The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown is a best seller on the fiction list; however, the author clearly states that the story takes place in the context of factual events, places, organizations and rituals. To enhance the credibility of this claim, Brown includes not only fictional characters in his plot, but real people (both past and present) who will be readily recognized by the book's audience.
On November 3, ABC News devoted an hour of programming in a special Primetime with Elizabeth Vargas to investigate the "factual" claims of the book. The conclusion of investigative reporter Vargas, "What we found is that some of the claims the book makes are simply not credible and some of the claims have been made before. But there are some surprising truths behind the story of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Leonardo Da Vinci." (Primetime, airdate 11/03/03)
It is apparent from the author's viewpoint, he is hopeful it will be taken as mostly fact. This becomes quite clear from the opening segment of the Primetime special when the author states: "I began as a skeptic. As I started researching The Da Vinci Code I really thought I would disprove a lot of this theory about Mary Magdalene and holy blood and all of that. I became a believer."
What is it he came to believe? Following are some of the claims made (without any rebuttal, I might add) by the characters in his book (bear in mind that the author is, admittedly, a true believer):
“More than eighty gospels were considered for the New Testament, and yet only a relative few were chosen for inclusion…The Bible as we know it today was collated by the pagan Roman Emperor Constantine the Great.” (p.231)
“Nothing in Christianity is original. The pre-Christian God Mithras – called the Son of God and the Light of the World – was born on December 25, died, was buried in a rock tomb, and then resurrected in three days. By the way, December 25 is also the birthday of Osiris, Adonis, and Dionysus. The newborn Krishna was presented with gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Even Christianity’s holy day was stolen from the pagans.” (p.232)
“At this gathering [Council of Nicea in 325 AD] many aspects of Christianity were debated and voted upon – the date of Easter, the role of the bishops, the administration of sacraments, and, of course, the divinity of Jesus…until that moment in history, Jesus was viewed by his followers as a mortal prophet…Jesus establishment as the ‘Son of God’ was officially proposed and voted on by the Council of Nicea…A relatively close vote at that.” (p. 233)
“From this sprang the most profound moment in Christian history. Constantine commissioned and financed a new Bible, which omitted those gospels that spoke of Christ’s human traits and embellished those gospels that made him godlike. The other gospels were outlawed, gathered up, and burned.” (p.234)
“…almost everything our fathers taught us about Christ is false. As are the stories about the Holy Grail.” (p. 235)
“…legend tells us the Holy Grail is a chalice – a cup. But the Grail’s description as a chalice is actually an allegory to protect the true nature of the Holy Grail…The Grail is literally the ancient symbol for womanhood and the Holy Grail represents the sacred feminine and the goddess, which of course has now been lost, virtually eliminated by the Church.” (p.238)
“The Church needed to defame Mary Magdalene [making her out to be a prostitute] in order to cover up her dangerous secret – her role as the Holy Grail.” (p.244)
“At this point in the gospels, Jesus suspects He will soon be captured and crucified. So he gives Mary Magdalene instructions on how to carry on His Church after He is gone…Jesus was the original feminist. He intended for the future of His Church to be in the hands of Mary Magdalene.” (pp 247-248)
“Behold, the greatest cover-up in human history. Not only was Jesus Christ married, but He was a father. My dear, Mary Magdalene was the Holy Vessel. She was the chalice that bore the royal bloodline of Jesus Christ. She was the womb that bore the lineage, and the vine from which the sacred fruit sprang forth.” (p 249)
“Mary Magdalene was pregnant at the time of the crucifixion…With the help of Jesus’ trusted uncle, Joseph of Arimathea [she] secretly traveled to France, then known as Gaul. There she found safe refuge in the Jewish community. It was here in France that she gave birth to a daughter. Her name was Sarah.” (p 255)
“The quest for the Holy Grail is literally the quest to kneel before the bones of Mary Magdalene. A journey to pray at the feet of the outcast one, the sacred feminine.” (p.257)
The Grail story is everywhere, but it is hidden. When the Church outlawed speaking of the shunned Mary Magdalene, her story and importance had to be passed on through more discreet channels…channels that supported metaphor and symbolism…The arts…Once you open your eyes to the Holy Grail you see her everywhere. Paintings. Music. Books. Even in cartoons, theme parks, and popular movies.” (p. 261)
These are but a few of the passages that indicate what it is the author purports to have set out to disprove by his research but ended up believing. But how do his “facts” stand up to the historical evidence?
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