CADRE Comments

A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth

So I am reading through Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code and, despite all the warnings I have received, I am amazed at the amount of historically erroneous information that is passed off as true background. But wait, you might say, it is just a novel. No one will take it seriously. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

The erroneous information is woven throughout the background of the story. Bright and informed "characters in the know" pass it off as true history known by all real academics and historians but kept from the naively faithful -- either by suppression or the naive faithful's willful ignorance. Dan Brown himself has reinforced this by claiming that his background information is true, only the modern day story is fiction. The New York Daily News' review of the book pronounced that its research was "impeccable." Finally, I know people are taking its version of history seriously because readers, Christians even, have asked me about how I deal with the history in The Da Vinci Code.

I am working through the book with a highlighter so as to be able to return to the juicier historical foolishness being foisted on an underinformed audience. Many of the bigger claims of the book -- such as the Council of Nicea's pronouncement on Jesus' divinity and the notion that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene -- are well refuted by online material. Check out the Christian CADRE's The Da Vinci Code page for the links. I also plan on going through more of them as I have time. But the historical foolishness goes beyond the biggies and pervades almost every element of the book. Some are so innane it is hard to believe they are being taken as possibly true. It is to one such example that I turn my attention now.

One of The Da Vinci Code's premises is that Christianity is all messed up because Jesus meant for it to include goddess worship and the Roman Catholic Church has committed all sorts of evils to suppress the "sacred feminine." (Nevermind that the RCC has done a lot -- to the consternation of other branches of Christianity -- to promote the sacredness of the Virgin Mary, the Queen of Heaven and Mother of God). As a result, the world is dominated by masculine religions that foster war and death and oppression. (Nevermind that the pagan, goddess worshipping Romans, Greeks, and Egytpians were warlike, oppressive, societies that inflicted great evils hundreds and thousands of years prior to Christianity's rise to prominence). One way the Christian Church did this was, according to The Da Vinci Code, to come up with its own creation account that scandalized women.

Sadly, Christian philosophy decided to embezzle the female's creative power by ignoring biological truth and making man the Creator. Genesis tells us that Eve was created from Adam's rib. Woman became an offshoot of man. And a sinful one at that. Genesis was the beginning of the end for the goddess.

Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code, page 259.

Well, Genesis may well have been the beginning of the end for goddess worship, but it certainly was no invention of "Christian philosophy." Genesis was written hundreds of years before there were any Christians and was already the central book of another . . . um, rather prominent religion known as Judaism. Yes, the first Chritians did accept the existing sacred scriptures of the Jews, but they did not invent them. In fact, it was from just such scriptures that Jesus taught his disciples.

This may seem like a small matter, but it is typical of Brown's approach to religious history. He seems to think the Roman Catholic Church as organized today sprung into existence with the first Christians (once the sexist disciples had sacked Mary Magdalene as Jesus' intended heir) as the exclusive expression of Christianity. Little is said about Protestantism. But more troubling from a historical standpoint is that Brown ignores the Orthodox Church with its deep, ancient roots in the Eastern Churches, and the Armenian Apostolic Church. These churches have claims to antiquity that rival and in some instances and areas may surpass that of the Roman Catholic Church. Additionally, as the above quote shows, little is said about Judaism, except some silly claims about a form of goddess worshipping Judaism that had nothing to do with the Judaism of Jesus and his day.

It is depressing to read such drivel, but more depressing to see people taking it seriously. The hype will no doubt mount with the coming movie. Frankly, this bothers me more as a lay-historian than it does as a Christian. The response of Christian churches and organizations is actually encouraging, as many of them are educating themselves and others about the real history behind the Christian faith and the errors of the The Da Vinci Code. In any event, I will be sharing more of my response to this book, as I like to share my pain.

7 comments:

Brown lost me on about page 40 when he said the French police inspector, a devout Catholic, was called "the papal bull." That pun can only work in English!

Seriously, I think you can read The Da Vinci Code as an exercise in "alternative history" (like the stories about what would have happened if the South had won the Civil War, etc.). My wife and I are both history buffs and love that kind of lit precisely because we love figuring out where the author has skewed the "real" history for his or her alternate timeline. As soon as you start believing the story is even remotely plausible in this universe, you're in trouble.

Just for your info, I added a new website to the CADRE Da Vinci Code page. It is:

The Truth About the Da Vinci Code

This website, powered both technologically and theologically by Westminster Theological Seminary (WTS) and www.wts.edu, seeks to present a balanced account of the historical facts set forth in Dan Brown's best-selling novel and the soon-to-be-released eponymous movie.

While I have not gone over the entire thing, it looks pretty good.

I found it to be a fascinating book, despite obviously being written with a movie in mind. But you definitely have to remember that it is JUST A NOVEL. It is sad that so many people believe it to be historically accurate, which proves that our society knows so little about art and history. Of course, these are generally the same people whose only source of news is People magazine, so I don't worry abuot it too much.

It is not poorly writen, though I found the frequent flashbacks distracting.

I posted my reactions to all this on my own blog recently. As I mention, the Christian-based hysteria is inexplicable to me...

THE DA VINCI CODE IS A FICTION... IF EVER THERE ARE TRUTH ON IT REMEMBER THAT A HALF TRUTH IS A WHOLE LIE!!!

SoOne,

I actually think Christian reaction has been much more positive, and less hysterical, than previous "affronts." The Temptation of Christ comes to mind for example. Most Christians I know who are interested in TDC are soberly preparing themselves to respodn to the substantive historical issues raised by the book.

As for myself, I see this as a great opportunity to educate Christians about the New Testament, the divinity of Jesus, the formation of the NT Canon, and many other issues related to Christian history. I agree that Christians, in the U.S. at least, have been too ignorant of their origins. TDC, with its panolpy of historical errors on a range of subjects, is a vehicle for correcting that.

Use of Content

The contents of this blog may be reproduced or forwarded via e-mail without change and in its entirety for non-commercial purposes without prior permission from the Christian CADRE provided that the copyright information is included. We would appreciate notification of the use of our content. Please e-mail us at christiancadre@yahoo.com.