Dan Brown has never claimed anything other than his book is fiction, all for a jolly read about an adventure bash with a religious background. But the Catholic and other churches have been terribly upset. I suppose they must be sh*tting a bit because Dan Brown’s fictional novel has sold 40 million copies, while Holy Blood, Holy Grail has only been bought by weirdos like KTemoc, who loves alternative history or alternative myth.
Dominic Steele, an Anglican Minister in inner Sydney, explained why the Church has been worried. He termed Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code as a 'faction' book (note: not 'fiction'). He explained ‘faction’ book as one that has fictional foreground characters but actually paints a fact backdrop, so fiction plus fact backdrop = faction.
He said: “People have come and said, ‘How can you believe this stuff when Dan Brown says this?’ And so we ran a dinner for the Christian people to be better informed, but also for them to invite their friends whose interest in God, spirituality, Jesus, might have been raised by Brown.”
He continued: “The problem is, is that most people get their history not from reading history books. See, where do I get my history on World War II from?”
“I get my history on World War II from watching Saving Private Ryan. I get my history on China from reading Wild Swans. Do you know? We don't actually go read the history book on China, we read the 'faction' book, that has fictional foreground characters but actually paints a fact backdrop.”
“People are saying, no, no, no. Some things are true. I'm not prepared to stand by and have Brown or somebody else say it's not true that Jesus was divine.”
The most controversial revelation, an original claim in its time, by Holy Blood, Holy Grail, was the proposition Jesus married Mary Magdalene. In the Scripture Mary was alluded to as a reformed prostitute who was utterly devoted to Jesus, but not much was written about her.
I have no doubt that Dan Brown had based his book on the events described in Holy Blood, Holy Grail, even though a British court found in Brown's favour when 2 of the authors of the non-fiction book sued Brown for partial plagiarism (for 'lifting' the structure of its original book). It's just a mere coincidence that both books were published by Random House, who paid the legal fees of almst a million pounds for the losing side, but the publicity was worth every penny of that legal battle.
In Holy Blood, Holy Grail (don’t bother about Da Vinci Code as it’s just a fun-story) Mary Magdalene was Jesus’ wife. I have read a few other books on this relationship and have to agree that she was most likely Jesus’ spouse.
The early Christian Church saw it to their advantage to make Jesus celibate. But don’t forget, Jesus was a Jewish rabbi, and it’s sinful and socially not possible for a rabbi to be unmarried. An unmarried Jewish rabbi, whether divine son of god or ordinary human being, was just unnatural and unlikely, because bachelorhood was regarded as a transgression of the first mitzvah (divine commandment) of “be fruitful and multiply".
Then things changed in 1945, when at Nag Hammadi in southern Egypt, a hoard of ancient papyrus books were discovered, which turned out to be far more important than the better known Dead Sea Scrolls
The discovery includes the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Philip and the Acts of Peter. None of these texts was included in the Bible, because their content didn't conform to Christian doctrine, and therefore were referred to as apocryphal. More closer to the truth, they put Christian faith in an entirely new light that mainstream Christian organisations don't want to know.
With these apocryphal texts there was suddenly a new source of information about Mary Magdalene. She appears very frequently as one of the prominent disciples of Jesus. It shows that when Jesus was in discussion with his disciples, Mary Magdalene frequently asked intelligent questions, and alone understood Jesus, while the other disciples at times seem confused. In other words, she was the brightest and most favoured of the disciples, which of course wouldn't do for Peter's Rome and Paul's churches.
One of the most controversial text in the Gospel of Philip had been denounced by the church as heresy. In that text, the apostles witnessed Jesus kissing Mary Magdalene on the mouth. The apostles were horrified and at the same time jealous. They asked: "Why do you love her more than us?"
Jesus' response remains till today mysterious and enigmatic: "Why do I not love you like her? When a blind man and one who sees are both together in darkness, they are no different from one another. When the light comes, then he who sees will see the light, and he who is blind will remain in darkness."
No wonder the churches don't want to hear this.
Some nations like India made much ado about releasing it against strong protests from Catholics and political pressure from the Vatican. Others want the film edited by the censors, while many Christians have called for a boycott against Sony, the distributor of the film. In Australia a Catholic family-owner of the independent Entrance cinema in the New South Wales coast has banned the screening of Da Vinci Code at their place.
I am not sure whether I would even bother to see the movie as I have already read both books and of course found Holy Blood, Holy Grail far more interesting.
mary magdalene at crucifixion
But the best comment on the whole matter came from Nezavisimaya Gazeta, a Russian newspaper. It said: “The hullabaloo surrounding the film Da Vinci Code somehow resembles the indignation raised in the Muslim world at the publication in European newspapers of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammed at the beginning of this year.”
“With the novel Da Vinci Code and its adaptation for the screen, we are witnessing a real duel between religion and the secular world in the arena of contemporary western culture.”
Maybe the thought of a high profile film propagating the notion of a Jesus married to a woman considered by Christians as a prostitute, must be to the Church and Christians highly blasphemous, indeed as highly blasphemous as the Muhammad caricatures had been to Muslims. Certainly food for thought for Westerners and Christians.