The Truth Behind the DaVinci Code
By Chris Carpenter
CBN.com Program Director
CBN.com - ANAHEIM, California
-- It is an uncommon occurrence when a book virtually takes on
a life of its own, becoming a cultural phenomenon in the process.
Alex Haley’s literary masterpiece of the 1970’s, “Roots”,
would certainly qualify. More recently, British author J.K. Rowling
captivated audiences young and old with her “Harry Potter”
Interweaving a highly potent mixture of murder, secret societies,
and erotic spirituality, Dan Brown’s 2003 release “The
DaVinci Code” continues to dazzle even the most casual reader.
Still in the top three on The New York Times Bestseller list
after 158 weeks, Brown has penned a work that has generated a
series of undeniably disturbing questions with most aimed directly
at traditional Christianity. Here are just a few:
• Is the Bible really authentic?
• Is Jesus Christ who the Bible says He is?
• What was Jesus Christ’s relationship with Mary Magdalene?
Such questions have created a whirl of controversy in every corner
of Christendom. If what Brown writes in “The DaVinci Code”
about history and Christianity is true, as he says it is, than
nearly 2,000 years of conventional theology should be tossed out
In his book, “The
Truth Behind the DaVinci Code” (Harvest House), award
winning investigative journalist Richard Abanes, takes readers
step by step through Brown’s novel, dissecting its various
assertions, and revealing each to be woefully inaccurate folly.
Probing, factual, and revealing, Abanes gives you, the reader,
the straightforward information you need to dig through the fiction
and unearth the facts.
CBN.com Producer Chris Carpenter had the opportunity to sit down
with Abanes to discuss the incredibly muddled message
presented in Brown’s blockbuster tome, the nature of Jesus
Christ’s relationship with Leonardo DaVinci, and whether
Christians should read “The DaVinci Code”.
CHRIS CARPENTER: You are writing a book about
a book. Obviously, this is a subject matter that is very important
to you. Or there is something in “The DaVinci Code”
that you truly do not believe in. Why write a book about a book?
RICHARD ABANES: There are a couple of reasons
actually. First of all, because it (“The DaVinci Code”)
is a direct attack against Christianity – specifically the
book by Dan Brown. That is only one side of why I wrote my book
in response. The other side of it is because Dan Brown is saying
that his book is factual, it is absolute history and he is couching
it with fiction. There are a lot of people who are accepting what
he is saying and what his publisher is saying and what his publicity
people are saying. That is that the book is true. I have heard
many people now, both in person and people who have read things
online, where they are saying this is the true history of Christianity.
It is so easy to prove but because it deals with obscure things
the average person is going to have a hard time finding out exactly
where he is wrong.
CARPENTER: That is not a new concept. I remember
when the movie “JFK” was released several years ago,
many people believed Oliver Stone’s interpretation of the
events of November 22, 1963 as the truth. Much of Dan Brown’s
book is set in and around the belief system of Gnosticism. Gnosticism
has been around for many centuries. Just for CBN online user’s
sake, what is Gnosticism and how does it differ from Christianity?
ABANES: There are actually many different forms
of Gnosticism. But basically, what we are dealing with is a group
of individuals in and around the second century who took some
Christian beliefs and ideas, references to Jesus Christ, and then
merged them with very esoteric, secret type teachings. One faction
of Gnosticism viewed women extremely negatively. Another group
said Jesus Christ really never existed physically because everything
that is material is evil. The physical world is completely evil
and we need to escape that through gnosis, or that is the Greek
word for knowledge. And so these are some of the concepts they
merged with Christianity. But it was condemned as heretical as
far back as the second century.
CARPENTER: Changing gears, a group playing a
vital role in Dan Brown’s book is an organization called
the Priory of Sion. What can you tell me about them?
ABANES: The Priory of Sion is a modern group
that was founded by a con man in France. Now that’s the
truth, the real truth, the ironclad truth. You can see this guy,
he deposited false and forged documents in French libraries, supposedly
tracing what he invented and put together in the 1960’s,
all the way back to the third and fourth centuries. It is this
very bizarre idea that there is this ancient society that has
preserved the truth about Jesus Christ – that truth being
that he was married to Mary Magdalene.
CARPENTER: There are some pretty notable people
who were connected in some form or another to this group. Among
them, Leonard DaVinci, Sir Isaac Newton, and Victor Hugo.
ABANES: Supposedly. Here is a great thing to
remember when you are reading Dan Brown’s book. Anything
and everything you read in there that has anything to do with
history or the origins of Christianity are wrong. There is not
one thing … I mean there was a Jesus Christ and there was
a Mary Magdalene but after that, that’s about it. Dan Brown’s
whole idea that there was this ancient society that was led by
Leonardo DaVinci, Sir Isaac Newton, all of these different individuals
is completely false.
CARPENTER: It never existed?
ABANES: It never existed. The only thing that
existed – Dan Brown claims it was formed in the tenth or
eleventh century. Well, what was really formed during that era
was an organization called the Order of Zion that was based in
Jerusalem. But it was devoted to the blessed mother, the blessed
Virgin Mary. That Mary, not Mary Magdalene. That order eventually
disbanded. It was disbanded by the Catholic Church. This new order
is what this con man in France started in the 1960’s. He
felt that he was the rightful heir to the throne of France and
that he was a direct descendent of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. It
was very bizarre.
CARPENTER: According to Dan Brown, what is the
ultimate truth behind the DaVinci Code?
ABANES: The ultimate truth behind the Code is
that … first of all, the Code itself, the DaVinci Code,
is supposedly codes and symbols within the paintings of Leonardo
DaVinci. And what these codes point to is this – Jesus Christ
had a wife. That wife was Mary Magdalene and they had a child
together. That child and Mary lived in France. They fled Jerusalem
because of the hatred that Peter and the other disciples had for
Mary Magdalene because she was supposed to take over the church.
Jesus was actually a goddess worshipping pagan. And the early
followers of Jesus never worshipped Him as God. This was something
that came much later according to Dan Brown. None of the early
followers in the first, second, or third century believed that.
Of course, all you had to do was look at the writings of the first
or second century and you can see that it is false.
CARPENTER: For clarification, you are saying
there is nothing in Dan Brown’s book that interprets works
of art correctly, it doesn’t accurately portray historical
ABANES: Let’s go through the list. He
doesn’t get how the Bible was formed. He doesn’t get
the role that Constantine played in history. He doesn’t
understand what the Council of Nicea was. He gets completely wrong
what the early followers in Christ believed about Christ. He even
appeals to the Gnostic scriptures, the Gnostic gospels, but he
misquotes those and gets those wrong. And he even takes statements
of Leonardo DaVinci and takes them out of context and he makes
them mean something completely inaccurate.
CARPENTER: I think you have done a wonderful
job of dissecting Dan Brown’s book. There are
great references to exact page numbers and text from “The
DaVinci Code” that allows you to compare your findings directly
to what is written in his book. Your book is a great primer for
anyone who wants to quick reference something for discussion with
a friend or someone who is taking “The DaVinci Code”
as the gospel truth.
ABANES: It is very broad too. It does cover
everything from Leonardo DaVinci’s paintings, to the Bible,
to Mary Magdalene, to the history of the church … but it
does it quickly. People just don’t have a lot of time these
CARPENTER: I have been a journalist for a lot
of years and the first thing I learned in my college journalism
classes was to be objective and to be accurate. Bottom line, get
your facts straight before you even think about taking a story
to press. In “The DaVinci Code”, it seems that Dan
Brown, a scholar, does not even come close to being accurate in
stating the facts that we have discussed here today. Obviously,
“The DaVinci Code” is passed off as a work of fiction
but there is sort of a “wink and a nod” there when
they say it is fiction. What’s the deal?
ABANES: I would say it goes beyond a wink and
a nod. First of all, Dan Brown has actually blatantly come out
and said his book is absolutely true. In an interview not so long
ago, he said if he were to rewrite it again as non-fiction he
wouldn’t change a thing. So, why educated, sharp people
are falling into this … that is a great question. I think
it has a lot to do with one, maybe what people want to believe
… it does make Jesus seem more human. And there is some
disillusionment with the Christian Church, especially in the area
of Roman Catholicism with the recent revelations of child abuse.
People are angry and this really paints Roman Catholicism as terrible.
So, that is partly why.
CARPENTER: In your opinion, are there any redeeming
qualities in “The DaVinci Code”?
ABANES: Well, yes, I suppose if I were to look
at it from an artistic standpoint – it is a good story,
it flows, it kind of appeals to that sense of conspiracy that
we all sort of like. We all kind of feel like there is stuff going
on in the world we just don’t know everything about. This
book appeals to that. There is a movie being made about it so
obviously Hollywood thinks it’s great. As a book, if someone
wants to write a novel like that, have a good time. But don’t
say it is truth.
CARPENTER: The last time I checked “The
DaVinci Code” is ranked number one on The New York
Times Bestseller list after 158 weeks in general release. The book
has been spun off into an illustrated version as well. With that
said, this is still a very hot book. The movie is coming along
right behind it which will just re-invigorate the whole interest
in Dan Brown and the book. There will be a lot more discussion
on this topic. People will be wondering about Gnosticism, the
Code, what exactly was the relationship between Jesus and Mary
Magdalene, and whether it is authentic truth. What can Christians
do to stand in the gap when that happens? And it is going to happen.
ABANES: I think the first thing is to represent
Christ very well as we respond. To not get upset, to understand
that it is just the world, and we need to simply give them the
facts and say, ‘Well, that is really interesting but here
are some facts that talk about what the truth behind “The
DaVinci Code” is. And here is where Dan Brown is wrong.’
We must trust that God is in control and that maybe He can use
this as a real jumping off point for all of us to discuss some
of these issues.
CARPENTER: Last question, do you think Christians
should read “The DaVinci Code”? I ask that because
I know there are two schools of thought. Some believers do not
want to concern themselves with anything that they see as not
of the Lord. And there are other Christians who want to be informed
so that they might be a better witness to their non-believing
ABANES: I see no problem with Christians reading
it. When we start fearing books as such, that is a problem. I
think the only danger is with really young Christians and maybe
teens who haven’t formed their faith real solid yet, and
who have a lot of questions. They might … parents might
not know where to help them find those answers. So, that is certainly
something to watch for. But I’m thinking if there is a lot
of talk about it among teens and early college, maybe we could
even have studies where you go through it to specifically show
how something can seem so right but be so wrong. That way, it
could help kids investigate their faith.
CARPENTER: Richard, thank you so much for shedding
some light on a subject that is in definite need of clarity. Your
book is fantastic.
ABANES: Thank you so much. I enjoyed it.
me what you think
Some information used in this article courtesy
of Harvest House Publishing.
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