False claims of the da vinci code

With the success of the best-selling book The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, and the upcoming The Da Vinci Code movie starring Tom Hanks, it is important that we as believers be aware of the falsehoods being put forth.  Although the book is fiction, many of these incorrect claims are presented as fact.  This guide is designed to introduce some of the inaccurate claims of The Da Vinci Code, so that when conversations about the movie come up, we as believers are prepared to defend the truth (1 Peter 3:15), and so that our own faith is not shaken.  For additional recommended reading, please see the list on the last page.

FALSE CLAIM:  Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, and their marriage is “a matter of historical record.” 

TRUTH:  There is no evidence from credible historical sources (Christian, skeptic, or neutral) that Jesus ever married. 

In part, Dan Brown’s claim is based on the general practice in Jesus’ day that men would marry.  However, history records numbers of groups of Jewish men who remained single. 

FALSE CLAIM:  Mary Magdalene was pregnant with Jesus’ child when the Crucifixion occurred.  She fled toFrancefor the safety of the child, with the help of Joseph of Arimathea (Jesus’ uncle).  She had a girl named Sarah, who became an ancestor of several French kings. 

TRUTH:  Again, there is no credible historical evidence that Mary Magdalene fled to France and had Jesus’ child.  This is just a conspiracy theory with no real evidence to support it.  Additionally, we are not told that Joseph of Arimathea was Jesus’ uncle.

FALSE CLAIM:  Jesus’ followers regarded him as a mortal prophet, merely as a man and not as God.  The Council of Nicea later gave Jesus the attribute of divinity by “a relatively close vote.” 

TRUTH:  MANY New Testament Scriptures refer to Jesus as God, including John 1:1, John 1:14, John 14:9, Colossians 1:16, Hebrews 1:8-12, 2 Peter 1:1, Revelation 1:18, and Revelation 22:13.  His disciples clearly recognized His divinity (Matthew 16:16-17, John 1:49, John 20:28).  And Jesus Himself claimed to be God.  Numerous times the religious Jews of His day became upset because they understood that He was making the claim of divinity (Mark 14:61-64, John 5:18, John 10:33). 

The Council of Nicea was an early gathering of church leaders held in 325 A.D., to discuss a controversy at the time over the nature of Jesus’ divinity.  The question before the Council was not so much whether Jesus was divine, but whether the Son was coexistant in eternity with the Father.  The council agreed that Jesus was coeternal with the Father by a not-so-close vote of 300-2. 

FALSE CLAIM:  The Bible is a product of man and not of God.  It “has evolved through countless translations, additions, and revisions,” and is not accurate. 

TRUTH:  2 Timothy 3:16 says that all Scripture is inspired (some translations say breathed) by God.  Reliable modern translations were printed with the goal of a publishing a translation of the Greek and Hebrew texts even more accurate than previous ones.  Additionally, the Old Testament prophecies about Jesus were written hundreds of years before His birth.

FALSE CLAIM:  The Roman Emperor Constantine was responsible for developing “a new Bible, which omitted those gospels that spoke of Christ’s human traits and embellished those gospels that made him godlike.” 

TRUTH:  Constantine was the first Christian ruler of the Roman Empire.  Most of the books that make up the New Testament were considered part of the canon of Scripture nearly 200 years before he came to power. 

There were additional writings about Jesus, called apocryphal gospels, that appeared after 100 A.D.  The apocryphal gospels were written by the Gnostics.  These writings were inconsistent with Scripture and were immediately rejected by the early church.  The Gnostics taught that salvation was gained by obtaining a secret knowledge, or “gnosis,” rather than by placing one’s faith in Christ.  They believed that matter was evil, so Jesus could not have been both fully God and fully human.  Many of their teachings were actually rooted in pagan religion, but they used Christian names to draw people in.  Early Christians regarded the Gnostic religion as a cult.

FALSE CLAIM:  The Dead Sea Scrolls, found in the 1950s, contain some gospels thatConstantinetried to destroy.  The Catholic church attempted to keep them from the public as well.

 TRUTH:  The Dead Sea Scrolls were a set of scrolls found in the Holy Land, actually in 1947.  They contain copies of Old Testament manuscripts, and the Catholic church sees them as a positive thing because of that.  And as stated before, Constantine did not try to destroy any true gospels. 

FALSE CLAIM:  The claims of Christianity are borrowed from other ancient religions.  Many things celebrated about Jesus’ life, including His burial in a rock tomb and His resurrection in 3 days, were taken from pagan mystery cults.  

TRUTH:  Most pagan mystery cults became widespread after Christianity.  So likely the cults took their ideas from Christianity.

And in many cases where there are similarities between the events in the life of Jesus and the subject of the pagan religions, the similarities are a stretch.  For example, one cult taught that its god was killed and his body was cut into pieces.  The pieces were recovered, placed in the Nile River, and brought back up.  Followers believed that in this way, their god was “resurrected.”

FALSE CLAIM:  There are “countless references” to the marriage of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. 

TRUTH:  Again, there is no credible evidence to back up this claim. 

There are two Gnostic writings that imply Jesus might have been married, but as mentioned above, those writings are not historically accurate.

FALSE CLAIM:  The disciples would express their disapproval of Jesus showing public affection for Mary Magdalene. 

TRUTH:  Brown bases this claim on one of the Gnostic writings, which again, is not historically accurate.

FALSE CLAIM:  Leonardo da Vinci’s painting The Last Supper depicts Jesus and Mary Magdalene as a couple. 

TRUTH:  If this were the case, then one of the Twelve disciples is missing; there are only thirteen figures in the painting (Jesus and the Twelve), not fourteen.  Some have pointed out that the apostle John (at Jesus’ right hand) has a feminine appearance, but da Vinci often portrayed younger men in this way (for example, his painting of John the Baptist).

FALSE CLAIM:  Jesus intended for Mary Magdalene to be the true leader of the church, as she was a member of the tribe of Benjamin. 

TRUTH:  Yet again, there is no historical evidence that Jesus intended for Mary to lead the church rather than the apostles.  Also, we are not given any information on Mary’s tribal affiliation.

FALSE CLAIM:  Early Jews believed that the Holy of Holies in the temple housed both Yahweh God and Shekinah, His female equal.  

TRUTH:  The Jews believed in only one God, and not in a female equal.  “Shekinah” was the Hebrew term for God’s glory present where He was. Judaism was the only ancient religion in the world that believed in monotheism (the belief in only one God).

FALSE CLAIM:  The Roman emperor Constantine was a pagan for most of his life and “was baptized on his deathbed, [when he was] too weak to protest.” 

TRUTH:  Most historians believe that, although he made mistakes, Constantine was a true convert to Christianity who rejected pagan religion and wanted to be baptized before his death.  During his reign, he financed the building of many churches around the empire, called together the Council of Nicea (helping pay for many ministers to attend), and repaid Christians for losses they had suffered during the persecutions of previous Roman emperors.  Many who have studied history regard Constantine as a major figure in spreading Christianity throughout the Roman Empire during the Fourth Century.

FALSE CLAIM: Constantinewas responsible for changing the Christian day of worship from Saturday to Sunday, to make it the same day that pagans worshiped the sun.

TRUTH:  Acts 20:7 and 1 Corinthians 16:2, as well as writings of early church leaders, refer to the first day of the week as the day the church would come together for worship.  The reason they gathered on Sunday was to honor Jesus’ resurrection, which occurred on the first day of the week.  This day is also referred to as “the Lord’s Day (Revelation 1:10).

FALSE CLAIM:  The Priory of Sion was founded in 1099 in Jerusalemby the king of France.  It was designed to preserve the “secret” of Jesus’ and Mary’s marriage and daughter.  Historic figures who became a part of the Priory have included Leonardo da Vinci and Sir Isaac Newton. (Note: Parts of this claim appear on the first page of The Da Vince Code book as a “FACT.”) 

TRUTH:  The Priory of Sion (the one on whose claims Dan Brown bases his book) was founded in 1956 in France.  So obviously da Vinci and Newton (who lived hundreds of years ago) could not have been a part of it.  It is largely considered a fringe group without much credibility.

There was a priory of sion founded around 1100, but it is not the same Priory of Sion.  It was a Roman Catholic order of monks.

FALSE CLAIM:  The history of the Priory, including the names of famous figures involved with the group, was discovered through documents found inFrance’s National Library. 

TRUTH:  Documents claiming the Priory’s history were found in the Library, but were placed there by a man named Pierre Plantard, a co-founder of the 1956 Priory.  Plantard was a known anti-Semite and Nazi sympathizer, and had been arrested for fraud in 1953.  Information in the documents was exposed as false in a 1996 BBC documentary and in several French books.  Additionally, historians discovered letters written in the 1960s by Plantard and two other men with plans to combat their critics by coming up with new falsehoods. 

FALSE CLAIM:  The Knights Templar military order knew the secret of the Holy Grail.  (Brown defines the Holy Grail as Mary Magdalene, who he claims bore the bloodline of Christ).  The Templars blackmailed the pope at the time (Pope Clement V), because they knew that the “secret” of Jesus’ marriage and child could turn the church upside down.  So Pope Clement, not wanting to become a victim of blackmail, had the Templars arrested and burned at the stake. 

TRUTH:  The Knights Templar was a military order of the church, created in 1118 (during the Crusades) to accompany pilgrims on journeys to and from the Holy Land.  The Templars are credited with creating banking practices, and by 1291, they were very wealthy because of banking and because they sold religious relics.  Brown acknowledges this much.

However, in the early 1300s, the king of France (King Philip IV), not Pope Clement, had the Templars arrested, and in some cases, burned at the stake.  Most historians believe that King Philip had the Templars arrested and killed in order to obtain their wealth.  

FALSE CLAIM:  The Templars found of thousands of pages under the Jewish temple about Jesus’ and Mary’s marriage and child. 

TRUTH:  There is no credible historical evidence that this happened.

FALSE CLAIM:  The church “demonized sex,” unlike pagan religions which practiced sex as a religious ritual. 

TRUTH:  God designed sex to be enjoyed in marriage.  Even though that gift comes with some responsibility, it’s only for our benefit in this age of teen pregnancy and sexually-transmitted diseases.  As Hannegraaff and Maier write, “Christianity regards sexuality as one of God’s greatest gifts—albeit a gift that should be used responsibly.” 

SOURCES/FOR FURTHERREADING

Hank Hanegraaff and Paul L. Maier, The Da Vinci Code: Fact or Fiction?  (Wheaton,IL: Tyndale House, 2004).

The Da Vinci Code: A Companion Guide to the Movie.  Campus Crusade for Christ, http://www.campuscrusade.com/DaVinciquest/Pdfs/DaVinci_Guide.pdf.

Phil Karayan, “Debunking the Da Vinci Code,” http://www.truthnet.org/Christianity/cults/davincicode.

Josh McDowell, The Da Vinci Code: A Quest for Answers.  (Holiday, FL: Green Key, 2006).

Albert Mohler, “Deciphering the Da Vinci Code,” http://www.crosswalk.com/fun/1212187.html.

Darrell L. Bock, Breaking the Da Vinci Code.  (Nashville: Thomas Nelson reprint, 2006).

“Official Christianity Glossary,” http://uwacadweb.uwyo.edu/religionet/er/christ/Cglossry.htm.

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