“The Da Vinci Code is Gnostic.”
- Apologist Meme Endlessly Repeated
In the Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown does quote the Gospel of Philip to support his fictional claim that Jesus and Mary were more than just disciple and teacher. He also cites non-existent “Gnostic Gospels” that support this view. Yet, it seems that not everyone who quotes the Canonical Gospels is accorded the status of Christian. In fact the common refrain is “even the devil can quote scripture.”
So how do they support this? There are two claims that are diametrically opposed. The apologists will make both at different times, and as far as I can tell, no one has yet called them on it.
The two claims are:
“The Da Vinci Code is Gnostic because it denies the divinity of Jesus.”
This often occurs in the same speech or article in which this attack on the Gnostic Gospels is given.
“The Jesus of the Gnostic Gospels is a supernatural being, not the real human Jesus of the Canonical scriptures. That's why the Gnostic Gospels lost out in the ancient scriptural Cannon Contest.”
So, which is it, apologists? Of course, being apologists they don't care what the actual case may or may not be. But if we actually look at both sets of scriptures we see a complex of takes on Christ, both have very human portraits of Jesus and both have the superhuman portraits. Even if they conveniently forget the Gospel of John when it suits them, it is only the most developed of the superhuman Jesus narratives. In the Gnostic texts a very human Jesus laughs. So, not only is the contradiction blatant, but the underlying situation is much more complex.
The other wonderfully ironic contradiction in apologist memes concerns the purported and endlessly repeated statement: “Gnostics considered the world, the body, and all matter to be evil.” If we ignore the deliberate oversimplification, they are still left with a big problem: the arguments and conclusions of Dan Brown's novel—all centering on genetic material and human remains.
In spite of the fact that the Da Vinci Code novel is not Gnostic, there are elements that appeal to Gnostics. The creative attitude towards and the exploration of myths and symbols is an obvious one. I'll be addressing others, but you'll have to wait for the Illuminating the DaVinci Code series.
Fr. Jordan Stratford's book The Da Vinci Prayerbook is now available, for another illuminating view.