2 Stars - Misleading
It is impossible to read Dan Brown's novel or view Ron Howard's film of "The Da Vinci Code" without being misled. If it was only a story that presented the idea that Jesus was married to Mary from Magdala, and as her husband he fathered a daughter, that would be an interesting plot. Though it has no historical evidence in either biblical or extra-biblical writings, this fictional idea would be of interest, if for no other reason than because of the centrality of Jesus in all of human history. It would be fascinating to explore how this would have changed the nature of His ministry and the message of His followers. Would He have asked His best friend, John, to care for His mother as well as His wife and daughter as He died on the cross? Would He have given His daughter some special command as He died? Would He have given her special authority when He rose again and held her once again in His arms?
But that is not the tale that Brown or Howard tell. Instead, this story has the feel not of imagination and novel thought, but rather of an aggressive agenda trying to weave a confusion that supports the finding of reasonable doubt about the person of Jesus and the church that embodies His mission.
That's not to say that the church hasn't done its part in giving people reason to doubt the love of God and others that Jesus taught. From the crusades to the inquisition, there have been moments in the past and the present when people who have called themselves followers of Christ have behaved in ways that call into question the Christianity they claim. However, this film uses these regrettable yet isolated events to further mislead the viewers.
The misleading distortions of facts are many and they come primarily through the villain of the film, Sir Leigh Teabing (Ian McKellen). Though we won't spoil the intrigue of the film and the part Teabing plays within the murder mystery, it is his pseudo lecture to Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) and Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou) that is most deceptive.
For example, it was not Constantine, as Teabing asserts, who chose the books to be included in the Bible nor do those excluded reveal a more human Jesus. The first century gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John proved themselves to be reliable testimonies of both the human and divine life of Jesus more than 100 years before Constantine was born. Written within decades of Jesus' life on earth, there were people still alive who had seen and heard Jesus themselves when the early epistles and gospels were written. These books were not chosen by church councils which came 200 years later, but by the early Christians meeting in the house churches of the first centuries. The stories of Jesus' life, called gospels, that were not accepted by these early Christians were second century writings and they did not show a more human Jesus, but an exaggeratedly spiritualized one. Their number was 27 and not 80 as Teabing asserts. These are just two of the many misleading "facts" which are actually historical inaccuracies.
In addition to misleading information about Jesus, the Bible, Opus Dei and the Knights Templar, the final confusion comes in the suggestion that it is through a feminine Deity that truth can be found. Though the film downplays the goddess worship presented in the book, with its ritualistic sex act which caused Sophie's disgust toward her grandparents, this message of reimagining Jesus as a woman, Sophie or "Wisdom," is clearly promoted in the novel.
The interest in Jesus brought about by this film continues to show His importance in the world. Eventually every person will have to decide whether Dan Brown or St. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are speaking the truth about this Man whose life still impacts us today.
- Many claim that this novel is only fiction and that Christians should not be concerned. Do you agree or disagree? Why?
- The increase in interest about who Jesus really is provides an opportunity for conversations between those who know Him and those who don't. Have you participated in such conversations? Were they respectful and helpful?
- The hope of many that Jesus could be proven to be anything except the Son of God and Savior of the world has caused some to look for "reasonable doubt." Do you believe Dan Brown and Ron Howard have provided that in this book and film?
- Who do you think Jesus really is?