The DaVinci Code – A Christian Response
by Michael J. Penfold
Dan Brown, author of best-selling novel “The DaVinci Code’, claims to know the truth about the greatest cover-up in human history. Though the information he discloses already existed in older non-fiction books such as ‘Holy Blood Holy Grail’ (Dell, 1983) and ‘The Templar Revelation’ (Simon & Schuster, 1998), it took what ‘The Boston Globe’ called a ‘dazzling performance’ by this previously almost unheard of American novelist to introduce this conspiracy theory to the wider world – first in print and then, once he’d caught the attention of Hollywood, on the big screen.
Readers familiar with verified history will find the following summary of ‘The Da Vinci Code’ somewhat bewildering. According to Brown, like most other men of His day, Jesus Christ married and had a child. His wife and chief apostle, Mary Magdalene, fled to France immediately after the crucifixion where she gave birth to a baby named Sarah. In the fifth century, Mary and Jesus’s bloodline married into the French Royal family and created a lineage called the Merovingian dynasty. An organisation called the ‘Priory of Sion’ has protected both this secret, Mary’s tomb, and her living descendants through the last 1,000 years until today. The ‘Sangreal documents’ and other writings of the early followers of Jesus are said to recount this story. Four trunk loads of these papers apparently lie buried in Mary’s tomb. Bent on eradicating the ‘divine feminine’ from religion and desperate to uphold a patriarchal system that is anti-women and anti-sex, ‘the Church’ set about waging a campaign to destroy any trace of the real truth about Jesus and Mary. From 325AD onwards it began to promote the idea that Jesus was the divine celibate son of God. As for Mary, it branded her a prostitute. Since Matthew, Mark, Luke and John have all been tampered with in order to portray Jesus in a divine light, they are to be rejected in favour of the Gnostic gospels which, like the Sangreal documents, prove that Jesus really did marry Mary. Since Mary Magdalene was the vessel through whom the ‘royal bloodline of Jesus’ was preserved, that makes her, rather than the famed chalice used at the Last Supper, ‘the Holy Grail’. Where does the Renaissance artist Leonardo Da Vinci fit into all of this? As the one time Grand Master of the Priory of Sion, Leonardo was privy to this dark and dreadful secret. To keep ‘the truth’ alive, he decided to encode it into his famous 15th Century work of art ‘The Last Supper’, which he painted on one of the walls of the monastery refectory in Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan, Italy.
Who on earth would be interested in such a fantastic tale? How about well over 80 million purchasers of the Da Vinci Code book since 2003, or tens of millions of moviegoers since May 2006? In a day when the masses no longer read serious literature and are generally ignorant about history, nothing fills the void more effectively than fiction and Hollywood. Delivering the Chancellor’s Lecture at the University of Newcastle on 3rd December 2001, Britain’s Lord Puttnam of Queensgate (producer of Chariots of Fire, Memphis Belle, The Killing Fields etc.) incisively observed that due to film’s dominant position as the world’s principal means of conveying knowledge and understanding, Hollywood is engaged in “tinkering around in people’s minds, imprinting emotions, messages and ideas which may well influence them for life…Far more than any other influence, more even than home or school, my attitudes, dreams and preconceptions [have] been irreversibly shaped five and a half thousand miles away in a suburb of Los Angeles called Hollywood.” Remembering that a survey taken in Canada in 2005 (reported in the June 24th edition of the Ottawa Citizen) revealed that 32% of The Da Vinci Code’s readers believed its story line to be true, one can only dread to think what kind of long term impact this book and movie have had on many minds.
Though multiplied reviewers have acclaimed The Da Vinci Code as a clever and gripping novel based on historical facts, viewed in the cold light of history it is seen to be nothing more than a conspiracy theory based on wild imagination, exaggeration and pure fabrication. Brown’s work is littered with glaring historical inaccuracies about the size of paintings, the dates and original languages of manuscripts, the identity of various gods and goddesses, the structure and content of buildings and facts and figures connected with groups like, for instance, the ‘Priory of Sion’. Small wonder that Steven Kellmeyer, who has written a critique of Dan Brown’s work, has gone so far as to call The Da Vinci Code the most badly researched book he has ever read.1 Perhaps that’s why Brown has never appeared on TV or Radio alongside a critical historian.
Brown claims on his initial ‘fact’ page that, “In 1975 Paris’ Bibliotheque Nationale discovered parchments known as Les Dossiers Secrets, identifying numerous members of the Priory of Sion, including Sir. Isaac Newton, Sandro Botticelli, Victor Hugo and Leonardo Da Vinci.” (p.15)2 These documents really existed – but they were forgeries, planted in the Parisian library by a French conman named Pierre Plantard. He and several colleagues, who formed a club called the Priory of Sion in 1956, put together numerous fraudulent genealogical documents which purported to prove that Plantard himself descended from Christ and Mary Magdalene through the Merovingian dynasty. Plantard the pretender, an anti-Semite with a criminal record, was eventually forced to admit his fabrications under oath to a French court in 1993. A French journalist named Jean-Luc Chaumeil, who also collaborated in a BBC documentary in 1996 which presented evidence demolishing the whole story, exposed him in several books. Another researcher, Paul Smith, has been tirelessly exposing the Priory of Sion fraud since at least 1985 (see http://priory-of-sion.com). As for Plantard, he died in obscurity in 2000.
Readers who remember as far back as 1983 will perhaps recognise Plantard from the book ‘Holy Blood Holy Grail’.3 In that work, authors Richard Leigh, Michael Baigent and Henry Lincoln promoted this same conspiracy theory about Jesus and Mary and their bloodline. The Da Vinci Code relies on Holy Blood Holy Grail to such an extent that two of its three authors took Dan Brown to court in London in 2006 claiming he had plagiarised their work. Though they failed to win damages, the case did at least demonstrate the true extent to which Brown had borrowed from their ‘research’.
Brown harnesses many such fraudulent theories in his attempt to undermine two of the main pillars on which true Christianity rests; the divinity of Jesus Christ and the inspiration of Scripture. Make no mistake. Behind the smile and the assurances of good will to men is a clearly discernible strategy to discredit the Bible and the gospel. Lest any reader accuse me of hyperbole, here are some pertinent quotes from The Da Vinci Code:
1) “The Bible is a product of man…not of God” (p. 312)
2) “Nothing in Christianity is original” (p. 314)
3) “Jesus’ divinity was the result of a vote…A relatively close vote at that” (p. 315)
4) “Almost everything our fathers taught us about Christ is false” (p. 318)
5) “It’s a matter of historical record…Jesus and [Mary] Magdalene were a pair [i.e. married]” (p. 329)
6) “Jesus was the original feminist” (p. 334)
7) “Behold the greatest cover-up in human history. Jesus was not only married, but he was a father…Mary Magdalene…was the chalice that bore the royal bloodline of Jesus Christ” (p. 336)
8) “…the Holy of Holies in Solomon’s Temple housed not only God but also His powerful female equal, Shekinah” (p. 411)
9) “…every faith in the world [including Christianity] is based on fabrication” (p. 451)
10) “Should we wave a flag and tell…that Jesus was not born of a literal virgin birth? [No] Those who understand their faiths understand the stories are metaphorical” (p. 452)
But isn’t it just a novel? Officially yes, but Dan Brown has gone on record stating that he personally believes all the claims he inserts about Jesus marrying and having a child by Mary Magdalene.4 Though Brown is a lousy researcher and a hopelessly inaccurate ‘historian’, he is very adept at peddling fiction as fact. He commences his book with the following bold but deceptive assertion: “All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents and secret rituals in this novel are accurate” (p. 15). This claim subtly leads readers to assume that when Brown’s fictional characters speak about Christianity, all the supplementary and background information is true when, as we shall see, it is not.
The Da Vinci Code contains 105 short chapters, the two most critical of which, as far as the Bible is concerned, are chapters 55 and 58. Brown’s embarrassing howlers assail the historically knowledgeable mind inaccurate paragraph after inaccurate paragraph through these few short pages. Indeed, both Christian and secular historians alike have been left shaking their heads in disbelief at the bewildering fireworks display of ignorance and shameless fabrication Brown has produced in these two damning chapters.
Product of Man?
Chapter 55 puts the following words into the mouth of Sir Leigh Teabing,5 a fictional character who plays the part of a religious historian and one time British royal historian: “To fully understand the Grail…we must first understand the Bible” (p. 311). He is addressing Harvard Professor Robert Langdon and ‘agent’ Sophie Neveu who are ‘on the case’ of the Holy Grail. Why will first understanding the Bible lead us to agree with Brown’s heady conspiracy theory? Because in Brown’s view, the Bible is not the divinely inspired word of God but a collection of biased and doctored writings whose purpose is to rewrite the facts of history and conceal the real truth about Jesus. Hence the bold statement, “The Bible is a product of man…not of God. Man created it and it has evolved through countless translations, additions and revisions. History has never had a definitive version of the book” (p. 312-313).
This swipe at the trustworthiness of the Bible is either gravely misinformed or deliberately misleading. Whatever the case, it is wholly inaccurate. The fact that today’s literal Bible translations contain to a very high degree of accuracy exactly what was originally written down by the apostles and prophets, has been proven beyond reasonable doubt through the rigorous science of textual criticism. Eugene Ulrich, editor of Oxford University’s Dead Sea Scroll series states: “The [Dead Sea] scrolls have shown that our traditional Bible has been amazingly accurately preserved for over 2,000 years.”6 The Encyclopaedia Britannica makes a similar point: “Compared with other ancient manuscripts, the text of the New Testament is dependable and consistent…In sharp contrast to the fact that the oldest extant full manuscript of a work by the Greek philosopher Plato (died 347 BC) is a copy written in 895 – a gap of more than 1,000 years bridged by only a few papyrus texts – there was a time gap of less than 200 or 300 years between the original accounts of the New Testament events and extant manuscripts. In fact, a small papyrus fragment with verses from the 18th chapter of the Gospel according to John can be dated c. 120–130; this earliest known fragment of the New Testament was written 40 years or less after the presumed date of the production of that Gospel (c. 90).”7 Furthermore, nothing in the 2-3% or so of scribal variants between over 5,000 ancient hand-written Greek manuscripts of the New Testament affects any material question of historical fact or detail of Christian faith and practice.
How loosely educated must Brown have been not to have known that by examining the writings of ancient secular historians such as Tacitus, Josephus and Pliny, and the pre-Nicene and post-Nicene church fathers, as well as comparing the Biblical record with thousands of archaeological digs in Biblically significant areas, scholars have been able to prove the authorship, reliability and truthfulness of the four Gospel records (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John)? Add to that the internal evidence of the complimentary eye-witness accounts, the obvious intelligence and skill of the writers, and the fact that in many cases they record exactly the opposite kind of evidence one would have expected had they been trying to concoct a lie,8 and there is every reason to trust the record of the Biblical writers.
This attempt to brand the Bible as a ‘creation’ or ‘product of man’ is also undone by its ‘predictive accuracy’ strike rate of 100%. Hundreds of years before Christ was born, the location of His birth, the person who would announce His ministry, how He would enter Jerusalem, who would be crucified along side Him, how He would die and in what type of grave He would be buried were all predicted in detail in the Old Testament. The pre-Christian date of these predictions has been empirically proven by the Dead Sea Scrolls. Dozens of such predictions, all of which were accurately fulfilled, put the Bible beyond the ability of any man or body of men to create. Taking just 8 of these predictions, Professor Peter Stoner calculated that: “We find the chance that any man might have lived to the present time and fulfilled all eight prophecies is 1 in 1017…that would be 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000.”9
80 Considered – 4 chosen?
‘Sir. Teabing’ continues: “More than 80 gospels were considered for the New Testament but only a relatively few were chosen for inclusion – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John among them…The Bible, as we know it today, was collated by the pagan Roman emperor Constantine the Great” (p. 313). The theory Brown is pushing here goes back to an event known as the Council of Nicaea held in 325AD. This church council was convened by the Roman emperor Constantine I to solve the problem created in the Eastern church by Arianism, a heresy first proposed by Arius of Alexandria who believed Christ to be a created being, not divine.10 The Council neither discussed nor pronounced on the issue of the canon (which books should or should not be in the Bible). Yet Brown claims that the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, were selected for inclusion in the Bible as late as 325AD, out of a total of 80 available gospels, simply because they contained the record of Jesus’s life and death most favourable to those who were trying to cover up the real truth about Jesus and Mary Magdalene.
One can only assume Brown has never researched the 10 volumes of the writings of the ante-Nicene fathers. These early church leaders wrote copiously about most aspects of Christianity and their comments on the gospels are revealing. Take Irenaeus for example. Writing in 180AD, Irenaeus states concerning Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, “It is not possible that the gospels can be either more or fewer in number than they are…Now, the church is scattered throughout all the world, and the ‘pillar and ground’ of the church is the Gospel. Therefore, it is fitting that she should have four pillars…”11 Further quotes from other church fathers such as Tertullian and Origen could easily be added, the point being that long before the Council of Nicaea it was widely recognised among the followers of Jesus Christ that there were only four gospel records that bore the marks of divine inspiration. The church looked for several features before accepting a gospel as inspired. It had to be an account of an eyewitness or a close associate of an eyewitness. It had to be theologically in line with the divinely inspired Old Testament. It had to be accepted by Christians in all parts of the area covered by the early spread of the gospel. There is actually written proof that very early in the church’s history some of the writings of the apostles had already been recognized as part of the Bible. The apostle Peter, writing in 2 Peter 3:16, in 66AD, refers to some of the apostle Paul’s writings as ‘scripture’. So the Bible’s inspiration was recognized much, much earlier than the Council of Nicaea, and its gospels were marked off as ‘four only’ at least 145 years prior to the sitting of that council. As for those 80 so-called gospels, apart from the four early Biblical gospels, all of which were composed before the end of the first century, no more than a dozen other ‘gospels’ have ever been found or referred to, and these were all written during the period 150-400AD. Who is more trust-worthy? Those who knew Christ intimately and wrote about him before their own deaths in the first century, or those who came along several generations later who are known to have held all kinds of weird Gnostic notions and who deliberately reinterpreted the account of Jesus’s life and teachings to fit their own mystical and esoteric system of philosophy?
In the middle of an explanation of the fact that many of the Church’s symbols come down to us directly from ancient paganism, Brown’s character Sir. Leigh Teabing oversteps the mark by claiming that, “Nothing in Christianity is original” (p. 314). He claims that one of the pagan influences brought in by the Emperor Constantine was the change from Saturday (the Jewish Sabbath) to Sunday as the day of Christian worship. This is yet another cringing betrayal of Brown’s woeful historical illiteracy. The change from the Saturday Sabbath to ‘Sunday’ was made during the time of the apostles, immediately following the resurrection of their Lord on a Sunday. Indeed, the church began on a Sunday, as recorded in Acts Ch. 2 (the day of Pentecost). The early disciples met for worship on Sunday a fact proved by Acts 20:7 and 1 Corinthians 16:2. Sunday is called in the Bible “the first day of the week” and “the Lord’s Day” (Rev 1:10). Long before Nicaea, the church fathers explicitly rejected any link between Sunday worship and the sun god, going to lengths to explain that they met together on the first day of the week because on it the Lord Jesus had risen again from the dead. Writing in 105AD, just after the last book of the New Testament had been finished, Ignatius, who was a personal disciple of one or more of the 12 apostles, spoke of Christians, “no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s Day.”12
Jesus Divinity – A late close vote?
Brown then takes a direct hit at the deity of Christ. Again putting words in Teabing’s mouth, Brown states his belief that “until that moment in history [the Council of Nicaea in 325AD], Jesus was viewed by his followers as a mortal prophet…a great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless. A mortal…Jesus’s establishment as the ‘Son of God’ was officially proposed and voted on by the Council of Nicaea.” Sofie then asks, “Hold on. You’re saying Jesus’ divinity was the result of a vote?” “A relatively close vote at that,” Teabing replies (p. 315). By now fairly drowning in conspiracy theories, Brown here claims that it was a Roman Emperor, Constantine, who literally turned Jesus into a God. He then collected and burned any ‘gospels’ that emphasised Jesus’s humanity, and produced “a new Bible”, the one ‘the church’ uses today, which contains only those handpicked gospels which emphasise Jesus’s deity. Even then Constantine apparently further embellished those gospels to make Jesus seem more godlike (p. 317). So much for the fairy tale, but what of the facts?
It is a matter of historical record that the followers of Jesus viewed Him as God manifest in the flesh from the first century onwards, long before Constantine was born. The apostle John wrote repeatedly of the deity of Christ in his gospel, which is dated around 100AD.13 He records not only Jesus Himself claiming equality with God (John 5:17-23, 8:58, 10:30-36, 14:9), but also Jesus’s disciples crediting Him with deity (20:28). John actually begins his gospel by stating, “The word [Jesus] was God.” Though John’s Gospel was among the last of the 27 New Testament books to be written, it was still 225 years shy of the Council of Nicaea. A trip to the John Rylands Library in Manchester will furnish the visitor with a look at an actual papyrus fragment of a portion of John Ch. 18, known as P52, that has survived from the second century (c. 125-150AD) proving an early date of John’s Gospel. Its text matches what’s written in the Bibles on sale in bookshops today. Small wonder that the former director of the British Museum, Sir Frederic Kenyon, declared, “The interval between the dates of the original composition [of the Gospels] and the earliest extant evidence [is] so small as to be negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that the scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed.”14 Any assertion that Constantine tampered with either the Gospel of John or any other gospels is pure fiction.
Attempting to circumvent the obvious fact that the early disciples believed Jesus was God manifest in the flesh, sceptics have suggested that the disciples, being ignorant fishermen, must have been tricked into believing such nonsense. Fellow and tutor of Magdalen College, Oxford, the classical scholar C.S. Lewis, gives the lie to this claim: “One attempt consists in saying that the man [Jesus] did not really say these things, but that His followers exaggerated the story, and so the legend grew up that He had said them. This is difficult because His followers were all Jews. That is, they belonged to that nation which was of all others most convinced that there was only one God – that there could not possibly be another. It is very odd that this horrible invention about a religious leader should grow up among the one people in the whole earth least likely to make such a mistake. On the contrary, we get the impression that none of His immediate followers…embraced the doctrine at all easily.”15 Having embraced the deity and resurrection of Jesus Christ, these same disciples died as martyrs or in exile, refusing to recant their belief in a risen Messiah. To die for what one believes to be true is common enough. To die for what one knows to be false – like a concocted story about a divinely resurrected Messiah – when an admission of ‘story telling’ would instantly avoid one’s own crucifixion, is unheard of.
If the testimony of the New Testament writers should prove inadequate to convince a sceptic that Jesus was believed to be the divine Son of God long before the Council of Nicaea in 325AD, one can always turn to the voluminous writings of the ante-Nicene Church Fathers. The following is a list of those early writers who unequivocally stated at a very early date that Jesus was the divine Son of God: Polycarp (69-155AD), Ignatius (died C. 110AD), Irenaeus (C. 125-200AD), Justin Martyr (110-166AD) and Clement (died C. 101AD). To give but one actual example, when writing his introduction to his epistle to the Romans, Ignatius states, “God, who formed all things that are according to the faith and love of Jesus Christ, our God and Saviour.”16 One can even turn to the pre-Nicene enemies of the Christian faith to prove that Jesus claimed to be God back in 30-33AD. The second century philosopher, Celsus, in a written attack on the Christian faith called A True Discourse, said: “[Jesus] proclaimed himself a god.”17 Everything points to the fact that the traditional theology of Christianity believed by Christians today is undoubtedly a product of the first century, not the fourth.
What about the ‘close vote’ of which Brown speaks? When the Bishops assembled at Nicaea in 325AD they wanted, among other things, to combat the view of Arius that Jesus was not co-eternal with the Father. The ‘close vote’ Brown alludes to wasn’t close at all. Of the 318 gathered Bishops, only two, Theonas and Secumdus of Egypt, refused to sign the Nicene Creed, a document that described Jesus as “the Son of God, begotten of the Father, light of light, very God of very God, begotten not made, being of one substance with the Father.”18 As for the selection of which books were included in the Bible, the Christians of the fourth century AD did not need, nor did they request, Constantine’s help. Early Christians, like Tertullian, were fighting for the retention of Matthew, Mark, John and most of the other New Testament books back as far back as 140AD long before Constantine was born, when a Gnostic heretic called Marcion was denying their inspiration.19 Marcion’s actions were viewed so seriously that he was expelled from the church at Rome in 144AD.20
Having delivered himself of so many daring falsehoods in so short a time, Brown confidently marches on in chapter 55 seemingly oblivious to his stupendous historical ineptitude. He claims the Dead Sea Scroll ‘Gospels’ speak of Christ’s ministry in human terms (p. 317). The fact is, none of the Dead Sea Scrolls even mention Jesus.21 Furthermore he wrongly identifies what all historians know are the Jewish Dead Sea Scrolls as ‘Christian records’ (p. 331). He then states that the Bible celebrates the Last Supper as the moment of the arrival of the Holy Grail (p. 319). In reality, the Bible places no special significance, either physical, mystical or historical, on the actual cup used in the upper room on the night before Christ’s crucifixion. The Holy Grail (chalice) legend is a medieval development, possibly inspired by classical and Celtic mythologies.22
The lid on the box of Brown’s core conspiracy theory is finally lifted in chapter 58. There he claims that Jesus married Mary Magdalene who is the Holy Grail. He gives a number of so-called evidences for this assertion:
- The Gnostic ‘Gospel of Philip’ states that Mary Magdalene was the ‘spouse’ of Jesus and that He kissed her often on the mouth (p. 331)
- The ‘Gospel of Mary Magdalene’ states that Jesus loved Mary more than all the disciples and wanted her to lead the Christian Church after His death (p. 334)
- Several other Gnostic gospels mention a romantic relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene (p. 331)
- Jesus and ‘Mary’ are painted as mirror images of each other, yin and yang style, with a symbolic ‘V’ shaped ‘womb’ between them (p. 330)
- The figure occupying the honoured right hand of Christ in Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper must be a woman (Mary Magdalene) because of ‘her’ long hair and delicate hands etc. (p. 327)
- The Last Supper shows Peter “slicing his blade-like hand across her neck” because he was a jealous sexist who wanted to head up the church himself (p. 333-334)
- Social decorum in first century Palestine condemned celibacy and obliged all males (and therefore Jesus) to be married (p. 330)
- Mary was from the tribe of Benjamin, which makes her of royal descent. As such she could carry the royal bloodline of Christ, the history of which is contained in thousands of Sangreal documents (p. 335)
Each of these 8 ‘evidences’ is holed below the waterline, as we shall presently see. The first three ‘proofs’ involve what are known as the Gnostic Gospels.
The Gnostics and their ‘Gospels’
Apart from the fact that the authors were Gnostics (mainly from Egypt), exactly who wrote the Gnostic Gospels is largely a mystery. For instance, ‘The Gospel of Philip’ was not written by the apostle Philip who features in the Biblical gospels. Rather it acquired its name from the fact that Philip is the only apostle to be mentioned by name in its few pages.
Gnosticism was the primary heresy opposed to the true faith in the second and third centuries AD. While the four Biblical gospels were all written before the first century closed and set forth a systematic largely eyewitness record of the birth, life, teachings and passion of Christ (in copious detail), the Gnostic Gospels were written much later and record very little actual history. Rather they record Gnostic versions of some of Christ’s sayings and occasional conversations He and His disciples supposedly had, both together and separately. Rather than being an attempt to, in the words of Luke the physician, “Set forth an eyewitness narrative…of all that Jesus began to do and teach” (Luke 1:1, Acts 1:1), the Gnostic Gospels actually represent a deliberate attempt by unorthodox mystics to rewrite the teachings of Jesus to suit their own theology, several generations after Jesus lived on earth. An early church chronicler named Hegesippus (110-180AD) makes this fact clear in his commentary on the life of the early church: “But, when the sacred band of apostles had in various ways closed their lives, and that generation of men to whom it had been vouchsafed to listen to the Godlike wisdom with their own ears had passed away, then did the confederacy of godless error take its rise through the treachery of false teachers [Gnostics] who, seeing that none of the apostles any longer survived, at length attempted with bare and uplifted head to oppose the preaching of the truth by preaching ‘knowledge’ [Gnosis] falsely so called.”23
One such Gnostic text is called the ‘Gospel of Truth’ written by Valentinus. This short esoteric text, which can be read in a few minutes, presents a very different theology to that found in the New Testament. (Brown makes nothing of this text presumably because it doesn’t mention Mary Magdalene). What was Valentinus’ motive for writing this text? The contemporary Church Father Irenaus, writing in 180AD, reveals it all too clearly: “But those who are from Valentinus, being, on the other hand, altogether reckless, while they put forth their own compositions, boast that they possess more Gospels than there really are. Indeed, they have arrived at such a pitch of audacity, as to entitle their comparatively recent writing ‘the Gospel of Truth’, though it agrees in nothing with the gospels of the Apostles…”24 Valentinus, a leading Gnostic, was a native of Egypt, well-known as the hotbed of Gnosticism in the period following the completion of the New Testament. Basilides and Carpocrates, leading Gnostic teachers during the first half of the second century both came from Alexandria in Egypt. Yet another Gnostic leader, Cerinthus, though a Jew, was educated into Gnosticism in Alexandria at the beginning of the second century. Alexandria was “strategically positioned in the second century to act as a kind of laboratory for Christians experimenting with the commonalities between Christian faith and Greek philosophy.”25 The Gnostic heresies gained a considerable following in those early days as Tertullian pointed out in 200AD, “The Valentinians…are no doubt a very large body of heretics.”26
For ready reference, here is a list of the main Gnostic ‘Gospels’ on which Brown has staked so much:27
|Date and Language
|Brief Summary of Content
|The Gospel of Thomas
|About 140AD. In Greek, surviving mainly in Coptic
|Claimed for Thomas though he died long before 140AD
|Nag Hammadi, Egypt, Dec 1945
|A collection of 114 supposed sayings of Jesus.
|The Gospel of Judas
|c. 140-160AD. In Greek, but surviving only in Coptic
|A cavern in Middle Egypt in the 1970s
|In part purports to record a conversation between Jesus and Judas.
|The Gospel of Truth
|Prior to 175AD. In Greek, but surviving only in Coptic
|Valentinus (died 175AD)
|Nag Hammadi, Egypt, Dec 1945
|A sermon to an audience on the saving knowledge of God.
|The Gospel of Mary
|c. 190-200AD. In Greek, but surviving only in Coptic
|In Egypt in 1896 (half is missing)
|A dialogue between Jesus, Mary and the disciples.
|The Gospel of Philip
|c. 250-300AD. In Greek, but surviving only in Coptic
|Nag Hammadi, Egypt, Dec 1945
|Quotes from sermons, letters and texts, some attributed to Jesus.
|The Gospel of the Egyptians
|Date unknown. In Greek, but surviving only in Coptic
|Anonymous (claimed to be ‘God-written’)
|Nag Hammadi, Egypt, Dec 1945
|An esoteric document presenting Gnostic salvation history.
* These are approximate figures working from English translations. In contrast to these short Gnostic texts, Mark, the shortest Biblical gospel, contains about 14,500 words. Luke, the longest, about 24,800.
What do we know so far? We know some of the Gnostics’ names; we know during what time period they lived and what they were trying to accomplish; but what did they actually believe? According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Gnostics were known by the distinction they made “…between the unknown supreme God and the Demiurge (identified with the God of the Old Testament) who created this world; their dualist disparagement of the material order and insistence that the Redeemer became incarnate in appearance only; their belief in salvation by esoteric knowledge; and their division of humanity into a spiritual elite able to achieve salvation and, below this elite, ‘psychics’ capable of a modified form of salvation and ‘material’ people cut off from salvation.”28
The word Gnostic stems from the Greek gnosis, meaning knowledge. By combining Greek philosophy with Christianity the Gnostics produced a whole host of complicated and specialist terminology.29 They talked much about the pleroma, the demiurge, emanations, aeons and archons. They sought personal salvation through freeing the inner spirit from the shackles of the fleshly life by banishing ignorance and gaining higher gnosis. Since they believed all physical matter, especially the flesh, was intrinsically evil, ascetic conduct was widespread among them. They took a dim view of sex, marriage and red meat, the last of which was believed to impart virility to the eater. Interestingly, bearing Dan Brown’s thesis in mind, the Gnostic God was androgynous – both god and goddess at the same time (a balance of masculine and feminine). Many Gnostics held that the redeemer is a ‘Christ spirit’ who adopted the body of Jesus at His baptism and departed from that same body just prior to the crucifixion. They denied a bodily resurrection, claiming that one experiences the resurrection when one attains self-realization or inner gnosis. These false teachings existed in embryonic form even while the apostles were writing the New Testament as can be seen from an examination of the apostle Paul’s words in Colossians 2:18-23, 1 Timothy 6:20 and 2 Timothy 2:16-18, and the apostle John’s words in 1 John 4:1-3.
With this background in mind, let us return to the eight so-called proofs for a romantic and marital relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus in chapter 58 of The Da Vinci Code.
1. The Gnostic Gospel of Philip states that Mary Magdalene was the ‘spouse’ of Jesus and that He kissed her often on the mouth (p. 331)
Dan Brown wrongly refers to the The Gospel of Philip as part of the “earliest Christian records” (p. 331). The fact is, scholars are universally agreed that The Gospel of Philip was written up to 200 years later than either Matthew, Mark, Luke or John.30 What is one to make of an author who claims that all his descriptions of documents are accurate and then proceeds to repeatedly make such incredibly careless and patently false assertions (for which a teenager would be marked down in an ancient history exam)?
What does this all-important Gnostic text from the end of the third century actually say? According to Brown it reads, “And the companion of the Saviour is Mary Magdalene. Christ loved her more than all the disciples and used to kiss her often on the mouth” (p. 331). When Brown’s character Sofie objects to the use of this passage as proof of romance – because it doesn’t mention marriage – Teabing retorts, “As any Aramaic scholar will tell you, the word companion, in those days, literally means spouse,” a statement to which Langdon, played by Tom Hanks in the movie, nods his head in agreement.
Here again Brown is embarrassingly wide of the mark. To start with, the Gospel of Philip is not written in Aramaic. The copy found in Nag Hammadi is written in Coptic having been translated from Greek. Coptic is a late form of Egyptian whereas Aramaic is a Semitic language, closely related to Hebrew. Nowhere in this short ‘gospel’, which can be read in a matter of minutes, is there any reference whatsoever to a marriage between Jesus and Mary. As for the ‘kissing’ sentence, the word ‘mouth’ is missing. Due to the age of the manuscript there are many lacunas (gaps). The word ‘mouth’ has been supplied by Brown. The missing word could have been hand, cheek, forehead or mouth. Brown picked the option that best suited his sensationalistic style without informing the reader of his motive. As for the claim that the word companion has to mean spouse, Gnostic expert J. Michael Matkin states: “But it’s important to note that the word ‘companion’ or ‘consort’ does not indicate a sexual relationship in the way that some authors have claimed…[the passage] should be read in the context of the entire Gospel of Philip, which takes a dim view toward sexual relationships. It seems highly unlikely that Philip’s editor would have deliberately included works that alleged a sexual relationship between Jesus and any woman…”31
Those who believe that the Gospel of Philip is an authoritative text which deserves to be taken seriously should ponder some sentences in the lines just before the ‘Jesus and Mary’ paragraph: “God is a man-eater. For this reason men are [sacrificed] to him…if glass decanters break they are done over, for they came into being through a breath. If earthenware jugs break, however, they are destroyed, for they came into being without breath…The Lord went into the dye works of Levi. He took seventy-two different colours and threw them into the vat. He took them out all white. And he said, ‘Even so has the son of man come [as] a dyer’.”
In summary, at least three facts prevent the Gospel of Philip from carrying any historical weight. Firstly, it is riddled throughout by sheer nonsense as noted above. Secondly, it is a late non-eyewitness text written well over two hundred years after the death of Christ and thirdly, it betrays a heavy Gnostic bias throughout its narrative.32
2. The Gospel of Mary Magdalene states that Jesus loved Mary more than all the disciples and wanted her to establish the Christian Church after His death (p. 334)
The so-called Gospel of Mary Magdalene is a tiny document of not much more than 1,000 words – part of a Codex discovered in Egypt at the end of the 19th Century. Dr. Carl Reinhardt bought the whole Codex in an antiquities shop in Cairo in 1896. Now known as the Berlin Codex, it was not published until 1955. Half of the original is missing. Presumably originally written in Greek, the Berlin version is in Coptic. It was composed at the earliest toward the end of the second century AD, a good 100 years after the Biblical gospels.33 Even the most cursory reading of this document reveals it to be a deeply Gnostic work in which ‘Mary’ speaks of seeing a vision of a soul ascending and overcoming various ‘powers’ that appear in assorted ‘manifestations’. It records Jesus saying, “There is no such thing as sin”34 except for loving and mingling with the material world. Interestingly, according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, those in the centuries immediately after Christ who “believed that matter is evil and redemption is attained by an enlightened elite,” regarded Mary Magdalene as “a medium of secret revelation, so described in their Gospel of Mary, Gospel of Philip, and Pistis Sophia.”35
Dan Brown quotes from a section of this text in which an argument takes place after ‘Mary’ finishes recounting her Gnostic vision. Andrew and Peter reject her ideas as foreign to that which they had learned from the Lord. However, Levi steps in to defend Mary and claims that “the Saviour knows her very well. That is why He loved her more than us.” Even taking this sentence in this late Gnostic ‘gospel’ at face value, it still provides no evidence that anything of a sexual or marital nature took place between Mary and Jesus.
3. Several other Gnostic gospels mention a romantic relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene (p. 331)
Dan Brown’s character Sir. Leigh Teabing claims that there are “countless references [in the Gnostic gospels] to Jesus and Magdalen’s union” (p. 333). For ‘countless references’ to a ‘union’, read ‘two references’ to a special non-sexual love for Mary as recorded by the Gnostics. Period. The whole romance and marriage idea is the product of overactive imaginations operating with a total disregard for historical integrity. What do serious academics believe? “Liberal and conservative scholars agree that there is no evidence that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene…when liberals and conservatives agree it’s probably right”, says Dr. Darrell L. Bock Ph.D, author of ‘Breaking the Da Vinci Code’ (Nelson Books, 2004).
4, 5 & 6. Mirror images, Long Hair and Delicate Hands and Peter the sexist
Could the person on the right hand of Jesus in Da Vinci’s The Last Supper actually be a woman? Don’t the Biblical records place 12 male disciples in the Upper Room with Jesus the night before He dies? To settle this issue it is vital to realize that Leonardo’s painting depicts the tense moment when Jesus announces that the hand of the betrayer is on the table. That is why he paints the disciples in dramatic dialogue with each other and not with the Messiah. Leonardo is not portraying the moment when Jesus says “This cup is the New Testament in My blood,” or all eyes would have been focused upon Him (Luke 22:20). These simple observations expose the mistaken emphasis Brown places on the fact of the ‘missing chalice’, which he interprets as Leonardo’s way of pointing to a Marion identity for the Holy Grail.
If all the characters at the table are men, why does the one on the right of Christ look so feminine? Da Vinci debunkers Sandra Miesel and Carl Olson explain: “The figure is undoubtedly effeminate, as Leonardo depicted the youthful John in early fifteenth-century Florentine style. This approach can be seen in other paintings of the period, including Leonardo’s own Saint John the Baptist (ca. 1513-1516), which depicts a young man who is quite effeminate in appearance and also has flowing hair and delicate hands.”36
As for the ‘mirror image’ Jesus and Mary theory which Brown borrowed from ‘The Templar Revelation’ by Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince (Simon & Schuster, 1998), noted art historian and critic E. H Gombrich explains, “…tradition still had St John leaning against Christ, and the only rapid sketch we have by Leonardo for this composition indicates he originally meant to adopt this tradition as well as the action of Christ reaching across the table to give the sop to Judas, who was generally placed there in isolation from the others.”37 However, Leonardo decided in the end to paint the twelve disciples in four groups of three. He portrays the apostle John as a mirror image of Christ firstly so that Christ might be seen as isolated at the moment of betrayal and, secondly, that though isolated Jesus and John will still be seen as “soul-mates…matched in outline, in (original) hue of garment and tilt of head.”38
Peter, John and Judas are grouped together for a purpose. Each man is destined for a distinct and notable role in the coming events surrounding the crucifixion. Once Jesus announces His imminent betrayal, Peter lunges forward wielding a knife as if to defend His Lord. John, who always described himself as ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’ and who enjoyed a special closeness to the Lord reacts altogether differently. He calmly reflects on the tragic meaning of the betrayal announcement of Christ. Peter and John, close friends who are fiercely loyal to Christ, thus form the backdrop for the traitor Judas, who is portrayed holding tightly to a bag of money.
As for the ‘V’ shape between Jesus and John (Brown’s ‘Mary’) forming the ‘focal point’ of the painting and representing ‘the female womb’ no evidence is forthcoming. The fact is, Jesus Himself is clearly the focal point with six disciples each side of Him and His head the only one totally silhouetted (by the central window). When asked whether or not Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting depicted Jesus and Mary Magdalene as a married couple, Joseph Forte, an art historian at Sarah Lawrence College replied, “I know of no serious scholar who has proposed this notion.”39
Based on the sentence in the Gnostic Gospel of Mary where Peter disagrees with Mary’s supposed esoteric revelations, Brown portrays him as a dagger-wielding sexist who is out to kill Mary in order to take her place as the chosen head of the church. In contrast Brown portrays Jesus is ‘the original feminist’ who wants to liberate Mary and promote the ‘sacred feminine’ among His followers. The truth is much less sensational. In the words of J. Michael Matkin, “There evidently was a tradition in the early church that associated Mary Magdalene with the viability of women serving in leadership…Mary was adopted as a symbol and spokesperson by those who found their views marginalized in the Christian movement.”40 So in summary, the Last Supper shows Peter wielding his knife in readiness to defend his Lord, while the passage in the Gospel of Mary that casts him in a harsh light is a false account designed to promote women in leadership, contrary to the character and content of the earlier Biblical gospel records.
7. First Century decorum
The fact that most Jewish men in the first century were married and that bachelorhood was frowned upon means, according to Dan Brown, that if Jesus were not married the Biblical gospels would certainly have mentioned the fact. Actually those familiar with the New Testament will know that the unmarried state receives a number of mentions, one from the lips of Jesus Himself. He speaks of people who have “made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake” (Matt 19:12). The apostle Paul recommended celibacy in his first letter to the Corinthians (7:7). In the same letter Paul, whose writings are indisputably the earliest in the history of Christianity, spoke of foregoing his right to have a wife (9:5). He said to the Corinthians, “Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?” If Jesus had been married, surely Paul would have cited Him as setting the greatest precedent of all – but he didn’t.
8. The Sangreal documents contain the bloodline?
There is no evidence anywhere in archaeology, literature or history of any kind to prove the existence of a bloodline from Christ to the present day through the ancient French Royal family or any other family. It is pure fantasy invented by the fraudulent Pierre Plantard, published in Holy Blood Holy Grail and copied by Dan Brown in The Da Vinci Code. The hand-written family tree that is supposedly hidden in a chest inside tomb of Mary Magdalene is a fiction. Period. The Sangreal documents don’t exist. They belong in the same category as Joseph Smith’s golden plates. The whole idea is a fabrication from beginning to end, concocted by those who desire to undermine the Bible.
Brown claims that the word Holy Grail stems not from ‘holy chalice’ but from ‘royal blood’. The trick, according to Brown’s character Teabing, is in how you divide the word Sangreal (the title of the non-existent documents on which the whole hoax is built). If you divide it as San Greal it means Holy Grail. However if it is divided as Sang Real, as Brown claims it was done in its most ancient form, it means ‘blood royal’ i.e. royal blood (in old French).
Those who delight in fanciful conspiracy tales may find this an eye-opening revelation. Others who prefer real history can check out the etymology of the words ‘holy grail’ in any serious dictionary. What they will discover is that grail comes from the Old French graal or grael (a flat dish), from the Low Latin gradalis (a flat dish) and ultimately from the Greek krater (a bowl). Of course, the concept of a Holy Grail is not found anywhere within the pages of the Bible. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, “The first extant text to give such a vessel Christian significance as a mysterious, holy object was Chrétien de Troyes’s late 12th-century unfinished romance Perceval, or Le Conte du Graal.”41 That’s over 1,000 years after Christ. As for Mary being from the house of Benjamin. This is more fanciful nonsense from Brown, totally devoid of any historical proof. Even if she had come from the line of Benjamin, for her to marry a man from the Tribe of Judah would not have involved the fusion of two royal bloodlines. The Benjamites were not the Kingly tribe.
What can we know for sure about Mary? In twelve passages about her spread across the four Biblical Gospels we learn that she is called ‘the Magdalene’ after her hometown Magdala (Luke 8:2). On becoming a follower of Christ she was the subject of an exorcism, after which she joined a group of women who ministered to the needs of their Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. She was present at the cross among a group of Christ’s followers and family (Matt 27:55-56). Lastly she witnesses the resurrection of Christ, and after having a unique meeting with the risen Messiah, is sent by Him to announce His resurrection to the disciples (John 20:11-18). There is devotion, worship and a special relationship – but not the slightest hint of anything approaching the fanciful notions of Dan Brown and the other authors on whom he relied.
Never once is Mary Magdalene called a prostitute in the Bible. Half a dozen centuries after Christ, on September 21st 591AD, in a homily preached at the basilica of San Clemente in Rome, Pope Gregory the Great stated that the ‘sinner’ who anointed the Lord’s feet in Luke 7:37 is Mary Magdalene, who is mentioned a few verses later as having been demon possessed (Luke 8:2). To add to the confusion, many others have mistakenly conflated the story of the sinful woman who anoints the Lord’s feet in Luke Ch. 7 with the story of the woman who anoints His feet in John Ch. 12. The woman in John 12 is indeed called Mary, but she is a different Mary altogether to the Magdalene, while the ‘sinful woman’ of Luke 7 is not named. Small wonder that there were mistakes of interpretation made – but to imagine that it involved a deliberate conspiracy to obliterate the sacred feminine from religion, a conspiracy cooked up in the highest echelons of the Christian Church no less, is just more baseless conjecture on Brown’s part.
The Mask Slips
Why would anyone set out to write such a book as The Da Vinci Code? What is Dan Brown’s motive? The answer is to be found on his official website. There he betrays his own Gnostic worldview in the following revealing words: “Faith is a continuum and we all fall on that line wherever we may fall…Each of us must follow our own path to enlightenment…There is enormous danger in believing…that our version of the truth is absolute.”42 Like so many others, Brown is absolutely sure that no one can be absolutely sure. Yet in his book he claims to know a lie when he sees it. For Brown, the Biblical narrative of a divine Christ who became flesh, lived a sinless life, died on the cross for the sins of the world and rose again bodily from the dead three days later is a lie. It is, to use his exact words, ‘false’ (p. 318) and a ‘fabrication’ (p. 451). His bias is all too obvious. When Christians claim to have the absolute truth Brown labels them as dangerous, but when Brown himself claims to know that Christianity is based on an absolute lie he calls himself a truth-teller. As for Brown’s Gnostic Christ and his androgynous god, that’s no ‘version of the truth’ at all. It’s an outright perversion.
Brown is following his own path to Gnosis, or enlightenment. In doing so he is mirroring the course of human history since the fall of man when, turning his back on his creator and defying God’s authority, man went his own way, pursuing the deception he had been sold; “You shall be as gods” (Gen 3:5). The results that flowed from man’s original exercise of his sinful autonomy and rebellion are seen in everything that is wrong with our world today.
True enlightenment begins by turning one’s back on “finding the answer within oneself” and instead agreeing with God’s assessment of the human condition in His word the Bible which states: “We are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses [good deeds] are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away” (Isa 64:6). True wisdom lies in humbling oneself and bowing at the feet of the Creator, acknowledging one’s sinfulness before a holy God. Eternal life and personal salvation are available for all, though attainable by none through self-effort and religious works. God has provided the way for sinners to be reconciled to Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ, the only Saviour of mankind. Jesus says about Himself: “I am the way, the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except by Me” (John 14:6).
The true path to light, forgiveness and peace with God is to turn from sin and self and rely for personal salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ alone who died for sinners on the cross and rose again the third day. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph 2:8-9)
Questions or comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Speaking on the DVD documentary Breaking The Da Vinci Code, (Spokane, WA: Grizzly Adams Productions, 2005).
2. All page numbers are from the Corgi Books edition of The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, published by Transworld Publishers, London, 2004.
3. Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln, Holy Blood Holy Grail (New York, NY: Dell, 1983).
4. Dan Brown, interview by Charles Gibson, Good Morning America, ABC, November 3rd 2003.
5. Leigh Teabing is a combination/anagram of the two surnames of Richard Leigh and Michael Baigent who, with Henry Lincoln, wrote Holy Blood Holy Grail (1983).
6. Quoted by Jeffery L. Sheler, Is the Bible True? How Modern Debates and Discoveries Affirm the Essence of the Scriptures (San Francisco: Harper; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999), 151.
7. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2003 CD-ROM. Biblical Literature/New Testament Canon and Versions/Texts and Versions/Textual Criticism.
8. For example, they record the fact that the first witnesses to see Christ after His resurrection were women (Matt 28:1-8). In the legal culture of 1st Century Judaism, the testimony of women was deemed unreliable. They also frequently recorded their own failings and weaknesses, and the many difficult, controversial and seemingly harsh sayings of Jesus.
9. Professor Peter Stoner, Science Speaks (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1963).
10. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2003 CD-ROM. Nicaea, Council of.
11. Irenaeus, Ante-Nicene Fathers (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999), Vol 1, 428.
12. Ignatius, Ante-Nicene Fathers (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999), Vol 1, 62.
13. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2003 CD-ROM. John, Gospel According to.
14. F.F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity, 1972), 20.
15. C.S. Lewis, “What Are We To Make of Jesus Christ?” The Grand Miracle: Essays from God in the Dock (New York: Ballantine, 1983), 113.
16. Ignatius, Ante-Nicene Fathers (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999), Vol 1, 73.
17. Origen, Ante-Nicene Fathers (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999), Vol 4, 413.
18. Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2002), Vol 3, 629.
19. Tertullian, Ante-Nicene Fathers (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999), Vol 3, 345-353.
20. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2003 CD-ROM. Marcionite.
21. Geza Vermes, The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English (London: Penguin Books, 2004), 21.
22. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2003 CD-ROM. Grail.
23. Hegesippus, Ante-Nicene Fathers (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999), Vol 8, 764.
24. Irenaeus, Ante-Nicene Fathers (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999), Vol 1, 429.
25. J. Michael Matkin, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Gnostic Gospels (New York, NY: Alpha Books, 2005), 38.
26. Tertullian, Ante-Nicene Fathers (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999), Vol 3, 503.
27. This table was constructed using information gleaned from the following works: The Nag Hammadi Library (New York, NY: HarperSanFrancisco, 1990), The Secret Gospels of Jesus (London: Dartman, Longman & Todd, 2005) and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Gnostic Gospels (New York, NY: Alpha Books, 2005).
28. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2003 CD-ROM. Patristic Literature, the Ante-Nicene Period.
29. In a Gnostic library of thirteen ancient codices discovered at Nag Hammadi in Egypt in 1945, along with the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Philip and Valentinus’ Gospel of Truth, a segment from Plato’s Republic was found.
30. James M. Robinson, General Editor, The Nag Hammadi Library (New York, NY: HarperSanFrancisco, 1990), 141.
31. J. Michael Matkin, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Gnostic Gospels (New York, NY: Alpha Books, 2005), 135.
32. Consider: “Some said Mary became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. They are wrong…Mary is the virgin whom none of the powers defiled.” Or “Abraham circumcised the flesh of the foreskin, thus teaching us that it is necessary to destroy the flesh.” Selections from the Gospel of Philip in The Secret Gospels of Jesus (London, Dartman Longman and Todd Ltd., 2005).
33. Ben Witherington, The Gospel Code (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004), p. 35.
34. Marvin Meyer, The Secret Gospels of Jesus (London: Dartman, Longman & Todd, 2005), 37.
35. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2003 CD-ROM. Mary Magdalene, Saint.
36. Carl Olson and Sandra Miesel, The Da Vinci Hoax (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2004), p. 269-270.
37. E. H. Gombrich, Papers Given on the Occasion of the Dedication of The Last Supper (after Leonardo), Magdalen College, Oxford, March 10, 1993. Accessed online at http://davinci.ntu.ac.uk/gombrich/oxford.htm
38. Leo Steinberg Leonardo’s Incessant Last Supper (New York, NY: Zone Books, 2001), p. 76.
39. Quote by Carl Olsen & Sandra Miesel in The Da Vinci Hoax (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2004), 240.
40. J. Michael Matkin, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Gnostic Gospels (New York, NY: Alpha Books, 2005), 90.
41. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2003 CD-ROM. Grail.