This article is about the Da Vinci code of Dan Brown and all the so-called conspiracy theories the church had in the past.

Source: The Monthly Record, 2005. 3 pages.

Conspiracy Theories

A mysterious society, the Priory of Sion, of which the great Leonardo Da Vinci was a high-ranking member, has been entrusted with the duty of guarding the greatest secret of all time — a secret that, if revealed, would rewrite history and shake the Christian Church to its very foundation.

With nearly 7.5 million copies of The Da Vinci Code in print and a Ron Howard movie to be released this year, Dr Eric Mackay takes a look.

The plot of the popular novel ‘The Da Vinci Code’ demands throughout that a ‘conspiracy’ by the Church has concealed and distorted truth for 2000 years. It is only a novel. It drives along at a great pace, stretching the mind with extremely lateral thinking, drawing connections and allusions from art, literature, science and history. It is however a ‘New Age’ creation. It claims in the foreword as ‘Fact’ that ‘All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents and secret rituals in the novel are accurate.’ It mentions that a document Les Dossiers Secrets was discovered in 1975, but does not mention that it is considered to be a hoax whose originators have been identified and have accepted that they were its authors.

Before looking more closely at the basic presuppositions in the book it is fair to ask whether it is that important anyway. It is just a story.

At the time of Jesus’ death, another conspiracy theory was activated. In Matthew’s Gospel in Chapters 27 and 28, it mentions that ‘the chief priests and Pharisees went to Pilate’. They requested that the tomb be sealed until the third day. This was done. When the tomb closure was rolled away by the angel, he spoke to the women, saying, ‘He is not here. He has risen.’ The terrified guards were bribed to tell that the disciples came by night while they slept and stole him away. Yet it was common knowledge thereafter, that Jesus met with 500 at once and appeared and spoke to different groups and individuals. At Pentecost 3,000 people who would have been well aware of these rumours, accepted the truth of His rising despite his being bodily absent and joined with the disciples to form the new church, the ‘body of Christ’. We are told in Acts Ch. 5, that they were ‘highly regarded by the people’. You may say, ‘That invented myth died off pretty fast!’ But did it?

In the Qur’an (610 AD), ‘Isa’ is the name give to Jesus. He is said to be the ‘Messiah’, born of a virgin and is called ‘God’s word’ and ‘A spirit from God’. He was a great miracle worker and one of the ‘greatest of the Prophets’. Yet the Qur’an depicts Him as expressly disclaiming deity and emphatically denied that He ever died on the cross. It is said that another was substituted for Christ and was crucified. In fact the notes attached to Sura iv 169 and after, in a modern edition of the Qur’an carry a close likeness to those used to justify the interpretation of the development of the New Testament by Dan Brown. So the original suggestion of a ‘conspiracy’ about the resurrection is now firmly ensconced in the Qur’an and in the minds of 300 million Moslems.

Brown, the author of the ‘Da Vinci Code’, gives the impression that he hates and loathes the Roman Catholic Church and particularly the organisation ‘Opus Dei’ which has been mentioned recently by media in connection with the new Minister of Education at Westminster, who happens to belong to that organisation. It could be that Brown is a lapsed Roman Catholic, as the potted history he refers to only deals with the Rome-centered Church after the Emperor Constantine.

He infers that the New Testament and therefore the records we hold of the life of Christ, emerged from a dictat by the Emperor who instructed the Council of Nicea as to which books ought to be included while the other Epistles and Gospels were burned. This is said to have occurred despite stating that the Emperor had chosen to support Christianity as a purely cynical political move. The process of deciding on the Canon of Scripture was in truth a process which was well advanced by 150 AD. In particular, the four Gospels were identified and accepted as being trustworthy records of what Jesus said and did.

The theme of the ‘Da Vinci Code’ has to do with the presumption that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and begot family. This ‘blood-line’ is presumed to have been preserved and protected by a series of organisations or ‘Cognoscenti’, among whom are mentioned the Templars, the Masonic Order, Leonardo da Vinci, Isaac Newton and many other prominent thinkers and artists. These are each presumed to have adhered to the cult of Demeter and Mother Earth, whose embodiment was Mary Magdalene and female sexuality, and which was rigidly opposed by the ‘Church’ with its emphasis on celibacy as a ‘holier state’ and abhorrence of sex as essentially ‘concupiscence’ and therefore sinful.

While the action gallops on in the book, it glosses over several questions and leaves them unanswered and hanging in the air.

The first concerns the church which Paul writes of in Ephesians, which has been chosen of God, adopted as His children, redeemed by Jesus’ blood, forgiven, renewed and given the gift of His Holy Spirit so that it would live to the praise of His glory. Paul and Peter both spoke of ‘the power of His Resurrection’, through which this wonder of the will of God was released into the world, working by grace and gift and not by any deserving works. This good news, the Gospel, spread rapidly throughout the Roman Empire and into lands far beyond, in the first and second centuries. It spread despite determined attempts to wipe it out by at least six Emperors of Rome. This propagation of the faith was by the joyful witness of changed lives and not by a campaign of hate and suppression of the ‘old earth related religions’ as suggested by Dan Brown. The risen and ascended Christ was a source of reality, joy, wonder and worship and without His presence and gifts given freely to rich and poor, learned and unlearned alike, the Church could not have existed and to have grown to the size it had by the fourth century when Constantine made Christianity ‘official’. At this point some of the elements of rigid bureaucracy and isolation of the priesthood began which Mr. Brown so condemns. He seems to be unaware of a ‘church spiritual’ which survived within and outwith the ‘organised church’ and still goes forward.

The puzzle remains however; if Christ did not die, if the Holy Spirit was not poured out, if Jesus married Mary Magdalene, what was the purpose of His coming? And … what then was the need to have the greatest thinkers marshalled in succession to conceal the ‘Grail’ or what he defines as ‘the holy blood-line’ of Christ?

The Church of today is assumed in his writing to be solely represented by the monolithic Church of Rome, mainly interested in self preservation, the acquiring of wealth and the dominance of souls, with ‘Opus Dei’ introduced as a new reforming arm, not unlike the creation of the Jesuit order in the Counter-Reformation. He paints a very sad and hopeless picture of existing Christianity.

It appears that Dan Brown sees the hope for the future of the world, in peace between ‘yin’ and ‘yang’ brought about by the revival of the worship of Ishtar, Demeter, Baal, Cybele and Adonis in ceremonies of blood and sex. He sees Mary Magdalene as the central character, the high priestess of the cult, now waiting to be revealed. Where has Jesus gone?

Historical, verifiable facts are adapted to fit his text. It is truly New Age. One believes what one thinks. What is truth anyway.... as long as it makes a good story? Along with this, one is being encouraged to imbibe a mixture of story and false information introduced often, quite laterally, as confirming fact.

Dan Brown appears to major in describing conspiracy in four of his published books.

Helpful discussion of the ‘Da Vinci Code’ with others is possible if we can comment on the misinformation it sets out as fact, and stress the spiritual nature of the church which Jesus died to redeem and form, and which has continued to grow to this day despite human distortion and failure.

Errors in The Da Vinci Code🔗

Dan Brown is wrong at a basic level in his notion that out of 80 Gospels the church took 4 sanitised ones. Most Gnostic writings (and there are only 40 something Gnostic “Gospels” known and of these some are not purported lives of Jesus) belong to the late 2nd century or later, well after the existence of the four canonical gospels.

Jesus was not divinised by the Council of Nicea in 325; he is represented as God in the New Testament itself, and the name “Lord” given to him there frequently carries the connotation of deity. Nicea was sorting out various difficulties that had arisen about how Jesus related to the Father.

There is no evidence Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene. Even the alleged sources in the Gnostic gospels of Mary and of Philip do not state this, and given the ascetic nature of the Gnostic approach, it is improbable to say the least. Indeed, Gnostics were anti the goodness of creation, of matter, and of physical sex.

The red-haired figure in Da Vinci’s Last Supper is in fact not a woman but John, the beloved disciple, who was traditionally painted in this special way.

Among many errors is Brown’s claim that the Dead Seas Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi texts are the earliest Christian documents. In fact the former are Jewish writings essentially pre-Christian, and the later are Gnostic texts from Egypt written in Coptic and dating to some considerable time after the New Testament writings were penned in Greek.

As for the church suppressing ‘the sacred feminine’, the truth is that the Old Testament is not particularly patriarchal in its view of God. The description of God as Father is not at all frequent in the Old Testament but is very prevalent in the New, given Jesus’ relation to his Father, and the gospel which brings believers to share in his Sonship. It accompanies the emphasis on God as Spirit, therefore not male or female, as in the pagan religions. Indeed, it seems strange to link the old pagans, who were often abandoned to sexual licence, and the Gnostics, who were ascetics, in an argument that the Church suppressed the truth. It is worthy of note that the references to women in the gospels are all positive: the men are the bad guys.

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