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The Truth about the Da Vinci Code

by A Coptic Orthodox Believer

I. Introduction

Once again, Satan is launching one of his fiery darts at the core of our Christian belief. Through the Da Vinci Code novel, he is deploying his favorite cunning device that is instilling confusion and doubt in the minds of the believers.

In this paper, I will present a concise "synopsis" of the novel, followed by an outline of the false claims being asserted by the author with a response and refutation to these assertions.

II. Background

The Da Vinci Code has sold 40 million copies, and a motion picture version has hit theaters on May 19, 2006. The plot deals with surprising discoveries of the "facts about Jesus Christ and Christian history."

The story of the book which is a murder mystery novel that took place in Paris and London is built around certain "constructs" that assert the following:

Jesus was not the divine Son of God, but a mere man whose true mission and identity have been distorted. Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and had a child who escaped to France. Their descendants survive to this day. Jesus then desired that Mary Magdalene becomes the leader of the church. The teachings of Christ throughout the years were revised by other men like Peter. Jesus was turned into "God" in order to protect the Patriarchal system.

The Catholic Church along with the rest of Christianity has worked together to maintain this 2000 year cover up. Millions throughout history have been misinformed about what Christianity truly is; and finally, these secrets have been known by a select few (such as Leonardo DaVinci, who attempted to present these facts to the world through "clues" incorporated into his paintings). The secret of Jesus' "True Identity" is maintained by a group known as the "Priory of Sion" that has existed since 1099. Documents found in Paris in 1975 confirm its existence. Sir Isaac Newton and Leonardo Da Vinci were Grand Masters in this organization.

III. Why is it Called Da Vinci Code?

In this novel, Leonardo Da Vinci is portrayed as head of the conspiracy guarding the "truth" about Jesus Christ. He is said to have planted various codes (secret symbols) in his work, particularly in his famous painting of the Last Supper.

According to the novel, this painting depicts Jesus' alleged wife, Mary Magdalene, next to him as a symbol of her knowledge of his true teaching. In reality, the figure that Dan Brown identifies as Mary Magdalene is John the Evangelist, who traditionally has been regarded as the youngest of the apostles and so is often pictured in medieval art without a beard.

IV. The Author

The author is Dan Brown. He is a former English teacher who has authored three previous books. Digital Fortress, Deception Point and Angels & Demons. He claims to be a Christian-of a sort. A "Frequently Asked Questions" page on his web site www.danbrown.com contains the following exchange when asked if he is a "Christian":

"I am, although perhaps not in the most traditional sense of the word. If you ask three people what it means to be Christian, you will get three different answers. Some feel being baptized is sufficient. Others feel you must accept the Bible as immutable historical fact. Still others require a belief that all those who do not accept Christ as their personal savior are doomed to hell. We are all trying to decipher life's big mysteries, and we're each following our own paths of enlightenment. I consider myself a student of many religions. The more I learn, the more questions I have. For me, the spiritual quest will be a life-long work in progress."

V. Why Should We, Christians, be Concerned?

The writer goes to great lengths to convey the impression that it is based on fact. He even has a "FACT" page at the front of the book, one page ahead of his prologue, where he states, "All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate." The book also states, "Almost everything our fathers taught us about Christ is false" (p. 235). Therefore, the concern stems from the author's claim that the DaVinci Code is based on "fact." Though the book is a novel, its content distorts the core teachings of our Christian faith. For us, Christians, if the truth about our Savior isn't worth defending, what is?

VI. Claims Attacking the Core of Our Christian Faith

Below are some of the claims promoted by the book that clearly attack the core of our Christian Faith:

Jesus was viewed as man and not as God until the fourth century, when he was deified by the emperor Constantine. 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... By officially endorsing Jesus as the Son of God, Constantine turned Jesus into a deity (p.233).

Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and they both had a daughter. 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... It was there in France that she gave birth to a daughter. Her name was Sarah (p.255).

The Gospels as we know it today is based on false testimonies and fabrications. The Bible is a product of man, my dear. Not of God... The Bible, as we know it today, was collated by the pagan Roman emperor Constantine the Great (p. 231). The New Testament is false testimony (p 345). The New Testament is based on fabrications (p 341).

VII. Response and Refutations

In summary, throughout his novel, Brown is attacking 2 core issues:

a) The Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ.

b) The Authenticity of the Holy Bible.

Below we will provide concise answers to the above mentioned allegations.

Christ is deified by Constantine in the 4th Century.

Constantine had called the Council together to settle a dispute that had taken place when Arius, an Alexandrian priest, began to deny the divinity of Christ. It was the bishops of the Council of Nicea led by our 20th Pope, St Athanasius, who reaffirmed the historic Christian position against Arius and his followers. Additionally, Christ's divinity is stressed repeatedly in countless passages in the New Testament which precedes the time of Constantine the Great by more than 200 years.

To name a few examples:

Jesus' opponents sought to kill him because he "called God his Father, making himself equal with God" (John 5:18).

Jesus said: "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am" (John 8:58), applying to himself the personal name of God "I Am" (Exodus 3:14).

Thomas falls at Jesus' feet, exclaiming, "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28).

There are also affirmations of Jesus' deity in the writings of the Ante Nicene church fathers. In the early second century, Ignatius of Antioch wrote of "our God, Jesus the Christ" (Ignatius of Antioch; Ephesians 18:2).

Jesus Married Mary Magdalene and They Both Had a Daughter.

The reason that Brown and a handful of others (mainly New Age authors) have tried to identify Mary Magdalene as the wife of Jesus is obvious:

She is one of the few women disciples of Christ whose name we know, and whom we don't know was married to someone else. If one wants to force Jesus into the role of being married, Mary Magdalene is one of the few prominent and (seemingly) available women to be pushed into the role of being his wife.

To support his claim, Brown appeals to two of the Gnostic (Apocryphal) Gospels: The Gospel of Philip and The Gospel of Mary. These 2 gospels, among many more, have been rejected by the early Church Fathers for their unorthodox content regarding the message of the "Good News." They are considered non-canonical and heretical.

What is intriguing is that even these Apocryphal gospels do not claim that Christ was married to Mary Magdalene. This was a personal interpretation of the author to add some zest to his novel. Once again Brown offers his own interpretation of the gospel of Philip. On page 246, the excerpt reads: "the companion of the Savior is Mary Magdalene". He claims that the Aramaic word for "companion" literally meant "spouse". That is not true according to Aramaic scholars. And, even more importantly, the Gnostic gospel of Phillip was not written in Aramaic. It was written in Coptic!!!!

Moreover, the authors of the New Testament regularly depict the Church as "the bride of Christ" (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:21-33; Revelation 21:9-10). This metaphor would never have developed if a flesh-and-blood "Mrs. Jesus" was living down the street. Only if Christ was celibate would the Church have come to be depicted metaphorically as his bride.

The Gospel is Based on False Testimony and Fabrications.

The Holy Bible is not the product of man but is rather God inspired. Biblical inspiration may be defined as God's superintending of the human authors so that, using their own individual personalities and writing styles under the control and guidance of the Holy Spirit, the result being a perfect and errorless recording of the exact message God desired to give to man.

"For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:21). This verse informs us that "prophecy [or Scripture] never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were moved by the Holy Spirit."

What about Dan Brown's claim that the New Testament is based on fabrications?

The statement is patently false. The New Testament is not made up of fairytales but is rather based on eyewitness testimony. In 2 Peter 1:16 we read, "For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty." 1 John 1:1 affirms, "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched, this we proclaim concerning the Word of life." So convinced were these and other eyewitnesses that they ended up giving their lives in defense of what they knew to be true.

Last Word...How Did We Obtain the Holy Bible as we know it today?

It was precisely when certain writings appeared claiming to be Apostolic, but were unrecognized by the Church as authentic, that efforts were made to make "an approval list" that is the "canon" of the New Testament.

Between 170 A.D. and 220 A.D. the four Gospels and St. Paul's epistles were formally recognized as "canonical", and within a century after that, the New Testament as we know it today was formally recognized as the "canonical text". It should be noted that what made the books canonical was their inspiration by the Holy Spirit and their use in the life of the early Church as "inspired text".

This acknowledgement of an official "canon" might never had taken place if other writings had not appeared which claimed to be written by Apostles but were unknown to the Church in its worship and teaching. These false books are the books referred to by some as the "Lost Books of The Bible" or "Apocrypha". The majority of these Apocryphal books were intended to distort the message of the Christ. These deceptive writings were tainted by the heresy of "Gnosticism".

In summary, the Holy Bible was written BY the Church and IN the Church and FOR the Church within the confinement of Holy Tradition.

Consequently, it is the Church which recognizes what is canonical through its use in her worship and teaching. The Holy Bible and Church are inseparable.

VIII. Conclusion

Let's accept the challenge that this book / movie presents to us. Let's take what could be a detriment to the church, and turn it around to become an opportunity to share the Truth about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

These attacks and allegations concerning the divinity of our Lord and the authenticity of the Holy Scriptures are not foreign to the Church. It is just another fiery dart from Satan (Ephesians 6:16) attacking the Bride of Christ (Revelation 21:9). However, we, Her beloved children, should not be "ignorant of his devices" (2 Corinthians 2:11) but instead we should "resist him, steadfast in the faith" (1 Peter 5:9) by putting on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:11) knowing that the gates of Hades shall not prevail against her (Matthew 16:18).

My beloved brothers and sisters, let us "Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong" (1 Corinthians 16:13). Let us transform this fiery dart into a blessing by becoming well grounded in "the word of truth, the gospel of our salvation" (Ephesians 1:13) as it is inspired by the Holy Spirit, canonized by the Church, lived by the saints and interpreted by the fathers.

Glory be to God Forever.

See Also:

Isn't It Strange
We seem to have low priority when it concerns spiritual matters, but high priority for everyday matters.

One Family
Our Savior taught by His example and in His teaching that we are to come unto God through faith, addressing Him as our Father. We are to come before God respecting Him and acknowledging that parental relationship, which denotes authority and submission, reverence, dependency.

The Hour of Glory
No human mind can begin to fathom the eternal love of the Father toward His chosen children of grace. That hour of perfect obedience by His only begotten Son unto death, even the death of the cross, was ever before the Father from eternity. Had it not been for these covenant promises, Adam would have sunk eternally into hell the instant that he sinned.

Loving God Alone
God has endowed the soul with two main faculties: the understanding and the affections. We have been given a sound mind, which means that we can understand the difference between right and wrong and can pass judgment. Our affections incline us to do or not do.

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