"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables."
The Da Vinci Code is a novel, but it claims to be based on facts. Dr. Paul Maier makes a great point: What if you had a novel allegedly set with a World War II backdrop—only in this novel, Germany won the war? That doesn't work because that is not what happened. It is OK for a novelist to create a fictional story and even a fictional setting if he wishes. What you can't do with impunity is create a fictional foreground and fictional background, the latter of which you claim is based on fact. That is precisely what Dan Brown has done. His "fact" is just as much fiction as his fiction.
We are all entitled to our own opinions, but we are not entitled to our own facts.
Upon examination, The Da Vinci Code is chock full of errors. Some are unimportant; others, if true, would spell the end of Christianity. If they were true, by the way, we would be the first to abandon the faith. We do not seek to perpetuate something which is untrue. We do not seek to worship the Jesus Christ who never really was. As Paul said, if Jesus were not raised from the dead—if His body did not come out of that tomb—then our faith is vain and we are most pitied of all men (1 Corinthians 15:19).
Instead, the Christian faith rests on a very secure foundation. How firm? So firm that the apostles—the ones Jesus picked to send out into all the world—sealed their testimony with their own blood. All but John (and Judas the traitor) died a martyr's death. Historian Paul Maier pointed out about the Resurrection in our award-winning television special, Who Is This Jesus:
Myths do not make martyrs, and if this story had been invented, they would not have gone to death for it. If Peter had invented the account, as he's ready to be hoisted up on a cross in
Rome, he would've blown the whistle and said, "Hold it! I'll plea bargain with you. I'll tell you how we did it if I can come off with my life."17 Of course, it is chic these days for some scholars to reject the resurrection of Christ. Why do they do that? Because of their underlying presuppositions. They accuse us of bias, but in reality their biases are greater. They "know" the Resurrection could not have happened, because people don't rise from the dead; therefore, Jesus did not rise from the dead.
Let's take an example. For our Who Is This Jesus, we interviewed Amy-Jill Levine, professor of Vanderbilt Divinity School. By her own admission, she is a Jewish professor of the New Testament who does not believe that Jesus is the divine Son of God. (Even though she does not believe that He is the Messiah, she is training future ministers.) Here is what she says about the alleged appearances of the resurrected Jesus to the disciples:
Did they see Jesus? Yeah, I think they did. I think if you went up to Peter and said, "Did you see Jesus?" Peter would have said, "Absolutely!" Mary Magdalene, "Did you see Jesus?" "Absolutely!" Could I have caught it on a camera? I don't think so.18 But why does Dr. Amy Jill Levine dispute the biblical testimony about Christ's physical, bodily resurrection? She said:
If rising from the dead means He and His own fully dead body came back to life and walked out of the tomb and said, "Hello, I am back from the dead." I don't think so. That so strains my sense of what is possible.19 In other words, the disbelief stems from a pre-com-mitment to the idea that such a thing simply cannot happen. In this view, because physical resurrection from the dead is pre-judged as impossible, the physical resurrection of Christ could not have happened.
Dan Brown doesn't necessarily deny the resurrection of Christ. He simply ignores it, but it is the foundation of the Christian faith. If Jesus is not risen from the dead, then Christianity is false. The Christian Church rests on a solid foundation, a foundation based on eyewitness testimony that was sealed in the apostles' own blood. We have nothing to fear from people seeking the truth. The truth is on our side.
Dr. Sam Lamerson, Knox Theological Seminary professor, disputes the claims of scholars like Amy-Jill Levine. He believes the historical evidence is on the side of the bodily resurrection of Christ. He notes all those who died without recanting that they had seen the risen Jesus.
Those people who died did so knowing that it was going to be painful, knowing that it was going to be embarrassing, knowing that it was going to be terror-filled, and yet they did it any way, as a direct result of the fact that they believed that Jesus Christ was God. And they lived in the 1st century, and we live in the 21st century. And it seems to me that it is the height of arrogance for us to say in the 21st century, "You, all you people who died, you were just foolish; you just didn't know any better. And, now, we scholars, we know a lot better then you do."20 Because of the critical nature of Christ's resurrection, we will deal with it even further in the Chapter 5 of this book.
Here are some of the many errors in The Da Vinci Code. Some of these have been or will be treated at greater length in other parts of the book, but this is a summary of these many errors—trivial and otherwise. This is by no means an exhaustive list. First we will list the errors, and then we will restate them and refute them, some in greater detail than others:
• The chief murderer in the novel is a monk from the Catholic group.
• Opus Dei, which looms large in the novel, was created in 1099 by the Knights Templar, whom the Catholic Church later tried to exterminate to keep buried the secret which they had possession of—the secret which could undermine the foundation of the Church— the secret revealed in The Da Vinci Code.
• In The Last Supper, Leonardo da Vinci painted Mary Magdalene as the one next to Jesus. One of Brown's proofs is that John looks so feminine.
• "The New Testament is false testimony."21
• The doctrine that Jesus was divine was created by a pagan emperor in the 4th century, Constantine, for the purposes of power.
• Constantine created the Bible.
• Constantine was a pagan.
• The Church destroyed the gospels that challenged the four canonical ones.
• There were eighty Gnostic gospels.
• There are thousands of documents besides the New Testament documents.
• The Gnostic gospels uniformly teach the "sacred feminine."
• Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, and the Gnostic gospels teach that.
• Five million witches were murdered by the Church because of the Witches' Hammer Book.
• Christianity was based on pagan religions— such as the mystery religions. Specifically, Dan Brown states: "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."22
This list of errors is by no means unabridged.
REFUTATION OF THESE ERRORS
Error: The chief murderer23 in the novel is a monk from the Catholic group, Opus Dei.
Rebuttal: Opus Dei (the Work of God), a real organization The Last Temptation of Christ, founded in 1928, has no monks. In fact, the idea itself is contrary to their purposes, which is to energize Catholic lay people.
Error: The Priory of Sion, which looms large in the novel, was created in 1099 by the Knights Templar, whom the Catholic Church later tried to exterminate in order to keep the secret they had buried—the secret which could undermine the foundation of the Church— the secret revealed in The Da Vinci Code.
Rebuttal: The Priory of Sion was created out of whole cloth in 1956 by a French anti-Semite con man, Pierre Plantard. In 1975, documents were found in the Biblioteque Nationale in Paris24 that allegedly proved the Priory is as old as 1099, and that Leonardo da Vinci and Isaac Newton and other luminaries secretly presided over it. These documents were proved to be fakes. Paul Maier notes, "In fact, one of Plantard's henchmen admitted to assisting him in the fabrication of these materials, including the genealogical tables and lists of the Priory's grand masters—all trumpeted as truth in The Da Vinci Code."25 Yet this is one of the pillars Brown rests his case on. Brown states on p. 1, before getting into the novel: FACT:
The Priory of Sion—a European secret society founded in 1099—is a real organization. In 1975 Paris's Bibliotheque Nationale discovered parchments known as Les Dossiers Secrets, identifying numerous Members of the Priory of Sion, including Sir Isaac Newton, Botticelli, Victor Hugo, and Leonardo da Vinci.26 Historian Paul Maier makes a great point about the Internet. He says if you go into any reputable library and look for information in print about the Priory of Sion, you will find virtually nothing. But if you check the Internet, you will find all sorts of dazzling websites (especially in the wake of the success of The Da Vinci Code).
The Knights Templar, however, was a real organization that grew out of the Crusades. It was created in 1118—not 1099 and made up of crusader monks who claimed allegiance and love to Jesus Christ. (Dan Brown turns them into pagan worshipers of the goddess and of an idol Baphomet.)
It is interesting that virtually every time Dan Brown deals with an historical figure, he corrupts their memories. That includes the Knights Templer, Constantine, Mary Magdalene, Leonardo da Vinci, Isaac Newton, and above all, Jesus Christ. Except for Leonardo (and Jesus), all the others worshiped Jesus Christ, and even Leonardo accepted Christianity on his deathbed. You wouldn't know any of that from The Da Vinci Code.
The Knights Templer grew so rich and powerful that it was eventually persecuted by the King of France (Philip the Fair), with permission of the Medieval Church. Brown claims that the knights found secret troves of documents under Solomon's temple that would undermine the Church. There is not a scintilla of evidence to support the claim. The only documents he ever refers to are the Gnostic gospels, such as the Gospel of Philip, or the Dead Sea Scrolls—which he apparently does not realize are pre-Christian Jewish documents only. Some critics even tear into the novel literature-wise, because he intro duces these alleged treasure troves of documents that never get revisited in the book.
Error: In the Last Supper, Leonardo da Vinci allegedly painted Mary Magdalene as the one next to Jesus.
Rebuttal: One of Dan Brown's proofs is that John looks so feminine, but John is often portrayed in such a way in art because he was young. Go to any cathedral and look at the stained glass images of John. (Just as you can identify Peter because he is holding keys and you can tell Andrew because he is holding a Cross like an X (the kind on which he was crucified), so you can tell John by his feminine looks, and often he is holding a chalice, sometimes with a dragon popping out.) John often looks feminine. This was not unique to Leonardo. But suppose it were the case that Leonardo intentionally painted Mary Magdalene next to Jesus instead of John, because Jesus and Mary were allegedly married, and Leonardo was in on the secret, then I have two observations:
• Where is the "beloved disciple" John? He is not in the picture. Where is he? Under the table? Dan Brown's contention (based on the 1982 bestseller with a heterodox message, Holy Grail, Holy Blood) is absurd.
• And even if it were true that Leonardo intended to encode these anti-Church messages about the real Jesus, so what? Granted he was a genius, but what did he know while painting some 1,500 years after Jesus Christ?
Error: "The New Testament is false testimony."27 Rebuttal: The New Testament was sealed with the apostles' blood. They put their money where their mouth is. The Greek word for "witness"—as in the idea of witnessing to the truth about Jesus is "martyro," from whence we get the word martyr. Why? Because so many witnesses to Jesus, e.g., the apostles, were killed for testifying about what they themselves saw. Brown just glibly ignores this history and instead exalts the questionable writings of the second, third and fourth century Gnostic Christians, who were sexual libertines for the most part. (Other Gnostics were strict legalists.) We will deal with the reliability of the New Testament in an entire chapter.
Error: The doctrine that Jesus was divine was created by a pagan emperor in the fourth century, Constantine, for the purposes of manipulation: "It was all about power."28
Rebuttal: After the Resurrection, Christians worshiped Jesus because He was divine. They called Him Kurios, the Greek word for "Lord." In the Septuagint— the Greek translation of the Old Testament that Jesus and the apostles had (translated roughly 150 b.c.), the word used for Yahweh is Kurios. For a Jew to say that a human was Kurios was absolutely forbidden. The idea that Jesus was claiming Himself divine put Him repeatedly at odds with the temple authorities:
Jesus answered, "I and the Father are one." Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, "I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?" "We are not stoning you for any of these," replied the Jews, "but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God" (John 10:25, 30-33, NIV). These words come from a first century document, the Gospel of John. Most scholars think it was written near the end of the first century. Some scholars think— with good cause—that it was written before a.d. 70, when Jerusalem and its temple were destroyed. There was no mention of these cataclysmic events (an argument from silence), but more importantly, there is reference to things as if they were still there. For example, in John 5:2, it says, "Now there is in Jerusalem." (emphasis ours). How could this be if Jerusalem had already been devastated?
Error: The vote at the Council of Nicea, supposedly determining that Jesus was divine. No one believed that prior to Nicea.
Rebuttal: That is errant nonsense. Again, in the Gospels, written in the first century, we see that Jesus was divine. This is why He was delivered up to be crucified. The Jews accused Him of blasphemy, which is why the Jews arrested Jesus and had a "trial" among themselves: Again, the high priest asked Him, "Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?"
Jesus said, "I am," "And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven."
Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, "What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy! What do you think?" And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death. (Mark 14:61-64).
Note that in the Greek, when Jesus said, "I am," it is emphatic. We could translate it, "I AM!" (which to His hearers was a veiled reference to Exodus 3:14, when God identifies Himself to Moses as the great "I AM.")
Even Arius, the heretic (and catalyst for the Nicene Council), is closer to the truth than Dan Brown. Arius believed that Jesus was a god, a created being, who then co-created the universe with the Father. But there was a time when He was not, declared Arius. To resolve the conflict between Arianism and orthodox views, Constantine called the Council.
Let's take a moment to look at the historical backdrop. In the first three centuries of its existence, the Church was struggling for its very survival, as it suffered under ten intense waves of persecution from the Roman Empire, which eminent historian Will Durant calls "the greatest state history has ever known."29
Here you have the fledgling Christian Church fighting for its survival amid the fiercest opposition imaginable. The fact that Christianity survived and even thrived is an incredible miracle and a testimony to its divine nature.
During that survival mode, we don't necessarily look to most of those first three century Church fathers (apart from the apostles who penned portions of the Bible) for complete doctrinal clarity. As a new baby struggling in the world, the Christian faith was being threatened by all sides. There were no church buildings in those days or Christian broadcasting or publishing. Christianity was completely underground. The only creeds were very general. They only summarized the key doctrines, like the Apostles' Creed, reported to be from the second century. The canon of the New Testament wasn't even officially complete—although there was a de facto canon in operation that consisted of about 80 percent of the New Testament.
Then, in 313, when the Church was made legal under Emperor Constantine, doctrinal conflicts that had been simmering all along began to come to the forefront. The first key conflict revolved around the deity of Jesus Christ and, therefore, the triune nature of God. Was Jesus inferior to the Father? Was He "made" as opposed to "begotten"? In one sense, we could say the conflict was over the eternality (not deity) of Jesus Christ. That is, was He a created being, even if He was in some way divine? Was there "a time when He was not"? Those very words come from Arius (d. 336), presbyter of Alexandria, who believed that to be the case. (We can see the gist of the Arian views of Jesus' inferior divinity in the modern cult of the Jehovah's Witnesses.)
Although the understanding of the Trinity and the divine nature of Jesus is virtually universally accepted today by Christians of all denominations (not counting cult groups on the fringe), this acceptance didn't come easily, even after the Nicene Council. For half a century (from 325 to 381), a strong battle raged between Athanasius, who championed the Trinity (as we know it), and the followers of Arius, who championed a Jesus who was divine, but created. (When Constantine was finally baptized, near his death in 337, he was baptized by an Arian bishop. So at that particular point, the Arians were winning.) The orthodox formalized the traditional view of the Trinity in the Nicene Creed (325), but it was hotly contested. Yet, when the vote was finally cast, 316 bishops voted against Arius' views—only two voted with him. At some dark points in the 4th century, St. Athanasius and the doctrine of the Trinity were actually banished from the Empire, while Arianism was officially adopted.
But in the end, truth triumphed over error. "Begotten" triumphed over "made." Athanasius triumphed over Arius, who was declared a heretic.
In 381, with the Council of Constantinople, the Church settled the matter once and for all. Now, centuries later, millions of Christians the world over will affirm this Sunday that Jesus was "begotten," not "made." That is to say, tens of millions of people who bear the name of Christ, whether they understand the words they recite or not, will affirm these biblical truths from the Nicene Creed:
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in Being with the Father. Through him all things were made.30
While the Bible does not teach the Trinity per se, nor does it use the term, which was coined by the second century theologian Tertullian, the Scriptures declare seven basic truths from which we conclude that God is triune:
the Father is God; the Son is God; the Spirit is God; the Father is not the Son; the Father is not the Spirit; the Son is not the Spirit; there is only one God.31 Those seven statements—all of which have ample Scriptural backing—are the reason Christians believe in the Trinity. Dan Brown rejects this because he rejects that Jesus is the Son is God.
Dan Brown's view that the early Christians believed Jesus was only a mortal rests on historical quicksand. From the very beginning, Christians worshiped Jesus as the Son of God. Jim Garlow and Peter Jones have compiled a list of several Church Fathers—all of whom wrote before the Council of Nicea in 325—affirming this most basic Christian doctrine that Jesus was divine. Those Fathers include: Ignatius (writing in 105 a.d.), Clement (150), Justin Martyr (160), Irenaeus (180), Tertullian (200), Origen (225), Novatian (235), Cyprian (250), Methodius (290), Lactantius (304), Arnobius (305).32 Furthermore, one of the earliest Christian creeds was "Jesus is the Lord" (Kurios) (1 Corinthians 12:3). Error: Constantine created the Bible. Rebuttal: Constantine had nothing to do with the canon of the New Testament. (We will address the canon in further detail momentarily.)
Error: Constantine was a pagan.
Rebuttal: This is debatable. Only God knows the heart, but Constantine claimed to be a Christian. He gave freedom to the Christians for the first time in the three hundred years of their existence. The fact that he was baptized on his deathbed—which Dan Brown says is because he was so old and feeble, he couldn't object— reflects historical ignorance. It was a common custom at the time for many converts to postpone baptism until they were at death's door, lest they die after having significantly sinned. (We would not agree with the custom, but no one should read anything into it that is not there.)
Error: They destroyed the gospels that challenged the four canonical ones.
Rebuttal: Not true. The only destruction of "Scriptures" related to Christianity (either biblical ones or extra-biblical ones) was done by Roman emperors in persecutions, e.g., Diocletian did that a couple years before Constantine took the throne.
The great thing about the New Testament is its degree of reliability. It is without question the best-attested book of antiquity. When New Testament scholars are examining the New Testament, what exactly are they working with? They are working with manuscripts which are, of course, handwritten copies of the original Greek text. The printing press wasn't invented until 1456. Until then, monks laboriously copied each biblical manu script by hand, just as had been done for thousands of years before by Jewish scribes. In fact, that is the way the Torah is still copied today. Dr. Paul Maier, professor of Ancient History, notes: "There was a rule in recopying the Old Testament, for example, that if you made a mistake in the two-page segment, you began all over again."33
Fairly recent discoveries have helped confirm the accuracy of this tradition. In 1947, in what is now Israel, near the community of Qumran, a shepherd found scrolls that we have come to call the Dead Sea Scrolls. (Dan Brown mistakenly puts the find in the 1950s, a small error—but indicative of the larger picture: His facts are fiction. A worse error is his asserting that they include Christian documents). Found among the Dead Sea Scrolls were copies of the Old Testament book of Isaiah. Previous to this find, our earliest known copy of Isaiah was dated 10 th century a.d. If we compare, say, Chapter 53 from one of the Dead Sea Scrolls with the 10th century scroll, we discover—after more than 850 years of copying and recopying—virtually no differences, and certainly nothing that changes the meaning. Paul Maier says this demonstrates, "the care with which the biblical scribes would transmit this data, the care that the monks devoted."
Similar care has been shown to the transmission of the New Testament text. In the vast majority of the texts, these minor differences don't change the meaning, nor do they call in dispute any major doctrine.
Dr. D. A. Carson, professor at Trinity Evangelical
Divinity School north of Chicago, notes: "Almost all text critics will acknowledge that 96—even 97 percent—of the text of the Greek New Testament is morally certain; it's just not in dispute."34 The 3-4 percent "in dispute" cast no doubt on the major doctrines of the faith, all of which are established by multiple verses in the New Testament. Most of the 3-4 percent "in dispute" is minor word or spelling discrepancies or word order rearrangements (which doesn't change the meaning in Greek). That 96-97 percent text certainty is an extremely high number for any book of antiquity. The only thing coming close would be the Old Testament.
Furthermore, there are more than 5,000 whole or partial copies of the Greek New Testament. Scholars translate our modern English Bibles from these Greek New Testament texts. There are also thousands of early manuscript copies in other languages, such as Latin, Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, and so on, that are all based on the original Greek manuscripts. Because of the sheer number of the ancient manuscripts, the New Testament is unequaled among the writings of antiquity.
Dr. Bruce Metzger, retired professor from Princeton Theological Seminary and top-notch Bible scholar, says, "The very fact that there are so many copies still available from ancient times means that the degree of reliability of what has been transmitted to us in the New Testament is at a high level."35
When we compare the Greek New Testament with other writings of antiquity, we see how well-attested the New Testament is. For example, Julius Caesar wrote
Gallic Wars; we have ten known manuscript copies. Plato's Tetralogies? There are seven known manuscript copies in existence. The New Testament, however, is in a league of its own with more than 5,000 manuscript copies in the original Greek alone.
Outside the Bible, the best attested writings of antiquity are the writings of the Greek author Homer, with 647 total manuscripts in existence. Dr. N. T. Wright, former Canon Theologian of Westminster Abbey, remarks, "The New Testament documents are very reliable. We have better manuscript evidence for the New Testament than for any other ancient book."36
Furthermore, when one compares the time span between the author's date of completion and the earliest known manuscript in existence, the historical support for the New Testament is overwhelming. Caesar wrote his Gallic Wars some time before his death in 44 b.c., yet the earliest copy in existence is dated 900 a.d.—that is a gap of one thousand years. Plato wrote his Tetralogies some time before 347 b.c., yet the earliest manuscript copy is dated around 900 a.d., a time gap of 1,200 years. Contrast this to the New Testament ... which was completed no later than 100 a.d., but the earliest known manuscript containing most of the New Testament is dated about 350 a.d. This means that the time gap for the New Testament is only about 250 years, and there are manuscript fragments even earlier than that.
Dr. Sam Lamerson of Knox Theological Seminary observes, "It seems to me that if you throw out the reliability of the New Testament documents, one must become an historical agnostic. If you're not going to accept that as basically historically reliable, you cannot accept any writings as historically reliable, because we do not have of them the same amount of backing that we do for the New Testament."37
And so N. T. Wright notes that the New Testament is in a league of its own among ancient books, including the Gnostic gospels, which are Dan Brown's key source from antiquity: "The New Testament is simply on a different scale entirely in terms of the depth and range of the manuscript evidence."38
Error: There were eighty Gnostic gospels. Rebuttal: By any criterion, that number is grossly exaggerated. One liberal scholar, Dr. Bart D. Ehrman of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, says there may have been 17 (5 of which are the 5 gospels found in the Nag Hammadi texts). Even if we accept that figure, 17, it is far less than 80.
Perhaps the most respected recent Bible scholar, who died a few years ago, was the Catholic Raymond Brown, editor of the massive The New Jerome Biblical Commentary. He was respected by liberals and moderates alike (but not necessarily by all conservatives, because he was too liberal for them). Brown says of the Gnostic writings, such as the 52 Gnostic texts (including five "gospels") found at Nag Hammadi: They were rubbish then (in the second, third, and fourth centuries). They are rubbish now.39
Error: There are thousands of documents besides the New Testament documents. Teabing states about
Jesus: ".his life was recorded by thousands of followers across the land."40
Rebuttal: Try 52—at least that is the number of the Gnostic documents found at Nag Hammadi in 1945. There are other Gnostic writings beyond the Nag Hammadi texts, but no reputable scholar would agree that there were thousands (or even hundreds) of such texts, nor were they written by eyewitnesses.
Try reading some of these Gnostic texts sometimes. They are often full of gibberish. For example, here is a portion of The Gospel of Philip (c. 250 a.d.)—Brown's only early source on the alleged union between Jesus and Mary Magdalene:
The lord went into the dye works of Levi. He took seventy-two different colors and threw them into the vat. He took them all out white. And he said, "Even so has the son of man come [as] a dyer."41
Erwin Lutzer says of The Gospel of Philip: "Read this gospel and you will find it to be a rambling and disjointed work.."42
Returning to the idea that Christ's life and words were recorded by "thousands of followers," Dr. Gary Habermas points out that 90 percent of the population at that time in Israel was illiterate, and not all of those who were literate could write. Brown offers no evidence for these thousands of documents.
Error: The Gnostic gospels uniformly teach the "sacred feminine." That is just not true.
Rebuttal: Unlike the four Gospels, Gnostic gospels can be degrading to women. The Gospel of Thomas declares that a woman cannot be saved unless God first changes her into a man (the very last verse of Thomas, 114).
In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, Jesus brings positive changes to womanhood. He allowed women to follow Him and to support His ministry. Above all, He allowed Mary Magdalene and her female companions to be the first to see Him raised from the dead (Matthew 28:1-8). Mary Magdalene, in particular, is the first eyewitness of the resurrected Jesus (John 20:10-18). This is significant—because it defied the norms. Dr. Sam Lamerson of Knox Theological Seminary observes:
For instance, the women being the first ones who show up at the tomb. Women were not, in that day and age, looked upon very highly. All that one has to do is read first century Jewish documents and you realize they couldn't give testimony in a court of law; they couldn't report about what they had seen. Therefore, if somebody is making up a story, certainly they are not going to have the women be the ones who show up first.43 Jesus Christ liberated women in a special way. Richard Abanes, author of The Truth Behind the Da Vinci Code, remarks:
The whole idea about the Church being against women is completely false. We have Christianity and the founder of our faith, Jesus
Christ, who did more for the emancipation and the exultation of women than any other religious leader. He allowed women to sit at His feet to learn. That was something you did not see in first century Israel. We have books of the Bible that are named after women. We have Mary Magdalene and the mother of Christ exalted in Church history and looked upon as godly individuals. We have women in the Bible being the first to give the resurrection story and preach the good news of the Gospel. So this Dan Brown/The Da Vinci Code idea that Christianity and the Christian church is terribly anti-woman is just false and that's a sad thing that we see being misrepresented.44 Error: Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, and the Gnostic gospels teach that.
Rebuttal: There is the flimsiest of evidence for that. There is one passage in the Gospel of Philip (c. 250 a.d.) that claims Jesus often kissed Mary Magdalene on her _.45 Where he kissed her is obscure in the manuscript, which is Coptic translated from the original Greek. Brown mistakenly identifies it as having been written in Aramaic first. The word could have been mouth, cheek, forehead, or whatever. Even liberal scholar Karen King of Harvard, observes that this is referring to a holy kiss, that is, asexual.46 Just like it says in the Bible, greet one another with "a holy kiss" (Romans 16:16). So even Dan Brown's sources from antiquity don't make his case for him.
Note what scholar Dr. Gary Habermas, Dean of the Philosophy Department of Liberty University, says:
I have no problem with Jesus being married, if that is what the early texts say. [Today there are a lot of] historical revisionist views. People say, "What's revision?" Let me use a sports illustration. We talk about Monday morning quarterbacking and the idea is that we will solve in the barbershop on Monday morning what all our favorite coaches, teams, and players should have done the day before. We rewrite the script, but that's not how the script happened when I go back and watch a tape of the game. There are a lot of revisionist views out there: Jesus was married—something else. If our earliest authoritative texts tell us Jesus was married, I guess I am going have to say that too. I'm not going to go against the early data. The problem is not: Were most men in Palestine in the 1st century married? That is not the issue. The issue is not: Well, couldn't He have been married? Not the issue. Is it wrong to be married? Not the issue. The issue is: What do the early sources say? We do not have an early source that says Jesus had a girlfriend, or Jesus had a fiancée, or Jesus was married. No sin in that whatsoever. But that is not what the data say. So when people come back and say, "Well, what if . . . ?" What I think about that is it's a "what if?" It's an ungrounded "what if?" It's just what they say it is. It's a "what if?"
However, with this generation, too often "what ifs" become facts, and the next thing we say is, "Wasn't Jesus married to Mary Magdalene? I think I heard that somewhere." Yeah, you heard it somewhere. You heard it over coffee in the coffee shop on Monday morning. That is what Monday morning quarterbacking is. I don't respect that kind of conclusion if it's done for scholarly reasons, because there are no scholarly reasons for accepting it (emphasis mine).47 Error: Five million witches were murdered by the Church because of the Witches' Hammer Book.
Rebuttal: First of all, even one alleged witch killed was one too many. But this number is grossly exaggerated. Paul Maier says that more recently, historians put the number somewhere between 30,000-50,000—far less than five million.48
Error: Christianity was based on pagan religions— such as the "mystery religions." Specifically, Dan Brown states: "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."49
Rebuttal: Dan Brown has it exactly the opposite. The mystery religions more often borrowed from Christian themes—including the ones that Brown mentions. In ancient cultures, there was always the myth of the dying and resurrecting god—essentially "winter" and "spring." However, these are never alleged to have been real history.
In contrast, on such and such a day (some scholars, including Dr. Alan Whanger, retired professor of Duke Medical Center—believe April 7, a.d. 30), Jesus Christ was crucified and laid in a tomb in Jerusalem. He came out alive with a resurrected body in three days (as Jews count it—two days as we would count it).
Going further on the mystery religions, note what authors Carl Olson and Sandra Miesel write in their book, The Da Vinci Hoax:
Unfortunately for Brown and the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail, there is little or no evidence that most pagan mystery religions, such as the Egyptian cult of Isis and Osiris or the cult of Mithras, existed in the forms described in their books prior to the mid-first century. This is a significant point, for much of the existing evidence indicates that the third- and fourth-century beliefs and practices of certain pagan mystery religions are read back into the firstcentury beliefs of Christians—without support for such a presumptive act.. "Far too many writers use this late source material (after a.d. 200) to form reconstructions of the third-century experience and then uncritically reason back to what they think must have been the earlier nature of the cults," writes Ronald Nash.. "The critical question is. what effect the emerging mysteries may have had on the New Testament in the first century." Rather than Christians borrowing from pagan mystery religions, there is evidence that some of the pagan mystery religions may have taken and incorporated elements of Christian belief in the second and third centuries, especially as the strength and appeal of Christianity became steadily apparent. "It must not be uncritically assumed," states historian Bruce Metzger, "that the Mysteries always influenced Christianity, for it is not only possible but probable that in certain cases, the influence moved in the opposite direction."50
Once again, Dan Brown's facts are fiction.
There are so many errors among the alleged "accurate depictions"51 of The Da Vinci Code that historian and first-rate scholar Paul Maier just has to shake his head. He notes, "Detailing all the errors, misinterpretations, deceptions, distortions, and outright falsehoods in The Da Vinci Code makes one wonder whether Brown's manuscript ever underwent editorial scrutiny or fact-checking."52 In a recent interview with Coral Ridge Ministries-TV on The Da Vinci Code, Maier says that if a student submitted papers with as many errors as found in Dan Brown's novel, he would flunk him.
Amazingly, we live in the Information Age, yet we live in an age of massive disinformation. The Bible says
Satan is the "the prince of the power of the air" (Ephesians 2:2). The Bible also says that in the end times,53 "men will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears" (2 Timothy 4:3). Is that not happening in our own day?
Dan Brown wants us to believe that the Catholic Church—apparently the only Christian body of which he is aware—was guilty of a great conspiracy and cover-up. If you are looking for an intriguing plot, why not consider the truth? God Almighty became a human, but we didn't recognize Him. C. S. Lewis put it very well in his classic, Mere Christianity:
...this universe is at war...it is a civil war, a rebellion...we are living in a part of the universe occupied by the rebel.
Enemy-occupied territory—that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed; you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage. When you go to church you are really listening-in to the secret wireless [radio] from our friends: that is why the enemy is so anxious to prevent us from going. He does it by playing on our conceit and laziness and intellectual snobbery.54
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