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November 4, 2003

Mary Magdalene

Like Eric, I watched the ABC special, Jesus, Mary and Da Vinci, which addresses some of the speculation about the mysterious Biblical figure, Mary Magdalene, who had for centuries been identified by the Catholic Church as a prostitute. More recent scholarship has suggested that Mary Magdalene was, at the very least, one of Jesus's closest followers, and possibly the mother of his child.

The TV series picks up on some of the questions raised by the best-selling novel, The DaVinci Code (DVC), which I haven't read (although now I am mildly curious). DVC suggests that a small sect passed this knowledge down through the generations and that DaVinci was a member of the group and put "hidden messages" in his paintings to convey this knowledge. Part of the novel's success seems to be based on the fantasy of obtaining hidden or secret knowledge, a claim that usually arouses a little suspicion for me, but I'm intrigued by the popularity of the book, especially given the boycotts inspired just a few years ago by The Last Temptation of Christ, which made similar claims about the relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus (of course it remains to be seen how people will react to the film).

[Brief aside: when I was in college, a woman I wanted to date asked me to join her at a boycott of Last Temptation, even though nobody at our college had even seen the film. I'm proud to say that even though she was really cute, I didn't go. Of course, my dating life slowed considerably as a result of my principles.]

On the ABC special, I especially enjoyed the interviews with Elaine Pagels, who was an important thinker during one stage of my intellectual development, specifically her observations about the politics of Biblical canon formation. Rev. Richard McBrien of Notre Dame University also backed up the observation that Mary Magdalene would have been considered one of the most important Apostles had she been a man. As Eric points out, the production values of the ABC special (obnoxious spooky music, etc) pretty much sucked, but I was still intrigued that this kind of story could attract so much mainstream attention.

Posted by chuck at November 4, 2003 11:47 PM

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I bought and read the Da Vinci Code last summer because of all the buzz. What a waste. It reads like a monkey wrote it. The characters' "jaws drop" (the author's favorite phrase) so many times it's a wonder they all don't have dislocated palettes. I carried it over to the local used book store less than a week after I bought it and unloaded it, a mint hardcover, for $10.

Posted by: Matt K. at November 5, 2003 8:45 AM

I came across several negative reviews on AKMA, so I'll likely skip the book and wait for the movie. I'm intrigued by the fact that Ron Howard is involved, given his work on a similar project in Beautiful Mind, although more out of a sense of curiosity about how he will deal with the material than anything else.

Posted by: chuck at November 5, 2003 12:47 PM

I have not read the book but from my understanding of it (ie reading reviews, etc.) it makes a mockery of Art History. Or at least doesn't understand DaVinci's art or style in general. I too am facinated with Mary Magdeline but baseing ones ideas on a novel is a tricky proposition.

Posted by: S at November 5, 2003 2:43 PM

Yeah, the author's approach would seem to completely ignore the entire discipline of art history. In fact, his attempt to create this hidden history narrative almost completely undercuts any of the credibility of his more interesting observations about Mary Magdalene as a historical figure.

Posted by: chuck at November 5, 2003 2:52 PM

I have read the book and it does scratch the surface of a few good questions, like why is a women depicted in the last supper by Da Vinci?
Did Jesus have a child? and if he did does that make him any less the son of god? I think not!

Posted by: PatrickF at January 12, 2004 1:59 PM

I read the book. It left me with many questions. I spent much time since reading up on Da Vinci and Mary Magdeline. Regardless of the conclusions I have drawn, I must admit anytime a book sparks my curiosity and leaves me pondering the possiblities, it must be good. I highly recommend it to those whose mind is open enough to say "what if?"

Posted by: Chuck at January 27, 2004 9:10 AM

The book has certainly inspired a lot of people to rethink their beliefs, which I'd agree is usually productive. I'm still so far behind on my reading, I probably won't get a chance to read it..

Posted by: chuck at January 27, 2004 6:56 PM

I just read the book for a book club. It's an interesting yarn but I thought the prose was awful in that mass-market, Hemingway-lite sort of way. AFAIK another bestseller, "A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam" by Karen Armstrong tackles similar issues and is better written.

Posted by: Chris Martin at January 30, 2004 5:13 PM

please remember that this book is a work of fiction, a mystery novel, and a good one at that.

Posted by: alisha coplin at February 6, 2004 12:53 PM

The fact that "DaVinci Code' is a novel *is* an important point, one that somehow gets elided in most conversations about the book.

I know there are other historical novels out there that don't face the same kind of scrutiny regarding historical accuracy (say, something like DeLillo's Libra), which begs the question of why this novel has faced more intense criticism.

If I don't get a chance to read the book, I am looking forward to seeing what they do with the film version currently in production.

Posted by: chuck at February 7, 2004 5:31 PM

Having just perused "The DaVinci Code", I have subsequently begun to rethink the history of the New Testament. I find myself researching other resources, not necessarily Protestant or Catholic in origin. If a person is not allowed to think and decipher on one's own, then religion is a mockery. The author, regardless of authenticity, is a genius!!!

Posted by: Mary Powell at February 15, 2004 7:26 PM

I will probably burn in hell for the statement I am going to make,but after reading the Da Vinci code,fiction or not, it does leave a lot of open questions for me. Such as, was the bible altered to suit other peoples purposes to appeal to the masses they need to control? The Catholic church as well as some of the older religions are a part of the orginal ring of politics-just something to think about. And it is excellent reading.

Posted by: Shannon at July 17, 2004 1:32 PM

I will probably burn in hell for the statement I am going to make,but after reading the Da Vinci code,fiction or not, it does leave a lot of open questions for me. Such as, was the bible altered to suit other peoples purposes to appeal to the masses they need to control? The Catholic church as well as some of the older religions are a part of the orginal ring of politics-just something to think about. And it is excellent reading.

Posted by: Shannon at July 17, 2004 1:33 PM


Posted by: LYNN at August 17, 2004 11:39 PM

I am a Roman Catholic who normally never questions the church. After having read the Da Vinci Code I must say that it raised a few questions for me. I probably tend to agree that the church is very good at hiding the truth, but for me it is not important if Jesus was married and had children. The Important thing to keep on track and not loose your faith is to lead a good life irrespective of who or what is the Holy Grail or if Jesus had children or not.

Posted by: Carl at August 27, 2004 9:31 AM

What most people that read and criticize The Da Vinci Code fail to realize is that it is a novel with historical truth. Not all novels are entirely flooded with fiction. The Da Vinci Code is simply a story to make the historical truths more interesting to learn about. I have read countless articles about how nothing should be taken seriously in the book, and have learned that the authors are as closed minded as some of you apear to be. The book finally opens doors that thinkers in the past have not had it in them to touch. Just as the book describes, we as a functioning society are no longer in an age of absolute teachings, but have advanced into a time when new age thinking is dominant. I assure everyone that new ideas and evidences will begin to emerge and the world as we know it will drastically change. Just a thought.

Posted by: Bobby at August 27, 2004 12:55 PM

I agree totally with that last comment made by "Bobby." The novel has certainly opened my mind and does hold within it some undeniable facts about history. I don't always believe everything I hear, but I can say that growing up I always had that image of how things happened engrained in my head (12 years of Catholic school will do it to you) and after reading the Da Vinci Code I feel so naive and gullable. It certainly makes one ask oneself whether or not the New Testament was fabricated or not..amongst many other ideas people believe. But I suppose that's the point of it all, and even the point Brown makes...it's a matter of faith because faith is something one has without any evidence.

Posted by: Laurie at August 30, 2004 5:48 PM

I also agree with the above comments. After reading the novel it did bring up questions concerning political influence and the story of Jesus. As stated above it does not matter to me that Jesus could have been married and had children. Why would there be man and women if this were not a natural phenomenon? And why is it impossible to think that this is something that Jesus could have experienced? Very good reading.

Posted by: Jenifer at September 16, 2004 10:35 PM

I agree that this book was extremely fascinating. I couldn't put it down! I wonder if the reason that many people are angry at the context of the book is because they're afraid to admit to themselves that anything other than their own beliefs might exist. Now I'm not saying one should get facts from a novel, but why not leave the door open for some interesting historical theories that make sense? All I know is that I couldn't help but try to find more information on the subject that intrigued me so.

Posted by: Macayla at October 26, 2004 2:22 AM

Facisnating! I loved it whether from an historical point of view or purely fictional. It is about time women are taken more seriousely by the Roman Catholic Church. We do have a place in Jesus' life and history after all.

Posted by: michaela at October 30, 2004 4:04 PM

anyone who wants to further their knowledge base, can study the paintings of DaVinci themselves, can read the words recorded in the ancient texts of the Gnostic Bible, and Dead Sea Scrolls, etc., etc., ...basically in this age of information there is no reason to remain in the dark regarding the political workings of powerful religious orders, and why and how they became that way. One should always be asking questions, always be searching for what lies beyond the obvious....do some work on your own, and don't rely solely on pop culture to wake you from your stupor....

Posted by: kathi at February 6, 2005 8:35 PM

Im reading the book and have only stopped to pop to the library to research Da Vinci and religious issues i neither knw or cared about before. if all this book does is make people think more and do a bit of research instead of sit in front of eastenders then its a success. people should remember its fiction and if they want to know the truth they should look for it.

Posted by: Jenny at March 30, 2005 10:24 AM

After reading davinci code, i started researching the patterns of religon. If Dan Brown was as accurate in his depiction of christ not being God than that follows exactly as to what the Koran says. The koran actually even mentions that Christ was not divine and those who claim it are hiding the truth for there gains. The bible also mentions the arrival of muhammad, and the return of christ. After 1 year of researching i am pleased to announce my conversion to islam. May all of you see the light i have seen.

Posted by: John at July 13, 2005 2:14 AM

I downloaded this from the internet.I find it interesting that it's written in the first person.

—A message from Jesus

You've probably heard about The Da Vinci Code—the novel that has become a bestseller and has now been made into a Hollywood movie. The claims in The Da Vinci Code have raised questions in many people's minds.

The story line involves a sequence of gripping mysteries and adventures that many people find intriguing. I love a good mystery Myself, and I enjoy watching people carefully put together the pieces of an intricate puzzle—whether it's archaeologists uncovering ancient civilizations, botanists unraveling the mysteries of the genetic structure of plants, or the average man and woman trying to make sense of current events. Life would be boring if there were nothing to discover, no theories to test, and no way to find answers to your questions.

After reading or watching The Da Vinci Code or hearing about it from friends, family, or the media, it's understandable to wonder whether the "revelations" in this story should affect your perspective on Christianity and the Bible and Me. A lot has already been written about the issues, and there have been many attempts to sort fact from fiction. Matters of faith aren't always easy to prove—if they were, it wouldn't take faith—but I have seen to it that there is enough evidence of the truth that those who are truly seeking will find it.

While The Da Vinci Code states untruths and I'm not happy about that, it is also sparking an increased interest in Me and My life. I am happy about that, because many people don't understand who I am or what I have to offer. They also don't understand that My Spirit does not dwell in temples made with hands (The Bible, Acts 7:48), and that neither can the masters of those temples claim to represent or speak for Me unless they truly know Me. Many who have assumed this role did not, and through the centuries many wrongs have been committed in My name. Men and women claiming to be My representatives have waged unjust wars, robbed the poor, oppressed the weak, and misled the masses in many ways.

One such misconception is the teaching that sexuality is evil. This false teaching has led to many problems in society today. In reality, sex is one of God's creations and is embraced in the Bible. It's a natural part of life and when done lovingly it's beautiful in My sight.

The religious authorities over the centuries have covered up many things. Yet the truth of My nature as the Son of God, the Savior, the One who has power to touch and transform your life has not been able to be repressed.

If you don't know Me yet, then I have a proposal for you: Rather than trying to figure Me out, why not give Me a chance to show you the truth? I am not just talking about right and wrong, or good advice, but supernatural truth. All that I am cannot be comprehended by the mind. You have to seek and understand with your heart. Why not see for yourself if I'm real and "the way, the truth, and the life" as I told My first disciples? (The Bible, John 14:6). Why not put Me to the test? Accept My love and presence into your life, and then see what I can do for you.

I can be your closest friend and confidant. I can help you when things go wrong and you need support. I can give happiness in place of grief, and I can bring beauty out of the ashes of failures and mistakes. Once you ask Me into your life, I will never leave you. That's a solemn pledge! I will always love and care for you in spite of everything, including your own faults and failings.

Once you connect with Me personally, then as you delve into what I have revealed in the Bible—and particularly in the Gospels—you will discover pure and life-giving truths within My Word. There's a personal message from Me to you within that book—it may have seemed encoded, but if you know Me, you'll begin to understand it. You'll find heavenly treasures worth far more than the Holy Grail.

All you need to do to start to receive all that I have to offer is open your heart and invite Me in. Just say, "Jesus, I'm willing to try You out. Please come into my life, show me how real You are, and give me Your gift of eternal life. Amen."

Did Jesus Marry?
Yes! I am married to those who believe in Me and receive Me into their hearts and lives! As far as being married on Earth, no, I wasn't in the way you consider it, and I didn't have any physical children. Yet, I do have a wife to whom I am devoted. You who receive Me are the bride of Christ; you are married to Me in spirit. The apostle Paul wrote: "You should be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God" (Romans 7:4). I love you as a faithful husband loves his wife. I will be there for you always, I vow—for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, and even death will not part us.

Posted by: burnfree at May 17, 2006 4:55 PM

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