I watched the movie recently.
The movie clearly challenges certain aspects of the Catholic Church, although I do not see how it challenges Christianity itself.
Dan Brown's work is controversial mainly for the following claims:
1) Jesus Christ was married to Mary Magdalene
2) The four gospels (Mark, Luke, Matthew and John) were chosen from among several (namely 80) that existed in the 4th century because the four gospels presented a divine Jesus whereas the excluded books depicted a human Jesus.
3) The divinity of Jesus became orthodoxy
by a close vote at the council of Nicea in AD 325.
The key to the novel’s plot is that many in the Catholic church knew that Jesus was married. Somehow Dan Brown book implies that this "marriage" makes it impossible for Jesus to be divine. In The Da Vinci Code, the Catholic Church takes steps to protect Jesus's late emerging divinity status they "conspired", and not let it be known. Even to the point of committing murder.
As the whole premise of The Da Vinci Code falls on the claim that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and sired a child, I will comment only on this claim in this blog entry. The other 2 claims are mostly historical ambiguities that of course hold the possibility of error in judgement. However, if the first claim doesn't change Jesus's divinity nor the Christian faith, why the need to cover up at all? (Also to make this entry not so long! :))
So let's look at problem number 1
1)Was Jesus Married? The evidence for this claim comes from two extra biblical gospels, the Gospel of Mary
Magdalene 17:10–18:21 and The Gospel of Philip
63:33-36. Both contain remarks that Jesus had a special relationship to Mary or that he loved her more than any of the twelve disciples. One text uses the term “companion” to describe her. This was a line in the movie as well. In addition, there is an appeal in the Phillip text where Jesus is said to kiss Mary on the lips. So the inference is that if he kissed her in public then he must have been her husband.
Now here are the facts. First, almost all scholars question whether these extra biblical gospels contain anything of value in terms of the historical Jesus. However, even if they did, the texts noted do not actually affirm that Jesus was married. In fact, the famous kiss on the lips text actually has a blank in the original manuscript right at the point where it describes where Mary was kissed. So it could be the lips or the cheek, which would simply refer to a kiss of fellowship. The term companion is debated as to its force. Most interpret the term as pointing to a spiritual relationship Jesus had with Mary because of the mystic character of the gospel in which it appears. So it does not allude to actual marriage at all, but to a fellowship that Jesus and Mary shared as believers.
More than this, we have volumes and volumes of texts about Jesus from the first five centuries. They are mostly all small print, single space, double columned texts of several hundred pages each. They include traditional orthodox texts and those that were rejected as heretical. In all of these materials not a single text describes Jesus as married and most assume he was not, as that was a basis for some arguing that priests should be single.
In 1 Corinthians 9, the argument appears that the spouse of those married should be supported. Had Jesus been married Paul could have clinched his argument by noting this fact. All of this leads to the conclusion that Jesus was indeed single.
Now some reply that 1 Corinthians 7 mentions believers being single and yet does not mention Jesus. However, here Paul only advises being single. Had he mentioned Jesus’ example that might have said more than Paul intended, by giving an impression this is what to do. So this is the likely reason Jesus being single was not mentioned.
One important final point on this though is that Dan Brown's book claims that a married Jesus would need to be covered up by the church because it would expose the fact that Jesus was not divine. Why? So what if Jesus was indeed married? Would that change his divinity status? Would that make him any less of "The son of God made man"?
The Catholic Church has always confessed the full humanity
of Jesus. Jesus was a full blooded man who died on the cross. How would Jesus being married change any of this? In fact, the status of marriage would fit in nicely with such a claim. Thus, even the premise of the theological problem the novel sees for a married Jesus is false.
A lot of the movie depends very much on Leonardo Da Vinci's painting "The Last Supper". A lot is made about John looking like a woman. During Leonardo Da Vinci's time, men were simply drawn in that manner. They looked like women in many paintings and sketches.
Go to this website
and take a look at Leonardo Da Vinci's sketches of men and see what you think.
As a sample, look at the picture below. That is a sketch by Leonardo himself of St. Philip for the Last Supper painting. It kind of looks like a woman to me too! So maybe we should look more carefully at Philip in The Last Supper instead?
Personally after watching the movie, I can understand why the Catholic Church wanted this movie to be banned. It does contain many damning protrayals of Catholics. Two ladies who were sitting behind me were talking throughout the movie and they kept going "Ohh! So like that har? I must tell my Catholic friends they are so stupid!"
Well this movie is a work of fiction. It insults the Catholic Church. It makes false claims and presents the claims in a misleading manner such that Jesus looks like a common man and not God. Hence you can see why the Catholic Church was so angry. As a Catholic I feel somewhat offended. However I view this more as a challenge on my faith than anything else.
I keep seeing articles in the Catholic News condemning The Da Vinci Code. I guess that's one way to do it. However why such a violent reaction? I think that by reacting so strongly, the Catholic Church may be playing into the hands of Dan Brown. After all, such strong responses fall in line with what the Catholic Church in Dan Brown's book would have reacted. If it indeed is a work of fiction and total lies, then why worry? Do we not have faith in our Lord to guide us through all this? Do we not have enough faith in the faith of our fellow Christians to rise up to these lies rather than accepting them?
I have learned that without doubt, there is no faith. "Doubting Thomas" will tell you that. In the gospels, the Apostle Thomas doubted when the other apostles told him that they had seen Jesus. Thomas replied that unless he put his fingers through the holes in Jesus's hands, he would not believe. And Jesus granted him his wish. It goes hand in hand. Doubt and faith. You cannot have one without the other. Just like winners and losers. There must be a competition, and then you must have both or else the "winners" somehow lose significance. But I would note that you can have all believers and no unbelievers. The two are not partners. For it is in the Lord God that we believe and have faith in, and it is every person's choice to believe or not believe.
Let us respect people's beliefs. We can argue, we can debate, But at the end of the day, faith is something that cannot be proven or forced. It is of your own free will to believe or not believe.
Anyway to put the Catholic Church's strong response in perspective, I wonder what would happen if there had been a similar movie called "The Rembrandt Code", which presented claims that challenged the Islamic Faith in the same vile manner as "The Da Vinci Code"? How would the Islamic world respond? Bombs? Terrorist acts of violence? Jihad?
I would bet my life that the movie would be banned in Singapore much less NC-16!
Sometimes life just isn't fair.
Lastly, I would recommend you watch the movie as it is an entertaining movie. 3.5 stars out of 5 for me. But remember that it is a work of fiction
. In fact it reminds me quite a bit of the movie "National Treasure
" which starred Nicholas Cage and talked about the Freemasons and the Knights Templar.