The Da Vinci Code - Fact of Fiction?
When Entertainment is sold as History
Many people enjoy reading novels or watching films as a way of relaxation. Sometimes stories can be
based on fact or a true life story. However, this does not stop the author or Hollywood from changing
the facts to suit their own agenda.
For instance, in the film U-571 (made by Americans, starring Americans, financed by Americans and aimed at an American audience), it is the Americans who storm a German U-Boat and capture an Enigma cipher machine, thus shortening the second world war and saving thousands of lives. Although it was based on a true story, the reality is that the two most significant Enigma captures involved only Royal Navy ships and seamen.
It has often been said that according to Hollywood, John Wayne won WW2 single-handed and U-571 is merely continuing the distortion of facts to suit the needs of the American Film Industry. But the effect of such films must be to distort the truth and blur myth with reality. Other examples we could mention are of Lord of the Rings fans learning and speaking Elfish and Star Trek fans learning Klingon!
So what has this to do with the Da Vinci Code (book and film)? Simply that people are believing as fact, what they see or read in a work of fiction.
The plot is as follows.....while in Paris on business, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon receives an urgent late-night phone call: the elderly curator of the Louvre has been murdered inside the museum. Near the body, police have found a baffling cipher. Solving the enigmatic riddle, Langdon is stunned to discover it leads to a trail of clues hidden in the works of Da Vinci - clues visible for all to see, and yet ingeniously disguised by the painter. Langdon joins forces with a gifted French cryptologist, Sophie Neveu, and learns the late curator was involved in the Priory of Sion - an actual secret society. In a breathless race through Paris, London and beyond, Langdon and Neveu match wits with a faceless powerbroker who appears to work for Opus Dei - a clandestine, Vatican-sanctioned Catholic organization believed to have long plotted to seize the Priory's secret. Unless Langdon and Neveu can decipher the labyrinthine puzzle in time, the Priory's secret - and a stunning historical truth - will be lost forever.
The author, Dan Brown draws on several other works for his background, such as Holy Blood, Holy Grail, so the claims that:
- the Priory of Sion is an actual secret society,
- Opus Dei are a clandestine Catholic organisation,
- Da Vinci hid codes and clues in his work and
- Mary Magdalene was married to Jesus, .
The Priory of Sion
Secret societies have long held a fascination for many. Their origins can be traced almost to the dawn of civilisation. Ancient Egypt had them; the Gnostics operated in the same way and more recently the tangled web of Knights Templar, Freemasons and Rosicrucians continues to attract the romantic and the gullible. It is possible that an organisation called the Order of Sion existed in the Middle Ages, linked with the Knights Templar in some way and named after Mount Sion (or Zion) in the Holy Land, where they may have had an abbey during the Crusades
What can be confirmed is that in 1956, Pierre Plantard registered a Priory of Sion organisation with the French authorities and began depositing the mysterious "prieure documents" (all having to do with treasure, Rennes-les-Chateau, Merovingians, white queens, and hidden secrets) in the Biblioteque Nationnale, under pseudonyms like "Anthony the Hermit". There is no proof of an unbroken line stretching back to the Middle Ages and beyond. The most likely explanation is that Plantard, a romantic, based his fictitious organisation on descriptions of one that may have existed in the Middle Ages.
Please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Priory_of_Sion for more details.
The Opus Dei organisation, unlike the Priory of Sion, certainly exists. It is one of several secretive shadowy organisations, linked to the Catholic church, such as the Jesuits, the Inquisition etc. Opus Dei portrays itself as a benign organisation whose objective is to support the Catholic Church and spread the Word. However, there are many who claim it is much more sinister than that. Former members testify that they have been forced by Opus Dei directors to hand over their salaries, abandon past friendships, ignore dubious financial irregularities, turn over their mail to be read (without the senders' knowledge), aggressively recruit, prepare monthly statistical reports about potential members, and even not attend siblings' weddings. If they did not go along with what Opus Dei requested of them, in some cases dishonest acts, they were told they risked eternal damnation and some were eventually asked to leave.
Please see http://www.odan.org/davinci.htm for further information.
Da Vinci's Hidden Codes
So what we have so far is the usual mixture of myth and fact, one fabricated organisation and one all-too-real one.
But what about the claim that Da Vinci left all sorts of clues in his work that pointed to the great secret of Christ's marriage?
One of the basics of art is that unless the artist is dedicated to creating a photographic image totally
devoid of spin, the picture will contain some kind of message ? what the artist is trying to say about the
subject. This is what a website says about CLARA PEETERS, Still life with a Venetian Glass, a Rummer and a
Burning Candle, signed and dated 1607:-
In still-life paintings of the early seventeenth century everyday objects often contained a deeper meaning. In the painting discussed here the burning candle, the fly and the ornaments have been interpreted as references to the transience of all earthly things. The candle would symbolize the passage of time, the fly stood for death and the ornaments for earthly riches which are worthless after death. According to this interpretation the painting is a warning for people not to strive after the material and the temporary, but to prepare themselves for life after death. In this context the glass of wine and the shape of the cross in which the confectionary is arranged refer to Christ's example: he shed his blood on the cross to redeem the sins of mankind. Finally, the sprig of rosemary can be seen as a symbol of eternity. The leaves of this herb retain their fragrance for a long time and the plant was also used as a medicine against amnesia.
The picture is a portrait of Ms. Margherita Luti, the daughter of a baker believed by many to have been Raphael's companion. The clues hidden by Raphael in the painting say that, in fact, Margherita Luti was Raphael's wife.
Several clues were painted over by Raphael's students when he died at the age of 38. These clues were just discovered during a cleaning of the painting. One was quite obvious, Raphael's students painted over a ring on Ms. Luti's wedding ring finger, but the students also painted over the background of the painting, a background of myrtle and quince - bushes that were, during the Renaissance, symbols of love and faithfulness and would have been immediately recognizable to a viewer as such. Clues that were not covered up include the painted blue ribbon on her arm with the name Raphael.
So we can see that paintings could contain numerous clues and this technique was not just limited to Da Vinci.
Much has been made of the idea that the Apostle John at the Last Supper is in fact Mary Magdalene, because
of the feminine appearance. It should be remembered that Da Vinci is believed to have been more interested
in young, pretty boys than in women, which would explain his approach. Many other paintings of his display
this same tendency. Knowing that Da Vinci was a joker, it would therefore be surprising if he did not follow
this convention and hide messages and meanings within his work. but we should not apply our own
preconceptions to the subject. It is well-documented that Da Vinci had homosexual tendencies, whereas his
involvement in a secret society - a society which may not have even existed - has yet to be proved.
Therefore, which message of Da Vinci should we believe?
Was Jesus married to Mary Magdalene?
As stated before, this is not a new suggestion and it has been used before to try and discredit Christianity. The whole assumption is that the Bible cannot be trusted as an accurate account of Christ's life, which is a difficult obstacle for any Christian.
The first point to make is that there is no mention of this in any of the Four recognized Gospels, or in fact in any of the rejected ones. We wonder why.
The second point is that Jesus probably could have married, had he so wished. The Apostle Peter was married, for instance. As Paul writes:
Do we not have the right to be accompanied by a believing wife, as do other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? (I Corinthians 9:5)However, knowing how short his time was on this earth and how much he had to accomplish, knowing also Christ's saying that the Son of Man did not even have anywhere to lay his head, would Jesus have put someone in this difficult situation? It seems unlikely. Also, much symbolism in the Bible, such as in Revelation, shows Jesus as being married to the Church.
Those who support the various conspiracy theories suggest that Jewish Rabbis would be expected to have a wife and would be regarded as incomplete if they did not. If this was the case (leaving aside the fact that John the Baptist has always been regarded as celibate), wouldn't that have been more reason for Jesus to acknowledge a wife?
The sum of the matter is this: enjoy the book and/or the film as works of fiction if you wish, but it is very dangerous and misleading to mistake fiction for fact. If you wish to know more about organisations such as Opus Dei, there are many more authoritative sources of information and of course, if you wish to know more about the Real Jesus Christ, the Bible is available to all and its message is clear and open, not secret and hidden.
Isaiah 45:19 I have not spoken in secret, in a place of the land of darkness. I didn't say to the seed of Jacob, 'Seek me in vain.' I, Yahweh, speak righteousness. I declare things that are right.
Daniel 2:28 but there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and he has made known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Your dream, and the visions of your head on your bed, are these:
Amos 3:7 Surely the Lord Yahweh will do nothing, unless he reveals his secret to his servants the prophets.
Mark 4:22 For there is nothing hidden, except that it should be made known; neither was anything made secret, but that it should come to light.
John 18:20 Jesus answered him, I spoke openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues, and in the temple, where the Jews always meet. I said nothing in secret.
There are further scriptures, but hopefully these 5 will suffice. It is a theme of the Gospel that anything kept secret by God, was revealed in Christ Jesus, that they should be secret no longer. The Gospel message is not for a select few, but for all Mankind (although only a few respond to it):
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some count slowness; but is patient with us, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.For help with other Bible subjects, please follow the other Links or contact us.