The topic of numerous articles and television specials, and selling more than 30 million copies in less than three years, The Da Vinci Code has become an international success. But is there any truth behind this work of fiction?
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Mary Magdalene: Speculation and debate as to her true identity have followed her name throughout the last 2,000 years. Some say she was a prostitute. Others claim she was an apostle of Jesus Christ, and that Jesus gave her the authority to start His Church. Still others proclaim that she and Jesus were married, and that they had children together.
In the fictional novel The Da Vinci Code, this controversial subject is fused together with the legend of the Holy Grail.
The result? The ultimate conspiracy theory, and an instant global phenomenon.
Glowing reviews abound. The Da Vinci Code is “one of the best books I have ever read—makes you see the world a little differently after reading it!” one reader stated.
Another raved, “You will be amazed at the revelations that come forth in this book.”
Yet another reader elaborated, “The Da Vinci Code has to be one of the most remarkable books I’ve read. It is a wonderful—and very effective—mix of history, mystery, action, puzzles and suspense. The pace is so powerful, the book just wouldn’t let go! The story line is almost to [sic] brilliant to conceive, the sheer genius and fascinating craftsmanship that Dan Brown uses in his book are breath-taking. The idea behind the story may seem controversial, but once you think about it, it really does become quite real and even natural” (Envoy magazine).
The novel’s storyline is full of mystery, conspiracy and “revelation.” A mystery/thriller, the book hooks the reader through suspenseful plot twists and turns—full of lies, deceit, conspiracy and murder—combined with an overall treasure hunt-like journey for the legendary “Holy Grail,” which is the central focus of the story.
During their quest for the Grail, the main characters engage in multiple discourses that present highly speculative ideas and interpretations. For instance, the Holy Grail is revealed to be Mary Magdalene, whose true identity was suppressed by Christianity; she is also said to represent the lost “sacred feminine,” which, if rediscovered, would supposedly bring balance to the world once again; the Bible is reported to be nothing more than a corrupt collection of allegorical stories; and—the most bold of assertions—Jesus Christ is alleged to have been married to Mary Magdalene, and to have been nothing more than a human prophet.
It is these contentious discussions—and the wild ideas presented—that have enraptured millions of readers.
But is there any truth to the ideas put forward in this novel?
The “sacred feminine” is a metaphysical concept that has been around for millennia, and is interpreted in a wide variety of ways. As one might assume, it generally appeals to women.
In a sense, the sacred feminine is said to “bring balance and wholeness to our vision of the Creator” and to “bring feminine wisdom back into the equation” of the “divine.” The various goddesses of times past are thought to be symbolic of various archetypes, or “universal patterns of behavior,” of the sacred feminine. Generally speaking, it is said that working with the sacred feminine allows a woman to realize that all of her behaviors are different parts of the “divine,” thus freeing her from feeling bad when she exhibits behaviors she does not like. After all, in some mystical sort of way, the sacred feminine exhibits such behaviors as well.
The following is one person’s interpretation of the concept, a bit more metaphysical and esoteric than others: “Throughout humanity’s societies, the Sacred Feminine has been identified with the qualities of wisdom, justice, beauty, and compassion. She is also the irresistible power that destroys old forms and brings new ones into being. The Divine Feminine is this unseen dimension of soul to which we are connected through our instincts, our feelings, and the longing imagination of the heart. She is an invisible flow of energy that brings life into being, sustains and transforms it, and withdraws it into a hidden dimension for rebirth or regeneration. This process is rhythmic, and rhythm is a primary characteristic of the Feminine. In a very Masonic definition of Being, She has been described as being the principle of justice that inspires all human laws, She is the invisible spirit guiding human consciousness” (The Lysistrata Project).
The need to rediscover this sacred feminine is the underlying theme in The Da Vinci Code. During an interview with CNN, the author hinted at this agenda: “In the early days…we lived in a world of gods and goddesses…Every Mars had an Athena. The god of war had the goddess of beauty; in the Egyptian tradition, Osiris and Isis…And now we live in a world solely of gods. The female counterpart has been erased.”
Further, in an interview posted on his website, the author emphasized, “Two thousand years ago, we lived in a world of Gods and Goddesses. Today, we live in a world solely of Gods. Women in most cultures have been stripped of their spiritual power. The novel touches on questions of how and why this shift occurred…and on what lessons we might learn from it regarding our future.”
The conclusion is then drawn that the search for the Holy Grail is really the search for Mary Magdalene—who, in turn, is symbolic of the sacred feminine. The Grail is interpreted to mean or symbolize many different things, from the cup or dish that Jesus used at His last supper, to a certain item considered so special that a person must be proved worthy to be in its presence.
Now notice the link that two of the book’s characters make concerning Mary Magdalene, the Holy Grail and the sacred feminine: “The Grail is literally the ancient symbol for womanhood, and the Holy Grail represents the sacred feminine and the goddess, which of course has now been lost, virtually eliminated by the Church. The power of the female and her ability to produce life was once very sacred, but it posed a threat to the rise of the predominantly male Church, and so the sacred feminine was demonized and called unclean…Woman, once the sacred giver of life, was now the enemy…The quest for the Holy Grail is literally the quest to kneel before the bones of Mary Magdalene. A journey to pray at the feet of the outcast one [Mary Magdalene], the lost sacred feminine” (The Da Vinci Code, pp. 238, 257).
Depicting Mary Magdalene as the embodiment of the sacred feminine is nothing new. The idea is usually based upon the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Philip and the Gospel of Mary, among many other such “gospels.” These works were actually the result of a movement known as Gnosticism (which derived from the Greek word gnosis, meaning “knowledge”).
Though it exhibited great influence and posed a serious threat to the early Church, Gnosticism is a difficult movement to define due to its esoteric and decentralized identity. Generally speaking, it views the physical realm and the human body as evil, and believes that some form of salvation can only be achieved through secretive, individualistic means.
Adherents of Gnosticism believe that the true God had nothing to do with the creation of the physical realm. The world is supposedly the result of “lowly powers.” And although these powers descended from the true God, they do not know Him, and their teachings prevent the knowledge of Him from being disseminated. Supposedly, humanity’s goal is to escape the evil material realm, which can only be accomplished through “secret knowledge” of the true God.
A key concept embraced by many Gnostic followers is that the true God is androgynous (the perfect balance of feminine and masculine), the “great male-female power.” Others stressed that He can be described in either masculine or feminine terms. In The Gnostic Gospels, the author writes, “Proponents of these diverse views agreed that the divine is to be understood in terms of a harmonious, dynamic relationship of opposites—a concept that may be akin to the Eastern view of yin and yang, but remains alien to orthodox Judaism and Christianity.”
Since their deity is both god and goddess, the Gnostics came to despise Christianity for suppressing the “true” nature of the Godhead. In The Da Vinci Code, one of the characters states, “…Constantine and his male successors successfully converted the world from matriarchal paganism to patriarchal Christianity by waging a campaign of propaganda that demonized the sacred feminine, obliterating the goddess from modern religion forever” (p. 124). (In actuality, Emperor Constantine merged paganism with professing Christianity, thus creating a false, hybrid religion. Our book The Trinity – Is God Three-In-One? explains this in detail.)
According to the author of The Da Vinci Code, Constantine’s actions led to a warped, overly-masculine society: “The days of the goddess were over. The pendulum had swung. Mother Earth had become a man’s world, and the gods of destruction and war were taking their toll. The male ego had spent two millennia running unchecked by its female counterpart. The Priory of Sion believed that it was this obliteration of the sacred feminine in modern life that had caused what the Hopi Native Americans called koyanisquatsi—‘life out of balance’—an unstable situation marked by testosterone-fueled wars, a plethora of misogynistic societies, and a growing disrespect for Mother Earth” (pp. 125-126).
Based upon what we have learned so far, it should then come as no surprise to learn that some would claim the outrageous—that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married. With its worldwide success, The Da Vinci Code has given this age-old supposition, along with many others, new life.
A passage from the Gospel of Philip is often cited as proof of their union: “And the companion of the [Savior] is Mary Magdalene. [But Christ] loved her more than all the disciples and used to kiss her often on her mouth. The rest of the disciples [were offended by it and expressed disapproval]. They said to him, ‘Why do you love her more than all of us?’”
How does one refute the above passage? It does seem to indicate that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married.
However, the Gospel of Philip was written nearly three centuries after the time of Christ, and it has been labeled by most experts as an unreliable document.
Yet, to refute this outlandish idea beyond a shadow of a doubt, only one item is necessary. Though it has been rejected by some to be nothing more than a nice collection of Greek and Hebrew literature, or a corrupt “work of men,” the Bible is nonetheless the Word of God. It is the foundation—source—of truth and knowledge. Within its pages are found the answers to life’s greatest questions, answers that human beings dismiss as false. Even most who profess to believe the Bible twist, distort and butcher its words. (You may wish to read our booklet Bible Authority...Can It Be Proven?)
Recognize that there is no verse stating, “Jesus was not married” or “Mary Magdalene was the wife of the Lord.” Even so, there is absolute proof that Jesus Christ could not have married while He was human, and it lies within Christ’s own teaching of the marriage covenant, found in Matthew 19:3-9 and Mark 10:2-12.
In these parallel accounts, Jesus taught that once a person is married, and that marriage is bound by God, remarriage after divorce is forbidden. In Romans 7:1-3, the apostle Paul explains that the death of a spouse ends the marriage covenant. Under the terms of the Old Covenant, this would be the only way a remarriage could occur.
Most have no idea that this understanding can be used to prove that Jesus could not have been married. Here’s why. In the Book of Jeremiah is the passage: “Turn, O backsliding children, says the Lord; for I am married unto you” (3:14).
Who is the Being saying this? None other than Jesus Christ! He was the “Rock” of the Old Testament (I Cor. 10:1-4)—He was the Being (known as the Word – John 1:1) who gave the people of ancient Israel the Ten Commandments, thus entering into a marriage covenant with them. He, as their Husband, agreed to lead, protect and bless Israel (His bride), as long as the nation obeyed Him. If Israel disobeyed—breached the contract—He would divorce them.
Eventually, Israel proved that she no longer wanted to be a part of the marriage. Notice: “Judah has dealt treacherously, and an abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah has profaned the holiness of the Lord which He loved, and has married the daughter of a strange god” (Mal. 2:11).
“But as a wife betrays her husband for her lover, so you have betrayed Me, O house of Israel—says the Eternal” (Jer. 3:20 – Moffatt).
This disobedience—spiritual adultery—resulted in Christ having to divorce Israel: “And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce” (Jer. 3:8).
However, under the terms of the Old Covenant, Jesus was not able to remarry. Remember, only death could break this marriage covenant. The only way that Christ would be free to marry again would be for Him to die, as the people of Israel as a whole were not going to be obliterated from the face of the earth.
Of course, Jesus eventually came to earth as a physical human being to die for the sins of mankind. But until His death, He was unable to remarry, even as a human being. Why? Because doing so would have caused Him to commit adultery, thus breaking His own law. If He had married before dying, He would have sinned (I John 3:4), and could not have become our Savior. Death was the only way to officially free Him from His marriage to ancient Israel.
This means that it is utterly impossible for Jesus to have been married to Mary Magdalene!
Much more could be said about this parallel, including Christ’s future marriage to the nation of spiritual Israel, the true Church of God. (To see the full picture, read our booklet The Purpose of Marriage – Ever Obsolete?)
Despite that none of the book’s radical claims are found within the pages of the Bible, The Da Vinci Code will undoubtedly continue to achieve great success due to its radical claims. Human nature is naturally attracted to conspiracy theories and vain babblings. Consider Paul’s warning in Colossians 2:8 against such outlandish ideas: “Beware lest any man spoil [plunder] you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”
The following is an example of how the “philosophy and vain deceit” found within the storyline of The Da Vinci Code can “spoil” a person’s mind: “The historical events and people explored in the book are real. But no one knows the Truth…nor will we ever, probably. I think that some things are meant to be a mystery. With all the world’s diverse religions and each individual’s belief in what is Divine—the Truth would have to destroy the beliefs, hopes and lives of many of the world’s population. So, perhaps, in the divine scheme of things, there are many more Truths than one” (reader comment from Envoy magazine).
Such unnecessary confusion!
With a movie due to be released sometime this year—having a promo that states, “The greatest conspiracy of the past 2,000 years is about to unravel”—this confusion will surely increase.
But with the insight you have just gained, you need not be one of the many to be duped by the phenomenon known as The Da Vinci Code!
(If you have doubts as to whether the Bible in its present form is really God’s complete, accurate Word, read our in-depth booklet How We Got the Bible – Which Translations Are Best?.)