau, op cit., p 124

(57) The Real Da Vinci Code, op cit.

(58) “The Da Vinci Code FAQ, or Will the Real Priory of Sion Please Stand Up?”, op cit.

(59) Ibid.

(60) “Pierre Plantard Profile”, op cit., “Priory of Sion Debunked”, op cit.

(61) The Messianic Legacy, op cit., p 371

(62) Ibid, p 378

(63) The Templar Revelation, op cit., p 25

(64) Jean-Luc Chaumeil, “The Message of a Sacred Enigma”, http://priory-of-sion.com/psp/id27.html

(65) “The Da Vinci Code FAQ, or Will the Real Priory of Sion Please Stand Up?”, op cit.

(66) The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 280

(67) Mary Magdalene, op cit., p 110

(68) Paul Smith, “The Secret of the Priory of Sion”,
http://priory-of-sion.com/psp/id136.html

Paul Smith, “The 1989 Plantard Comeback”,
http://priory-of-sion.com/psp/id60.html

(69) Noel Pinot, “An Interview with Pierre Plantard de Saint-Clair”, http://priory-of-sion.com/psp/id132.html

(70) Paul Smith, “Pierre Plantard, Judge Thierry Jean-Pierre and the End of the Priory of Sion in 1993”,
http://priory-of-sion.com/psp/id70.html

(71) Did Jesus Die?, ABC Video, 2004

(72) Cracking The Da Vinci Code, op cit, p 49-51, 130-133, Martin Lunn, Da Vinci Decoded, Disinformation, New York, 2004, p 23-47

(5) The Art of Leonardo da Vinci

Dan Brown does more than simply get Leonardo’s name wrong. The Da Vinci Code makes several false claims about Leonardo and his art.

He says that “Da Vinci has always been an awkward subject for historians, especially in the Christian tradition.” (1) Judging by the approximately 5000 books which have been published on Leonardo, he is only “an awkward subject for historians” in Brown’s imagination. (2)

Brown writes that Leonardo produced “an enormous output of breathtaking Christian art” and accepted “hundreds of lucrative Vatican commissions” (3). In fact, there are only seventeen paintings by Leonardo and four of these were not finished. He only accepted one commission from the Vatican (4).

He writes that “Leonardo was a well-documented devotee of the ancient ways of the goddess.” (5) There is no such documentation. Leonardo’s notebooks do not say he believed in the “goddess”, but suggest he was an agnostic or atheist (6). Other historians have suggested that while Leonardo was clearly critical of some practices of the Catholic Church, he may have been nominally Christian or simply believed in a Creator God (7). Smart as Leonardo was, I doubt he, or anyone else during the Renaissance, would have understood what the New Age feminist term “goddess” meant.

In a newspaper article “Breaking the Code” Hillel Italie refers to books debunking The Da Vinci Code as “anti-Da Vinci books” (8). This is misleading, not simply because such books are not anti-Leonardo (get his name right), but also because there is no evidence Leonardo believed Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married, so he would not have hinted at it in his art. There is no “Da Vinci Code”.

Dan Brown apparently believes Leonardo was a goddess worshipper and believed Jesus was married because he believes Leonardo was a Grand Master of the Priory of Sion. As we have seen, when Pierre Plantard invented the Priory of Sion, he came up with a list of its Grand Masters largely by copying it from a list of the supposed Rosicrucian Grand Masters. This list included Leonardo da Vinci, however Leonardo was not a Rosicrucian either, because the Rosicrucians first appeared in 1614 and Leonardo died in 1519. In 1982 the authors of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail made up the idea that the Priory of Sion believed Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and had descendants. Readers, who believed the book, would have assumed that Leonardo, being a Grand Master of the Priory, believed Jesus was married. Other books, like The Templar Revelation and The Woman with the Alabaster Jar, added their own ideas about goddess worship and the sacred feminine. So, Dan Brown assumed that Leonardo was a Priory Grand Master who, as well as believing Jesus was married, was a goddess worshipper and believer in the sacred feminine, and he described him as such in The Da Vinci Code. Brown’s claims about Leonardo’s art have been taken largely from The Templar Revelation, especially the first chapter entitled, “The Secret Code of Leonardo da Vinci” (9). Its authors believed Leonardo was a Priory Grand Master, so he must have had heretical beliefs about Jesus and goddess worship, so they projected these ideas into his art.

There is no historical evidence Leonardo believed any of this. It all started with Pierre Plantard claiming to be a descendant of the Merovingians and his fake list of Grand Masters.

The Last Supper

In discussing The Last Supper, Brown has Teabing say, “Our preconceived notions of this scene are so powerful that our mind blocks out the incongruity and overrides our eyes.” (10) In fact, it looks like Brown is trying to plant his own “preconceived notions” in his readers’ minds, so they will hopefully now interpret Leonardo’s paintings in a way they would have never considered without reading The Da Vinci Code.

leonardo

Brown claims that in Leonardo’s The Last Supper, the figure between Peter and Jesus, which is believed to be the Apostle John, is actually a woman, Mary Magdalene (11). It is true that the figure to Jesus’ right does look somewhat feminine, although Brown’s “hint of a bosom” (12) is actually caused by a crack in the wall (13).

However, we know this person is a man because Leonardo said it is a man. Leonardo’s notes, which he made planning The Last Supper, still exist. He wrote about Peter and John, “Another speaks in the ear of his neighbour, and he who listens turns towards him and gives him his ear.” (14)

Brown has Teabing say, “Believe me, it’s no mistake. Leonardo was skilled at painting the difference between the sexes.” (15) This is a rather silly statement if you think about it. Any artist, who is not skilled enough that viewers cannot tell if he has painted a man or a woman, should get another job. It is also not applicable to Leonardo. The subjects of his paintings were sometimes sexually ambiguous. When I first saw Leonardo’s St John the Baptist, I thought the curly haired, smooth faced figure was a woman until I noticed the hairy chest. Likewise, anyone looking at the angel Uriel in Virgin of the Rocks would think it was female unless they knew Uriel was male.

john_baptist

davinci code_0009

davinci code_0008

Dan Brown says Leonardo was “a flamboyant homosexual” (16). This is an exaggeration. He was accused of sodomy and probably was gay, but he was hardly “flamboyant” (17). Leonardo’s suspected homosexuality is a more likely explanation for the effeminate-looking young man in The Last Supper and other paintings, not that it is really a woman, let alone Mary Magdalene.

Rather than being “skilled at painting the difference between the sexes”, in some case, the only way to tell if the figure in Leonardo’s paintings is a man or woman, like the angel in the Virgin of the Rocks, is to know who it is supposed to be. The Last Supper portrays the scene after Jesus has just told his disciples one of them would betray him. The Gospel of John records,

“When Jesus had said these things, He was troubled in spirit, and testified and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.” Then the disciples looked at one another, perplexed about whom He spoke. Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask who it was of whom He spoke. Then, leaning back on Jesus’ breast, he said to Him, “Lord, who is it?” “(John 13: 21-25

We can tell from this passage that the Apostle John, who wrote it (John 21: 20, 24), was sitting next to Jesus with Peter apparently on John’s other side. If Dan Brown is right and the figure is Mary Magdalene, then where is John? The Last Supper shows the scene in verse 24 where Peter has motioned to John to ask him to ask Jesus who will betray him. John has leaned over from Jesus to Peter who is asking him.

leonardo-supper-detail-left

While Brown claims that “The Last Supper practically shouts at the viewer that Jesus and Magdalene were a pair” and “Jesus and His Bride appear to be joined at the hip” (18), Lynn Picknett interpreted the painting very differently. She argued that “Mary” leaning away from Jesus reveals a rift between them over Jesus’ supposed role in the death of John the Baptist (19). John is simply leaning over to Peter so he can ask him to ask Jesus who will betray him. Clearly, these writers are just reading their own theories into the painting and claiming it says whatever they want it to say.

Dan Brown claims The Last Supper reveals Peter’s hostility to Mary Magdalene who Jesus wanted to be the head of the Church instead;

“You can see that Da Vinci was well aware of how Peter felt about Mary Magdalene… In the painting Jesus was leaning menacingly towards Mary Magdalene and slicing his blade-like hand across her neck. The same menacing gesture as in Madonna of the Rocks!” (20)

In fact, Peter has placed his hand on John’s shoulder while asking him to ask Jesus who will betray him. Judging by John’s peaceful expression and the way he is leaning towards Peter, John did not find Peter’s hand at all “menacing”.

Earlier, Dan Brown described the Madonna of the Rocks, better known as the Virgin of the Rocks,

“The painting showed a blue-robed Virgin Mary sitting with her arm around an infant, presumably Baby Jesus. Opposite Mary sat Uriel, also with an infant, presumably baby John the Baptist. Oddly, though, rather than the usual Jesus-blessing-John scenario, it was baby John who was blessing Jesus …. and Jesus was submitting to his authority! More troubling still, Mary was holding one hand high above the head of the infant John and making a decidedly threatening gesture – her fingers looking like eagle’s talons. Finally, the most obvious and frightening image: Just below Mary’s curled fingers, Uriel was making a cutting gesture with his hand – as if slicing the neck of the invisible head gripped by Mary’s claw-like hand.” (21)

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Brown’s suggestion that there is something suspicious or heretical about the baby John the Baptist blessing Jesus is a result of his getting the babies mixed up. The baby John is not blessing Jesus, but as Brown said it should be, the baby Jesus is blessing John (22). Admittedly, the babies do look alike, but in the second version of this painting, the baby John is holding his John the Baptist staff to clearly identify him.

davinci code_0013

The “most obvious and frightening image” of Uriel “making a cutting gesture with his hand” is simply Uriel pointing to John the Baptist with his index finger. It is nothing like Peter’s whole hand resting on the Apostle John’s shoulder in The Last Supper, although Brown claims they are “the same menacing gesture.”(23)

davinci code_0008

leonardo-supper-detail-left

Brown’s main source for his claims about Leonardo’s art, The Templar Revelation, suggests that a raised index finger in Leonardo’s art is the “John gesture” and symbolizes John the Baptist, as in his painting St John the Baptist (24). Thus, when Uriel is pointing at the baby John the Baptist, it is simply a horizontal version of the “John gesture” identifying the baby.

None of the hand gestures, which Brown describes in Leonardo’s art, are menacing or threatening. Brown is trying to persuade his readers there is something sinister in these paintings when there is none, or maybe he has a phobia about hand gestures and regards them all as threatening.

The Mona Lisa

davinci code_0014

Brown claims there is a “hidden message” in the Mona Lisa and it is “in fact, one of the world’s most documented inside jokes. The painting’s well-documented collage of playful allusions had been revealed in most art history tomes, and yet, incredibly, the public at large still considered her smile a great mystery.” (25) According to Dan Brown, the Mona Lisa is supposed to be a self-portrait of Leonardo in drag (26). A poster advertising The Da Vinci Code consists of a picture of the Mona Lisa with the caption, “Why is this man smiling?” The Mona Lisa must be the most looked at painting ever. How many of the millions, who have seen it, though they were looking at a man? Actually, it looks like more like Dan Brown with a wig and dress on than Leonardo.

Lillian Schwartz, a computer graphics expert, first suggested that the Mona Lisa was Leonardo in 1987 when she noticed the similarity in the positioning of the facial features with a self-portrait of Leonardo. The simple explanation for these similarities is that Leonardo used the same art principles of proportion, known as the Golden Rectangle, in both pictures (27).

No art expert or historian believes the Mona Lisa is a man. “Most art tomes” do not reveal “the painting’s well-documented collage of playful allusions.” Like his claim that historians have written books, saying Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married, Brown is again passing off the opinions of unqualified lay people and esoteric writers as those of academic experts.

There is no mystery about who the Mona Lisa is. Art historians believe it is a portrait of Lisa del Gherhardini, wife of Francesco del Giocondo, a Florentine merchant who commissioned the painting. “Mona” is a contraction of “Madonna” meaning “Madame”. In Italy the painting is still called La Gioconda. (28)

Furthermore, there are several paintings, The Naked Giocondo or Mona Lisa Nude, by Leonardo’s students which may be copies of a lost original. They appear  to be of the same woman, Lisa del Giocondo, but she is topless, has breasts, and is definitely not Leonardo or any other man in drag.

nude_gioconda

Brown also claims the name Mona Lisa is an anagram of AMON L’ISA, the Egyptian god Amon and goddess Isis “whose ancient pictogram was once called L’ISA” so the name is “an anagram of the divine union of male and female” (29).

However, Europeans did not learn to read Egyptian hieroglyphics until the Nineteenth Century, so Leonardo did not know what the ancient pictogram for Isis was. Another anagram of Mona Lisa is “no salami’, so we should not read too much into the meaning of anagrams.

Brown’s theory that the name Mona Lisa reveals Leonardo’s interest in “the divine union of male and female” cannot be true, because Leonardo never called it the Mona Lisa. He never named any of his paintings. It was given the name Mona Lisa by Giorgio Vasiri in 1550, 31 years after Leonardo’s death (30)

Notes

(1) The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 72

(2) The Da Vinci Hoax, op cit., p 245

(3) The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 72

(4) The Da Vinci Hoax, op cit., p 246

(5) The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 135

(6) Douglas Mannering, The Art of Leonardo da Vinci, Optimum Books, London, 1981, p 40

(7) The Real History Behind The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 58-59, The Truth Behind The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 64-65

(8) Hillel Italie, “Breaking the Code”, The Sunday Examiner, March 20, 2005, p B5

(9) The Templar Revelation, op cit., p 21-42

(10) The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 328

(11) Ibid., p 327-328

(12) Ibid., p 327

(13) Laurence Gardner, The Magdalene Legacy, Harper Collins, London, 2005, p 263

(14) Edward MacCurdy, The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, George Brazilller, New York, 1939, p 1015

(15) The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 327

(16) Ibid., p 72

(17) Charles Nicholl, Leonardo da Vinci, The Flights of the Mind, Penguin, London, 2004, p 115-124

(18) The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 329

(19) Mary Magdalene, op cit., p 234

(20) The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 334

(21) Ibid., p 191

(22) The Da Vinci Hoax, op cit., p 254-255

(23) The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 334

(24) The Templar Revelation, op cit, p 31

(25) The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 165

(26) Ibid., p 167

(27) The Magdalene Legacy, op cit., p 239-240

(28) The Art of Leonardo da Vinci, op cit., p 52, The Da Vinci Hoax, op cit., p 260-261, The Real History Behind The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 173

(29) The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 168

(30) The Truth Behind The Da Vinci Code,
op cit., p 67

Conclusion

The chain of evidence in The Da Vinci Code and The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail is a chain of broken links.

There is no historical evidence Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and had a child.

The only evidence Mary Magdalene went to France are legends which originated over 1000 years after it was supposed to have happened and do not mention any child of Mary called Sarah.

There is no historical evidence that her descendants, which no evidence says existed, married into the Merovingians.

There is no genealogical link between the Merovingians and Godefroi de Bouillon and Pierre Plantard because the supposed link Sigisbert IV never existed.

The Priory of Sion is a modern invention, not a 1000 year old secret society, and did not believe Jesus was married and had descendants, and did not believe in the sacred feminine and goddess worship. Leonardo da Vinci could not have been one of its Grand Masters.

Dan Brown has admitted one of the goals of his novel is to promote his religious ideas about the sacred feminine. In The Da Vinci Code, he writes, “Sophie, every faith in the world is based on fabrication. That is the definition of faith – acceptance of that which we imagine to be true, that which we cannot prove.” (1) This definition definitely applies to the beliefs in The Da Vinci Code.

Notes

(1) The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 451

 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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The Da Vinci Code Deception Part Two

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-magdalen-in-a-landscape

(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-Magdalene1

 (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.

St. Mary of Egypt

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

1

(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

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.

Sang Real.

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.

montypython

(Sorry, I don’t know how this got in here.)

Notes

(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.

Notes

(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

(19) Ibid.

(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

(24) http://www.tektonics.org/copycat/copycathub.html

(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”,
http://www.tektonics.org/copycat/mithra.html

(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

 

The Da Vinci Code Deception Part One

(I wrote this in 2005)
Introduction – The Da Vinci Code Phenomenon

 davinci code

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown has been one of the biggest selling novels of 2003-5. At the time I am writing this there are plans to make it into a movie starring Tom Hanks. The book continues the adventures of Robert Langdon, hero of Dan Brown’s previous book, Angels and Demons, and Professor of Religious Symbology at Harvard University. This time Langdon is accused of murdering Jacques Sauniere, curator of the Lourve Museum in Paris, and goes on the run with Sauniere’s granddaughter Sophie Neveu. In the process of being chased around Paris and London, Sophie meets Leigh Teabing, a British Royal Historian, and learns that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and had descendants who married into the Merovingian kings of Dark Age France. She also learns that her grandfather was the Grand Master of a secret society the Priory of Sion, whose purpose was to preserve the secret of Jesus’ marriage, the location of Mary Magdalene’s tomb and the identity of their descendants and that the Holy Grail symbolizes Mary Magdalene and her descendants.

da vinci code movie

The Da Vinci Code is not the first work of fiction about a sexual relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Earlier examples included Niklos Kazantzali’s novel The Last Temptation of Christ and the musical Jesus Christ Superstar. However, The Da Vinci Code is different in that Dan Brown believes what he has written about Jesus and Mary Magdalene is true. In an interview with the ABC’s Good Morning America program on November 3, 2003, the interviewer asked Brown, “This is a novel. If you were writing it as a non-fiction book… how would it have been different?” Brown replied,

“I don’t think it would have. I began the research for The Da Vinci Code as a sceptic. I entirely expected, as I researched the book, to disprove this theory. And after numerous trips to Europe, about two years of research, I really became a believer. And it’s important to remember that this is a novel about a theory that has been out there for a long time.” (1)

It appears that Brown did not intend to simply write a thriller to entertain his readers, but rather a piece of propaganda for spreading his unusual ideas. Carl Olson and Sandra Miesel write in The Da Vinci Hoax,

“Brown apparently hopes The Da Vinci Code will be more than just a best seller; he wants to radically change perceptions of history, religion and Western civilization. Asked if the novel might be considered controversial, Brown again asserts his desire to promote the “sacred feminine” and to challenge commonly accepted understandings of Western culture and Christianity: “As I mentioned earlier, the secret I reveal is one that has been whispered for centuries. It is not my own. Admittedly, this may be the first time the secret has been unveiled within the format of a popular thriller, but the information is anything but new. The Da Vinci Code, in addition to entertaining people, will serve as an open door to begin their own explorations.” (2)

da vinci hoax

Judging by the popularity of The Da Vinci Code, Brown has apparently succeeded in this. Others have even bigger hopes for The Da Vinci Code. In an article “The Da Vinci Code Hype: An Arcadian Zeitgeist”, Tracy Twyman has written,

“Despite whatever shortcomings there may be, The Da Vinci Code and the hype surrounding it have done in months what the “Grail community” has been trying to do for the last twenty years: it has captured the attention of the public at large, and in the process has set in motion what will eventually result in a complete rethinking of the Western world’s predominant religious, philosophical and historical beliefs. The Priory has always said that they would reveal their secrets “when the time is right”. Perhaps, as is indicated in the novel, that time has come. Perhaps the Priory of Sion is partially responsible in some way for the success of this book. ………..

Once the public is satisfactorily “softened up”, it will be time for the unveiling of the treasures – the true Grail…. I have no doubt that whatever it is, it will be of immense importance, and will change the hearts and minds of people the world over. At that time, the institution of a global government and church, shepherded by the descendants of Christ and the Grail blood, will no doubt occur.……..

[T]he amount of rapid change in public consciousness that has occurred since The Da Vinci Code came out has been staggering. For my part, I feel like I am living in a somewhat different world than that which existed prior to the publication of that book. The possibility of a paradigm shift within our own lifetimes seems much more likely now than it did before. And for that, Mr. Brown, I am grateful.” (3)

As we shall see, anyone, who is looking forward to the Priory of Sion and the descendants of Jesus ruling the world, is going to be waiting a long time.

In April 2005 Time magazine named Dan Brown as one of the 100 most influential people of the year (4). Much of the book’s appeal can be attributed to the claim that it is based on fact. Its preface claims, “All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents and sacred rituals in this novel are accurate.” (5) Many of its readers have got the impression that The  Da Vinci Code is well-researched and full of interesting and little known facts which Brown has built his story around. It appears they are taking the book’s claims about Jesus, Mary Magdalene and the Holy Grail seriously. The truth is that, instead of being factual and accurate, The Da Vinci Code is appallingly inaccurate and full of errors, as the following examples show.

Da Vinci’s Real Name

Leonardo-da-Vinci

For a start, even the title of the book is technically a mistake. In The Da Vinci Code, Brown refers to Leonardo da Vinci as “Da Vinci” as though it were his last name;

“Nobody understood better than Da Vinci the divine structure of the human body.” (6)

“Even so, many art historians suspected Da Vinci’s reverence for the Mona Lisa had nothing to do with its artistic mastery.” (7)

Leonardo came from the town of Vinci in northern Italy. “Leonardo da Vinci” means “Leonardo of Vinci” or “from Vinci”. Art historians usually just call him Leonardo. Brown does not seem to know this which makes one wonder how much he really knows about Leonardo and his art.

The Louvre

Brown writes that the glass pyramid at the Louvre Museum “at President Mitterrand’s explicit demand had been constructed of exactly 666 panes of glass – a bizarre request that had been a hot topic among conspiracy buffs who claimed 666 was the number of Satan.” (8)

The Louvre pyramid has 673 panes of glass. (9)

Brown further writes that the security cameras in the Louvre are not real (10). They are (11), so if you are planning on robbing the Louvre, do not rely on The Da Vinci Code.

Jacques Sauniere, curator of the Louvre, is seventy six years old (12), but the compulsory retirement age in France is sixty five (13).

The founding of Paris

Sophie Neveu says, “The Merovingians founded Paris.” (14)

The Merovingians were kings of what is now France from 476 to 750. Paris was originally the village of a Celtic tribe called the Parisii. In 52 BC the Romans established a town there called Lutetia which was renamed Paris around 300.

Tarot cards

Brown writes that there are 22 cards in a tarot card deck (15) and “Originally, Tarot had been devised as a secret means to pass along ideologies banned by the Church. Now, Tarot’s mystical qualities were passed on by modern fortune-tellers.” (16)

There are 78 Tarot cards in a deck, not 22. They were originally used to play a game similar to Bridge. “Tarot” comes from “tarroco”, Italian for “trump”. Tarot cards were not given any mystical or occult meaning until the eighteenth century (17).

The banning of The Last Temptation of Christ

Brown also writes that “the French government, under pressure from priests, had agreed to ban an American film called The Last Temptation of Christ which was about Jesus having sex with a lady called Mary Magdalene.” (18

The Last Temptation of Christ was released in 1988. It was banned in Chile and (for some reason) Israel, but not France (19)

The origin of the word YHWH

One of Brown’s bizarre claims is when he writes,

“The Jewish Tetragrammaton YHWH – the sacred name of God – in fact derived from Jehovah, an androgynous physical union between the masculine Jah and the pre-Hebraic name foe Eve, Havah. “ (20)

YHWH is not derived from Jehovah, rather Jehovah is derived from YHWH. The original Hebrew name for God was represented by YHWH. Around 1500 A.D. Jews inserted the vowels from the Hebrew word adonai (Lord). YaHoWaH was Latinized into Jehovah. It had nothing to do with any union of the masculine Jah and the feminine Havah. Jah is not even Hebrew. Brown presumably meant Yah. (21)

Witch hunting

Brown makes some unhistorical claims about the witch hunting period,

“The Catholic Inquisition published the book that arguably could be called the most blood- soaked publication in human history. Malleus Maleficarum – or The Witches’ Hammer indoctrinated the world to ‘the dangers of freethinking women’ and instructed the clergy how to locate, torture and destroy them. Those deemed ‘witches’ by the Church included all female scholars, priestesses, gypsies, mystics, nature lovers, herb gatherers and any women ‘suspiciously attuned to the natural world’. Midwives were also killed for their heretical practice of using medical knowledge to ease the pain of childbirth – a suffering, the Church claimed, that was God’s rightful punishment for Eve’s partaking of the Apple of Knowledge, thus giving birth to the idea of Original Sin. During three hundred years of witch hunts, the Church burned at the stake an astounding five million women.” (22)

The witch hunting period lasted about 400 years from 1400 to 1800, not 300 years, as Brown says. There is no historical evidence to support Brown’s claim of five million women burned at the stake. Instead of five million, no more than 100,000 people were executed for witchcraft over 400 years. There were most likely between 40 to 50,000 victims. 20-25% of them were men and not all of them were burned (23).

The Malleus Maleficarum was not originally approved by the Catholic Church. The majority of the sentences for witchcraft were handed down by secular, not Church, courts (24). The quote “the dangers of freethinking women” does not appear in the Malleus Maleficarum as Brown implies. He appears to have made it up (25).

All female scholars, midwives and herb gatherers were not “deemed witches” and were not in danger of being burned. I have no idea what Brown means by “priestesses” during this period.

And the Bible does not say Eve ate an apple.

Chronology mistakes

Brown makes some basic mistakes of chronology and addition. He writes that the Priory of Sion’s “history spanned more than a millennium”, but a few lines later he writes that it “was founded in Jerusalem in 1099”. (26) He also writes that in 325 A.D. “Constantine upgraded Jesus’ status almost four centuries after Jesus’ death” (27). 292 years is hardly “almost four centuries”.

In an article “Dismantling The Da Vinci Code”, Sandra Miessel has commented,


“So error-laden is The Da Vinci Code that the educated reader actually applauds those rare occasions where Brown stumbles (despite himself) into the truth.” (28)

Likewise, Paul Meier has written in The Da Vinci Code: Fact or Fiction?,

“Detailing all of the errors, misrepresentations, deceptions, distortions and outright falsehoods in The Da Vinci Code makes one wonder whether Brown’s manuscript ever underwent editorial scrutiny or fact checking” (29)

It would be an exaggeration to say one would have a better chance of finding the Holy Grail than finding an accurate statement in The Da Vinci Code, but not much of one

Several books have already been written about the errors in The Da Vinci Code. Novel writers often make mistakes or embellish the facts to make a better story. Normally, no one bothers to write books exposing them. However, Dan Brown sets himself up for such thorough critiques by claiming that all the details and controversial ideas in his book are true and accurate.

Brown made a similar claim about the accuracy of his first Robert Langdon novel Angels and Demons (30). It is also full of errors (31).

This article will not focus on every mistake in The Da Vinci Code. Rather, it will address five main issues which the novel raises;

 Were Jesus and Mary Magdalene married?

Mary Magdalene and the Catholic Church;

The origins of the New Testament and the divinity of Jesus;

The Priory of Sion and The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail;

The art of Leonardo da Vinci.

Notes

  1. Hank Hanegraaff and Paul L. Meier, The Da Vinci Code: Fact or Fiction?, Tyndale House, Illinois, 2004, p 71
  2. Carl E. Olson and Sandra Miesel, The Da Vinci Hoax, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 2004, p 28-29
  3. Tracy Twyman, “The Da Vinci Code Hype: An Arcadian Zeitgeist”, http://www.dragonkeypress.com/articles/article_2004_10_25_4042.html
  4. Time, 18 April, 2005, p 104
  5. Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code, Corgi Books, London, 2003 p 15
  6. Ibid., p 133
  7. Ibid., p 165
  8. Ibid., p 40
  9. Sharan Newman, The Real History Behind The Da Vinci
    Code, Penguin, Victoria, 2004, p 225

               (10)The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 45-46

(11)Dan Burstein (editor), Secrets of the Code, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 2004, p 259

(12)The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 17

(13) Gordon Rutter, “Da Vinci decoded”, Fortean Times, February 2005, p 34

(14)The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 345

(15) Ibid., p 129

(16) Ibid., p 130

(17) The Real History Behind The Da Vinci Code, op cit., 275-277

(18) The Da Vinci Code, op cit. p 332

(19) Secrets of the Code, op cit., p 277

(20) The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 411

(21) Richard Abanes, The Truth Behind The Da Vinci Code, Harvest House, Oregon, 2004, p 19

(22) The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 173

(23) Simon Cox, Cracking The Da Vinci Code, Harper Collins, Sydney, 2004, p 66

(24) Ibid., p 65

(25) The Truth Behind The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 35

(26) The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 217

(27) Ibid., p 314, 316

(28)Sandra Miesel, “Dismantling The Da Vinci Code”, http://www.crisismagazine.com/september2003/feature1.htm

(29) The Da Vinci Code: Fact or Fiction?, op cit., p 28

(30) Dan Brown, Angels and Demons, Corgi Books, London, 2001, p 11

(31) Dan Burstein and Arne de Keijzer (editors), Secrets of Angels and Demons, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 2005, p 214-274, 336-356

(1) Were Jesus and Mary Magdalene married?

The most controversial part of The Da Vinci Code is its claim that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married. The character Leigh Teabing says that “the marriage of Jesus and Mary Magdalene is part of the historical record” (1) and “I shan’t bore you with the countless references to Jesus and Magdalene’s union. That has been explored ad nauseum by modern historians.” (2) and “The royal bloodline of Jesus Christ has been chronicled in exhaustive detail by scores of historians.” (3)

Although there was “a row of several dozen books” in Teabing’s library about their supposed marriage, Brown only mentions four titles – The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln, The Templar Revelation by Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince, and The Woman with the Alabaster Jar and The Goddess in the Gospels by Margaret Starbird. (4)

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These books are real, but Brown misleads his readers by suggesting that these writers, who say Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married, are historians. None of them are historians. None of them have postgraduate qualifications in history, nor teach in university history departments. Their books are not published by academic publishers. They could more accurately be described as esoteric writers. Their books can be found in the New Age section of a bookshop, not the history section. Lynn Picknett’s other books include The Mammoth Book of UFOs, The Encyclopaedia of the Paranormal, The Loch Ness Monster, The Secret History of Lucifer and The Stargate Conspiracy, subtitled Revealing the truth behind extraterrestrial contact, military intelligence and the mysteries of ancient Egypt.

In spite of the impression readers of The Da Vinci Code would get, I doubt if there is a historian in a university anywhere in the world who takes The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail seriously or thinks the Priory of Sion exists. The characters of Robert Langdon and Leigh Teabing, who are academics and believe such things, are not credible characters. They are about as realistic as a novel about an astronomer who believes in astrology. Leigh Teabing would be a lot more believable if, instead of being a “British Royal Historian”, he were an aging hippie with a crystal around his neck and books about UFOs on his shelves. Also, there is no such thing as a “British Royal Historian”, nor is there a professor of symbology at Harvard or any other university.

Furthermore, the authors of these books, which Brown cites, have said they either cannot prove or do not actually believe Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married. The authors of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail have written,

“Of course we couldn’t ‘prove’ our conclusions. As we repeatedly stressed in the book itself, we were simply posing a hypothesis. Had we been able to prove it, it wouldn’t have been a hypothesis, but a fact; and there would have been no controversy.” (5)

Likewise, in the 2004 documentary, The Real Da Vinci Code, Tony (Baldric) Robinson asked Michael Baigent, one of the co-authors of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, if there was any evidence Jesus and Mary Magdalene had a child. Baigent replied, “There’s none whatsoever.” (6)

Margaret Starbird has written,

“Of course, I cannot prove that the tenets of the Grail heresy are true – that Jesus was married or that Mary Magdalene was the mother of his child.” (7)

In the documentary Cracking The Da Vinci Code, Lynn Picknett, co-author of The Templar Revelation, says she does not even believe Jesus and Mary Magdalene were actually married. They only practiced the sacred marriage sex ritual. (8)

In spite of Dan Brown’s claims that “the marriage of Jesus and Mary Magdalene is part of the historical record” (9), the only evidence, which he presents through the character of Teabing, is a passage from the Gnostic Gospel of Philip,

“And the companion of the Saviour is Mary Magdalene. Christ loved her more than all the disciples and used to kiss her often on the mouth. The rest of the disciples were deeply offended by it and expressed disapproval. They said to him, ‘Why do you love her more than all of us?’ “ (10)

Teabing describes this passage as “always a good place to start”, implying that there is more evidence. In fact, it is the only piece of historical evidence which even slightly supports the marriage case and it turns out to be unconvincing. Teabing and Sophie are reading this passage from a book called The Gnostic Gospels which contains “photocopies of the Nag Hammadi and Dead Sea Scrolls”. Teabing calls them, “The earliest Christian records. Troublingly, they don’t match up with the gospels in the Bible.” (11) Neither the Dead Sea Scrolls nor the Nag Hammadi writings were the “earliest Christian records.” The Dead Sea Scrolls are believed to have been written by the Essenes, a Jewish sect, and have nothing to do with the early Christians. They also have nothing to do with Gnosticism and would not appear in a book called The Gnostic Gospels. The Nag Hammadi writings are Gnostic writings found in Egypt. They are not scrolls, but codices (books).Gnosticism, a pseudo-Christian heresy, emerged in the Second Century after the New Testament books had already been written, so the Gnostic writings cold not have been the “earliest Christian records”. (12)

This passage in the Gospel of Philip does not say Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married. None of the surviving Gnostic writings say Jesus and Mary were married or had sex. However, Teabing says, “As any Aramaic scholar will tell you, the word companion in those days, literally meant spouse.” (13)

Actually, any Aramaic scholar will tell you that the Gospel of Philip was not written in Aramaic, but was a Coptic (Egyptian) translation of an earlier Greek text. The word for “companion” in the original Greek text would have been koinonos. It is used in the New Testament;

“And so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners (koinonoi) with Simon” (Luke 5:10)

“If anyone inquiries about Titus, he is my partner (koinonos) and fellow worker concerning you.” (2 Corinthians 8:23)

“If then you count me as a partner (koinonos), receive him as you would me.” (Philemon 17)

Unless Teabing wants to argue that Paul was married to Titus and Philemon, it is clear from these passages that the word koinonos did not always mean “wife”. The usual Greek word for “wife” was gune. If the author of the Gospel of Philip meant that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married, he would have most likely used gune.

Admittedly, Jesus and Mary Magdalene kissing does sound suspicious, however this passage is damaged and incomplete. What the passage actually says is,

“And the companion of the […] Mary Magdalene. The […] her more than […] the disciples […] kiss her on her […] often than the rest of the […] They said to him, “Why do you love her more than all of us?” (14)

We cannot definitely tell where Jesus is supposed to have kissed Mary. It could have been on the hand or cheek. Brown has apparently misquoted the passage and left out the part where it says Jesus also kissed the other disciples, but not as much as Mary, which suggests it was not sexual.

Furthermore, Brown and the authors, which he cites, do not appear to understand the nature and purpose of the Gnostic writings. They seem to think the Gnostic gospels are describing actual historic events like the New Testament gospels were intended to do. None of the so-called Gnostic gospels are gospels in the same sense as the New Testament ones. They are not historical narratives of the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Peter Jones writes in The Gnostic Empire Strikes Back,

“In the Gospel of Thomas, as generally in the other Gnostic gospels, there is no interest in history. The so-called “living Jesus” is simply there, an ethereal figure in no place or time in particular, revealing 114 sayings (logia). All this comes down to saying that there is no interest in the specific person of the flesh-and-bones historical man, Jesus Christ. Even the expression of Paul, “that I might know him”, is a sentiment largely unknown in Gnostic literature. Christ is merely a symbol of full consciousness and self-knowledge.” (15)

The Gnostic gospels contain little, if any, narrative and consist largely of Gnostic teachings which are not the sort of thing which people of Jewish background like Jesus would have believed and said. Gnostics believed that the God of the Jews, who they called the Demiurge, was a false god. This material world, which he had created, was an evil mistake which had trapped humanity. They needed to escape from it through achieving gnosis (knowledge), which sounds like what would now be called enlightenment. According to the Gnostics, Jesus Christ was not the incarnation of the Creator God of the Old Testament as the New Testament states (John 1:1-3,14). Rather, he was a spiritual being, whose mission was not to die to save us from our sins (some Gnostics did not Jesus died at all), but to teach people and help them achieve gnosis. Then, they could also become a Christ (16).

It appears that the Gnostic writers were not describing historical events, but the results of their Gnostic experiences. Elaine Pagels has written in The Gnostic Gospels,

“Gnostic authors, in the same way, attributed their secret teachings to various disciples. Like those who wrote the New Testament gospels, they may have received some of their material from early traditions. But in other cases, the accusation that the gnostics invented what they wrote contains some truth: certain gnostics openly acknowledged that they derived their gnosis from their own experience.

How, for example, could a Christian living in the second century write the Secret Book of
John? We could imagine the author in the situation he attributes to John at the opening of the book: troubled by doubts, he begins to ponder the meaning of Jesus’ mission and destiny. In the process of such internal questioning, answers may occur spontaneously to the mind; changing patterns of images may appear. The person who understands this process not in terms of modern psychology, as the activity of the imagination or unconscious, but in religious terms, could experience these as forms of spiritual communication with Christ. Seeing his own communion with Christ as a continuation of what the disciples enjoyed, the author, when he casts the ‘dialogue’ into literary form, could well give to them the role of the questioners. Few among his contemporaries – except the orthodox, whom he considers ‘literal-minded’ – would accuse him of forgery; rather, the titles of these works indicate that they were written ‘in the spirit’ of John, Mary Magdalene, Philip or Peter.”
(17)

I doubt if any academic believes the Gospel of Philip was written by the apostle Philip and that he was describing things he had actually seen. Furthermore, it appears that the Gnostic authors did not intend for their writings to be taken literally. They were meant to convey Gnostic teaching by being interpreted metaphorically. Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy have written,

“After all, no one has read the newly discovered Gnostic gospels and taken their fantastic stories as literally true; they are readily seen as myths.” (18)

Whoever wrote the passage in the Gospel of Philip where Jesus kissed Mary Magdalene did not mean that Jesus really did kiss her. He meant it to be interpreted metaphorically. Esther de Boer has written in Mary Magdalene, Beyond the Myth,

“We must not understand this ‘kissing’ in a sexual sense, but in a spiritual sense. The grace which those who kiss exchange makes them born again. This is already described earlier in the Gospel:

If the children of Adam are numerous, although they die, how much more the children of the perfect man who do not die but are continually born anew … They receive nourishment from the promise, to enter into the place above. The promise comes from the mouth, for the Word has come from there and has been nourished from the mouth and become perfect. The perfect conceive through a kiss and give birth. Because of this we also kiss one another. We receive conception from the grace which we have among us (Gospel of Philip 58.2 – 59.6).

Mary Magdalene is made faithful through the grace which is in Christ. Receiving this grace makes her born again.” (19)

In an article “Mary Magdalen: Myth and Metaphor”, Susan Haskins has written,

“Erotic love has often been the vehicle to express mystical experiences, perhaps most notably in that great spiritual epithalamium, the Canticle of Canticles, or Song of Songs, which describes in the most sensual and voluptuous imagery what the rabbis were to read as an allegory of Yahweh’s love for Israel, and early Christian commentators to interpret as Christ’s love for the Church, for the Christian soul – sometimes in the person of Mary Magdalen – and for the Virgin Mary. In the Gospel of Philip, the spiritual union between Christ and Mary Magdalen is couched in terms of human sexuality; it is also a metaphor for the reunion of Christ and the Church which takes place in the bridal chamber, the place of fullness or pleroma.” (20)

Alternatively, Elaine Pagels has suggested that by exalting Mary Magdalene over the male disciples, this passage in the Gospel of Philip was written to justify the role of women in leadership in the Gnostic movement (21).

Brown’s argument from silence

In The Da Vinci Code, Langdon argues that because the Bible does not say that Jesus was not married, this means that he was married;

” ‘Because Jesus was a Jew,’ Langdon said taking over while Teabing searched for his book, ‘and the social decorum at 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 Bible’s gospels would have mentioned it and offered some explanation for His unnatural state of bachelorhood.’ “ (22)

This is an example of the logical fallacy of the argument from silence. It is the equivalent of saying that because Dan Brown has not said he is not a Martian, then he is a Martian. If the New Testament had said that Jesus was not married, Teabing would no doubt say that this passage was a forgery inserted by Constantine to suppress the truth, as he says about the New Testament passages about Jesus’ divinity.

Furthermore, the claim that celibacy was forbidden in Judaism is not true. In the Old Testament God told the prophet Jeremiah not to marry (Jeremiah 16: 1-2). During Jesus’ time Jewish sects like the Essenes and the Egyptian Therapeutae practiced celibacy. Some Gnostic groups were also celibate since they believed procreation would result in more souls being trapped in this evil material world. It may have been unusual for Jesus to be celibate, like it is for someone today, but it was not unheard of or forbidden.

When Jesus said, “And there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake” (Matthew 19:12), he is presumably justifying his decision to remain celibate because he did not want to be distracted from his mission on earth. From the beginning of his ministry Jesus was aware that he was going to die (John 2:19-21, 3:15-17). The New Testament condemns any man who will not provide for his family (1 Timothy 5:8). It would have been irresponsible and negligent of Jesus to marry and have children, knowing that he was going to die and would not be around to support them.

Since Mary Magdalene is identified by where she came from, Magdala in Galilee, this suggests that she was not married to Jesus or anyone else. Ben Witherington writes,

“In a culture where there were no last names, a geographical designation was one of the ways to distinguish people with the same first name, and it appears the geographical designation was regularly used of those who never married, especially women who could not use the patronymic (“son of…”;as in Simon bar-Jonah, which means “Simon, the son of John”). In the Greek New Testament, for example, in Luke 8: 1-3 Joanna is identified by the phrase “of Chuza”, which surely means “wife of Chuza”, but in the same list Mary is said to be “of Magdala” Had Mary of Magdala been married to Jesus, she would have been identified in the same way as Joanna, not with the geographical designation.” (23)

A child of Jesus and his divinity

Teabing claims that if Jesus did have children, this meant he could not be divine;

“A child of Jesus would undermine the crucial notion of Christ’s divinity and therefore the Christian Church,” (24)

“The early Church feared that if the lineage were permitted to grow, the secret of Jesus and Magdalene would eventually surface and challenge the fundamental Catholic doctrine – that of a divine Messiah who did not consort with women or engage in sexual union.” (25)

All sex is not sin. In theory, Jesus could have married and had children and still be the divine and sinless Son of God. He had other priorities. The Christian objection to Jesus being married is not that it would somehow mean he could not still be the Son of God, but rather that there is simply no evidence to suggest that he was.

Arguments from the sacred feminine

However, the belief that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had a sexual relationship is based not only on supposed historical evidence. They apparently want to believe it because it can be used to support their feminist beliefs about the sacred feminine and sacred marriage. History and theology are rewritten so that they fit these beliefs.

Two of Dan Brown’s main sources, Margaret Starbird and Lynn Picknett, both make the mistake of equating Mary Magdalene with Mary of Bethany, Lazarus’ sister, and think they were the same person (26). They clearly were not. Mary Magdalene came from Magdala in Galilee, while the other Mary lived at Bethany near Jerusalem. Building on this misidentification, they claim that when Mary of Bethany anointed Jesus before his arrest and crucifixion, this was part of the hieros gamos or sacred marriage ritual in which the priestess and the king had ritual sex.

James George Frazer’s book The Golden Bough says that some ancient cultures did have sacred marriage ceremonies which celebrated the marriage of the local god and goddess, but the humans representing the gods in the ceremony did not usually have sex. Sometimes, the god was represented by an idol, not a person. Frazer does not say that anointing was part of these rituals (27). The sacred marriage could not have been practiced in the monotheistic Jewish culture of the First Century where there was no goddess and there is nothing in the New Testament to suggest this is what the anointing meant here.

The original sacred marriage was a fertility rite to ensure the crops would grow, and was not the same as the sacred marriage described in The Da Vinci Code,

“Historically, intercourse was the act through which male and female experienced God. The ancients believed the male was spiritually incomplete until he had carnal knowledge of the sacred feminine. Physical union with the female remained the sole means through which man could become spiritually complete and ultimately achieve gnosis – knowledge of the divine. Since the days of Isis, sex rites had been considered man’s only bridge from earth to heaven.” (28)

“Intercourse was the revered union of the two halves of the human spirit – male and female – through which the male could find spiritual wholeness and communion with God.” (29)

In The Da Vinci Code Dan Brown is putting a new form of religious exclusivism as he describes this sex rite as the only way a man can experience God. All other religious practices apparently do not count. I assume this means impotent people miss out on experiencing God. In spite of The Da Vinci Code‘s feminist themes, Brown also says here that the sacred marriage is the way the man, not the man and the woman, can experience God. Rather than experience God herself, it sounds like the woman is only there to help the man experience God, something like the way the music or stained glass windows in a church are intended to encourage the spiritual experience. Maybe I’m just cynical, but the whole thing sounds like a ploy for men to get more sex.

Margaret Starbird goes further and seems to want to reinvent God and Christianity so that they fit her feminist beliefs. She writes that “the sacred union of Jesus and his Bride one formed the cornerstone of Christianity. It was this cornerstone – the blueprint of the Sacred Marriage – that the later builders rejected, causing a disastrous flaw in Christian doctrine that has warped Christian civilization for nearly two millennia. In reclaiming the lost Bride – the Goddess in the Gospels – we will restore a precious piece of our own psyches – the sacred feminine too long denied.” (30) Starbird also writes about the lost wife of God, that God is wounded because His wife is lost (31), as though the omnipotent creator of the universe could lose His wife because the Church does not want to believe in her.

Starbird’s book The Goddess in the Gospels contains some bizarre cases of her looking for signs to confirm her beliefs. She interprets the eruption of Mount Saint Helens in 1980 and the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle as symbols of what is going to happen to the Catholic Church because of its neglect of the sacred feminine (32). While in hospital after having a nervous breakdown brought on by her research, she saw a crutch resting against a potted palm plant and a lambskin jacket on a hook in the psychiatrist’s office. The crutch is interpreted as the wounded bridegroom Jesus without his bride, the palm symbolizes Israel and Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and the lambskin coat symbolizes the lamb of sacrifice (33). This looking for signs and symbolism to confirm her beliefs in everyday items does not strike me as particularly logical or rational. I wonder what Starbird would think if she realized that Monica Bellucci, who played Mary Magdalene in The Passion of the Christ, also played the wife of the Merovingian in The Matrix Reloaded.

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(Monica Bellucci as Mary Magdalene in The Passion of the Christ, 2004)

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(Lambert Wilson as The Merovingian and Monica Bellucci as his wife in The Matrix Revolutions 2003)

Dan Brown expresses similar sentiments in The Da Vinci Code,

“The days of the goddess were over. The pendulum had swung. Mother Earth had become a man’s world, and the gods of destruction of war were taking their toll. The male ego had spent two millennium running unchecked by its female counterpoint. The Priory of Sion believed that it was the obliteration of the sacred feminine in modern life that has caused what the Hopi Native American Indians called koyanisquatsi – ‘life out of balance’ – an unstable situation marked by testosterone-fuelled wars, a plethora of misogynistic societies and a growing disrespect for Mother Earth.” (34)

One would think that Brown believes the ancient world was living in harmony and there were no wars or sexism until the patriarchal Christians came along.

It is true that the Church’s attitude to women over the last 2000 years has not been perfect, however Terrence Sweeney, who wrote the foreword to Starbird’s The Woman with the Alabaster Jar says that the Catholic Church’s warped attitude to sex comes from copying Gnosticism and Manichaeanism (35). Brown is sympathetic to Gnosticism and cites (incorrectly) Gnostic writings to support his claims that Jesus was only mortal and married to Mary Magdalene, yet Gnosticism’s beliefs about sex and women appear to be partly responsible for the Catholic Church’s abuses which Brown and Starbird condemn.

Brown and Starbird apparently believe that the solution, resulting in wholeness, balance and equality, is to believe that Jesus was married and there is a God and Goddess, who are married, which sounds like Mormonism. (Lynn Picknett, co-author of The Templar Revelation used to be a Mormon (36). I wonder if that had any influence on her beliefs about Jesus and Mary Magdalene.) This assumption is flawed because the ancient Greeks and Romans believed in gods and goddesses, who had sex, but this did not result in equal rights for women and a balanced, benevolent society. The Greek and Roman myths about their gods were full of lust, rape, murder and revenge. They were more like characters in a television soap opera than holy beings who were worthy to be worshipped. Simply believing in gods, who have sex, does not produce a healthy society with equal rights for women, unless this belief is accompanied by moral beliefs which teach or imply such values as peace, love and human rights. Christianity did not believe that Jesus or God the Father had sex, but its values did result in greater rights for women, something which Brown and Starbird ignore. D. James Kennedy and Jerry Newcombe write in What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? ,

“Prior to Christian influence, a woman’s life was also very cheap. In ancient cultures, the wife was the property of her husband. In India, China, Rome and Greece, people felt and declared that women were not able or competent to be independent (although in Rome, particularly in the third century, some women of the upper class were asserting their independence). Aristotle said that a woman was somewhere between a free man and a slave. When we understand how valueless a slave was in ancient times, we get a glimpse of how bad a woman’s fate was back then. Plato taught that if a man led a cowardly life, he would be reincarnated as a woman. If she lived a cowardly life, she would be reincarnated as a bird.

In ancient Rome we find that a woman’s lot was not much better – for those who survived infancy. Little girls were abandoned in far greater numbers than boys. In Pagans and Christians, Robin Lane Fox points out that the killing of infant girls was so widespread it affected marriage customs.” (37)

Likewise, Vincent Carroll and David Shiflett wrote in Christianity on Trial,

“How much more inspiringly, in particular, the early Christian message must have been to women. To put it plainly, women enjoyed higher status and more autonomy among Christians than among pagans, and could expect better treatment from their husbands. Pagan Roman women were “three times as likely as Christians to have married before age 13” according to the sociologist Rodney Stark. Christian women also exercised far more choice in whom they wed, and were less likely to be forced into an abortion (a frequent cause of death for women at the time). The church expected men to remain faithful to their wives, a principle that cut sharply against the Roman norm. If widowed, Christian women enjoyed more freedom to choose for themselves whether to remarry, secure in the knowledge that the congregation would look after them if they elected to remain alone. “It is … an established fact, taken from simple evidence, that everywhere progress in free choice of a spouse accompanied progress in the spread of Christianity,” declares Regine Pernoud.

Women’s status in the church itself was unusually favourable for the times. Wayne Meeks notes that “Both in terms of their position in the larger society and in terms of their participation in the Christian communities … a number of women broke through the expectations of female roles.” Paul is often rebuked these days for his offhand acceptance of the fact of slavery and for his allegedly repressive views on the status of women. But in fact what distinguished Paul from his non-Christian contemporaries was not the patriarchal views he sometimes expressed, especially in the admonition “Wives, be subject to your husbands as to the Lord,” but rather his repeated emphasis on the obligations of husbands to wives. Thomas Cahill writes that in Paul we find “the only clarion affirmation of sexual equality in the whole of the Bible – and the first one to be made in any of the literatures of our planet.”” (38)

There is a bride of Christ in the Bible. It is not Mary Magdalene, but a metaphor for the Church (Ephesians 5:22-25, Revelation 19:7-8, 21:2, 9). True spiritual and emotional wholeness and harmony between the sexes comes through the real “sacred marriage”, that is, the union of the believer with God through faith in Christ in the present, rather than through believing that 2000 years ago Jesus and Mary Magdalene had sex and believing the ultimately futile Ally McBeal romantic notion that two incomplete people can become two whole people through a relationship with each other.

Notes

(1) The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 329

(2) Ibid., p 333

(3) Ibid., p 339

(4) Ibid., p 339-340

(5) Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, Arrow Books, 1996, p 8

(6) The Real Da Vinci Code, ABC DVD, 2004

(7) Margaret Starbird, The Woman with the Alabaster Jar, Bear and Co., Vermont, 1993, p xxi

(8) Cracking the Da Vinci Code, Ardustry Home Entertainment, 2004

(9)The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 330

(10) Ibid., p 331

(11) Ibid, p 331

(12) Philip Jenkins, Hidden Gospels, Oxford University Press, 2001, p 12

(13) The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 33

(14) Bentley Layton (translator), The Gnostic Scriptures, Doubleday, New York, 1995, p 339

(15) Peter Jones, The Gnostic Empire Strikes Back, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, New Jersey, 1992, p 26-27

(16) Darrell L. Bock, Breaking The Da Vinci Code, Thomas Nelson, Tennessee, 2004, p 76-80, Elaine Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels, Penguin, London, 1990, p 105, 108, The Da Vinci Hoax, op cit., p 50

(17) The Gnostic Gospels, op cit., p 47

(18) Secrets of the Code, op cit., p 134

(19) Ibid., p 43

(20) Ibid., p 31

(21) The Gnostics Gospels, op cit., p 84

(22) The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 330

(23) Ben Witherington III, The Gospel Code, IVP, Illinois, 2004, p 17

(24) The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 340

(25) Ibid., p 344-345

(26) Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince, The Templar Revelation, Corgi Books London, 1998, p 307, 342, The Woman with the Alabaster Jar, op cit., p 27, 49

(27) James George Frazer, The Golden Bough, Oxford University Press, 1998, p 108-110

(28) The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 410

(29) Ibid., p 411

(30) Margaret Starbird, The Goddess in the Gospels, Bear and Co., Vermont, 1998, p xv-xvi

(31) Ibid., p 91, 144, The Woman with the Alabaster Jar, op cit., p 86, 89, 165

(32) The Goddess in the Gospels, op cit, p 61-62, 68-72

(33) Ibid., p 95

(34) The Da Vinci Code, op cit., p 174

(35) The Woman with the Alabaster Jar, op cit., p xiv

(36) Lynn Picknett, Mary Magdalene, Robinson, London, 2003, p ix

(37) D. James Kennedy and Jerry Newcombe, What If Jesus Had Never Been Born?, Thomas Nelson, Nashville, 1994, p 14-15

(38) Vincent Carroll and David Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, Encounter Books, San Francisco, 2002, p 4-5

Continued in Part Two