St. John the Baptist Parish, A Parish of the Russian Orthodox Church, Canberra, Australia

Youth Conference 2004


As Orthodox Christians, why would we bother worrying about, or even reviewing, a novel? In the 21st century, we are living in the post-Christian era. This does not mean that Society now considers Christianity redundant and outmoded, supplanted by modern philosophy and science, and even by new theology – end of story. This may well be the case, but it is not sufficient; Christianity must now be attacked and ‘proved’ wrong. How? There is only one effective way of doing this: by removing God from Christianity. During the first 300 years of its existence, Christians were persecuted, often with extreme brutality, but these persecutions were only battles; the war had not yet begun, in the worldly sense. The first major offensive against Christianity was the Arian heresy.

The Da Vinci Code is history revisited. In the guise of a novel, it is a serious attempt at reintroducing Arianism, ‘proving’ that Christ was not, and therefore is not, God. Using the format of a novel is indeed a brilliant tactic. It allows history to be rewritten, and facts to be mutilated and reinvented with impunity. Concerning its claim to factual accuracy see Figure 1 – the first page of the novel. And so it’s a novel when it suits the cause, and at the same time it’s a factual, historical exposé that surfaces insidiously to enlighten deluded Christians, and strengthen the rest in the knowledge that Christ is not God – this is its primary goal. Everything else is secondary. This was recognized by the very first Christians – if Christ is not God then Christianity is meaningless and ultimately is of no practical value to mankind:

But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised: and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, your faith also is in vain. [1Cor 15:13-14]

To achieve its goal, the novel goes to extraordinary lengths to reverse historical and theological facts, and judging by its popularity, it has been remarkably successful. This says a lot about societies’ gullibility – with the right psychological techniques and social engineering, people can be manipulated to believe in just about anything without the need for brute force. Why? Because in the main, we are intellectually lazy: why strain the brain when it can be fed by others with initiative. But success in being an obstacle to Christianity has its own price:

And whosoever shall cause one of these little ones that believe on me to stumble, it were better for him if a great millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. [Mark 9:42]

We will not be reviewing the entire novel here. That won’t be necessary. The novel conveniently presents the main thrust of its case in several short chapters. This is where we will focus.

Page numbers showing quotations refer to the hard cover edition of The Da Vinci Code – ISBN 0-385-50420-9.

P. 157

“Tell me about the Priory of Sion,” Sophie said.

Langdon wondered where to begin. The brotherhood’s history spanned more than a millennium ... an aston­ishing chronicle of secrets, blackmail, betrayal, and even brutal torture at the hands of an angry Pope.

“The Priory of Sion,” he began, “was founded in Jerusalem in 1099 by a French king named Godefroi de Bouillon, immediately after he had conquered the city.”

“King Godefroi was allegedly [See comment below (p.158) regarding this allegation] the possessor of a powerful secret - a secret that had been in his family since the time of Christ. Fearing his secret might be lost when he died, he founded a secret brotherhood - the Priory of Sion - and

P. 158

charged them with protecting his secret by quietly passing it on from generation to generation. During their years in Jerusalem, the Priory learned of a stash of hidden documents buried beneath the ruins of Herod's temple, which had been built atop the earlier ruins of Solomon’s Temple These documents, they believed, corroborated Godefroi’s powerful secret and were so explosive in na­ture that the Church would stop at nothing to get them.”

Sophie looked uncertain.

“The Priory vowed that no matter how long it took, these docu­ments must be recovered from the rubble beneath the temple and pro­tected forever, so the truth would never die.

This allegation is factually/technically incorrect. King Herod’s Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. On top of these ruins the Umayyad caliph, Abd el-Malik, built the Dome of the Rock in 691. When the Priory of Sion was founded in 1099 the ruins from King Herod’s Temple with its rubble no longer existed.

In order to retrieve the documents from within the ruins, the Priory created a military arm - a group of nine knights called the Order of the Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon.” Langdon paused. “More commonly known as the Knights Templar.”

Under the Dome of the Rock there was however, and is, a network of tunnels. Modern research supports a long held tradition that the Arc of the Covenant had been hidden beneath Solomon’s Temple at the time of King Josiah (597 BC) so as not to be seized by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians. Scholars, unlike some novelists, have concluded that the Knights Templars spent the years from 1118 to 1127 excavating within the tunnels under the El-Aqsa mosque in search of The Arc of the Covenant, and not some mythical documents associated with the Holy Grail. It has been speculated that they did retrieve The Arc, because they soon became one of the most powerful religious and political institutions in medieval Europe.

Here, two points need to be made.

Sophie already looked troubled. “You’re saying the Knights Templar were founded by the Priory of Sion to retrieve a collection of secret documents? I thought the Templars were created to protect the Holy Land.”

“A common misconception. The idea of protection of pilgrims was the guise under which the Templars ran their mission. Their true goal in the Holy Land was to retrieve the documents from beneath the ru­ins of the temple.”

“And did they find them?”

Langdon grinned. “Nobody knows for sure, but the one thing on which all academics agree is this: The Knights discovered something down there in the ruins. Something that made them wealthy and powerful beyond anyone’s wildest imagination.”

If “Nobody knows for sure” then there is no basis for concluding that the Knights Templar were searching for the Holy Grail, rather than The Arc of the Covenant. This is pure speculation, supported by no evidence whatever.

P. 230

Seated on the divan beside Langdon, Sophie drank her tea and ate a scone, feeling the welcome effects of caffeine and food. Sir Leigh Teabing was beaming as he awkwardly paced before the open fire, his leg braces clicking on the stone hearth.

“The Holy Grail,” Teabing said, his voice sermonic. “Most people ask me only where it is. I fear that is a question I may never answer.” He turned and looked directly at Sophie. “However … the far more rele­vant question is this: What is the Holy Grail?”

“To fully understand the Grail,” Teabing continued, “we must first understand the Bible. How well do you know the New Testa­ment?”

Sophie shrugged. “Not at all, really. I was raised by a man who wor­shipped Leonardo Da Vinci.”

Teabing looked both startled and pleased. “An enlightened soul. Su­perb! Then you must he aware that Leonardo was one of the keepers of the secret of the Holy Grail. And he hid clues in his art.”

Langdon went across the room, found a large art book, and brought it back, setting it down on the table between them. Twisting the book to face Sophie, Teabing flipped open the heavy cover and pointed inside the rear cover to a series of quotations. “From Da Vinci's notebook on polemics and speculation,” Teabing said, indicating one quote in particular.

Sophie read the words.

P. 231

Many have made a trade of delusions
and false miracles, deceiving the stupid multitude.


“Here's another,” Teabing said, pointing to a different quote.

Blinding ignorance does mislead us.

O! Wretched mortals, open your eyes!


Sophie felt a little chill. “Da Vinci is talking about the Bible?”

Teabing nodded. [He] cleared his throat and declared, “The Bible did not arrive by fax from heaven.”

“The Bible is a product of man, my dear. Not of God. The Bible did not fall magically from the clouds. Man created it as a historical record of tumultuous times, and it has evolved through countless translations, additions, and revisions. History has never had a definitive version of the book.”

This is not true. The originals were translated into many languages very soon after they were written, so that even if the original text was lost it could be effectively reconstructed by cross-referencing the copies from the translations in different languages.

Jesus Christ was a historical figure of staggering influence, perhaps the most enigmatic and inspirational leader the world has ever seen. As the prophesied Messiah, Jesus toppled kings, inspired millions, and rounded new philosophies. As a descendant of the lines of King Solomon and King David, Jesus possessed a rightful claim to the throne of the King of the Jews. Understandably, His life was recorded by thousands of followers across the land.” “More than eighty gospels were considered for the New Testament, and yet only a relative few were chosen for inclusion - Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John among them.”

This makes no sense: “ … only a relative few were chosen for inclusion – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John among them.” Apart from Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, no others were chosen. If Teabing is referring to the other books in the New Testament, they are not gospels; either way, it is not something you would expect from someone speaking with authority. This is not simply an error of interpretation – it is a pathetic combination of ignorance and arrogance.

“'Who chose which gospels to include?” Sophie asked.

“Aha!” Teabing burst in with enthusiasm. “The fundamental irony of Christianity. The Bible, as we know it today, was collated by the pagan Roman emperor Constantine the Great.”

This is blatantly false!

P. 232

“I thought Constantine was a Christian,” Sophie said.

“Hardly,” Teabing scoffed. “He was a lifelong pagan who was bap­tized on his deathbed, too weak to protest.

This too is not correct. In the early Christian era, it was not uncommon for people from pagan backgrounds to delay their baptism simply because the baptismal process washes away all sins previously committed, and by getting baptized closer to one’s imminent death, the logic was that there would be less sins to account for after death. The Church soon pronounced that this practice was not acceptable.

In Constantine’s day, Rome's official religion was sun worship - the cult of Sol Invictus, or the Invincible Sun - and Constantine was its head priest.

This is factually wrong. Constantine was not a priest – he was an emperor.

Unfortu­nately for him, a growing religious turmoil was gripping Rome. Three centuries after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, Christ's followers had multiplied exponentially. Christians and pagans began warring, and the conflict grew to such proportions that it threatened to rend Rome in two. Constantine decided something had to he done. In 325 A.D., he decided to unify Rome under a single religion. Christianity.”

Sophie was surprised- “Why would a pagan emperor choose Chris­tianity as the official religion?”

Teabing chuckled. “Constantine was a very good businessman. He could see that Christianity was on the rise, and he simply backed the winning horse. Historians still marvel at the brilliance with which Con­stantine converted the sun-worshipping pagans to Christianity. By fusing pagan symbols, dates, and rituals into the growing Christian tra­dition, he created a kind of hybrid religion that was acceptable to both parties.”

The assertion that Christianity is a hybrid religion manufactured by Constantine can be readily checked by comparing the beliefs, teachings and practices of the post-Constantine Church with that of the Apostles and the pre-Constantine Church. Surprise, surprise – there is no difference, other than the fact that the early Church had to function underground to survive Roman persecutions.

“Transmogrification,” Langdon said. “The vestiges of pagan religion in Christian symbology are undeniable. Egyptian sun disks became the halos of Catholic saints. Pictograms of Isis nursing her miraculously conceived son Horus became the blueprint for our modern images of the Virgin Mary nursing Baby Jesus. And virtually all the elements of the Catholic ritual - the miter, the altar, the doxology, and commun­ion, the act of “God-eating” - were taken directly from earlier pagan mystery religions.”

“Originally,” Langdon said, “Christianity honored the Jewish Sab­bath of Saturday, but Constantine shifted it to coincide with the pagan's veneration day of the sun.”

P. 233

He [Langdon] paused, grinning. “To this day, most churchgoers attend services on Sunday morning with no idea that they are there on account of the pagan sun god’s weekly tribute - Sun­day.”

It is Langdon who has no idea why churchgoers attend services on Sunday. Services are held on Sunday to celebrate Christ’s resurrection – this is a celebration of Easter.

Christmas however is celebrated on 25th December because, in the early Christian Church, sun-worshiping pagans who converted to Christianity still had difficulty in relinquishing their lifelong traditions and beliefs, and often would continue to celebrate their sun-god festival, which occurred on 25th December. Because Christ’s actual birth date was not recorded, the Church decided to combat sun worship by replacing the pagan festival with the celebration of Christmas.

Sophie’s head was spinning. “And all of this relates to the Grail?”

“Indeed,” Teabing said. “Stay with me. During this fusion of religions, Constantine needed to strengthen the new Christian tradition, and held a famous ecumenical gathering known as the Council of Nicaea.”

“At this gathering,” Teabing said, “many aspects of Christianity were debated and voted upon—the date of Easter, the role of the bishops, the administration of sacraments, and, of course, the divinity of Jesus.”

“I don’t follow. His divinity?”

“My dear,” Teabing declared, “until that moment in history, Jesus was viewed by His followers as a mortal prophet ... a great and powerful man, hut a man nonetheless. A mortal!”

On the contrary, mainstream Christianity taught that Christ was God, and this conflicted with the teaching of the priest Arius, who claimed that Christ was man (just as The Da Vinci Code does, in the guise of pretentious scholarship). To resolve the issue, Constantine assembled the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea. This was its primary purpose.

According to Teabing, other issues debated at Nicaea included Easter, bishops and the sacraments, as well as Christ’s divinity. This however is de-facto recognition that Easter, bishops and the sacraments already existed prior to the Council; Teabing does not say that the Council invented them, but that it debated and voted on them. But Easter is a celebration of Christ’s resurrection – not something that can be performed by a mere mortal; likewise the sacraments would be meaningless without divine input. This means that the Church did in fact believe in Christ’s divinity, because if He were not divine, there would be no resurrection and no sacraments, and consequently there would be nothing for bishops to celebrate.

“Not the Son of God?”

“Right,” Teabing said. “Jesus’ establishment as ‘the Son of God’ was officially proposed and voted on by the Council of Nicaea.”

It is impossible for anyone even remotely conversant with Christian history to see this claim as anything other than a deliberate mutilation of historical and religious fact – nothing could be further from the truth; to say that it is false would be an understatement. Figures 2, 3 and 4 show where in the New Testament Jesus Christ is referred to as God, as well as references to the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit, Church and Tradition.

“Hold on. You're saying Jesus’ divinity was the result of a vote?”

“A relatively close vote at that,”' Teabing added. “Nonetheless, estab­lishing Christ’s divinity was critical to the further unification of the Ro­man empire and to the new Vatican power base. By officially endorsing Jesus as the Son of God, Constantine turned Jesus into a deity who ex­isted beyond the scope of the human world, an entity whose power was unchallengeable. This not only precluded further pagan challenges to Christianity, but now the followers of Christ were able to redeem themselves only via the established sacred channel - the Roman Catholic Church.”

P. 234

Jesus was indeed a great and powerful man. Constantine’s underhanded political maneu­vers don’t diminish the majesty of Christ’s life. [The majesty of Christ’s life precisely stems from His divinity. This is psychological trickery to comfort the reader by making it appear that Christ is not being attacked by The Da Vinci Code] Nobody is saying Christ was a fraud, or denying that He walked the earth and inspired millions to better lives. All we are saying is that Constantine took advantage of Christ’s substantial influence and importance. And in doing so, he shaped the face of Christianity as we know it today.”

Blatantly wrong. Christianity was ‘shaped’ by the Holy Spirit acting through the seven Ecumenical Councils, and saints such as Basil the Great and John Chrysostom over a period of hundreds of years – the last Ecumenical Council being held in 787 AD. No one single person, including Constantine, determined the outcomes of the Ecumenical Councils; that was the role of the bishops as a whole. Also, the Councils did not invent anything, and therefore they did not shape or ‘manufacture’ a particular version of Christianity. They merely consolidated, clarified and put down into written form the Christianity that they inherited from Christ and His Apostles.

“The twist is this,” Teabing said, talking faster now. “Because Con­stantine upgraded Jesus’ status almost four centuries after Jesus’ death, thousands [massive exaggeration] of documents already existed chronicling His life as a mortal man. To rewrite the history books, Constantine knew he would need a bold stroke. From this sprang the most profound moment in Christian history.” Teabing paused, eyeing Sophie. “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.”

Wrong again. The assertion here is that the current Christian Bible, containing the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, as well as the other books of the New Testament, was commissioned by Constantine – and therefore originated in the 4th Century, whereas, it is claimed, the ‘real’ gospels were those that are now referred to as apocrypha (apocryphal books in the New Testament are those which have not been accepted as valid books due to their content, whereas apocryphal books in the Old Testament were valid in content but were written after the time when of the selection process occurred). This claim is back-to-front. The four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were written by the Evangelists (Christ’s immediate disciples, and therefore by definition, they were the ultimate authority) in the first century, only decades after Christ’s resurrection, a period which predated Constantine by around 250 years.

The four Gospels and other books of the New Testament were also referred to in the writings of the immediate successors to the Apostles: St Ignatius – 69 AD; St Clement – 92 AD; St Polycarp – 156 AD; St Irenaeus – 185 AD. See Figures 5 and 6. This means that these books could not have been commissioned by Constantine because he convened the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD!

The gospels that spoke of Christ’s human traits (apocrypha books) were not outlawed, gathered up and burned. Manuscripts exist to this day and are regularly studied by scholars.

Historical chronology can be reversed either by deliberate lies or through fiction presented as fact - something that a novel can do with impunity.

“Fortunately for historians,” Teabing said, “some of the gospels that Constantine attempted to eradicate managed to survive. The Dead Sea Scrolls [the Dead Sea Scrolls were not Gospels, nor were they written by Christians; they were the product of a Jewish sect, believed to be the Essenes. Also there is no evidence whatsoever, anywhere, that Constantine tried to eradicate the Dead Sea Scrolls] were found in the 1950s hidden in a cave near Qumran in the Judean desert. And, of course, the Coptic Scrolls in 1945 at Nag Hammadi. In addition to telling the true Grail story, these documents speak of Christ’s ministry in very human terms.

The Da Vinci Code is based on Gnostic texts, including the Nag Hammadi Scrolls discovered in Egypt in 1945 (dated 4th century AD), and although Teabing mentions the Dead Sea Scrolls, no reference is made to their content, because there is nothing in the Scrolls to substantiate, or even remotely support Teabing’s fantasy.

Gnosticism is a generic term used primarily to refer to theosophical adaptations of Christianity propagated by a dozen or more rival sects which broke with the early Church between A.D. 80 and 150. Also, they all appealed to pagan philosophies. None of the groups agreed with one another on anything beyond the superficial level (if that), and all of them were continually modifying their views. The majority of the sects demanded an ascetic life with rules for the mortification of the flesh, and a special prohibition on marriage (or at least procreation), so that the divine soul might be liberated from the bonds of the bodily senses. For these groups, it was inconceivable that God would be born with a physical body, which by their definition was corrupt. Therefore if Christ was divine, his manifestation in the world could only be illusory. But some groups took the opposite view and became notorious for their orgies of immorality. Da Vinci Code latches onto the latter.

Gnostic texts cannot be authoritative commentaries on Christianity for a number of reasons, including:

Of course, the Vatican, in keeping with their tradition of misinformation, tried very hard to suppress the release of these scrolls.

The real irony is that it is The Da Vinci Code that is attempting to deceive the reader with misinformation. It would be pointless for the Vatican to suppress such material without the cooperation of the Orthodox Church, because both Churches have common origins – Pentecost, when the Apostles received the Holy Spirit (described in the Book of Acts). So if one suppresses and the other doesn’t, nothing is gained.

And why wouldn’t they? The scrolls 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.”

See Figures 5 and 6 of Saints Ignatius, Clement, Polycarp and Irenaeus, the immediate successors of the apostles. They confirm that the books of the New Testament were written by Christ’s disciples and were thus accepted by the early Church as valid from the outset. They also point to the unbroken continuity of the Orthodox Church from the time of the Apostles to the present.

P. 235

“What I mean,” Teabing countered, is that almost everything our fa­thers taught us about Christ is false. As are the stories about the Holy Grail.”

On the contrary, everything said about Christ in The Da Vinci Code is false!

P. 242

The Holy Grail is a woman, Sophie thought, her mind a collage of interrelated ideas that seemed to make no sense. “You said you have a picture of this woman who you claim is the Holy Grail.”

“Yes, but it is not I who claim she is the Grail. Christ Himself made the claim.”

If Christ did make such a claim, the whole world would have known. This is just another false fact - nowhere in the Da Vinci Code is this loose statement verified. Teabing makes this claim based on his interpretation of The Last Supper. To say that Christ claimed that the Grail is a woman is not only wrong it is deceitful.

P. 243

Langdon smiled: “As it turns out, the Holy Grail does indeed make an appearance in The Last Supper. Leonardo included her promi­nently.”

“Hold on,” Sophie said.You told me the Holy Grail is a woman. The Last Supper is a painting of thirteen men.”

“Is it?” Teabing arched his eyebrows. “Take a closer look.”

Uncertain, Sophie made her way closer to the painting, scanning the thirteen figures - Jesus Christ in the middle, six disciples on His left, and six on His right. They’re all men,” she confirmed.

“Oh?” Teabing said. “How about the one seated in the place of honor, at the right hand of the Lord?”

Sophie examined the figure to Jesus’ immediate right, focusing in. As she studied the person’s face and body, a wave of astonishment rose within her. The individual had flowing red hair, delicate folded hands, and the hint of a bosom. It was, without a doubt... female.

“That’s a woman!” Sophie exclaimed.

Teabing was laughing. “Surprise, surprise. Believe me, it’s no mistake. Leonardo was skilled at painting the difference between the sexes.”

Sophie could not take her eyes from the woman beside Christ. The Last Supper is supposed to be thirteen men. Who is this woman? Although Sophie had seen this classic image many times, she had not once no­ticed this glaring discrepancy.

“Everyone misses it,” Teabing said. “Our preconceived notions of this scene are so powerful that our mind blocks out the incongruity and overrides our eyes.”

If this were true, that the person beside Christ was a woman, then what happened to one of the Apostles (St John the Theologian- see below)? At the Last Supper there were indeed twelve Apostles present, including Judas. Christ announced to the group that one of them would betray Him, and as a result they were shocked, hence the scene in The Last Supper showing the disciples leaning towards each other in small groups discussing the revelation. If Da Vinci wanted to include Mary Magdalene in the picture, he would have painted fourteen people, not thirteen. This is a significant oversight by Teabing.

Sophie moved closer to the image. The woman to Jesus’ right was young and pious-looking, with a demure face, beautiful red hair, and hands folded quietly. This is the woman who singlehandedly could crum­ble the Church?

“Who is she?” Sophie asked.

“That, my dear,” Teabing replied, “is Mary Magdalene.”

That (my dear) is NOT Mary Magdalene. Christian iconography dates back to St Luke the Apostle, who painted the first icons of the Mother of God. Icons were (and are) ‘visual’ gospels and as such predate Da Vinci by more than 1400 years. It is therefore no surprise that Da Vinci selected iconographic material for use in his own art [Da Vinci: 1452 – 1519].

Figure 7 shows an icon of St John the Theologian standing at the foot of the cross with the Mother of Christ at the time of the crucifixion. St John was a young beardless youth, shown with his hair uncovered. Women on the other hand covered their heads, according to custom, as witnessed by the Mother of God. In 1 Corinthians 11:6 we read: “For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head.” The icon of Christ’s crucifixion shows John with long flowing hair, the same as the figure at Christ’s right side in The Last Supper. Traditionally and scripturally, from the time of the Apostles, John sat on the right hand side of Christ at the Last Supper and leaned on Christ’s breast.

P. 244

Sophie turned. “The prostitute?”

Teabing drew a short breath, as if the word had injured him per­sonally. “Magdalene was no such thing. That unfortunate misconcep­tion is the legacy of a smear campaign launched by the early Church. The Church needed to defame Mary Magdalene in order to cover up her dangerous secret - her role as the Holy Grail.”

Nowhere in the Gospels is Mary Magdalene referred to as a prostitute. She had seven demons cast out of her, and suffered from other infirmities. She, in fact, is a canonized Saint of both the Roman Catholic Church the Orthodox Church, with the title: Equal-to-the-Apostles.

“Her role?”

“As I mentioned,” Teabing clarified, “the early Church needed to convince the world that the mortal prophet Jesus was a divine being. Therefore, any gospels that described earthly aspects of Jesus’ life had to be omitted from the Bible. Unfortunately for the early editors, one particularly troubling earthly theme kept recurring in the gospels. Mary Magdalene.” He paused. “More specifically, her marriage to Jesus Christ.”

And who would have performed the marriage ceremony? Using what ritual? Since Christ is the head of the Christian church, no other Christian would have had the authority to ‘make’ the marriage service legally valid, ie to administer the sacrament of marriage and thereby pronounce that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married – since in Christianity the marriage celebrant has higher religious status than the couple being married. This would be particularly so because the Church only came into being after Christ’s resurrection, on the Day of Pentecost, when the Apostles received the Holy Spirit in the form of tongues of fire – as described in the Book of Acts. If on the other hand there was no celebrant, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that Christ pronounced Himself married; but this can only be interpreted as adultery/fornication, whether measured by Jewish standards based on the Old Testament, or by Christian standards. And considering that Christ Himself redefined and condemned adultery, He could not then violate His own teaching:

“You have heard that it was said, you shall not commit adultery; but I say to you, that every one who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery in his heart.” [Matt. 5:27-28]

And in the Old Testament the punishment for adultery was death by stoning:

If there is a man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, one who commits adultery with his friend’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.” [Lev. 20:10]

One other option remains – that Christ was married by a Jewish priest, according to ritual based on the Old Testament. But how likely was that? The Da Vinci Code asserts that Mary Magdalene was pregnant at the time of Christ’s crucifixion, so if marriage did take place, it would have occurred two or more years into Christ’s ministry. By this time however, Christ’s adversaries (the Scribes and Pharisees) were well and truly seething with anger towards Him – hardly a condition conducive to marriage. During Christ’s trial, the chief priests tried to obtain testimony against Him, to put Him to death; they even listened to false witnesses. But if Christ was married by one of the priests, they would have had all the proof they needed that Christ was a mere mortal, and that all the purported miracles would be dismissed as a hoax (or an act of sorcery), and certainly not due to His divinity. And by breaking the link between Christ and God, it is not inconceivable that His career would have fizzled out and not ended up in crucifixion. As it was, the High Priest asked during the trial:

Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” [Mark 14:61]

And despite their frenzy, doubts about His divinity lingered:

And even the rulers were sneering at Him, saying, ‘He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One.” [Luke 23:35]

Let this Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, so that we may see and believe.” [Mark 15:32]

If, however, Christ was divine, then marriage would not occur. The very notion that God would marry one of His creations is too absurd to warrant comment. The Da Vinci Code not only recognizes this fact, but uses it as proof that Christ could not be divine because He did marry. If that were true, evidence of His marriage would have been used by the Scribes and Pharisees to denounce Him as a fraud at every opportunity, and likewise it would have been used with devastating effect by His enemies ever since.

Not being able to explain the actual marriage process is a serious problem for The Da Vinci Code, because marriage outside the Law contravenes Old Testament practices, and Christ’s own teaching about purity and abstinence. Also, as part of His ministry, Christ complied with and fulfilled the Old Testament laws: “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.” [Matt. 5:17] The Da Vinci Code conveniently ignores these issues.

“It’s a matter of historical record [unsubstantiated claim],” Teabing said, “and Da Vinci was certainly aware of that fact. The Last Supper practically shouts at the viewer that Jesus and Magdalene were a pair.

This does not qualify as a historical record, and the notion that The Last Supper shouts that Jesus and Magdalene were a pair is pure conjecture – interpretation does not constitute fact; it is nothing more than personal opinion.

“Notice that Jesus and Magdalene are clothed as mirror images of one another.” Teabing pointed to the two individuals in the center of the fresco.

Sophie was Mesmerized. Sure enough, their clothes were inverse colors. Jesus wore a red robe and blue cloak; Mary Magdalene wore a blue robe and red cloak. Yin and yang. [See Fig. 8]

In Orthodox iconography the Virgin Mary and Christ are clothed in red and blue garments, where the blue colour represents the created human body and red represents the divine. Thus the Virgin was born human (represented by a blue undergarment on icons – closest to her body) and subsequently took on divine attributes (red outer garment – the spiritual cover). With Christ, it is the opposite: He was divine initially (red undergarment) and then put on the human body (blue outer garment). Da Vinci used colours in The Last Supper which were influenced by 1500 years of iconographic tradition; it had nothing to do with yin and yang.

“Venturing into the more bizarre,” Teabing said, “note that Jesus and His bride appear to be joined at the hip and are leaning away from one another as if to create this clearly delineated negative space between them.”

Even before Teabing traced the contour for her, Sophie saw it - the indisputable V shape at the focal point of the painting.

“Finally,” Teabing said, “if you view Jesus and Magdalene as compo­sitional elements rather than as people, you will see another obvious shape leap out at you.” He paused. “A letter of the alphabet.”

Sophie saw it at once. To say the letter leapt out at her was an understatement.

P. 245

The letter was suddenly all Sophie could see. Glaring in the center of the painting was the unquestionable outline of an enor­mous, flawlessly formed letter M.

“A bit too perfect for coincidence, wouldn't you say?” Teabing asked. Sophie was amazed. “Why is it there?”

Teabing shrugged. “Conspiracy theorists will tell you it stands for Matrimonio or Mary Magdalene.”

Teabing located a huge book and pulled it toward him across the table. The leather-bound edition was poster-sized, like a huge atlas. The cover read: The Gnostic Gospels.

“These are photocopies of the Nag Hammadi and Dead Sea scrolls, which I mentioned earlier,” Teabing said. “The earliest Christian records. Troublingly, they do not match up with the gospels in the bible.”

P. 246

Flipping toward the middle of the book, Teabing pointed to a passage. “The Gospel of Philip is always a good place to start.” Sophie read the passage:

And the companion of the Saviour is Mary Magdalene. 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?”

The words surprised Sophie, and yet they hardly seemed conclusive. “It says nothing of marriage.”

Au contraire.” Teabing smiled, pointing to the first line. “As any Ara­maic scholar will tell you, the word companion, in those days, literally meant spouse.

Langdon concurred with a nod.

The Gospel of Philip, has been dated at late third century A.D. Consequently it cannot have the same authority as the four gospels written by the Evangelists on chronological grounds alone (leaving aside other objections), because it means that it was not written by Philip. In addition, the relevant portion of the text that has survived has gaps (eaten by ants). It reads:

And the companion of the … Mary Magdalene … her more than … the disciples … kiss her … on her …” [Gospel of Philip 63:33-59] The Da Vinci Code fills in the missing gaps without telling the reader about them. A more realistic interpretation would be the chaste kiss of fellowship – the holy kiss referred to in Paul’s own letters: “All the brethren greet you. Greet one another with a holy kiss.” [1 Corinthians 16:20] This interpretation is all the more likely because the Gospel of Philip is a Gnostic document, where human sexual expression was defiling; it was the opposite of the spiritual act.

Teabing creates another problem (for himself) by claiming that any Aramaic scholar will tell you that the word companion literally means spouse. The problem is that the document was not written in Aramaic; it was written in Coptic, like the other Gnostic Gospels discovered at Nag Hammadi, Egypt. And the Coptic word for companion (koinonos – borrowed from the Greek) is neither a technical term nor a synonym for spouse or wife. Based on other literature, it is probable that koinonos here means sister, in the spiritual sense.

Sophie read the first line again. And the companion of the Saviour is Mary Magdalene.

Teabing flipped through the book and pointed out several other passages that, to Sophie’s surprise, clearly suggested Magdalene and Jesus had a romantic relationship.

P. 247

Sir Leigh Teabing was still talking. “I shan’t bore you with the countless references to Jesus and Magdalene’s union. That has been explored ad nauseam by modern historians. I would, however, like to point out the following.” He motioned to another passage. “This is from the Gospel of Mary Magdalene.”

Sophie had not known a gospel existed in Magdalene's words. She read the text:

And Peter said, “Did the Saviour really speak with a woman without our knowledge? Are we to turn about and all listen to her? Did he prefer her to us?”

And Levi answered, “Peter, you have always been hot-tempered. Now I see you contending against the woman like an adversary. If the Saviour made her worthy, who are you indeed to reject her? Surely the Saviour knows her very well. That is why he loved her more than us.”

“The woman they are speaking of,” Teabing explained, “is Mary Magdalene. Peter is jealous of her.”

“Because Jesus preferred Mary?”

“Not only that. The stakes were far greater than mere affection. At this point in the gospels, Jesus suspects He will soon he captured and crucified. So He gives Mary Magdalene instructions on how to carry on His Church after He is gone. As a result, Peter expresses his discontent over playing second fiddle to a woman. I daresay Peter was something of a sexist.”

The Gnostic texts also contain the Gospels of Thomas and Mary Magdalene. But the Gospel of Thomas did not make its first appearance with the Nag Hammadi texts – it was known mid-second century. Concerning the ‘Gospel of Mary Magdalene’ only three fragmentary manuscripts have survived into the modern period, two third-century fragments (published in 1938 and 1983), and a longer fifth-century Coptic translation published in 1955. The Da Vinci Code makes a big deal of this gospel, claiming that it substantially proves the case for the Christ-Magdalene bloodline. The problem with this line of argument is that Apostle Mark (author of the Gospel of Mark) was the first bishop of Alexandria, in Egypt. Mark was a living disciple of Christ, so his gospel, being a primary source, took precedence over anything else that was subsequently found in Egypt, both in terms of content and chronologically. To argue otherwise is synonymous with saying that something is more Christian than Christ. The Gospel of Mary Magdalene makes its appearance at least two hundred years later, meaning that Mary Magdalene was not the author.

The Da Vinci Code relies heavily on the Gospels of Mary Magdalene, Philip, and Thomas. The novel also claims that these and other Gnostic texts were “outlawed, gathered up, and burned” (p. 234). Scholars’ references on apocryphal New Testament books (including Gospels, Acts, Epistles, and Apocalypses, plus other narratives and fragments) that existed in the first four centuries clearly show that:

P. 248

Sophie was trying to keep up. “This is Saint Peter. The rock on which Jesus built His Church.”

“The same, except for one catch. According to these unaltered gospels, it was not Peter to whom Christ gave directions with which to establish the Christian Church. It was Mary Magdalene.”

Sophie looked at him. “You’re saying the Christian Church was to be carried on by a woman?”

“That was the plan. Jesus was the original feminist He intended for the future of His Church to be in the hands of Mary Magdalene.”

“And Peter had a problem with that,” Langdon said, pointing to The Last Supper. “That’s Peter there. You can see that Da Vinci was well aware of how Peter felt about Mary Magdalene.”

Again, Sophie was speechless. In the painting, Peter was leaning men­acingly toward Mary Magdalene and slicing his blade-like hand across her neck.

Sophie was starting to feel overwhelmed. “I’m sorry, I still don't un­derstand how all of this makes Mary Magdalene the Holy Grail.”

“Aha!” Teabing exclaimed again. “Therein lies the rub!” He turned once more to the table and pulled out a large chart, spreading it out for her. It was an elaborate genealogy. “Few people realize that Mary Mag­dalene, in addition to being Christ’s right hand, was a powerful woman already.”

Sophie could now see the title of the family tree.


“Mary Magdalene is here,” Teabing said, pointing near the top of the genealogy.

Sophie was surprised. “She was of the House of Benjamin?” “Indeed,” Teabing said. “Mary Magdalene was of royal descent.”

Family trees referring to every person mentioned in the Old Testament through to the New Testament can be readily purchased in Jerusalem. From the charts (which are biblical summaries) the tribe of Benjamin has no reference to Mary Magdalene. Why? Because she was not from the Tribe of Benjamin. The only person from the New Testament who comes from the Tribe of Benjamin is Saul, who became Apostle Paul. The life of St Mary Magdalene recorded by the Orthodox Church speaks of her: One of the myrrh-bearing women, and equal to the apostles, she was born in Magdala by the Lake of Gennesaret, of the TRIBE OF ISSACHAR. The Orthodox Church, like the Roman Catholic Church, was established by the Apostles. That fact alone allows it to comment on Christian history with greater authority than novels pretending to be historical documents. Not only was it closer to the action by 2000 years, but it was part of the action; or more precisely, it was the action, because the Church is Christ’s body. The claim that Mary Magdalene was from The Tribe of Benjamin is pure fabrication.

If there were a genealogical link between Mary Magdalene and Jesus, it would have been exposed long ago by scholars, and not by novelists.

P. 249

“But I was under the impression Magdalene was poor.”

Teabing shook his head. “Magdalene was recast as a whore in order to erase evidence of her powerful family ties.”

She turned back to Teabing. “But why would the early Church care if Magdalene had royal blood?”

The Briton smiled. “My dear child, it was not Mary Magdalene’s royal blood that concerned the Church so much as it was her consort­ing with Christ, who also had royal blood. As you know, the Book of Matthew tells us that Jesus was of the House of David.

Here Matthew is quoted as a valid Gospel; the same book however also quotes Christ saying: “And I also say to you that you are Peter and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it.” This is contrary to the claim in the Da Vinci Code that Christ gave the Church to Mary Magdalene.

A descendant of King Solomon - King of the Jews. By marrying into the powerful House of Benjamin, Jesus fused two royal bloodlines, creating a potent political union with the potential of making a legitimate claim to the throne and restoring the line of kings as it was under Solomon.”

Teabing looked excited now. “The legend of the Holy Grail is a legend about royal blood. When Grail legend speaks of ‘the chalice that held the blood of Christ’ ... it speaks, in fact, of Mary Magdalene - the female womb that carried Jesus’ royal bloodline.”

The words seemed to echo across the ballroom and back before they fully registered in Sophie’s mind. Mary Magdalene carried the royal bloodline of Jesus Christ? “But how could Christ have a bloodline un­less … ?” She paused and looked at Langdon.

Langdon smiled softly. “Unless they had a child.”

Sophie stood transfixed.

“Behold,” Teabing proclaimed, “the greatest cover-up in human his­tory. Not only was Jesus Christ married, but He was a father. My dear, Mary Magdalene was the Holy Vessel. She was the chalice that bore the royal bloodline of Jesus Christ. She was the womb that bare the lineage, and the vine from which the sacred fruit sprang forth!”

Sophie felt the hairs stand up on her arms. “But how could a secret that big be kept quiet all of these years?”

“Heavens!” Teabing said. “It has been anything but quiet! The royal bloodline of Jesus Christ is the source of the most enduring legend of all time - the Holy Grail. Magdalene’s story has been shouted from the rooftops for centuries in all kinds of metaphors and languages. Her story is everywhere once you open your eyes.”

P. 257

“But you said the Holy Grail was Mary Magdalene. If people are searching for documents, why would you call it a search for the Holy Grail?”

Teabing eyed her, his expression softening. “Because the hiding place of the Holy Grail includes a sarcophagus.”

Teabing spoke more quietly now. “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, the lost sacred feminine.”

Sophie felt an unexpected wonder. “The hiding place of the Holy Grail is actually … a tomb?”

Teabing’s hazel eyes got misty. “It is. A tomb containing the body of Mary Magdalene and the documents that tell the true story of her life. At its heart, the quest for the Holy Grail has always been a quest for the Magdalene - the wronged Queen, entombed with proof of her family’s rightful claim to power.”

There is one serious problem with this revelation. The relics (body) of Mary Magdalene have never been lost. It is customary in the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches to preserve relics (typically bones) of saints for veneration, but not worship, by parishioners and pilgrims. A bone relic of Mary Magdalene exists at the Russian Orthodox Monastery of St Mary Magdalene in Jerusalem, and other bone relics are distributed among churches throughout the world.

According to Teabing, “The quest for the Holy Grail is literally the quest to kneel before the bones of Mary Magdalene.” But if Christ is not God but a mere mortal, as asserted by Teabing, why not search for the bones of Christ Himself, and pray before them?


This study does not cover all the contentious issues raised in The Da Vinci Code, however, some of the more glaring examples include:


Not one revelation or exposé throughout the entire novel stands up to serious scrutiny. What purports to be historical or religious fact is either simply wrong, or so ludicrous that it insults the reader’s intelligence. It is impossible to conclude that the false claims are merely the result of sloppy scholarship. The real agenda of the novel, without any pretence otherwise, is to debunk Christianity; to prove that it is a fraud. And the only way to do this is to mutilate the truth – millions of readers would not have the slightest idea that they have been deceived. The real tragedy is that, not only that most wouldn’t care, but being the products of spiritually and morally bankrupt 21st Century society, they are eager to digest lies, believing that by reading contentious material they have been intellectually enlightened.

Archpriest Nicholas


January 2005

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