Da  Vinci  Code  :  Mistakes  


Mistakes – Serious

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Laughable  Mistakes

Dan Brown implies that his book is based on “Fact” and objective research. However, there are numerous claims which can be easily proved false.

Errors Includes :
Leonardo’s Name
The Code - Last Supper, Mary Magdalene and Holy Grail
No Cup
Priory of Sion
Opus Dei Monks, Marriage Certificates
Jesus’ Divinity, Nicaea, Vatican Conspiracy
New Testament vs. Gnostic Gospels
Gnostic Gospels in Dead Sea Scrolls
Suppression of Women
Female goddesses, Balance, and Peace
‘Madonna of the Rocks’

Leonardos Name: In The Da Vinci Code  Dan Brown calls Leonardo da Vinci simply  “Da Vinci”  as if that is his last name, however it is only an indication of the town he is from.

The Code - Last Supper, Mary Magdalene and Holy Grail : The book The Da Vinci Code states that there is no chalice, or Holy Grail, in the Last Supper painted by Leonardo. And he claims that the person to Jesus’ right is really Mary Magdalene, not the Apostle John even though all reputable art historians state that it is John. Supposedly, this symbolized a secret message or code that Leonardo put into his painting. The book claims that the blood of Jesus is not contained in a cup, but in Mary Magdalene who is pregnant with Jesus’ daughter. If the person to Jesus’ right is really Mary Magdalene, then the picture is missing one Apostle.

The scene of the painting is immediately after which Jesus says that one of them will betray him. 
John 13:21. To John’s right and in front of Peter, Judas is depicted leaning backward as if to protest “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” cf. Mat. 26:25. Therefore, all twelve Apostles are present and the thirteenth individual is Christ who is in the center. And so, inserting Mary Magdalene into the scene does not fit.

Last  Supper

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No Cup : As for the claim that there is no Cup or Chalice, there are actually 13  cups – one for Jesus and each of the Apostles.  Zoom in to see them  Last Supper.  The fact that the Chalice is not large is not problematic since Leonardo was painting an artistic representation of John’s Gospel where there is no specific mention of the Institution of the Eucharist - the Precious Body and  Blood of Christ.

Priory of Sion : The book states:
The Priory of Sion - a secret European society founded in 1099 - is a real organization.  In 1975 Paris's Bibliotheque Nationale discovered parchments known as Les Dossiers Secrets ..."

The truth is The Priory of Sion began in France in 1956.  The "parchments" Brown refers to in his "FACTS" were placed in the Bibliotheque Nationale by a convict named Pierre Plantard.  Several books have exposed Plantard's deception as well a BBC documentary in 1996.  Dan Brown's "FACT" is based on a proven scam.

• Opus Dei Monks, Marriage Certificates : In the book an Opus Dei monk commits murder to keep hidden the marriage certificate of Jesus and Mary Magdalene and the birth certificate of their daughter.  In fact Opus Dei is primarily a lay organization and it has no monks.  Although in Jesus’ day a few dowry contracts were made no one issued marriage and birth certificates so these could never have had existed.   

• Jesus’ Divinity, Nicaea, Vatican Conspiracy : The Da Vinci Code claims that Constantine conspired with the “Vatican” to make Jesus God. The book asserts that before the Council of Nicaea, 325 AD, everyone believed that Jesus was only human.  And this supposed conspiracy resulted in a “close vote” at this Council where the belief that Jesus was only human was overturned so that the brand new doctrine of Jesus’ Divinity could be made the new unifying principle of the empire. There are several things wrong with this absurd claim.

Actually, the Vatican Hill area at that time was comprised of the hill and the area below. There was a cemetery there.  The soil was mostly a mixture of clay so even the top of the hill did not drain well.  It was a swampy marsh area. The church built on top of St. Peter’s grave would not be finished until 349 AD.  This is years after the Council.  The Pope lived at St. John Lateran which is on the other side of the Tiber River.  The first Pope to spend the night in the Vatican area was Pope Symmachus in 501 AD, but it was not until the fourteenth century that it became the official residence of the Pope.  So, it would be absurd to refer to the Catholic Church as the “Vatican” during this time of 325 AD. 

The decrees of Nicaea are public information.  The vote was not close, but 318 – 2.  The focus of the Council was not whether Jesus was human or not, but rather the extent of His Divinity or to be specific the heresy of Arianism. 

And Christ’s Divinity was not a new teaching.  The Church Fathers before and after the Council unanimously affirmed that belief and they went to their death rather than to deny it.  See historical testimony of the Fathers. 

• New Testament vs. Gnostic Gospels : The Council of Nicaea also supposedly threw out 80 Gnostic Gospels and promoted the four canonical Gospels that Christians use today.  In actuality there are only 5 Gnostic Gospels and they date from the second century and later.  Christians unanimously accepted Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John because of the tradition  passed down by the Apostles. 

Gnostic Gospels in Dead Sea Scrolls : The book claims that the Dead Sea Scrolls contained and affirmed the Gnostic Gospels.  In Actuality, they only contain Jewish writings and Jesus is never mentioned. Again, this is public information and easy to verify. 

• Suppression of Women : One of the themes in The Da Vinci Code is (sic) that the Gnostic Gospels promoted equality of women and men and so the Catholic Church opposed these writings in order to suppress women. The opposite is true. In the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas  [Written 140 – 180  AD] Verse 114 states “Simon Peter said to them, ‘Make Mary leave us, for females don't deserve life.’  Jesus said, ‘Look, I will guide her to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every female who makes herself male will enter the kingdom of Heaven.’ ” 

Clearly, the Gnostic Gospels insult all women, but Dan Brown’s book misrepresents what they really teach.  And it was the teaching of the Catholic Church that elevated society’s regard for women and proclaimed their equal dignity with man.1 The Church proclaims that the holiest human being is a woman, the Blessed Virgin Mary. (Jesus is a Divine Being.2)

• Female goddesses, Balance, and Peace : The book purports that (sic) the failure to have female goddess worship in addition to having  male gods3 is the cause of unbalance as well as the cause of all the violence in the world today.  However, consider that it was the pagans who believed in gods and goddesses who murdered Perpetua and Felicity for their Christian beliefs.  And also in contradiction to this theory is the fact that it was the pagans who promoted ritual prostitution, and prostitution always abuses women and promotes violence.

‘Madonna of the Rocks’ – Dan Brown mistakenly states in his book that in Leonardo’s painting the ‘Madonna of the Rocks,’ or more commonly called  ‘The Virgin of the Rocks,’ that Saint John the Baptist is blessing Jesus who is kneeling in submission to John. - See links to images below. -  However, Dan Brown misunderstands who is who. Mary is guiding St. John the Baptist with her right hand toward her Son who is next to the Angel Uriel.  John, although he is closer to Mary, can be identified as such because he is much bigger than child Jesus on account that John is six months older. Cf. Luke 1. 

Jesus can also be identified by his hand gesture. It was customary to portray Jesus with the first two index fingers extended from the other ones which are grouped together in the palm.  Symbolically, the first two fingers together symbolized His two natures, human and divine, united together in One Person. The symbolic sacredness of these two fingers carried over into the rubics of the Mass. Up until Vatican II the priest was only allowed to touch the Eucharist with these first two index fingers, and of course by necessity his thumb.

The version of the Virgin of the Rocks in London further identified Saint John the Baptist as having a cross shaped walking stick. The cruciform staff was a commonly used motif identifying St. John the Baptist.  For example, in Raphael’s Disputation of the Blessed Sacrament John the Baptist is depicted on the right side holding one. Even on top of St. Peter’s Basilica a statue of Christ is in the center and on His right can be seen a statue of Saint John the Baptist holding a cruciform staff and a banner. When Jesus is depicted with a cross it is a real cross, not a walking stick that is cross shaped. If Jesus is shown with a walking staff, it has a shepherds hook on top because He is the Good Shepherd.

Virgin of the Rocks, by Leonardo da Vinci, Musée du Louvre, Paris. 100KB

Virgin of the Rocks, by Leonardo da Vinci, Oil on wood. National Gallery, London, UK. 

Dan Brown mistakenly states that it was a group of nuns that requested the painting of the Madonna of the Rocks, when it was actually commissioned by the Milanese Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception which is a lay Franciscan confraternity of men only.

Browns heroine Sophie Neveu is said to have used this painting as a shield by pressing it so close to her body that it bends. There are several problems with this. A simple computer search reveals that this painting is over six feet tall and almost four feet wide.  It was originally painted on wood and then later transferred to canvas. It is in a large wooden frame. It is hard to even imagine Sophie picking it up let alone bending it.

The Franciscan brothers seemed to have had a special devotion to Saint John the Baptist, at least they had specifically requested that Leonardo include him in the painting. The Angel Uriel directs Jesus’ attention toward John by pointing to him. Dan Brown says that the angel’s pointed finger refers to a slashing of the throat of a supposedly invisible head held by the Blessed Virgin Mary who is behind the angel.

The pointed finger is not present in the second painting found in London. Its absence can be easily explained in that it probably put to much emphasis on John the Baptist. As for the Angel Uriel’s pointed finger and her intention, the angel is looking toward Jesus and away from Mary’s hand, so it is hard to suppose that the angel is referring to a “head” that Mary is not holding.

“Seek and you shall find.”  Matthew 7:7

A mind that is bent on finding evil intentions can find all kinds of conspiracies and evil plots - whether they are really there or not. And God seems to allow us to find what we are looking for, in this life anyway. If a person wants to find a justification for indulging his passions in self-centered ways, he can, at least in his own mind. If a person wants to seek the truth and to value it above his own selfish desires, if a person seeks true repentance and forgiveness from God, he can find that.  If a person wants to live in fear, despair, and sin - he can do that. If a person wants to believe in the good, and to live in hope even amidst suffering, God will enable him to do that. Peoples lives (and their books) will often reflect what the value and what they seek.



Just  Fiction ...
(So, why be concerned ?)

Some people attempt to dismiss the claim that a fictional work can hurt individuals or society.  “It is just fiction,” they say.  However, Dan Brown gives the impression that the historical details in his book are true.

Dan Brown's claims on FACTS. 

On his FAQ page he states:
“While it is my belief that some of the theories discussed by these characters may have merit, each individual reader must ... come to his or her own interpretations. ... I see no truth whatsoever in stories of extraterrestrial visitors, crop circles, the Bermuda Triangle, or many of the other ‘mysteries’ that permeate pop culture. However, the secret behind The Da Vinci Code was too well documented and significant for me to dismiss.” - author Dan Brown (from his own web site.)

Propaganda and fictional works have been known to change societal views even to the point of contributing to great injustices and even to murder.   

In 1936 the Nazi’s hit gold with their movie Triumph of the Will.  It swayed the German population to support and rally behind Adolph Hitler.  Today’s Germans are embarrassed that their nation failed to confront and refute the propaganda of this film. 

The 1960’s fictional play The Deputy has marred the heroic reputation of Pope Pius XII to the point that he is now falsely accused of being “Hitler’s Pope.”

On Dan Brown’s web site and in his interviews he stresses the accuracy of his book.  He also claims that it is based on objective historical research. The “Facts”  page in his book is at best confusing.  He says that people do not read his book for the style of writing, rather it is the subject matter that is most important to them.

When he was asked what he would change if his novel were to be rewritten as non-fiction he replied, “Nothing.”

The New York Daily News stated,
 “His research is impeccable.” 

And The Mystery Reader reported that the “smart suspense novel . . . incorporat[ed] massive amounts of historical and academic information.” 

Reuters news organization reported that a British survey revealed that “People are now twice as likely to believe Jesus Christ fathered children after reading the Dan Brown blockbuster and four times as likely to think the conservative Catholic group Opus Dei is a murderous sect.”

One example of how the book grossly distorts history is its claim that the Catholic Church burnt 5 million women as witches in the late middle ages. If that had been true, that would have been half of the female population of Europe at that time. It would be hard to imagine the ferocity of what would have been a resulting war of the men for the remaining women.

Actually, contrary to the Black Legend the Spanish Inquisition protected women from the charges of witchcraft. It was required that all inquisitors be lawyers. Lawyers look for evidence and it was obvious to them that these charges were nothing more than hysteria and therefore baseless saving many innocent lives.  See more on Spanish Inquisition.

Dan Brown feeds on other people’s fears and exasperates the animosity that they have toward the Church’s teachings.

Some Christians dismiss the need to refute the book because it is reasoned that only those who want to be misled by it would fall for its outlandish claims.  However, different people have different strengths and weaknesses.

Those who are tempted to base their decisions on emotions rather than logical truth need to be encouraged and strengthened.  The lies that Dan Brown makes about Jesus, history, and the Catholic Church can seem to give one permission to dismiss revealed truth and legitimate authority.

Many people will read the book and or go to the movie thinking that they will be able to sort out for themselves what is true and what is not based on their feelings and without any real disciplined study on their own part.


CS Lewis

CS Lewis in his Screwtape Letters writes about a chief demon named Screwtape who writes to his underling about how to tempt and lead a person into hell.  He writes,

“… give him a grand general idea that he knows it all and that everything he happens to have picked up in casual talk and reading is ‘the results of modern investigation.’ ”        Letter One. 


Just Fiction
By C. Olson



























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