The DaVinci Code – Part 3

Emperor Constantine called a council to convene in Nicea, Turkey in 325 AD. At that time he conspired to create a divine Christ and infallible Scripture. To do this he had “scholars” rewrite portions of the Bible to depict Christ, who had always been considered just a noble prophet, as divine. By a narrow vote the council agreed to say He was divine.

All of that is historically false, yet represented as fact in the intriguing novel “The DaVinci Code,” by Dan Brown. It is demonstrably false. Unfortunately many people don’t know the accurate history and have no basis for knowing it to be untrue.

Constantine did convene the Council of Nicea but that was not the agenda nor result. There are ancient manuscripts that predate the council by many years that are the same as those after the council. There was no rewrite. The council was called to address certain heresies that were emerging. They confirmed and codified defensive positions based on Scripture that had long been held.
The deity of Christ was not an issue for vote as alleged. A question was whether Christ was eternal or created. The vote was not even close as only two voted He was created.

Long before the Council of Nicea Christ had been worshiped as divine. In the translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew to Greek called the Septuagint the Greek word for God used to translate the Hebrew word Jahweh was Kyrios. It is the same word used in the oldest New Testament manuscripts for Christ.

A prominent theme in Brown’s work is that Mary Magadelene and Jesus were married. This is presented as a fact. Dr. Karen King of Harvard University is recognized as the foremost authority on ancient manuscripts related to Mary Magadelene. She says there is no indication in any such ancient document that they were married.

An old error is perpetuated by Brown. Mary Magadelene is represented as having been a prostitute. This is not stated in Scripture. The first recorded time she is referred to in this way was in 591 AD when Pope Gregory the Great referred to her as such. It is unfortunate Gregory made this grave error. To many it is now a common assumption.

The injurious thing about such a novel is many readers don’t know what is true and what is fiction. A half lie is the worst kind. Few know enough church and theological history to be able to give it an objective reading.

Brown has fabricated a conspiracy novel based on unreliable resources and done it so cleverly that one reviewer said his research is “impeccable.” It would be interesting to know what historical knowledge the reviewer had.

From a spiritual stand point the most damnable heresy in the book is that the way to God is by an intellectual formula known only by a few. In making such a claim it disregards the sacrificial death of Christ as a means of grace.

In the novel Teabing, the fictional historian commented, “Almost everything our fathers taught us about Christ is false.”

Reality is almost everything Teabing and the author of “The DaVinci Code” taught us about Christ and the Bible is false.

The DaVinci Code – Part 2

The DaVinci Code has been number one on the New York Times, Barnes & Noble, and Wal Mart best seller lists and is destined for Hollywood. Prevailing skepticism in our society has resulted in it being a popular work. The idea of a past conspiracy, covert actions, long kept secrets, and untold “truth” cultivate a market for such a work.

A lack of trust in the past has opened the door for the author to use pseudo-scholarship to present his bogus “truth.” He cozies up to the reader as though he only is the one who at last is going to tell the real story. The author cleverly writes in such a way as to give the impression the book is history. In essence the book is a bad amalgam of old paganism and old Gnosticism to comprise an intriguing and entertaining novel. Bottom line, it is fiction.

The thesis is Mary Magdalene was married to Jesus. She along with their children moved to south France and formed a royal line known as the Marovingians. This fact, known only to a select few, was allegedly recorded in documents buried with Mary. Supposedly the Catholic Church worked to suppress this information which revealed Christianity to be less than is currently accepted.

Historically there is no accepted record that hints of this. There are eleven references to Mary Magdalene in the Bible. It was the custom of the era in which the gospels were written to refer to a woman by the name of her husband. She is known only by her home town. Had she been married to Jesus reference to her would have been to “Mary, wife of Jesus.”

The book gets its title from the artist Leonardo DaVinci who reputedly was a member of a secret guild that knew the true story of the marriage of Mary and Jesus. He is represented as leaving clues to the marriage in some of his paintings, most notably The Last Super. One code involved placing a “V” near one of the figures in the painting with rather feminine features. This character is normally assumed to be John but the author says it was Mary Magdalene. The “V” symbol in that era was the feminine sign.

The author does not mention there is another “V” on the other side of the painting. The two simply had to do with artistic balance and not a great revelation.

Not only is the book fiction it is historically inaccurate in many details of its false thesis. An example of this is how the Gospels were chosen. The author says 80 gospels were laid out on a table at a council and a group of men chose those they liked. There are clear and reputable records that refute this. There were less that 12 works considered and that was done many years in advance of the council in which it is said to have happened.

The author represents the work as being the work of elite scholarship. It is instead a cleverly written mystery novel but not a scholarly work.

It is one of several emerging works intended to discredit Jesus Christ. In them He is at best represented as a great prophet but not as deity as revealed in such Scripture as: Colossians 2:9, Titus 2:13, Romans 9:5, I Timothy 3:16, and Acts 20:28.

Now consider some historical and theological errors in The DaVinci Code. Without a knowledge of true history the average reader has no way to detect and correct these distinct errors.

The book begins with an introductory page identified as “FACT” which avows “all descriptions of…documents…in this novel are accurate.” NOT! This gives the reader the false impression the work is based on history. It claims to be based on the Gnostic Gospels, however it is not history.

Most persons have never heard of the Gnostic Gospels. They were written by a sect known as the Gnostics. Some such sects professed to be Christian but had nothing in common with Christianity. Historically the movement has been seen not as a phenomenon that presses forward but rather backward and stationary against the rise of universal Christianity. The movement included elements of Greek Hellenism, Zoroastrianism, and Egyptology. Gnosticism posed the most challenging opposition to the emergence of Christianity. The movement sought to destroy the true historical foundation of Christianity. It failed because it was fraudulent.

A segment of their writings known as the Gnostic Gospels have little resemblance to the four gospels of the New Testament. They do not present biographical insight regarding the historical Christ. Gnosticism was an unsuccessful attempt to inject poison into the mainstream of early Christianity. Now these ancient writings have been revived in an effort to discredit modern Christianity. Consider these errors in The DaVinci Code based largely on these false gospels written primarily by the Nag Hammadi Gnostic sect.

ERROR #1. The assertion the New Testament Gospels are not the earliest Gospels, rather the Gnostic ones are.

Teabing and Langdon, two fictitious “scholars” in the novel assert such claims. Dan Brown, the author relies heavily on two Gnostic Gospels, The Gospel of Philip and The Gospel of Mary. In reality there is no evidence either of these existed before the late second century, long after the writing of the New Testament Gospels. The philosophy contained in these bogus gospels was not espoused until the late second century and was immediately refuted by Irenaeus, Hippolytus, and Tertullian who wrote at that time. These books represent a world view with more in common with Hellenism than Christianity.

ERROR # 2. Jesus was not represented as anything other that a human being until declared divine at the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D.

This falsehood overlooks the fact Jesus is called THEOS, “God,” seven times in the New Testament and KURIOS, “Lord,” many times in reference to His divinity. The Council of Nicea in the fourth century and the Council of Chalcedon in the fifth century simply confirmed this biblical revelation from the much earlier period.

ERROR # 3. Constantine suppressed the earlier Gnostic Gospels and forced the present New Testament Gospels and the concept of Christ’s divinity on the church.

Long before Constantine and the Gnostic Gospels came on the scene the four New Testament Gospels were circulated together as authoritative sources for the church. The early church did not recognize the Gnostic Gospels as authoritative. They did not suppress them, they merely revealed their unreliability.

ERROR # 4. Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene.
The New Testament gives no hint of this. The concept is drawn from the Gospel of Philip written in the late third century.

In his novel Brown has the character Teabing argue the word “companion” in the passage in question in Aramaic means “spouse” and it does. However, the Gnostic Gospels were written not in Aramaic but Coptic in which it does not mean wife. In reality the text does not clearly say Jesus was married, much less to Mary Magdalene.

ERROR # 5. The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Gnostic texts found at Nag Hammadi, Egypt are the oldest Christian records.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are purely Jewish documents. They are in no way Christian. Likewise, there is no indication any of the Gnostic texts referenced were written before the late second century. The New Testament documents were much earlier.

ERROR # 6. The early church suppressed the Sacred Feminine, a female deity.

The Bible makes it clear God is neither male nor female. He is Spirit. Christianity did not replace ancient female deities with one or more male deities. Ancient Jews and Christians were a minority insisting God is a Spirit.

SUMMARY: The DaVinci Code has put a new face on an old fraud.

These errors have been distilled from The DaVinci Code by Ben Witherington III writing in “Biblical Archaeology Review,” Volume 30, number 3.

Persons wanting to read creditable historical works on related topics should consider:
The DaVinci Code Decoded, Darrell Bock [From which much of the material in the first of this article was derived.]
Pocket History of the Church, Jeffrey Bingham
Our Legacy: The History of Christian Doctrine, John Hannah
A Survey of Bible Doctrine, Charles Ryrie

The DaVinci Code – Part 1

“The DaVinci Code” by Dan Brown: fact or fiction?

As a literary work it is fiction.

As a historical work it gross distortion of truth which looks the other way when facts contradict the thesis.

It greatly resembles another work, “Holy Blood, Holy Grail,” by Michael Baigent, written in 1983. Time has allowed for that work to be totally discredited as representing facts.

Yet, ABC TV gave it a positive hour long review. Sony Pictures has bought the film rights to have it directed by Ron Howard. The book is a best seller.

The thesis of the book is that the religious world was dominated by women until Christianity distorted it and made it a male dominated fabrication.

The author writes in such a way as to represent his personal bias as historical fact. He cleverly does this by putting words in a character named Teabing who is depicted as being a reputable historian. The character is fictitious and so are his postulates.

If a person is truly interested in truth regarding the period in which the work is set and critical documents quoted a much better reading is “The Resurrection of the Son of God,” by N.T. Wright or “The Source of Christian Ethics,” by Servais Pinckaer. Neither of these works is easy reading because they are historical in nature.

Brown alleges Constantine hid certain truthful writings and manipulated the compiling of the Bible. He notes the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in the 1950s that preserved many other gospels. Not! The Scrolls were found in 1947 and did not contain any gospels. They were from the Old Testament era. That shows poor research.

The bottom line is the work is fiction that incorporates many spurious accounts from pseudo-gospels old and new. Literary it is fiction. Historically it is a lie. Intellectually it is confusing.

A very good work on “The DaVinci Code” can be found on www.tektonics.org/davincicrude.htm under the title “A Review and Critique of the DaVinci Code” by J. P. Holding. Also Breaking The DaVinci Code www.christianitytoday.com/history/newsletter/2003/nov7.html is another good reference.

The Crusaders: Muslims vs. Christians

Osama bin Laden said of the American response to 911 it is a “new crusade and Jewish campaign led by the big crusader Bush under the flag of the cross.”

Christianity is often criticized for the Crusades involving the Muslim world. A review of some of what preceded and precipitated the Crusades might put them in a different light. A chronology of history reveals Islam struck first in the Middle Ages as Osama did in America.

Jerusalem has been the center for much of the conflict. Byzantine Emperor Heraclius captured it from the Persians in 630 AD. The first Muslim-Christian clash over the territory resulted in the Muslim conquest and banishment of the Byzantines (Christians). They began work immediately on a mosque on the temple mount.

Exultant in victory the Muslim armies soon conquered Armenia and Egypt in the 640s. By 711 they had control of north Africa and parts of Europe. By 712 they penetrated deep into Spain killing the king. They crossed the Pyrenees and invaded parts of France. They were stopped at the battle of Tours.

By 717 they besieged Constantinople for the first of seven times. It finally fell in 1453. Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica fell to the Muslims and provided launching ports for assaults against Italy. By 846 they were pillaging outlying areas of Rome. By the tenth century the tide began to turn. The Byzantines began to counterattack and regain some territory. By 1000 most of the Holy Land was Christian but a Muslim ruler named Hakim persecuted them and drove them out.

In 1055 the fierce Seljuks, pagan nomads, made deep incursions into the Muslim world. They converted to Islam and became even more militant in spreading their new faith. In 1071 the Byzantine Emperor was totally defeated by these new Turkish Muslims. This resulted in great loss of territory. The Seljuk Turks captured Jerusalem from the Egyptian Shi’ite Fatimid in 1071 and drove out the Christians in 1091.

The Fatimids recaptured Jerusalem in 1098. In 1099 the first Christian crusade was launched against Jerusalem. Christians controlled most of the Holy Land until the Muslims once again conquered it in 1291.

By the fourteenth century the formidable Ottoman Turks began to invade Europe. Such territories as Hungary, Albania, and Serbia fell to them. Bitterness still exists in those areas. In May of 1453 they conquered and pillaged Constantinople. Much of their army was composed of young adults who were captured as children, taken from their Christian parents and “converted” at the point of the sword.

In 1683 the Ottomans launched their last assault against Europe which was their second attack on Vienna where they were defeated. The Muslim world went into a long period of eclipse from which it is just now emerging.

The crusades represent a grim and regrettable part of history. Perhaps this historical background frames them in better understanding.

Creation By Chance

The Raelians have given cause for people to consider origins of life. The idea that aliens came to this planet and created human life is a stretch worthy of science fiction. Their theory is destructively flawed. From where did the aliens come and how did they get there? Who created them? The search for the ultimate source of all that is has challenged human thought through the ages.

The concept of origins is a swamp in which most minds bog down. It stretches the best of thinkers.

The simplest concept of the origin of the universe and subsequently life is the one requiring the least faith. It is the Genesis account that God as the prime cause spoke the universe into existence out of nothing. Although many modern cosmologists attempt to explain the creation of the universe without God their theories point to a prime cause.

One popular postulate is that the universe sprang into existence as a result of a single event called the “Big Bang.” This is but one prime cause suggested. All must be evaluated in light of two axioms. One ex nihilo nihil fit (“out of nothing, nothing comes”) and the second, the law of causality (“for every effect there must be a cause”) both require something or someone to create the universe. The universe could not have come from nothing because out of nothing, nothing comes.

Another prime cause often suggested is that the world came into existence by “chance.” “Chance” is the descriptive term for a mathematical relationship of factors, that is, the probability that something will occur. “Chance” is nothing and has no power therefore it cannot create. “Chance” is not a cause and hence could not produce an effect. The previous two axioms disallow chance as a cause.

An antithetical alternative to “chance” is that the universe simply has always existed. However, based on the second law of thermodynamics (which states disorder is increasing) the universe would have already rundown because an infinite amount of time would have preceded the present.

When the concepts of the eternal existence of matter and spontaneous generation are disallowed there standing on histories horizon larger than life is God. Who better?

Where there is a law there is a law giver. Such laws as the laws of thermodynamics, gravity, and inertia demand a law giver.

Where there is a design such as the earth rotating on its axis and revolving in its orbit there must be a designer.

If not God then who designed this orderly cosmos with its universal laws?

The wisest of the wise, Solomon, expressed it well: “From everlasting to everlasting thou art God.” Literally, “From eternity past to eternity future, from vanishing point past to vanishing point future God always has been and always will be.”

Thinking back and forward there comes a time when the greatest of minds reach a point where thought can’t go any further, it vanishes. There in both directions as imposing as ever resides God.