The Da Vinci Claims

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What is the BIG secret nobody must know?

It is claimed that Mary was pregnant at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion and that the apostles in their jealousy prosecuted Mary. Supposedly leading Mary to flee to ‘France’, where her bloodline of “The Sacred Feminine” survived up until this day. Subsequently Jesus’ apostles initiated a male-dominated Church, because they couldn’t accept that Jesus designated Mary as leader of his movement. Furthermore, Jesus was to have been a mere mortal man, who was married to and had a normal sexual relationship with Mary (hence the pregnancy). To suppress these facts and the bloodline of Mary Magdalene, Jesus’ divinity was invented by the Church through Emperor Constantine, who influenced the Council of Nicea in 325 CE to proclaim so. The Church would produce the scriptures that would support this doctrine.

Thus according to Dan Brown‘s movie The Da Vinci Code” (2006) there have always been two parallel lines that trace back to Jesus Christ: 1. The apostolic line, or the ‘official party line’ of the Church, and 2. The true Magdalene line which carries on the bloodline of Jesus Christ via the French Merovingian Kings to this very day, with Mary Magdalene understood as the secret vessel or “Holy Grail”. In the film Sophie Nevue turns out to be  – surprise, surprise – a living descendant of Jesus Christ himself! The task of the Priori of Zion was to guard this secret and the documents related to it, as well as the hidden location of Mary’s buried body. Her remains being hidden in a tomb beneath the Louvre Pyramid, the modern “scar” on the face of Paris, as captain Bezu Fache appropriately calls it.

The book elaborates some more on these claims. Basically it says Constantine suppressed the eighty or some gospels vying to be taken up in the Christian canon around that time. These gospels supposedly celebrated Mary of Magdalene as a goddess, the “divine feminine principle”, and they especially celebrated the holy physical union of man and woman. This is why Constantine demonized Mary by portraying her as a woman of ill repute and transformed Christianity from a potentially matriarchic paganism into a masculine patriarchic and highly hierarchical religion. In short, Constantine’s role in the creation of the ‘new bible’ consisted not only in the commissioning and financing of it, but in taking only those gospels that spoke of Christ as godlike, and gathering up and burning those which portrayed him as mortal, and married with children.

THE REAL FACTS

What is true and what isn’t?

Where to start? The accounts we have on Constantine are mostly sketchy and legendary. There are no surviving histories or biographies dealing with Constantine’s life and rule. The nearest replacement is Eusebius of Caesarea’s Vita Constantini. It is true that Constantine tried to unify, under one God and one administration, an empire that was being torn asunder by war between pagans and the up-and-coming, long-time-persecuted Christians. On the other hand there are scholarly doubts about the sincerity of his conversion in 312 CE, when Constantine saw after the battle of Saxa Ruba, the Chi Ro Cross up in the sky, with the motto “In Hoc Signo Vinces” (In this sign you will conquer) written beneath it, as the legend would like us believe. But after his conversion Christianity became very popular indeed, and he granted many imperial favors on the Church.

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But it is not true that Constantine had any influence whatsoever on the Council of Nicea except for the fact of calling it, and for commissioning fifty magnificent copies of the bible to be spread throughout his empire. He did mingle in theological debates on other issues, but had nothing to say over which books had to be admitted/omitted or which gospels to include/exclude. He didn’t promote the masculine or divine nature of Jesus, nor did he leave out any such a thing as the “The Sacred Feminine”. In fact the issue at the Council of Nicea wasn’t about the question if Jesus was divine at all, nor was it about which gospels to include/exclude. Everybody had already accepted the four gospels by that time.

The theological point of the Council of Nicea was for the bishops to decide on how Jesus could be both divine and mortal at the same time, a paradox at best, and nonsense at worst. The argument about his divinity had been ‘fought’ out in the second and third century, when there were still those who argued strongly for his mere mortality. But the problem was as follows, if he was only mortal how could he ever grant our salvation? But if he was purely divine how could he die for our sins? So, somehow Jesus had to be both simultaneously. There were those following Arius, who came up with the solution that he might be a second-order divinity before his incarnation, but they lost the argument. Those who won out, claimed Jesus was equal to and of one substance with the Father. After the Council was over the disagreements started once again…

What about the other claims The Da Vinci Code makes? How was Jesus portrayed and was he really married? Were there more than eighty gospels and how did they decide on which books to become scripture? In 1947 (not 1950 as Dan Brown likes to believe) the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in the Judean desert, but these weren’t written by any Christians as Teabing claims in The Da Vinci Code. They were written by another Jewish sect of celibate men, awaiting – similar to the Christian belief – the soon to arrive intervention of God in the course of history to overthrow the wicked powers that be. This Jewish sect from around the same period Jesus lived, shows it wasn’t very unusual for Jewish men to be unmarried. Something Teabing poignantly claims.

In fact, the claim Teabing makes in the film about the word “companion”, meaning spouse in Aramaic, is ludicrous and complete nonsense. Not because it isn’t true, but because the text he’s referring to in which Mary is spoken of as Jesus’ “companion” is the gospel of Philip (an apocryphal text). But this text isn’t written in Aramaic at all, it is written in Coptic and the word “companion” mentioned there is actually in Greek and in Greek “companion” means… companion. And this means the claim about Jesus’ unmentioned marriage, should be the exact reverse from that made in The Da Vinci Code: if the man they all loved and worshipped was in fact a married man, it is very weird it shouldn’t have been at all mentioned in the New Testament!

Other than the text of Philip, there are what appear to be (amongst others) apocryphal texts of Peter, Thomas, and even of Mary herself, all of these stem from the  Nag Hammadi library discovered in 1945 in Egypt. The gospel of Mary has, like most of these texts, a very Gnostic character in that it speaks of ‘secret knowledge’, and a supposedly secret revelation that Jesus had told only unto Mary, instead of his male apostles. Some of these texts claim he loved her more than the apostles, and in the text of Philip it actually says: “he kissed her on the …”. Alas, the missing word will forever be unknown thanks to bad conservation (read: there was a hole in the text… how very apropos). Apart from all this Mary did have to continue the Church, but so did the apostles, and nowhere do these texts say Jesus and Mary were married, or had a sexual relationship, nor do they make any mentions of pregnancy, or children.

But do these other gospels speak of Jesus in more mortal and earthly terms than the New Testament? No, absolutely not, in fact they speak of him as even more divine due to the Gnostic nature of these texts. The ‘divine feminine principle’ doesn’t get a good reading either, because most of these apocryphal texts also seem to be more male orientated than the New Testament. For example, the gospel of Thomas contains 114 sayings attributed to Jesus and the last of those would be pretty controversial seen in this light, when it says: ”Woman are not worthy alive”, upon which Jesus answered something along the lines of, “In that case I’ll make her male so I can lead her into Heaven” yeah, quite…

Nobody knows how many books there have been or still are. But almost all of these ‘other’ gospels are rather late and legendary, and, to put it bluntly, not very relevant. The fact of the matter is, that the most reliable and substantial information we have on Jesus’ life, of his sayings and his deeds, are those that already make up the New Testament. It’s a plain falsehood when Teabing claims that Jesus’ life was recorded by thousands across the land of Israel. Prophets like Jesus were a commonplace around that time in Israel not something out of the ordinary, see for example the Dead Sea Scrolls above. To the dismay of many Christians, there’s actually very little concrete evidence of his existence, no birth record, nor any official record of his death, or trial, in fact no written evidence of him when he was alive whatsoever.

The first non-Christian that mentions Jesus briefly is in 90 or 95 CE by Josephus, a famous Jewish historian of late antiquity. That is about 60 or 65 years after his death! He also gets mentioned anecdotally by Pleny the Younger in 112 CE, where he talks about such things as “Christians”, and later by Tacitus in 115 CE, who mentions a bloke by that name and his following in Judea. The surviving Christian sources are also written after his death and the four most useful make up the New Testament (even though they do mention earlier sources and of course eyewitness accounts). Mark is the earliest of the four gospels, written in 65 CE, that’s about 35 years after Jesus’ death. Matthew and Luke in 70 or 80 CE, and John somewhere around 100 CE.

In reconstructing the life of someone of Jesus’ stature you must take into account that the gospels written about his life and deeds, were written with a specific theological agenda in mind, namely spreading the Good News (hence the name ‘gospel’). The message that Jesus Christ is the son of God, here to bring salvation to the world by having died for our sins. Not exactly biographical or historical by our standards… In them he is portrayed both as a mortal man, in that he’s born, has a childhood, a priesthood, dies, but also by describing his tribulations, doubts, hopes, fears and tears. At the same time though he is a divinity, for example when John speaks of the Word of God being Jesus in the flesh, or when Mark says he’s Jesus Christ the son of God, etc. The criteria the Church used for admitting these gospels and omitting others, were fourfold:

1. Its antiquity: the older a text was, the closer to Jesus’ life and thus the more authoritative.

2. Was it (based on) one of Jesus’ apostles, such as Matthew or John? They being after all his disciples and direct witnesses.

3. The widespread use: was it something commonly accepted and popularly held?

4. Orthodoxy: did the gospel convey the Church’s right doctrines.

What about the claim that Constantine demonized Mary of Magdalene, by calling her a lady of ill repute? Mary of Magdalene was called “Magdalene” to differentiate her from the other Maries Jesus happened to come across, a common name around that time and Jesus got around. “Magdalene” simply means tower in Aramaic – no, not in the Freudian sense – and she was called that way to designate the town she came from, yes, because it had a tower in it. This was a little fishing town, but also a town with a fishy reputation. It stank, so to speak. The story went it was destroyed during a military campaign as a punishment from God for its immoral ways, or probably because of the stink of rotting fish.

This might have been the origin for Mary of Magdalene’s later negative portrayals. Especially in the 6th century and onwards, during medieval times she got a bad rep due to the simple fact of how the bible books were arranged. The story of an unnamed woman of ‘ill repute’ wiping the feet of Jesus, was followed by a story that introduced Mary of Magdalene on the scene for the very first time… one and one is two? Apart from this textual coincidence, Luke mentions Jesus casting out seven demons out of Mary Magdalene and that she supported Jesus with her ‘money’, but of course also that she witnessed his crucifixion, the empty tomb, and Jesus’ resurrection. But here I’ll end my lecture on early Christian history. Class is over, get yourself some ice cream. You deserved it!

For more information on the truth and fiction in “The Da Vinci Code”, Professor Bart D. Ehrman scholarly work on the subject comes highly recommended. If on the other hand you’re in for a good laugh, you’re very welcome to check my review of the movie Code Cracking Nuts.

 
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