Editor’s note: The following commentary is adapted from “The Da Vinci Myth Vs. The Gospel Truth” by D. James Kennedy, Ph.D., and Jerry Newcombe.
We are all entitled to our own opinions, but we are not entitled to our own facts. 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 novel, “The Da Vinci Code,” claims to be based on facts, but his “facts” are just as much fiction as his fiction.
Upon examination, “The Da Vinci Code” is chock full of errors. Some are unimportant; others, if true, would spell the end of Christianity. Here is a short list of “Da Vinci Code” errors. More errors from the book are rebutted on the new documentary special, “The Da Vinci Delusion,” which airs May 13 and May 14 nationwide. For listings, go to www.davincidelusion.tv.
Error: The book tells readers that “The New Testament is false testimony.”
Rebuttal: The New Testament was sealed with the apostles’ blood. They put their money where their mouths were. 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 glibly ignores this history and, instead, exalts the questionable writings of second-, third-, and fourth-century Gnostic Christians, who were sexual libertines for the most part. (Other Gnostics were strict legalists.)
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.”
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.
Error: No one believed, prior to the Council of Nicea in A.D. 325 that Jesus was divine.
Rebuttal: 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 they arrested Jesus and had a “trial” among themselves: 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. “Cracking Da Vinci’s Code” authors Jim Garlow and Peter Jones have compiled a list of several Church Fathers – all of whom wrote before the Council of Nicea in A.D. 325 – affirming this most basic Christian doctrine that Jesus was divine. Those Fathers include: Ignatius (writing in A.D. 105), Clement (150), Justin Martyr (160), Irenaeus (180), Tertullian (200), Origen (225), Novatian (235), Cyprian (250), Methodius (290), Lactantius (304), and Arnobius (305). Furthermore, one of the earliest Christian creeds was “Jesus is the Lord” (Kurios) (1 Corinthians 12:3).
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 pseudo Gospel of Philip, written about A.D. 250, long after Philip the apostle had died, that claims Jesus often kissed Mary Magdalene on her ________ (where he kissed her is obscure in the manuscript). The word could have been mouth, cheek, forehead, or whatever. Even liberal scholar Karen King of Harvard University observes that this is referring to a holy kiss that is asexual in nature. Just like it says in the Bible, greet one another with “a holy kiss” (Romans 16:16). Let’s also remember that this was written more than 200 years after Christ. So even Dan Brown’s sources from antiquity don’t make his case for him.
Error: In “The Last Supper,” Leonardo da Vinci allegedly painted Mary Magdalene seated 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. 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 where is the “beloved disciple” John? He is not in the picture. Where is he? Under the table?
Error: The Gnostic gospels uniformly teach the “sacred feminine” – the pagan idea that sex with a woman is the route to a relationship with God.
Rebuttal: Unlike the four Gospels, the Gnostic gospels can be actually 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).
Error: The Priory of Sion, which looms large in the novel, was created in 1099 by the Knights Templar.
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 Paris 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.
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 Dec. 25, died, was buried in a rock tomb, and then resurrected in three days.”
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 first-century beliefs of Christians – without support for such a presumptive act …
Was there any fact-checking?
There are so many errors among the alleged “accurate depictions” 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.”
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, “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?
I trust that out of all of this, God, who is able to turn all things to our good, will use it to give opportunities for us to share the true Gospel of the true Savior, who gave His life and shed His blood that we might be forgiven and redeemed and saved by His grace through faith.