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THE DAVINCI CODE
DECODED, DEBUNKED AND DEMYSTIFIED
Dan Brown: A Theological Cliff Claven.
We all have met at sometime in our lives a "know it all". Ironically, know it alls usually know little if anything. Dan Brown caused quite a stir with his pretentious book, The DaVinci code. Non-Christian types can't understand why Christians get their underoos in a bunch (and rightly so) over this book soon to be a film. The reason is the book, although fiction is presented in such a way as though to be fact. Dan Brown, when asked on NBC's Today show if he would have changed anything if he were writing an historic novel said "No", and that that the book was "historically accurate". But is it really? Or is it just a rehash of old malarkey already disproved? Here's a quick look of a few things Brown got wrong:
*Yaweh being derived from Jehovah Brown Claims the Hebrew name for God, YHVH, is derived from Jehovah. Jehovah, Brown claims, is an androgynous representation of the masculine "Jah" and a pre-Hebraic name for Eve, "Havah". Completely wrong! Jehovah is derived from YHVH, not the other way around, and it isn’t derived from Jah and Haavh. YHVW was a name so sacred, the Jews did not pronounce it. Scholars mistakenly thought they had the name translated right as "Jehovah", about 500 years ago.
* The Madonna on the Rocks somehow transmits anti-Christian "secrets". It was commissioned by nuns and depicts John the Baptist blessing Jesus The painting was commissioned by a confraternity, which is not a group of nuns, but men. The figure with her arm around Mary if Jesus, ad the figure kneeling is John the Baptist, not the other way around as Brown stipulates. There’s nothing secretive about the painting at all. The battle was not over what the details should be, but about money.
* The rings of the Olympics represent "the goddess". The five ring symbol was not added until the 20th century, to show union between the countries. The games were originally held every 3 years to honor Zeus, not a goddess. There was also never a Greek deity simply known as "the goddess". The "universal white goddess" myth is a recent invention.
*The Adoration of the Magi was painted over by DaVinci to conceal yet another mysterious secret. Here Brown has hedged his bet. He claims there’s a secret, but since he contends it’s been covered up, he can’t prove it. It’s like saying the Statue of Liberty is built on top of the ruins of Atlantis. The Adoration of the Magi was commissioned for a monastery in Florence. But the Drawing is only as far as Leonardo got. There is indeed a top layer of paint covering the drawing,, as Brown says, and there was controversy over removing it...but for entirely different reasons that Brown implies. Art Watch International, a secular art preservation organization, protested the restoration of the painting because the painting is so fragile it would destroy it. No one is trying to conceal some great "secret".
* Davinci’s famous Mona Lisa is a picture of himself in drag, and the very name, Mona Lisa is an anagram for the Egyptian Pagan gods Amon and Isis.
The Last Supper gives clues that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene. Brown contends the youth seated next to him is really Mary Magdalene, because the rest of the figures in the paintings have beards. The reason John does not have a beard is because he is portrayed as a beardless youth. Since he was Christ’s favorite disciple, Leonardo cast him in the traditional role of an apprentice seated next to his master. If Mary is pictured at the table and not John, then where is John, Christ most beloved disciple? Brown leaps to the conclusion that since no chalice is present, this means Mary Magdalene is really the "chalice". Brown is ignoring the scene the image is trying to portray. The scene dipicts the moment Christ announced someone would betray him, after the meal. We see the apostle’s discussing whom among the it is, just as in the Gospel. Leonardo is showing the apostles leaning away from Jesus talking amongst themselves. If you look at the picture, they don’t form an "M" for Mary Magdalene as Brown insists. Again, it’s a real stretch of the imagination to try and picture an "M". The way the apostles lean away from Christ makes him appear by himself, which represents how the Apostles abandoned him at the cross. This is the message Leonardo was really trying to transmit.
* Mithra, a Persian deity, was called Son of God and Light of the World. Krishna was presented with Gold Frankincense and Myrrh. Mithra was different things to different people. The Zoroastrians considered him an angel. By the time of the Roman Empire, Mithraism was a mystery cult that had mostly Roman soldiers for followers. There is no record of Mithra ever having been called "Light of the World" or the "Son of God", nor was he a god of death and resurrection. Krishna was never given Gold Frankincense and Myrrh. The stories of Krishna’s resurrection were not added until after Christian missionaries visited India, which is where they got the idea.
* Constantine made Dec. 25th the official birthday of Jesus to replace Mithra's birthday. We have no way of knowing for sure when Christ's birthday was. It's not impossible it's really on or near Dec. 25th. The Jews held a tradition that a prophet was killed in the month being nine months after the day they were conceived. The early Church kept March 25th as the day of Christ’s crucifixion, and counting 9 months ahead, we arrive at Dec. 25th. We know Christ was killed around March because we know Christ was killed during Passover, which happens around March or April. Dec. 25th was also thought by the early church to be the day the first Chanukah was celebrated. It's also thought the first Christians, to protest being forced to celebrate Saturnalia on Dec. 27th, decided to celebrate Christ's birth 2 days earlier. There is absolutely no record of Constantine setting a specific date for Christmas, again, more inaccuracies from Dan Brown.
* The Miters worn by Bishops were taken from Babylonian Pagan mystery religions. This is a rehash of an old myth, propagated by over zealous Protestants against the Roman Catholic Church. Sure, Pagan priests wore headdresses. But Miters were not worn until the 11th Century A.D. by Christian Bishops to represent the tongues of fire that fell on the Apostles' heads when they received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost . There is simply no connection.
* Mary Magdalene's remains and the secret documents that tell the real story were found on the Temple Mount when Jerusalem was conquered in the First Crusade. This Brown gets from the legends of the Knights Templar. The Templar knights were a real group. They were a group of fighting monks who captured the Temple Mount from the Muslims. There have been numerous legends about them…the vast majority of which aren’t true. They’re a favorite source of inspiration for occultists. There many fanciful tales about the Templars having become anti-Christian heretics, of them having discovered some dark secret that they blackmailed the Roman Catholic Church with (such as discovering Christ wasn’t God), or even becoming Satanists. None of these crazy stories are true. The Templars were executed by the King of Philip France, but because of political reasons, not spiritual. The Pope pardoned the Templars of their heresy charges, and the document still exists. The idea that the Templars discovered Mary Magdalene’s remains is yet another myth. Dan Brown simply tosses it out, and offers absolutely no proof to back up his claim.
* The "truth" about Christ and Mary Magdalene has been kept alive by a secret society named the Priory of Sion that was lead by great minds like Da Vinci. The true story of the Priory is far less sensational. "The Priory" was created in 1954 as simply a protest against the high rent of apartment in France! During the 1960's and 1970's, Plantard greatly expanded on his Priroy mythos, creating fake documents and planting them in French government archives, trying to make it appear the order was hundreds of years old. Both the BBC and French television aired documentaries exposing the hoax, and it’s too bad the documentary didn’t air in America. Among the documents Plantard fabricated was a bizarre (and very fake) genealogy depicting Mary Magdalene and a fictitious child she had by Jesus, leading to the kings of France, and to you guessed it, Plantard himself! Plantard had to appear before a judge in 1980, admitting in court he invented the whole thing. Still, he was able to hoodwink the authors of Holy Blood Holy Grail, whom Dan Brown accepts hook, line, and sinker as fact. The authors apparently didn’t get they were being had, even when the documents mentioned The Protocols of the Elders of Sion (Zion). Plantard is in fact, an anti-Semite!
First, the Mona Lisa is the painting of a real person, not Leonardo in drag. She was the wife an Italian noble, and her name was Monna Lisa del Gioncondo. She is not androgynous, nor is she meant to represent Isis and Amon. Second, it’s quite a stretch of the imagination to create "Amon" and "Isis" from "Mona Lisa". If you scramble the words around, you get "Amon" from "Mona" but "Amon" is also spelled "Amen" some times too. "Isis" from "Lisa" would mean you have to discard the "L" and the "a". Then you’d have to add another "I" and "s". This kind of logic reminds of stories back in the 1970's that if you connect all the stars on the Proctor and Gamble products it makes "666". It takes a real stretch of the imagination to buy it.
Bizzare Claims Against The Opus Dei
I am not a Roman Catholic, nor do I agree with their Theology, but nonetheless I have to clear up the misconceptions Dan "Cliff Claven" Brown puts forth. When something is a lie, it needs to be corrected. The bad guys of Brown's trashy book are a Roman Catholic organization called The Opus Dei, which is Latin for "the work of God". It is far from the sinister organization it is portrayed in Brown’s book, and the claims made against fly in the face of truth. The Opus Dei is simply an organization of the Roman Catholic church that focuses on people grow in their faith and figuring out way to integrate it into their working lives. They are concerned about the poor, and run many Christian charities. Brown makes the Opus Dei sound like a sinister organization bent on wealth and power, like something out of the Proctools of The Elders of Zion. Brown even made the one Opus Die priest "an Albino Monk". Geez, why didn’t he just make him a hunchback with bolts coming out of his neck? Brown shows his hate for Christians...particularly Roman Catholics, in this character.
The Davinci Code claims that the Opus Dei is opposed to Vatican II. The falsehood of this is born out by the comments made by Catholic Clergy. Cardinal Ratzinger said of the Opus Dei that it was a "surprising union of absolute fidelity to the Church’s great tradition, to its faith, and unconditional openness to all the challenges of this world" (SOURCE: L'Osservatore Romano, October 6, 2002). The Opus Dei has officially denounced the claim that they were opposed to Vatican II. The late founder of the organization once commented on Vatican II "Indeed, one of my greatest joys was to see the Second Vatican Council so clearly proclaim the divine vocation of the laity." (SOURCE:From an interview published in the French newspaper, Le Figaro, May 16, 1966, republished in Conversations with Josemaría Escrivá, Scepter Publishers, 2002. )
"Sometimes people think there is no malice in slander. It is the hypothesis, they say, by which ignorance explains what it does not know or understand, so as to appear well-informed.
But it is doubly evil: as ignorance and as a lie."
– Fr. Josemaria Escriva`, founder of the Opus Dei
<snip> When Dan Brown’s book, The DaVinci Code, first made its appearance, it was likely viewed as merely another in a long line of bestsellers in the fiction thriller category. Unfortunately, the author and others began to attribute theological and historical claims to the text, calling into question many of the fundamental beliefs of Christianity. In fact, Brown describes his work as “meticulously researched.” Those words prompted ABC news to do a special documentary brief on the book, further hyping the claims, and now a movie is in the works.
Unfortunately, even long-time Christians can’t answer some of the charges the book levies, not because the charges are true, but because they require some level of knowledge of Christian history as well as the Bible. This weaving of fact and fiction has generated white-hot debates, with the outcomes frequently bearing little resemblance to truth. While it’s impossible for a workplace ministry to divert enough time and energy to detail all of Brown’s factual historical errors, or to list all of the misstated art history facts, or to highlight the grievous theological falsehoods and apparently intentional misdirection, the water-cooler conversations do merit arming working Christians with some ammunition for dismissing Brown’s work as an irrelevant, poorly-researched rehashing of earlier theories which suffered prompt deaths when faced with history and truth.
Here are five points you can use when debunking the DaVinci Code with others:
1. According to Brown’s book (p. 233), the Council of Nicea voted on whether Jesus was the Son of God or not, and the vote was a close one. His “meticulous research” misses on several counts here. Jesus Himself claimed divinity in words recorded in the Gospel accounts, and affirmed in the Apostle Paul’s epistles...which were all written before the Gnostic writings Brown claims have been suppressed by the church. Those Gospel accounts, and Paul’s writings, were all circulating while witnesses were still alive who could refute them if they had false claims. At the Council of Nicaea, the vote was to affirm the truth the Christian church had always believed from the start, and to rebut a heretic by the name of Arius and his followers. In fact, the vote wasn’t even remotely close, as 298 out of 300 affirmed that Jesus was the Son of God. For more information, try
2. Brown’s book (p. 234) claims the Dead Sea Scrolls refer to the earliest Christian records and that they highlight gross errors in our Bible today. He also suggests they contain “glaring historical discrepancies and fabrications.” Well, the Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered in Qumran in 1947 (oops, Brown’s meticulous research says they were discovered in the 1950s), are Old Testament texts, not New Testament, and rather than refuting Scripture claims, they are remarkable as evidences of the careful transmission of God’s Word through time! For more information on the Dead Sea Scrolls, please visit http://home.flash.net/~hoselton/deadsea/caves.htm or www.centuryone.com/25dssfacts.html.
3. According to the characters in Brown’s book (p. 233), the Bible “was collated by the pagan Roman emperor Constantine the Great.” Incredible as it seems, even long-term Christians are tripping over this false statement. While the final canon of the New Testament had yet to be closed by the early church, when the Council of Nicaea was convened in 325 A.D with Constantine’s support and encouragement, those books which we now include in the New Testament had already passed rigid scrutiny before being identified as the inspired word of God long before Constantine’s rule. Three criteria were applied to potential books:
* To be accepted as canonical, a writing had to come from an apostle (direct witness to Jesus’ ministry) or an associate (Mark writing for Peter in the Gospel of Mark, and Luke, the physician who accompanied Paul on his journeys and recorded two histories of the early church in Luke and Acts);
* The writing also had to have experienced widespread usage throughout the early church, when eyewitnesses could have declared the errors it contained; and
* It had to conform to the rule of faith, meaning it could not contradict what the early church accepted as normative.
Long before the Council of Nicaea, this scrutiny had arrived at an agreement of which books were canonical, and which ones contained falsehoods, inconsistencies or outright heresies. Constantine played no role in the process. For more information, please see Bruce Metzger’s book, The Canon of the New Testament.
4. Brown claims (p. 244) that the marriage of Jesus and Mary Magdalene is a matter of historical record. Whose record? Even ABC’s television special discovered no serious scholars who accept the idea that Jesus was married, and none said that there was any historical record to support such a claim. Those on the fringe who do believe it rely on one obscure reference in Scripture to a time when Jesus tells Mary to “stop clinging to Me.”
5. Picky-picky. Though these errors might seem small, they undermine Brown’s assertion of “meticulous research.” Brown claims there are 666 panes of glass in the Louvre, an amateur attempt to attribute that much-feared number from Revelations into his account...in fact there are 673, which of course would diminish the effect if reported accurately. Brown claims the Olympics were celebrated to honor Aphrodite...wrong again...they honored Zeus. Brown also misses on the founders of Paris, the nature of albinism, the structure and titles within Opus Dei, wrongly declares that some pre-Christian god named Mithra also was buried in a tomb and resurrected on the third day in accounts of him (obviously a weak attempt to play on the fact the public probably hasn’t read Mithraic literature).
These are just some of the reasons why Brown’s book is nothing more than fodder for critics of the Catholic Church and Christianity. Regularly now, new articles are appearing on the Internet and in publications detailing the inaccurate claims presented as fact in the book. Unfortunately, in a culture unfamiliar with history, or with the Bible, Brown’s book continues to inspire an unmerited degree of confidence in its allegations.
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