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Chris Carpenter
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To Purchase "The Truth Behind the DaVinci Code"

 
cultural analysis

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” series.

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 the window.

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 events …

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 days.

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 friends.

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.

Tell me what you think

 

Some information used in this article courtesy of Harvest House Publishing.

 

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