Da Vinci Code Not Gospel Truth, Says National Geographic
National Geographic News took a break from its usual nature articles to discuss the popular novel The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, and examine its historical claims. “No Gospel” in the story, it decides; while giving Brown’s theory a hearing, it concludes there is no evidence Mary Magdalene married Jesus, that they had a child, that a secret society of his descendants was formed, or that Leonardo da Vinci believed the legend and painted Mary as the wife of Jesus in “The Last Supper.”
The article also discounts the validity of the apocryphal Gospel of Mary that Brown uses as a principal source. Another assertion roundly disputed in the article written by Stefan Lovgren states, “Brown’s assertion that the divinity of Jesus Christ was an invention by the Roman emperor Constantine in A.D. 325 is widely dismissed by scholars—Christ’s divinity had already been described in the New Testament.” (See Hebrews 1:1-4, Colossians 1:15-20, and John 1:1-4 and many other similar references.) Brown’s controversial best-seller is the subject of a two-hour documentary to air on the National Geographic Channel this Sunday. It presents the view of scholars who argue that “Brown is relying on discredited sources and flimsy connections to make his bloodline theory.”
National Geographic is hardly a pro-Biblical source, so if they say the novel is based essentially on historical hogwash, why should anyone else trust it?
Update 12/19/2004: The TV show, unfortunately, gave a lot of time to Brown’s theory and other supporters of it, and ended on an ambiguous note, suggesting that at least some of it might be true. This is grossly unscholarly. Suppose a few years from now, someone started legends about a former President, say Franklin Roosevelt, and made up all kinds of conspiracy theories using obscure sources and vague inferences, and made it into a best-selling novel. Should it be regarded with more credence than first-hand accounts and credible sources? Then why not give the most credibility to the clear words of Peter and Paul and other eyewitnesses to the facts, who knew Jesus and Mary Magdalene and the whole group of disciples, and make no such claims, but by contrast, emphasis the deity, sinless character and purity of Jesus Christ? Their focus is not on double-entendres trying to find lurid angles, and searching for obscure relics, but on the words of truth. Their words were written within the generation of eyewitness, unlike the gnostic gospels that date from a century or two later and are filled with clearly mythical elements, like dime novels. Read the New Testament without the “help” of deconstructionist postmodernists who try to find something to feed their politically-correct feminist biases.
It’s a shame to see so many people at airports and shopping malls with a copy of Dan Brown’s book in hand. One can only hope many of them have learned to separate fiction from fact and baloney from reality. They should read the testimony of eyewitnesses like John, who said, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ” (I John 1.
Such eyewitness testimony is vastly superior to the secret suggestions and imaginary inferences from “discredited sources and flimsy connections” made by Dan Brown, a novelist without claim to authority or reliable testimony, who must be laughing his way to the bank. Look also at the words of Peter who, like the other apostles, made no financial gain from his preaching, but – on the contrary – suffered persecution and death for proclaiming what he knew to be true. He said forthrightly: “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,’ we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain” II Peter 1).
Like a juror under instructions from the court, be a good judge of evidence and apply standard rules of evaluating eyewitness testimony (see book by Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ). Whose word would you trust, Dan Brown’s or the traveling companions of Jesus, all but one of whom died a martyr’s death without flinching on their testimony that He was the Son of God? (The exception was John, who apparently died of old age, but was persecuted and exiled without flinching on his testimony, either). The church was born and flourished in Jerusalem, the worst place of all to propagate a myth (if it were not true that Jesus had risen from the dead to demonstrate his deity) because of all the people who had seen Jesus and could have stopped the movement cold by producing the body. Peter, in his first sermon to the crowd at the Jewish temple, appealed to the fact that they were all eyewitnesses of Christ’s miracles (Acts 2). Paul, another unwavering martyr, spoke of 500 witnesses to the resurrection of Christ, many who were still living when he wrote (see I Corinthians 15). So are we to believe that now, suddenly, after 2000 years, a novelist is going to tell us what really happened? Come on.
Only a fool who cannot judge evidence would swallow Brown’s myth. It’s the same kind of conspiracy theorizing, suggestive reasoning that titillates late-night talk show audiences with claims NASA never went to the moon or that aliens built a face on Mars. The Da Vinci Code will sparkle like a meteor for awhile then fizzle and vanish into the darkness. Challenges like this can actually reinforce trust in the historical accuracy of the Bible, for anyone willing to examine the evidence squarely, as did former atheist Lee Strobel. The Biblical records of the life of Christ have endured many waves of unbelief and spin doctoring, but always come through unscathed. This Christmas season, take a fresh look at the account of the Baby in the manger, not as a religious story, but as fact of history. Who is this Jesus? What must we do with Him? The message is not just for scholars to dispute. Remember, the angels in the gospel account appeared to humble shepherds, proclaiming “good tidings of great joy for all people: for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ, the Lord.” (Luke 2). But honest scholars are not excluded. The adult Jesus explained to a scholarly man, Nicodemus, a knowledgeable and mature judge of evidence, what His appearing was all about: read John chapter 3.
From us at Creation-Evolution Headlines, have a level-headed, thoughtful, meaningful, merry Christmas.*