Decoding Da Vinci by Liz Curtis Higgs


Mary Magdalene has moved onto center stage in recent months, thanks in part to the popularity of the best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code, written by Dan Brown. Many Da Vinci readers, confusing fiction with fact, are wrestling with questions about the role of Mary Magdalene in Christian history, the authenticity of Scripture, and the reality of Jesus Christ.

The Da Vinci Code is filled with symbols that supposedly point to startling “facts” about Mary Magdalene. Yet none of the fourteen verses from the New Testament that mention Mary Magdalene by name are included in the novel. Not her demons. Not her deliverance. Not her role at the crucifixion. Not her witness of the resurrection. The Mary Magdalene of the Code has little in common with the Mary Magdalene of the Bible… except her name.

In the spirit of pursuing truth, of separating blockbuster fiction from biblical fact, let’s look at some of the questions Brown’s novel raises—and how the Book of Books responds—concerning Mary Magdalene and the Christ she served:

The Da Vinci Code

The Holy Bible

Is mankind more deserving of worship than God?

“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."
"An enlightened soul. Superb!"
page 230

They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised. Amen. Romans 1:25
Do not worship any other god, for the L
ORD . . . is a jealous God. Exodus 34.14

Is the Bible a trustworthy historical document?

“The Bible is a product of man, my dear. Not of God. Man created it as a historical record of tumultuous times. History has never had a definitive version of the book.”
page 231

No prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:20-21

Is Mary Magdalene the Goddess, the Holy Grail,
and the Way of Truth?

“…to this day, still worships Mary Magdalene as the Goddess, the Holy Grail, the Rose, and the Divine Mother.” page 255
“The Rose is the compass that guides the way.
page 273

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.”
John 10:9 



Was Mary Magdalene the wife of Jesus
and the mother of his child?

“But how could Christ have a bloodline unless…?”
“Behold,” Teabing proclaimed, “the greatest cover-up in human history. Not only was Jesus Christ married, but He was a father.”
page 249

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. John 1:12-13 


Was Jesus' divinity fabricated by the Church?

“Jesus was viewed by His followers as a mortal prophet…a great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless. A mortal.” 
“Not the Son of God?” 
page 233 

[Jesus] asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:15-16
Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
John 20:28


Has Jesus left his Church in Mary Magdalene’s hands?

“You’re saying the Christian Church was to be carried on by a woman?” 
“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.
page 248

God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. Ephesians 2:19-20
“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”
Matthew 16:18


What truth has been revealed to mankind?

“Mankind deserves to know that truth. The Grail found us all, and now she is begging to be revealed. Destiny has led us to this moment.” page 410

“I have revealed and saved and proclaimed— I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “that I am God.” Isaiah 43:12

By novel’s end, Brown’s millions of readers may echo the words of one of the characters, editor Jonas Faukman, who asks, “But with all these books written about it, why isn’t this theory more widely known?” (page 164) To which the main character, Robert Langdon, admits, “These books can’t possibly compete with centuries of established history, especially when that history is endorsed by the ultimate bestseller of all time…the Bible.”

For all who love the Christ and trust his Word, believing the martyred apostles who were “eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2 Peter 1:16), a novel like The Da Vinci Code gives us an opportunity to examine the facts and present the truth in love. No story is greater than the one contained in Scripture, the true story of the Son of God who died for our sins, then rose that we might have eternal life. 

Two thousand years ago Mary Magdalene—neither prostitute nor goddess, neither wife of Jesus nor his equal—witnessed his mighty resurrection and heeded the command of Jesus to “go…and tell” (John 20:17). And so she did: “I have seen the Lord!” (John 20:18). May we follow in her footsteps, seeing the Christ with new eyes, then declaring his glorious truth to a world longing for answers. 

© Copyright 2004 Liz Curtis Higgs

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