Transcript: The Da Vinci Response

The Da Vinci Response
A Study Guide

They claim you’ll witness the biggest cover up in human history. The truth. The lies. The response. The Da Vinci Code.

The Da Vinci code raises several important questions that have a direct bearing on the nature and truthfulness of Christianity. Questions like “Was Jesus God?” “Was Jesus married?” and “Is the Bible reliable?” In this response, we will take a closer look at some of the alleged historical facts in The Da Vinci Code to see whether this position can be sustained by responsible historical research.

The Da Vinci Code takes the viewer on a breathtaking race through Paris, London, and other European locations. Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon and his close associate, Sophie Neveu, match wits with a faceless power broker working for Opus Dei, a shadowy Catholic sect. This sect is believed to be plotting to seize the secret guarded by a medieval organization called the Priory of Sion. Unless Langdon and Neveu can decipher the puzzle in time, the secret of the priory and a stunning historical truth will be lost forever. According to The Da Vinci Code, the person on Jesus’ right is not the apostle John but rather Jesus’ wife, Mary Magdalene, so the Holy Grail is not the cup from which Jesus drank at the last supper, but it’s in fact a person, Mary Magdalene, who in her womb bore Jesus’ child through whom His physical bloodline is continued today.

Dan Brown, the author of the Da Vinci Code, is spuriously maintaining that his book is not merely fiction, but fact, which considerably ups the ante regarding his claims. In fact, page one of The Da Vinci Code contains the astonishing assertions that “all descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate.”

And to help us find the truth, Dr. Michael Green and Dr. Andreas Kostenberger are here to assist us. Both have written extensively on The Da Vinci Code and are preeminent New Testament scholars and apologists of our day. The Da Vinci Code claims that it is not the Biblical Gospels, but other ancient writings called the Gnostic Gospels, that tell the real story of Jesus. But who were the Gnostics?

The Gnostics saw the body as the prison of the soul, and you escaped from it via the secret knowledge that they had. The rejected the God of the Old Testament as an evil spirit. They were elitist, they were selfish, and they saw salvation as sort of flowing from their own selves and not from Christ. Hardly very Christian.

What these Gnostics left behind are some writings that are known as the Gnostic gospels, dug up in a big, great big jar in the middle of the desert in Egypt, and they’re hopelessly unreliable. I’ll tell you why. First of all, they’re not gospels at all. A gospel has the life, the death, the resurrection of Jesus. They don't have that at all. They have conversations with the supposedly risen Christ and they are very strange stuff. Secondly, they’re late. They were written a hundred and fifty to two hundred and fifty years after the real gospels and they were never accepted into any list of the church’s books. Most of them only survive in one copy, and that copy is full of holes. And thirdly, their contents are crazy. In one place, they claim that children are conceived by kissing and women cannot be saved unless they become men. Fascinating to me that the uh, few scholars that give much credit to the Gnostic gospels - most of them are women. But of course, Gnosticism’s got no place for women whatsoever. Ah, well, just shows how crazy it is. The Gnostics stand out in strong contrast to real Christianity. You see, real Christianity is rooted in the work of Jesus Christ, not in some pretended knowledge. Real Christianity flowed from the inspired Scriptures of the Old Testament and the Gospels, not from some secret theosophical speculation. And real Christianity came from a God Whose revelation is clear for all to see in the Bible, not in the magical incantations of Gnosticism. And real Christianity demanded a holy life, not self-mortification on the one hand, or sexual indulgence on the other. And those are the two opposite results you get once you start rubbishing the human body. Real Christianity looked for the salvation of all who put their trust in Christ, not for a narrow-minded, arrogant few.

As you see, the Gnostics and their gospels are unreliable, while the Biblical Gospels are reliable and true. Nevertheless, despite the fact that the Gnostic gospels were written well over a hundred years after Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and despite the fact that the Gnostic gospels make all kinds of highly questionable claims about Jesus and the Christian faith, The Da Vinci Code builds its argument on passages found only in the Gnostic gospels, which claim that Mary Magdalene had a special relationship with Christ.

There is not a single shred of evidence in any ancient document that Jesus was married, either to Mary Magdalene or to anyone else. The Da Vinci Code says that if Jesus had been single, the New Testament would certainly mention this because Jewish males were all expected to be married. But Old Testament prophets like Jeremiah or Elijah were not married, neither was John the Baptist. Jesus Himself commends those who may not marry for the sake of God’s kingdom and so does the apostle Paul, so people in Jesus’ day would have been familiar with the tradition that some holy servants of God remained unmarried. All the New Testament says about Mary Magdalene is that she had seven demons exorcised by Jesus and that she was one of a group of women who helped support Jesus out of their own means. It also says that Mary was the first to see Jesus after the resurrection. That’s very significant and makes Mary a very important person in the Bible, but obviously it doesn’t mean that she was Jesus’ wife. So, then, where does The Da Vinci Code get the idea that Mary was Jesus’ wife?

The answer is the Gnostic gospels, specifically, the Gospel of Philip, which was written well over a hundred years after the biblical gospels. This one passage in the Gospel of Philip, which reads: “There were three who always walked with the lord: Mary his mother and her sister and Magdalene, the one who was called his companion. His sister and his mother and his companion were each a Mary.” (Gnostic Gospel of Philip 59:9-10)

In the Gospel of Philip, Mary Magdalene is called Jesus’ companion, but the word for companion does not mean wife or spouse as The Da Vinci Code claims, but close follower. It is used in this way ten times in the New Testament and not once implies a marital or sexual relationship. In the same Gnostic Gospel of Philip, we read: “And the companion of the Lord… Mary Magdalene… loved… more than… all… the disciples… and used to… kiss her… often… on her…” (Gnostic Gospel of Philip 63:34-64:5)

And that second passage is full of gaps and breaks off at the most critical point. Did Jesus kiss Mary on the cheek… on the lips? In any case, kissing was perfectly normal in the ancient world as it is in countries like France today. The New Testament talks about greeting one another with a holy kiss. The bottom line is this: The New Testament is completely silent about Jesus’ marriage to Mary Magdalene and the two Gnostic passages The Da Vinci Code cites don’t call Mary Jesus’ wife but only say, as the New Testament does, that she was a close follower of Jesus.

The underlying agenda in The Da Vinci Code is to reduce Jesus to human proportions as one who was married like the rest of us, who had a child, and so on. But the New Testament paints quite a different picture. What does it tell us about Jesus? And especially about His divine status, something The Da Vinci Code says He only acquired in the fourth century. In The Da Vinci Code, Teabing declared: “...until that moment in history, the fourth century AD, Jesus was viewed by his followers as a mortal prophet… a great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless.”

Jesus certainly believed that He shared the nature of God, and He made that claim in Matthew’s Gospel chapter twenty-six, verse sixty-three and following: “The high priest said to Him, ‘I charge You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God.’ ‘Yes, it is as you say,’ Jesus replied. ‘But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man (that was His name for Himself) sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’” (Matthew 26:63-64)

The first century church certainly believed that Jesus was God. Paul, writing to the Philippians in chapter two, verses five through seven, he says “Your attitude should be the same as  that of Christ Jesus, who, being in (the) very nature (of) God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped (onto).” (Philippians 2:5-7)

And then again, in Colossians chapter two verse nine: “In Christ all the fullness of the Godhead lives in bodily form.” (Colossians 2:9)

Incredibly powerful statement. The first letter of John, chapter five verse twenty, refers to “Jesus Christ… the true God and eternal life.” (1 John 5:20)

And even Jesus’ opponents understood that He claimed to be God. In the Gospel of John, it says: “For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill Him: not only was He breaking the Sabbath, but He was (even) calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.” (John 5:18)

And there are many more passages I could have mentioned that also clearly refer to Jesus as God. Early church history points to the divinity of Christ as well. Clement, for example, one of the early church fathers, wrote in AD 100: “We must think of Jesus Christ as we do of God.” At much the same time, the church father Ignatius wrote that: “God himself came among us in human form.” Also Pliny the Younger, a roman governor, who was not even a Christian, wrote in A.D. 112 to Emperor Trajan that Christians were singing a “hymn to Christ as a God.”

All these passages from the New Testament and the early church fathers blatantly contradict The Da Vinci’s Code’s claim that Jesus did not consider Himself to be God and that He was viewed as a mere mortal until the fourth century and at only at that time was He elevated to the status of deity for political reasons by Emperor Constantine at the Council of Nicaea. Obviously, Jesus’ deity is emphatically not a fourth century A.D. invention as is alleged by The Da Vinci Code.

Now if Scripture is true, and there is no evidence for Jesus’ marriage to Mary Magdalene, there is no need for any of the other claims. There is no need for a secret society to guard this secret. There is no need for the church to cover up evidence that doesn’t exist. And there is no basis for Leonardo to secretly encode information about Jesus’ marriage to Mary Magdalene in his paintings. So, the whole theory underlying The Da Vinci Code collapses.

There are really only two options you can have, one is to worship nature, the other is to worship nature’s Creator. Brown says early Christianity suppressed what he calls the sacred feminine. In point of fact, the sacred feminine turns out to be a cold, pitiless naturalism in which we are all trapped. There is nothing beyond it.

So, there is no Da Vinci Code, no secret marriage of Jesus to Mary Magdalene, no lovechild named Sara springing from that union who carried on Jesus’ bloodline through the French Merovingian kings. Jesus claimed to be God and was believed to be God by His first followers. As many holy men in Jewish life and as was fitting for the One Who is the Son of God, Jesus was unmarried, and Jesus’ legacy continues not in a line of physical descendants, but in the church of those who believe in Jesus as God and Lord and Savior. Don't be taken in by a lie; be taken by the truth. Check out one of the real Gospels.

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