DaVinci Code Refuted
The Da Vinci Code has been on the New York Times Bestseller List since its release in April 2003. In less than 2 years it has become a bestseller in 150 countries and one of the most widely read books of our time.
Author Dan Brown has done what many authors only dream of doing. He has written a book “everyone” is talking about. All over the world people are discussing his upscale murder mystery that teases readers with provocative theories about history, religion, and the arts.
This novel, however, is more than a page-turning murder mystery. The Da Vinci Code is a conspiracy theory that leaves many readers wondering whether everything they have believed about Christ and the Bible is wrong.
A reviewer from Booksense says, “This is one of those rare books that comes along and makes you question everything you thought you knew about religion, art, and what you were taught in school. It’s fast-paced, enthralling, and simply impossible to put down.”
The Da Vinci Code begins with a lengthy list of acknowledgments and then a “fact page” designed to leave the impression that the novel is based on careful research of little-known facts.
One of the book’s main characters is Robert Langdon, a fictional Harvard professor of religious symbology. Claiming years of research, the professor maintains that for 1,700 years, the church has been covering up the real truth about Jesus. His views are later echoed by a fictional British royal historian referred to as Sir Leigh Teabing who says things like, “almost everything our fathers taught us about Christ is false” (The Da Vinci Code, p.235).
The title of the book comes from the claim that Leonardo Da Vinci—along with other notables like Sir Isaac Newton and Victor Hugo—was a member of a secret society entrusted with the truth about Jesus. The secret of this group (The Priory of Sion) is that Jesus had a daughter by Mary Magdalene. Mary, according to the Priory, was the true Holy Grail who bore the royal bloodline of Jesus on earth. This, according to the professor, is a fact the church will kill to suppress.
What many readers fail to keep in mind is that The Da Vinci Code is fiction. Worse yet, the story rests not on careful research, but on a documented fraud passed off as truth. The idea that Leonardo was a member of The Priory of Sion is based on a document proven by a French court of law to be a forgery and a hoax (The Truth Behind the Da Vinci Code by Richard Abanes, Harvest House Publishers, pp.48-57).
The Da Vinci Code’s “alternative view of history” also falsely states that Jesus was not regarded as a God until the fourth century when the Roman emperor Constantine decided it was in his own political interests to unite the empire by giving Jesus “an impenetrable cloak of divinity” (The Da Vinci Code, p.233).
To make the claim plausible, fictional historian Teabing says, “The most profound moment in Christian history” occurred when “Constantine commissioned and financed a new Bible, which omitted those gospels that spoke of Christ’s human traits and embellished those gospels that made Him godlike. The earlier gospels were outlawed, gathered up, and burned” (The Da Vinci Code, p.234).
The Da Vinci Code claims that some of the documents Constantine tried to destroy managed to survive in scrolls in 1945 at Nag Hammadi, Egypt. These scrolls allegedly “highlight glaring historical discrepancies and fabrications, clearly confirming that the modern Bible was compiled and edited by men who possessed a political agenda—to promote the divinity of the man Jesus Christ and use His influence to solidify their own power base” (The Da Vinci Code, p.234).
The ancient texts found at Nag Hammadi, however, were not “lost books of the Bible,” as Teabing claims. They were the writings of a mystery religion known as Gnosticism. Gnostics viewed spirit as good and matter as evil. They denied the physical body and crucifixion of Jesus and emphasized a secret knowledge received only by those initiated into the religion. The early church rejected their teachings long before Constantine.
But even if The Da Vinci Code doesn’t stand up under scrutiny, is it possible that the Bible has been altered through thousands of years of countless copies and versions? This is the kind of question that is best answered by those who have applied the principles of science to manuscript evidence. Scholars spend lifetimes examining all available manuscripts and fragments of manuscripts. They note and map any variations of spelling or wording that show up in families of manuscripts that have been copied from a common source. In addition they analyze the writings of second and third century church fathers who left extensive quotes of the Scriptures they were reading and studying.
On the basis of such research, scholars assure us that our Bible is a highly reliable representation of the original manuscripts. In The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable, F. F. Bruce writes, “To sum up, we may quote the verdict of the late Sir Frederic Kenyon, a scholar whose authority to make pronouncements on ancient MSS was second to none: ‘The interval then between the data of original composition and the earliest extant evidence become so small to be in fact negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that the Scripture have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed. Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the books of the New Testament may be regarded as finally established’ ” http://www.worldinvisible.com/library/ffbruce/ntdocrli/ntdocont.htm; The Bible and Archaeology, New York and London: Harper, 1940).
Backed by such evidence, the Bible also remains the all-time bestselling and most widely read book in the world. Challengers come and go. What remain are the words of those who were willing to die for their claim that they personally witnessed the miraculous life, death, and resurrection of the Son of God. One of those witnesses wrote, “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty” (2 Peter 1:16).
Note: For additional answers to questions like, Could the Gnostic gospels be lost books of the Bible? and Did Constantine burn ancient books that portray a different view of Christ? please visit our Web site at http://www.rbcdavincicode.org or write for the Discovery Series booklet The Da Vinci Code: Separating Fact From Fiction. — Mart De Haan