Re: The book Da Vinci Code shakes the faith not to push people to join other faiths but to unveil certain truths (?)
The truth about Da vinci Code is that its a fiction novel.
The Da Vinci Code: Faith, Fact, or Fiction? by Hal Seed
With so much information available to us today, it's not hard to get confused is it?
Two years ago, author Dan Brown wrote a novel that debuted at the top of the NY Times bestseller list. And it has been at or near the top of that list every week since.
It's a book that has become a catalyst for all kinds of questions. Questions about the church. Questions about Jesus Christ. Questions about God.
Dan Brown makes some claims about these sorts of things, and he makes some claims for historical accuracy. On page 1 he says: All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate. – Dan Brown, the Da Vinci Code, p. 1
As you read the book, you begin to wonder if Mr. Brown has more in mind that merely making money and entertaining readers. More on that later.
To understand what the book is talking about, you need some background in three areas. So let me tell you three stories.
The first story is the story of The Crown, the Council, and the Creed. The story of the Crown, the Council and the Creed is the story of Constantine. The Crown belongs to Constantine. Constantine adopted Christianity in 312 AD and legalized it for all of the Western Roman Empire.
The Council is the Council of Nicaea. As he consolidated his power, Constantine found that there were disagreements in his realm about the nature of the Son of God. The problem was that a leader of the church of North Africa, a man named "Arius," was teaching that Jesus was God, but a different kind of God than the Father.
As a new Christian, Constantine said, "I can help sort this out." So he paid the expenses for 300 bishops from across his realm to come together and council about what was true and what wasn't about the nature of the Son of God.
Arius and his followers believed that Jesus was God, but that he was a created God (as opposed to God the Father, who was eternally pre-existent.) – Are you following this? This is a little heady, but we'll lighten up in a minute.
Arius' phrase was, "There was a time when he was not."
The rest of Christianity disagreed with them, so they came up with this statement, or creed, as it's come to be known:
The Creed of Nicaea "We believe in one God, the Father, Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible; and in the one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father, only-begotten, that is, from the substance of the Father; God from God, Light from Light, Very God from Very God, begotten not made, of one substance with the Father, through whom all things were made…
This is the Creed of Nicaea. This is what the Nicaean bishops came together to clarify.
Story 2 is The Story of Gnosticism.
These will all become relevant to you in a minute. But for now, follow me for another 90 seconds.
The word "Gnosis" = "Knowledge"
In the second century AD (after Christ) a broad spiritual movement grew up and developed several forms over the next 2 centuries. The movement was called, "Gnosticism," because the common thread between all of its different groups was the each of them had special knowledge, which only insiders could possess.
In a nutshell, here's what Gnostics believed: Draw on board the emanations hierarchy.
The Gnostics believed that matter was evil and spirit was good. Everything you touched was tainted, everything immaterial was good. It's classic dualism.
The problem with this view is, if matter is evil and God is good, how did matter come into existence. The answer for the Gnostics was, through a chain of lesser and lesser gods.
Here's what it looked like. God, the pure God. Purely spirit, absolutely untainted, created a group of lesser gods called, "Aeons" who were mostly untainted.
These gods created lesser gods who created lesser gods, who created lesser gods, until finally, one of these spirits created the world and matter and people.
Full knowledge of this complete chain of gods can only be revealed to those who are fully initiated. This is the nature of "gnosis." You can't have the knowledge until you've proven yourself worthy.
One problem you can see is when some members of Gnostic communities tried to blend their gnosis with Christianity. If Jesus was God and came to earth, then he couldn't be God anymore, because the true God could never assume material form, he would stay far from it.
So one Gnostic solution to this was, "Jesus wasn't actually material. He was completely spiritual; he only appeared to be material. If you noticed, if you looked closely, Jesus never cast a shadow." This explains why Jesus could walk through walls after Easter – he wasn't really material. He was immaterial.
An alternative solution was to claim that he was fully human and only fully human.
Of course, to claim that, you've got to explain away almost everything the Bible teaches about him. That's what the Da Vinci Code is all about.
Gnosticism pretty much died out by the end of the 4th century, so we only knew about it through the writings of several early church fathers who lived during that time.
We only knew about it through them until December, 1945, when an Egyptian peasant in the town of Nag Hammadi stumbled on a cache of 52 manuscripts, some of which we written by Gnostics.
These were translated over the next several years, and made a big splash on the English-speaking world in 1977 when a Princeton professor named Elaine Pagels published a book called, "The Gnostic Gospels".
The Gnostic Church is now alive and well in several parts of the world. In France it's called, L'Eglise des Inities (Church of the Initiated), In England, it's The Pre-Nicene Gnostic Catholic Church in England, and in the US, The Gnostic Society.
After Dr. Pagels, who is a Gnostic, published her work, three other men published a book in 1982 called, Holy Blood, Holy Grail.
Here's where these stories intersect with The Da Vinci Code. It's from these two works that Dan Brown gets much of what he teaches in "the Code".
Last year, in an interview of ABC televisions, 20/20, Dan Brown spoke his "conversion" to a new way of thinking that he's been introduced to. He acknowledged that he sees himself as being on a mission to bring this new religious message to mainstream America.
Holy Blood, Holy Grail is based on documents supplied to the authors by a man named Pierre Plantard. Plantard was an anti-Semite who spent some time in jail in 1953, and in 1954 founded a social club called, "The Priory of Sion." The Priory of Sion dissolved in 1957, but Plantard held onto the name and in the 1960's claimed that he was a descendant of Jesus Christ through his wife, Mary Magdalene.
Dan Brown built his novel around the names and claims of Holy Blood, Holy Grail. The Da Vinci Code claims that
[Theme #1] A. Jesus Christ is not divine. B. Jesus was married. C. Jesus and Mary Magdalene had children and raised them in the south of France.
That may sound crazy, but if you've read the book nod at me: that's what the book is about, right?
That's the first conspiratorial theme.
The second conspiratorial theme. The second conspiratorial theme is that the church suppressed these facts, starting in the 4th century. According to the "Code," Constantine called a council in the city of "Nicaea", where the Catholic Church made the deliberate decision to suppress these facts, in 325 AD. [Theme #2 Under Constantine, the Roman Catholic Church made the deliberate decision to suppress the facts at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD.]
Constantine wanted to suppress the truth about Christ, so he started a campaign of propaganda, called a council of all the church leaders and spun a new story about Christ – the story that you're used to hearing, and collated the Bible to read differently than it previously did, because Constantine wanted to subjugate women under his patriarchal ideas about what the world and the church ought to be.
So his goal was to stamp out the "sacred feminine". – More on that later.
Before that, Christianity was pure. After that, Christianity was a big cover-up for the truth.
Third Conspiratorial Theme: [Theme #3 -] Constantine rewrote the Bible and therefore the Bible we have today is not true.
So the Bible that we have today is not true. You can't trust it. It's a distortion.
Let's take these one at a time.
1. Was Jesus married?
Let's read it directly from the text.
Teabing looked excited now. "The legend of the Holy Grail is a legend about royal blood. When Grail legend speaks of 'the chalice that held the blood of Christ'… it speaks, in fact, of Mary Magdalene – the female womb that carried Jesus' royal bloodline."
The words seems to echo across the ballroom and back before they fully registered in Sophie's mind. Mary Magdalene carried the royal bloodline of Jesus Christ? "But how could Christ have a bloodline unless…?" She paused and looked at Langdon.
Langdon smiled softly. "Unless they had a child."
Sophie stood transfixed.
"Behold," Teabing proclaimed. "the greatest cover-up in human history. Not only was Jesus Christ married, but He was a father." The Da Vinci Code, p. 249
Claim #1, Jesus was married.
Bold statement, where's the proof?
Dan Brown's answer is, "The Gnostics."
What do we know about the Gnostics?
We know that because of their belief that matter is evil, they had to take some leaps to explain who Jesus was. He couldn't be fully God and fully man, because full, spiritual God could never mix with man.
In the book, Teabing says that the Gnostics knew and taught that Jesus was married. He sights the Gospel of Philip, a Gnostic writing uncovered at Nag Hammadi, as the source.
The problem with this are: 1) The Gospel of Philip doesn't say that Jesus was married. 2) The Gospel of Philip was written 250 years after Jesus. 3) The Gospel of Philip wasn't written by Philip. Philip the Apostle died in the first century. So, this book we are supposed to trust is written by someone who makes a false claim about himself before he even begins to write.
Teabing's supposed case for Philip saying Jesus is married comes out of one phrase which describes Mary Magdalene as a companion of Jesus.
His disciples were companions. Same word.
Teabing tries to make the case that the word "companion" can also mean, "wife," based on the meaning of the word in Aramaic. But the gospel of Philip wasn't written in Aramaic, it was written in Greek.
No other Gnostic gospel mentions anything about the marriage of Jesus.
Next question: Was there a cover-up, or suppression of evidence, which is a central thesis of the book?
Let's look at the book again: "Behold," Teabing proclaimed, "the greatest cover-up in human history. Not only was Jesus Christ married, but He was a father." p. 249
A few pages earlier: "The fundamental irony of Christianity! The Bible, as we know it today, was collated by the pagan Roman emperor Constantine the Great." – p. 231
Constantine was the one who distorted the original, Gnostic teaching and made it into what we know of as Christianity today by calling the bishops together at the Council of Nicaea.
Quote: "At this gathering," Teabing said, "many aspects of Christianity were debated and voted up – the date of Easter, the role of the bishops, the administration of the sacraments, and, of course, the divinity of Jesus."
"I don't follow. His divinity?"
"My dear," Teabing said, "until that moment in history, Jesus was viewed by His followers as a mortal prophet… a great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless. A mortal."
"Not the Son of God?"
"Right," Teabing said, "Jesus' establishment as 'the Son of God' was officially proposed and voted on by the Council of Nicaea." - p. 233
We've already seen, the purpose of the council of Nicaea was not to decide if Jesus was God, but in what way Jesus was God.
If you want to look at the records, this was the first great ecumenical council of the church. Notes were taken and preserved and you can buy and read them from several books that cover the church councils.
Or, study the historical record. (draw on board)
Here's what you'll find
We have all sorts of writings from the first 325 years of Christianity, including hundreds of scrolls and manuscripts and fragments of the NT. We have hundreds of these and related documents from after 325 AD.
Dan Brown believes that Christianity was fundamentally altered at the Council of Nicaea. If that were the case, you would expect to see that these documents look substantially different than these documents. But they don't. Why? Because the Constantine and the Council did not invent anything new. They simply affirmed what the majority of Christianity already knew.
According to Brown, the purpose of the Nicene Council was to stamp out feminism and the feminine goddess. This, frankly, is a complete fabrication. Nothing of the kind ever came up there, nor needed to come up, because pre-Nicene Christianity never had a goddess or sacred feminine aspect.
It is true that Jesus' teachings were very progressive and liberating to the women of his day. But search all of the pre-Nicene documents and you won't find any mention of this type of theology.
And look at the OldTestament of Bible and you will find that the Jews and their practices abhorred the idea of temple prostitution.
Check this out. The Jewish Tetragrammaton YHWH – the sacred name of God – in fact derived from Jehovah, an androgynous physical union between the masculine "Jah" and the pre-Hebraic name for Eve, "Havah". – p. 309
The word "Jehovah" is a German word that didn't exist until the 13th century. The word for Eve in Hebrew is "Havva" – No "H" at the end. "Havah" as it is spelled here is the nickname for Eve, not the real name at all.
Or this: "Early Jews believed that the Holy of Holies in Solomon's Temple housed not only God but also His powerful female equal, Shekinah. Men seeking spiritual wholeness came to the Temple to visit priestesses… with whom they made love and experienced the divine through physical union." – p. 309
That is a blatant lie. Shekinah is a Hebrew word for glory. The Jews never allowed anything but the Arc of the Covenant into the Holy of Holies. They never thought of a female god, and abhorred the practice of their neighbors of temple prostitution.
One more question: Did Constantine rewrite the Bible?
Or, really, at the root of every theory behind the book is the question:
Is the Bible reliable?
Teabing, p. 231: "…everything you need to know about the Bible can be summed up by the great canon doctor Martyn Percy…. 'The Bible did not arrive by fax from heaven.'"
"…the Bible is a product of man, my dear. Not of God…. Man created it as a historical record of tumultuous times, and it has evolved through countless translations, additions, and revisions. History has never had a definitive version of the book." – p. 231
Here's how the New Testament(NT) developed. (draw Mediterranean basin) a. – Books written from various places (Jerusalem, Antioch, Corinth, Rome) b. – Books copied and circulated c. – Books recognized as bearing the marks of God were kept, those that weren't were tossed. d. – Books were copied carefully. e. – We have 15,000 manuscripts. f. – We always copy from the Greek. g. – NT is the most reliable book in history because of 1. the care in copying 2. the number of copies to compare 3. the closeness of the copies to the original.
But I want to encourage all of you to do the research you need to come to a definitive conclusion about the two things spoken of in this book: 1. Is Jesus the Son of God? 2. Is the Bible reliable?
I hope the above passages will enlighten you with some facts.
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