Claims of The Da Vinci Code.
The Da Vinci Code is an action packed thriller novel by Dan Brown which has become a best seller and is to be made into a film. It is also a powerful attack on the foundations of Christianity. Of the book’s nearly 600 pages only a few have spiritual significance. I will ignore the story which is a compelling and exciting one (although very far fetched) involving murder in the Louvre, a police chase from Paris to London, secret societies, cracking codes and narrow escapes from death for the hero, Robert Langdon, a Harvard professor, and heroine, Sophie Neveu, a French code breaker.
The ‘behind the scenes’ antagonists in the book are the Priory of Sion, where it is claimed the secret of the ‘Sangreal’ (Holy Grail) has been hidden, and Opus Dei, a Catholic sect prepared to kill in order to discover and destroy this secret. In the introduction Brown claims that what he says about both groups is factual and that all descriptions of ‘artwork, architecture, documents and secret rituals in the novel are accurate’.
According to the book, the Priory of Sion was founded in 1099 by the French king Godefroi de Bouillon. He was possessor of a powerful secret that had been in his family since the time of Christ and founded the Priory to preserve this secret, which was contained in documents hidden beneath the ruins of the Temple in Jerusalem. These documents had been retrieved by the Knights Templars during the Crusader time.
The Templars became rich through the banking system they set up, but in 1307 Pope Clement issued sealed orders that they were heretics guilty of devil worship and claimed that God had told him to eliminate them. They were purged on orders from the Vatican but the documents were saved and entrusted to the Priory of Sion which is a secret society preserving the information from generation to generation. Leonardo da Vinci, Sir Isaac Newton and Victor Hugo were prominent members. The documents reveal information about the Holy Grail, which is not (as is popularly believed) the cup that Jesus drank from at Last Supper in which Joseph of Arimathea caught his blood at the crucifixion.
The expression used for the Holy Grail is Sangreal, which in old French can be divided as san / greal (holy grail) or sang / real (royal blood). The real meaning of the Holy Grail is that it is the royal blood line of Jesus and Mary Magdalene who were married and had a child who was the ancestress of the French Merovingian kings. It turns out that Sophie Neveu is of this blood line at the end of the novel.
This has been suppressed from the time of the Council of Nicea in AD 325 when, under the influence of Roman Emperor Constantine, the New Testament was fixed with its present four Gospels which were selected from numerous other documents containing details of Jesus’ life. The other writings contain information about the alternative Jesus who was just a great man, married to Mary Magdalene. They were destroyed on the orders of the church. The doctrine of the divinity of Jesus was not part of original Christianity and was narrowly voted in only at the Council of Nicea. Jesus had entrusted the future of the church to Mary Magdalene which upset the male disciples of Jesus. The New Testament now accepted by the church is not the genuine account of the life of Jesus or of the early church therefore Christianity as we know it today is built on a lie.
This is a male dominated conspiracy to obliterate ‘the sacred feminine’ and goddess worship from religion. Within the concept of ‘the sacred feminine’ is the idea that women should be priests and that the sexual act should be considered a pathway to commune with God. Sophie’s grandfather, Jacques Saunière, (whose murder sets the ball rolling in the novel) turns out to have been a high priest of the ‘sacred feminine’ and Sophie had been alienated from him because she found him engaged in a group sex act known as Hieros Gamos.
The church suppressed this teaching and as a result became male dominant, resulting in wars and ‘life out of balance’, with women-hating societies showing disrespect for Mother Earth. The Holy Grail itself is an ancient symbol for womanhood celebrating the power of the feminine. The church through the story of Eve committing the original sin puts the blame on woman, but the Grail elevates woman, in particular Mary Magdalene who ‘carried with her a secret so powerful that if revealed it threatened to devastate the very foundation of Christianity’ (page 322).
Are these claims true?
The claim that the book is historically accurate does not stand up to examination. The original Priory of Sion was a regular Catholic priory of monks which existed from around 1100 to 1617. The Priory of Sion relevant to this issue was invented by a Frenchman called Pierre Plantard in the early 1960s. Plantard was an occultist who admired Hitler and thought the world should be ruled by a ‘government of spiritual elite’. He fabricated documents about the Priory of Sion which was supposed to have preserved records of the bloodline of Jesus and Mary Magdalene (of which he was one of the descendants). He then placed them in credible places including French museums with forged certificates of authentication. Plantard died after being involved in a financial scandal in 1993. Documents were found in his apartment certifying him to be the true King of France. Not the most credible of information sources!
Plantard’s ideas crossed the Channel when an English actor, Henry Lincoln, associated with him and reproduced his story in three documentaries broadcast on the BBC during the 1970s. Despite the fact that many people knew that Plantard’s documents were a fake the story gained credence and Lincoln then co-authored the book The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail (Jonathan Cape, London) with Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh. This book is a recognised source of The Da Vinci Code. In fact Baigent and Leigh unsuccessfully sued Dan Brown for plagiarising their material. They were also no doubt annoyed to find their surnames linked to the villain of the novel, Sir Leigh Teabing (Teabing is an anagram of Baigent).
In the novel Robert Langdon, a Harvard professor, is the source of much of the supposedly accurate historical information and an unsuspecting person could easily be fooled into thinking that this eminently reasonable man is speaking the truth. The other source of information is Sir Leigh Teabing who, despite turning out to be the villain of the piece, presents information on the Holy Grail in an authoritative way which appears to be historical and accurate.
From the Christian point of view there are three main points made in the book which need to be challenged.
- The claim that the Council of Nicea invented the doctrine of the divinity of Jesus.
- The claim that the Bible was collated by the emperor Constantine.
- The claim that the ‘sacred feminine’ is the original idea of the divine which was replaced by the dominant male God of the Bible.
We will look at these three points in the following chapters.