Reformed Perspectives Magazine, Volume 8, Number 22, May 28 to June 3, 2006

Brown's Inquest

The Da Vinci Code, Fact or Fiction?

By Joseph R. Nally

Introduction

As an ex-homicide investigator I enjoy a good mystery — especially murder mysteries. Fictional novels normally develop the position of a detective rather glamorously. One sees an exciting lifestyle and an intriguing investigation, but none of the day-to-day paperwork and boredom of a real detective. The Da Vinci Code is such a fictional book. It is an interesting and entertaining thriller. Once you begin reading the book you will not desire to put the book down.

Dan Brown weaves the mystery of a murder into a conspiracy. As the story unfolds one finds that his book is not a political thriller, but rather a religious cover-up. Among the so-called cover-ups are:

1. Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene
2. Jesus fathered a child

What is amazing is that even though the book cover says it is a "novel," Dan Brown himself states it is factual. Richard Abanes states,

Only Dan Brown himself has made more explicit claims of factuality for his book. The novel's first page, for instance, reads, "FACT:…All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate." Consider, too the following comment made by Brown during an interview, in which he paints his work as far more factual than fictional:
One of the many qualities that make The Da Vinci Code unique is the factual nature of the story. All the history, artwork, ancient documents, and secrete rituals in the novel are accurate—as are the hidden codes revealed in some of Da Vinci's most famous paintings. 1

However, any prosecuting attorney looking at Dan Brown's so-called facts would not proceed to trial, but would probably have Brown arrested for giving false testimony to a Grand Jury. Any judge would look at the case presented in The Da Vinci Code and simply throw it out of court as fictional, irrational, and unreliable as history. Why?

This paper shall look briefly at some of the so-called Brown facts that reveal that the book is not only unhistorical, but mere fiction. Because of the length of this paper it shall in no way be complete; however it will reveal to the reader enough information to make a rational decision as to the claims of Dan Brown and The Da Vinci Code.

Where are the Facts, Brown, Where are the Facts?

As my old friend Sergeant Joe Friday on Dragnet, use to say, "Just the facts ma'am, just the facts." We may also ask Dan Brown, "Where are the facts, Brown, where are the facts?"

Brown contends,

The Bible, as we know it today, was collated by the pagan Roman emperor Constantine….He was a lifelong pagan who was baptized on his deathbed, too weak to protest. 2

Is this fact or fiction? Constantine was not a lifelong pagan. Kurian states,

In 313 he and Licinius, master of the Eastern Empire, issued the Edict of Milan, granting full legal toleration for Christianity. …In 330 he founded Constantinople as a second Rome. He was baptized shortly before his death and was buried amid the apostles in the basilica he founded in their honor in Constantinople. He regarded himself as the servant of God and, with his mother, Helena, is revered in the Eastern Church as one of the greatest figures in Christian history. 3

History does record that Constantine was baptized on his death bed, ,i.but not against his will. Why did Constantine wait till his deathbed to be baptized? Because Catholic tradition, in that era, taught that baptism literally washed away all previous sins. Thus, a person could go from this life to the next without a stay in purgatory, because his sins were literally washed. 4 It was actually relatively common for Christians to put off baptism until the end of their lives. So, Brown's claims concerning Constantine are historically established to be false.

What of Brown's view of the canon of the Bible? The Da Vinci Code states, the Christian scriptures, "evolved through countless translations, additions, and revisions. History has never had a definitive version of the book." 5 Brown goes further and literally states that the Protestant Bible is missing books that substantiate his claims. He states that Constantine

commissioned and financed a new Bible, which omitted those gospels that spoke of Christ's human traits and established those gospels that made him godlike. The earlier gospels were outlawed, gathered up and burned. 6

However, the Bible is inspired by God (2 Tim. 3:16; 1 Pet 1:20-21). Moreover, the church has always had a canon of scripture. 7 B.B. Warfield states,

The church did not grow up by natural law: it was founded. And the authoritative teachers sent forth by Christ to found His church carried with them, as their most precious possession, a body of divine Scriptures, which they imposed on the church that they founded as its code of law. No reader of the New Testament can need proof of this; on every page of that book is spread the evidence that from the very beginning the Old Testament was as cordially recognized as law by the Christian as by the Jew. The Christian church thus was never without a "bible" or a "canon." 8

R.C. Sproul explains B.B. Warfield's comments stating, "Warfield's point that the church was founded calls attention to the fact that the church had a founder and a foundation. The founder was Christ." 9 Thus, the canon of Scripture was not just some hurried conglomeration of material according to someone's opinion. As with Calvin, who believed the Bible derived its authority from God and not from the church, the Scriptures derived by the sovereignty of God and not by a mere man or group thereof. The church does not invent scripture, but rather accepts it and surrenders to an authority that is already there. 10

The early church did ban several books from the Bible. They were banned because they were found to be pseudoepigraphical—fraudulent writings that the early church regarded as tales hatched in fertile imaginations. 11 As Origen (c.A.D. 185 – c.A.D. 254) stated concerning these writings,

'Many have taken in hand to compose a narrative of the events which are quite definitely familiar among us.' The Church possesses four Gospels, heresy a great many, of which one is entitled 'The Gospel according to the Egyptians,' and another 'The Gospel according to the Twelve Apostles.' Basilides also has presumed to write a gospel, and to call it by his own name. 'Many have taken in hand' to write, but only four Gospels are recognized. From these the doctrines concerning the person of our Lord and Savior are to be derived. I know a certain gospel which is called 'The Gospel according to Thomas' and a 'Gospel according to Matthias,' and many others have we read - lest we should in any way be considered ignorant because of those who imagine that they posses some knowledge if they are acquainted with these. Nevertheless, among all these we have approved solely what the Church has recognized, which is that only the four Gospels should be accepted. 12

Justin Martyr referred to the gospels as "the memoirs which I say were drawn up by His apostles and those that followed them (Dialogue with Trypho 103.19)." 13 As history attests the one gospel is expressed in only four Gospels. 14

Thus far, our indictment of Dan Brown has two historical accounts against him. However, this does not even begin to exhaust the number of errors he embraces. Brown states, "One particularly troubling theme kept recurring in the gospels. Mary Magdalene…. more specifically, her marriage to Jesus Christ." 15 Brown argues that Jesus was married based on two primary considerations: (1) Jesus kissed Mary on the mouth according to the Gnostic gospels, and (2) that it was un-Jewish not to be married. 16

If one investigates the contents of the Gnostic gospels within the Nag Hammadi Library there is not one reference to any such marriage. 17 In addition, there are no references to this alleged marriage in the Gospel of Mary. hough they disagree a lot on other issues, liberals and conservatives alike agree that Jesus was single — not married! 18 However, even if Jesus had been married, this would in no way affect his divinity — as Jesus is fully divine and fully human. As human, Jesus could have been married and fathered children and this would have reflected on his complete humanity and not detracted from his complete divinity.Thus, even if Jesus had been married and fathered children there would have been no reason to cover it up! 19

As noted above, Brown states that because Jesus was Jewish and/or a rabbi, he had to be married. This charge has no credence. Jesus was not technically a rabbi. This is why the Jews asked him by what authority he taught (Mark 11:28). His disciples called him "rabbi" because he was their teacher, not because he held an official office. 20 Second, according to Bock, "Jesus' teaching of the kingdom's call to be enuchs appears to be rooted in His commitment and example not to be married (Matt 19:10-12)." 21 The Essenes' appear to conclude this. 22 Josephus (c.A.D. 37 – c.A.D. 100), states concerning the Essenes,

It also deserves our admiration, how much they exceed all other men that addict themselves to virtue, and this in righteousness; and indeed to such a degree, that as it has never appeared among any other man, neither Greeks nor barbarians, no, not for a little time, so has it endured a long while with them. 23

Jesus was not married; neither did he need to be.

What about the man that said, "Truth at last cannot be hidden." 24 Who was this man? Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519). Why would a man who is allegedly a Grandmaster of the Priory of Sion, entrusted to guard the secret of secrets, paint Mary Magdalene in The Last Supper? Would he not be giving away the entrusted secret? We are left here with a dilemma: either Leonardo lied by saying, "Truth at last cannot be hidden," for he intended to hide the truth through his painting, or he was being unfaithful to his alleged oath to the Priory of Sion. Of course, there is one other option: Dan Brown is writing fiction, not fact! Indeed, this is the truth, for the Priory of Sion was founded by Pierre Plantard several years after da Vinci's death. 25 Thus, da Vinci could not have been its Grandmaster, and thus what motive would he have had to hide anything?

Conclusion

We could ask many other investigative questions here about the Grail, the Priory of Sion, and the Knights Templar, but they all lead to the same conclusion — no valid substantiating evidence to confirm the claims of Dan Brown! Though we do not know the exact motives of Dan Brown writing this book, we do know the voice of him that inspired it — that of the devil himself. The church should not be discouraged by Brown's attempt to discredit it. It has been attempted before. 26 However, any coroner's inquest will see that The Da Vinci Code suffered many deaths in its original research. An autopsy of its so-called body of truth only reveals the reality that it is full of cancerous organs — that is, unhistorical and theological errors. The final coroner's report reads "death by suicide" — that is, faulty research. The gates of hell or the code will not prevail against the invisible church (Matt.16:13-18).

God is sovereign. He has allowed The Da Vinci Code to be written and published for his own purpose. The church is be strengthened in its doctrine, while others are falling by the wayside being exposed for who they truly are. What Satan meant for evil, God means for his own good purpose and resolve (Gen. 50:20).

Notes:

1. Richard Abanes, The Truth Behind the Da Vinic Code, (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2004), p. 9, quoting Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code, (New York: Double Day, 2003), p. 1 and an interview with Dan Brown, interview with Borders, no date, http://www.bordersstores.com/features/feature.jsp ?file=browndan.

2.Brown, p. 231-232.

3. George Thomas Kurian, Nelson's New Christian Dictionary : The Authoritative Resource on the Christian World (Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson Pubs., 2001). As further confirmed by, Paul Lagass and Columbia University, The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. (New York; Detroit: Columbia University Press; Sold and distributed by Gale Group, 2000).

4. According to Catholic tradition, baptism not only washes away sin, it also remits the punishment of sin. This was the plain teaching of the primitive Church. We read in Clement of Alexandria (Pædagog, i) of baptism: "It is called a washing because we are washed from our sins: it is called grace, because by it the punishments which are due to sin are remitted." St. Jerome (Ep. Ixix) writes: "After the pardon (indulgentiam) of baptism, the severity of the Judge is not to be feared." And St. Augustine (De Pecc. et Mer., II, xxviii) says plainly: "If immediately [after baptism] there follows the departure from this life, there will be absolutely nothing that a man must answer for [quod obnoxium hominem teneat], for he will have been freed from everything that bound him." In perfect accord with the early doctrine, the Florentine decree states: "No satisfaction is to be enjoined upon the baptized for past sins; and if they die before any sin, they will immediately attain to the kingdom of heaven and to the vision of God." In like manner the Council of Trent (Sess. V) teaches: "There is no cause of damnation in those who have been truly buried with Christ by baptism . . . Nothing whatever will delay their entrance into heaven." The Catholic Encyclopedia, "Baptism," (no date), http://www.newadvent .org/cathen /02258b.htm, last accessed, 23 May 2006. Baptism at death is a non-biblical belief and is not taught by Reformed churches.

5. Brown, p. 231.

6. Brown, p. 234.

7. As Whitaker stated, "The Trullan synod was held six hundred years after Christ. Now, was the canon of scripture unknown, or uncertain, or unapproved for so many ages? Who in his right senses would choose to affirm this? William Whitaker, Disputations on Holy Scripture, (Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria, 2005), p. 55.

8. Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield, Revelation and Inspiration, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1927), p. 451.

9. R.C. Sproul, "The Establishment of Scripture," in Don Kistler, Sola Scriptura, The Protestant Position on the Bible, (Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria, 2000), p. 69.

10. R.C. Sproul, "The Establishment of Scripture," p. 81.

11. Erwin W. Lutzer, The Da Vinci Deception, (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2006), p. 81.

12. Origen, Homilies on Luke: Fragments on Luke (Fathers of the Church), trans. by Joseph T. Lienhard, (Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 1996), Luke 1:1.

13. Darrell L. Bock, Ph.D., Breaking the Da Vinci Code, (Nashville: Nelson, 2004), p. 119.

14. Irenaeus coined the expression "the gospel is quadriform," which summarized the view of the church in his era. Bock, p. 115.

15. Brown, p. 244.

16. Brown, pp. 245-247.

17. The Nag Hammadi Library contains, the Gospel of Truth, the Gospel of Thomas, and the Gospel of Phillip, among others. http://www.webcom.com/ gnosis/naghamm/nhl.html.

18. Bock, p. 33.

19. Bock, p. 33.

20. Bock, p. 37.

21. Bock, p. 38.

22. Bock, p. 50.

23. Flavius Josephus, The Works of Flavius Josephus, 18.1.5.20, trans. William Whiston, http://www.ccel.org/j/josephus/JOSEPHUS.HTM. Also, see Jewish War 2.8.2.121-122.

24. Abanes, p. 63.

25. The original Priory of Sion was founded in 1956 as a social group of friends by two people – André Bonhomme and Pierre Plantard. To quote French Researcher, Jean-Luc Chaumeil, from his 1994 book, The Table Of Isis, Part 2, The Templars Of The Apocalypse: The Message Of A Sacred Enigma - Tales, Legends And Myths Of Rennes-le-Chateau: "Finally, the Priory of Sion was created in 1956. We were able to contact former members of this office, who all burst out laughing when we mentioned Rennes-le-Chteau. According to its former President, the association was at the time a "club for boy scouts" and NOTHING MORE….!" Paul Smith, "The Real Historical Origin of the Priory of Sion," http://priory-of-sion.com/psp/id43.html.

26. "The most prominent among these other works is Holy Blood, Hoy Grail, a 1982 release by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln. (Brown's fictional character Leigh Teabing is an anagram of Beigent and Leigh)." James L. Garlow and Peter Jones, Cracking the Da Vinci Code, (Eastbourne, England: Victor, 2004), p. 22.

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