The novel 'The DA Vinci Code' written by Dan
Brown was made into a film released in May 2006. It is important
for you as a Christian to realize that the book and the film represent
one of the more significant opportunities to both strengthen your
own faith and to talk to other people about what you believe about
- In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus,
who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing
and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be
prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encouragewith
great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come
when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit
their own desires, they will gather around them a great number
of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They
will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship,
do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your
ministry. 2 Timothy 4:1-5.
Here is a summary of the book (spoilers ahead):
The curator of the Louvre museum in Paris, Jacques
Sauniere, is brutally murdered by a member of the Opus Dei (a
real organization but represented in the story as somewhat corrupt
organization within the Catholic church). Before he dies he leaves
a series of clues to an ancient secret about the Holy Grail, which
he died protecting. The rest of the novel is essentially a treasure
hunt that leads to this 'secret'.
Robert Langdon, a Harvard professor who happens
to be giving a lecture in Paris, is called by the police because
of the nature of some of the evidence left at the murder scene.
Through a series of events he is joined by a French cryptologist
Sophie Neveu who - we later determine - is Jacques Sauniere's
granddaughter, and then later by Sir Leigh Teabing - who we later
find out is not all he appears to be and becomes a threat to Langdon
The story has the reader looking differently at
some of the world's most famous artwork, including Da Vinci's
Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, through which the reader is asked
to rethink what the church has been saying about the story of
Christ for the last two thousand years. In the story Langdon and
Sophie discover that Jacques Sauniere was part of a secret organization
known as 'The Priory of Sion' who - the story claims - were descendants
of the Knights Templar. The members of 'The Priory of Sion' are
said to include Sir Isaac Newton, Botticelli, Victor Hugo, Claude
Debussy and Da Vinci himself.
The Opus Dei follow them as they close in on 'the
secret' - that Sophie is a descendent of Mary Magdalene who was
married to Jesus, that Mary Magdalene is the real Holy Grail,
and that her remains are hidden in the Louvre.
Fundamentally the book creates a story using a
false history as its backdrop. Its like writing a story about
the second world war, but not only having Hitler win, but doing
it in such a way to make you feel tricked by anyone who would
tell you otherwise. The book attacks both the Deity of Jesus and
the canon of Scripture. In my research on this, I get the impression
that it's the historians rather than the Christians who are most
unhappy with the book - perhaps Christians are used to having
their faith attacked and are ready for this sort of thing - Historians
Refuting the basic premises of the book is actually
quite easy - there are many well publicized errors to choose from.
It's more a matter of selecting the few issues that do best to
re-enforce the Christian faith.
I present here a summary of my research which
anyone can do. I've done my best to use multiple sources to confirm
the 'real world' facts.
Here's a summary of the Gospel:
'The Da Vinci Code'
- FACT #1: The Priory of Sion - a European
secret society founded in 1099 - is a real organization.
In 1975 Paris's Bibliotheque Nationale discovered parchments
known as "Les Dossiers Secrets", identifying
numerous members of the Priory of Sion, including Sir
Isaac Newton, Botticelli, Victor Hugo, and Leonardo Da
- FACT #2: The Vatican prelature known
as the Opus Dei is a deeply devout Catholic sect that
has been the topic of recent controversy due to reports
of brainwashing, coercion, and a dangerous practice known
as "corporeal mortification." Opus Dei has just
completed construction of a $47 million National Headquarters
at 243 Lexington Avenue in New York City
- Opus Dei is a true organization. Although
Dan Browns interpretation seems certainly exaggerated,
I'm not a Catholic so my position on this topic remains
neutral. I include this to simply point out that his treatment
of this organization has no bearing on truths concerning
Jesus or the Bible.
- For further reading:
- For: the Opus Dei web page is at
- it includes their own response to 'The Da Vinci
- Against: the Opus Dei has its critics.
For example the Opus Dei Awareness network: www.odan.org.
- FACT #3: All descriptions of artwork,
architecture, documents, and secret rituals are accurate
'The Da Vinci Code'
- Chapter 60: The Christian Church declared
itself the sole vessel through which humanity could access
the divine and gain entrance to the kingdom of heaven.
- An important error than can be used to
introduce the gospel. People are reunited with God through
Jesus, not by any human effort or organization. It is
by faith we are saved, not works, nor the church:
- That if you confess with your
mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your
heart that God raised him from the dead, you will
be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe
and are justified, and it is with your mouth that
you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says,
"Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to
shame." For there is no difference between Jew
and Gentilethe same Lord is Lord of all and
richly blesses all who call on him, for, "Everyone
who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
'The Da Vinci Code'
- Chapter 55: The Bible, as we know it
today, was collated by the pagan Roman emperor Constantine
- The Old Testament canon had been forming
for centuries. Jesus and the apostles already recognized
the authority of the Old Testament writings that existed
in their time.
- In the first century the apostles and
their associates wrote the books of the New Testament,
which were passed down to succeeding generations of Christians
and read in the churches.
- In the second and third centuries, Gnostic
heretics began to manufacture writings that falsely claimed
to be from the apostles, but since they had not been passed
down in the churches from the beginning, they were rejected.
- In response to these new, false writings
the churches drew up lists of the authentic books that
had been handed down from the apostles.
- The process by which the canon of Scripture
was formed was largely complete by the time of Constantine
(the early fourth century), and he made no contribution
to it. There were a few Old Testament books (known today
as the "apocrypha") that continued to be discussed
after Constantine's time, into the late fourth century-further
illustrating that he did not collate the Bible.
- No Bible scholar holds that Constantine
played such a role in the development of Scripture.
- The Council of Nicea actually didn't
canonize anything. The canonization process occurred a
full 70 years later.
- Chapter 55: the canonical gospels were
selected from among 80 other gospels.
- There were not 80 books written about
Jesus - less than half this were written.
- The two Gnostic gospels used most in
the story werent written until the second century
A.D., long after the New Testament gospels were written.
- In fact most Gnostic gospels were written
in the late second century, as this is when Gnostic thought
was most prevalent. The New Testament books were all completed
before the end of the 1st Century.
- Chapter 55: The Dead Sea Scrolls and
texts found at Nag Hammadi tell the true Grail story and
speak of Christs ministry in very human terms. Of course
the Vatican tried hard to suppress the release of these
- Chapter 58: The Dead Sea Scrolls and
Nag Hammadi are the earliest Christian records.
- The Dead Sea Scrolls are strictly Jewish
documents. They dont contain any gospels, say anything
about the grail, or anything mentioning Jesus. The Dead
Sea Scrolls are a very large collection of documents written
in three languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. They cover
many subjects, adopt many literary styles, and include
manuscripts or fragments of every book in the Hebrew Bible
(Old Testament) except the Book of Esther. All of them
are dated nearly one thousand years earlier than any previously
- The Dead Sea Scrolls in fact re-enforce
the accuracy of nearly all of the Old Testament books
adding to the confidence of the accuracy of the Old Testament.
Of course this includes the book of Isaiah who among others
prophesies much about Jesus.
- It was the Israelis - not the Vatican
- that tried to suppress the release of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
- Gnostic documents are generally dated
100 years after the Gospels.
'The Da Vinci Code'
- Chapter 55: Jesus Christ never claimed
to be divine and was never worshipped as a deity until
the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. Until that moment in
history, Jesus was viewed by His followers as a mortal
prophet . . . a great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless.
A mortal. . . . by officially endorsing Jesus as the Son
of God, Constantine turned Jesus into a deity - and by
a close vote at that.
- Jesus was crucified because of who he
claimed to be.
- Jesus is called God and Lord in the divine
sense several times in the New Testament in books that
clearly predate the Council of Nicea. (Matthew 16:16,
Mark 1:1, Mark 8:29, Mark 14:61-62, Luke 9:20, John 1:1-14,
John 20:31, Philippians 2:5-11, Colossians 1:15-20 are
but a sample.)
- Constantine had called the Council together
among other things to settle a dispute that had arisen
when a priest from Egypt named Arius began to deny that
Jesus was God. The bishops of the Council reaffirmed the
traditional Christian teaching that Jesus was fully divine.
- It was thus the bishops of the Council
of Nicaea (not Constantine) who reaffirmed the historic
Christian position against Arius and his followers.
- It was thus a vote against the view that
Jesus was just a man, not a vote for the divinity of Jesus.
- It was not a close vote - it was overwhelming,
with over 300 of the reported 318 bishops attending voting
'The Da Vinci Code'
- Chapter 58: The Holy Grail is the 'Sacred
Feminine', Mary Magdalene.
- Reminder: the concept of a 'Holy Grail'
is never mentioned in the Bible and is certainly not part
of the Christian faith.
- The legend of the Holy Grail has taken
many forms since circa 1000AD when 'grail romance' stories
- Grail romance stories always identified
the Grail as the cup Jesus used at the Last Supper. The
idea of identifying it as the "sacred feminine"
and tying it into a supposed bloodline emanating from
a union of Jesus and Mary Magdalene seems to have started
with the 1981 publication, Holy Blood, Holy Grail.
- Chapter 37: The Knights Templar organization
was purged in the 1300s by Pope Clement V who worked with
King Philip IV of France to arrest all knights in Europe
on a single day (13 October 1307).
- King Philip IV of France arrested all
knights in France (not Europe) on a single day (13 October
1307) and proceeded with barbaric investigations and executions
without authority from the Pope. King Philip was greedy,
and by some accounts, in very great financial debt to
the Knights Templar.
- 6 months later the investigation into
the Templars widened across Europe but most were found
- 3 years later (16 October 1311) at a
General Council of Vienne in Dauphiné the majority
of members were favorable in maintaining the Knights Templar.
- A harassed pope under the influence of
a dominating King Philip IV compromised and issued a papal
bull 6 months later dissolving the organization "with
a sad heart" - that had the effect of merging the
Knights Templar with another organization in existence
at the time - the 'Order of Hospitalliers'.
- Chapter 58: In Da Vinci's "last
Supper", the figure identified as John the Evangelist
is really Mary Magdalene, and that these two figures together
form an "M," and that, because there is no grail
in the picture, Da Vinci is telling us the "grail"
is the sacred feminine of Mary Magdalene.
- Art historians tell us that the effeminate-looking
John is a typical representation for the time, as is a
Last Supper portrayal emphasizing betrayal rather than
the institution of the Eucharist (hence no cup). Just
look at other artwork from the same time period and compare.
- Chapter 55: The Dead Sea Scrolls were
discovered in the 1950s.
- They were discovered in 1947.
- Chapter 58: Jesus was married to Mary
- Chapter 58: That the word companion
in 'The Gospel of Philip' actually means spouse because
thats what the Aramaic word really means.
- Chapter 58: There are countless references
to a Jesus and Magdalene union. That has been explored
ad nauseam by modern historians.
- Not one Gnostic gospel claims there was
- 'The Gospel of Philip' was written in
Coptic not Aramaic. The word used for companion is koinonos
and it means companion, not spouse.
- In general, historians seem more offended
than Christians by the Da Vinci code novel.
- Chapter 26: The Mona Lisa is androgynous
the melding of male and female sexuality into one. This
is why she smirks with secret knowledge. Mona Lisa, is
not a real name but an anagram of the Egyptian god Amon,
and the Egyptian goddess Isis. And so Mona
Lisa is an anagram for Amon-Llsa
(Italian for Isis).
- This painting was not called 'Mona Lisa'
until 30 years after Da Vinci died. It took this name
after a biography of Da Vinci was published indicating
the painting to be a portrait of Madam Lisa Giocondo,
wife of a wealthy Florentine. Before then it was known
as "a certain Florentine lady" or "a courtesan
in a gauze veil."
- Chapter 55: Constantine moved the Christian
holy day from Saturday to Sunday.
- From earliest times Christians worshipped
on Sunday rather than on the Sabbath because that is the
day that the Lord Jesus rose from the dead. Several second
century historical texts affirm this. There is also indication
of Sunday worship in the New Testament texts:
- On the first day of the week we
came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people
and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept
on talking until midnight. Acts 20:7
- On the Lord's Day I was in the
Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a
trumpet, Revelation 1:10.
- Chapter 8: Da Vinci accepted hundreds
of lucrative Vatican commissions.
- Historical evidence indicates there was
only one commission, and he spent - at most - 4 years
- Chapter 60: Paris was founded by the
- Paris was known to exist in roman times
(as Lutecia) - the Merovingians did not rule until the
6th century AD making Paris at least 700 years old by
- Chapter 28: Five million women were burned
at the stake by the Catholic Church.
- The estimate is closer to 50,000 men
and women who were burned at the stake.
- Chapter 74: The Jewish Tetragrammaton
YHWH - the sacred name of God - in fact derived from Jehovah,
an androgynous physical union between the masculine Jah
and the pre-Hebraic name for Eve, Havah
- The word Jehovah doesn't appear in the
Bible in either the Hebrew text of the Old Testament or
in the Greek text of the New Testament. The word Jehovah
is a made-up English word which didn't exist until about
500 years ago.
- There is no J sound in the Hebrew language.
- Chapter 6: So strong was the churches
fear of those who lived in rural 'villes' that the once
innocuous word for 'villager' - vilain came to mean a
- Not quite - the old word was actually
'villein' (meaning a partially free person under the feudal
- Chapter 20: If you divide the number
of female bees by the number of male bees in any beehive
in the world you get PHI (the golden ratio - approximately
- The actual ratio is closer to 20:1. There's
a theoretical study that examines the ancestor bees of
a drone - if you look at - say 20 generations going back
from a drone, and if you look at the ratio of male &
female bees in that family tree - it approaches PHI. However
this has no bearing on the actual population ratio in
- Chapter 47: Leonardo Da Vinci invented
- Pure fiction, and an invented word for
The world was created perfect.
- In the beginning God created the heavens
and the earth. Genesis 1:1
- God saw all that he had made, and it was
very good. Genesis 1:31
But man rebelled against God.
- God looks down from heaven on the sons of
men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.
Everyone has turned away, they have together become corrupt;
there is no-one who does good, not even one. Psalm 53:2-3
- All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel
up like a leaf and like the wind our sins sweep us away. Isaiah
The consequence of this is death.
- And the Lord God said, 'The man has now
become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be
allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of
life and eat, and live forever.' So the Lord God banished him
from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had
been taken. Genesis 3:22-23
- For the wages of sin is death.. Romans
This is therefore the current state of mankind.
We are cut off from God because of our imperfection (sin) and
there is nothing that we can do. By no work can anyone save himself.
But there is Good News (Gospel means good news).
God did something he didn't need to do - he set in motion a plan
to save mankind.
- Surely he took up our infirmities and carried
our sorrows... Isaiah 53:4
- Yet it was the Lord's will to crush him
and cause him to suffer... Isaiah 53:10
- But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought
us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
- For he bore the sins of many, and made intercession
for the transgressors. Isaiah 53:12
Isaiah lived several hundred years before Jesus,
and yet prophesied about him. Jesus died for our sins (Luke 23:26-49).
To show that death had no hold of him, he rose again three days
later (Luke 24).
- The Son of Man must be delivered into the
hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised
again. Luke 24:7
- He said to them, 'How foolish you are,
and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have
spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then
enter his glory?' And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets,
he explained to them what was said in the scriptures concerning
himself. Luke 24:25-27
So how do we respond to this? Our belief in Jesus
- For the wages of sin is death, but the gift
of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans
- Therefore there is no condemnation for those
who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law
of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.
- But now a righteousness from God, apart
from the law, has been made known, to which the law and the
prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through
faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference,
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and
are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that
came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:21-23
- Therefore, since we have been justified
through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus
Christ,.. Romans 5:1
- That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus
is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from
the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that
you believe and are justified,
and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
May 14th, 2006
Irvine, California, USA.
(updated July 3rd after seeing the film)
A brief note on the film: I observed the
film to have a few subtle differences to the book: some of the
errors outlined above are corrected (e.g. the number of people
burned at the stake), and I found both Robert Langdon and Sophie
to be more skeptical with some of the claims outlined by Teabing
than the blind acceptance portrayed in the book. There was even
a heated exchange between Teabing and Langdon at one point. In
other words, even through the film attacks the Deity of Jesus
and the Canon of Scripture (and the claims made here were not
debated), the film seems to soften a little on the ancestral claims.
This means more space is given to the audience to decide for themselves
fact from fiction.
MR JUSTICE PETER SMITH: Case No: HC04C03092,
Baigent & Leigh v Random House, Judgement
Paragraph 37: After the television series and
after the publication of HBHG [Holy Blood Holy Grail] material
emerged which suggested that the Rennes Le Chateau mystery and
the Priory of Sion documents were all an elaborate hoax in which
Mr Pierre Plantard had a significant role. I do not have to elaborate
or even determine that issue. Anybody who is already not aware
of the detailed denouement will find it at the website Priory-of-sion.com
referred to above. Mr Baigent in his evidence before me said they
were always suspicious of Mr Plantard but I do not find such suspicion
in HBHG; it was essential for HBHG to have credibility that the
Priory of Sion as introduced to them had a plausible basis because
without that a large part of HBHG simply disappears as a credible
book if not an outright hoax or piece of fiction.
Paragraph 50 & 51: At page 430 they maintained
that their hypothesis whilst it could not be certain to be correct
in every detail they were convinced that the essential outlines
of their hypothesis was accurate. Their research has persuaded
them that the mystery of Rennes-le-Chateau involved a serious
attempt by influential people to re-establish a Merovingian monarchy
in France if not indeed in the whole of Europe and that the claims
of legitimacy of such monarchy rested on a Merovingian descent
from Jesus. There are three problems about
that summary. First as I have said above the Rennes-le-Chateau
mystery derives from the material provided ultimately via Pierre
Plantard which has been strongly held to be fake. Second Pierre
Plantard himself did not claim at any time to be descended from
Jesus. No evidential material has been produced for these speculations.
Third the Merovingians were never Kings of France; they were Kings
Paragraph 81: The text is preceded by a page designed
to clothe the book with authenticity headed Fact.
He refers to the Priory of Sion as being a European secret society
founded in 1099 as being a real organisation identified in the
Bibliotheque Nationale and the Dossier Secrets with various Grand
Masters. The second part relates to the existence of Opus Dei
a deeply devout Catholic Sect that has been the topic of recent
controversy. Finally all descriptions of artwork, architecture,
documents and secret rituals are accurate. Of course merely because
an author of fiction describes matters of being factually correct
does not mean that they are factually correct. It is a way of
blending fact and fiction together to create that well known model
faction. The lure of apparent genuineness makes the
books and the films more receptive to the readers/audiences. The
danger of course is that the faction is all that large parts of
the audience read and they accept it as truth.
Paragraph 343: The Claimants say I should treat
his [Dan Browns] evidence with caution. That is too high in my
opinion. He started confidently enough but ultimately his confidence
was gradually eroded by Mr Rayner James QCs protracted and
carefully measured cross examination. In that cross examination
Mr Rayner James QC established that in reality Mr Brown knew very
little about how the historical background was researched. He
in my view simply accepted Blythe Browns [wife of Dan Brown]
research material when incorporating it in to the writing of part
two of DVC [da Vinci Code]. I do not believe for one minute he
was analytical of it or critical of it; he simply accepted it.
Paragraph 348&349: I am aware (this may be
an understatement) that the case has wide interest. It is very
important that people do not take parts of the judgment out of
Mr Brown is a fiction writer. As a device to
writing fiction he is perfectly entitled to dress up factual scenarios
to give an illusion that supports his fiction. He is not (contrary
to the complaints of the Claimants) going into deep and detailed
research for these factual matters. Indeed as he said in his evidence
that would be counterproductive; he wishes to create grey
areas not black and white. He simply needs therefore a mystery
and a series of unanswered questions. He can do that without deep
research and that he has done. As he has taken matters at a general
and low level of abstraction and he has only taken ideas and facts
without any of the architecture (if any) he has done nothing wrong.
It would be quite wrong if fictional writers were to have their
writings pored over in the way DVC has been pored over in this
case by authors of pretend historical books to make an allegation
of infringement of copyright. I accept that if that was allowed
to happen it would have a serious impact on writing. This case
whatever its result would not have that impact in my view. However
cases can be used for improper purposes.