A Jew comments on The DaVinci Code


#1

[left][font=Arial]Hi all![/left]

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[left]DW & I just read The DaVinci Code (we borrowed it from a friend). Then we read the CAF response to the book.[/left]

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[left]As an orthodox Jew, I’ll say the following (& DW agrees). I can see very much how Roman Catholics might be (very) offended by the book. If this book had been written with a Jewish angle instead of a Roman Catholic one, Jewish groups (such as the ADL) the world over would be screaming bloody murder that it was libelous, anti-Semitic, etc (the CAF response correctly noted as much).[/left]

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[left]Brown cleverly mixed in just enough facts with his fiction to give the latter a veneer of plausibility. An undereducated/underinformed person could easily be led to believe some of the more outrageous stuff (i.e. Opus Dei buying its bishopric by bailing the Vatican out of bankruptcy, that the Church has murderously sought to suppress certain information, etc).[/left]

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[left]Also, I must fault very many of his references to Judaism & Jewish practices:[/left]

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[left]1) There were NO “sacred prostitutes” in the First Temple in Jerusalem, as Brown wrote. Temple prostitution was a Canaanite practice. The Torah denounces such gross immorality. Such a charge (that there were “sacred prostitutes” in the Temple) has no basis whatsoever in any Jewish source. [/left]

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[left]2) The Hebrew word shekhinah means “God’s presence” (and is a cognate of a root meaning “to dwell” & is related to the Hebrew words for “neighbor”, the Biblical “tent of meeting” and, oddly enough, “mortgage”) & is feminine (the Semitic languages, like the Romance languages, but unlike English, assigns gender to all nouns). Shekhinah was/is not God’s female consort, as Brown wrote. We believe that God is Wholly Other and, that as such, completely transcends the physical concept/construct of gender. Insofar as we, with our necessarily limited human understanding, perceive God and how He (I use the masculine pronoun simply because it is the customary usage, not because I attribute any particular gender to God) makes His presence felt in the world, we discern features/aspects that appear to be feminine or masculine, as the case may be. Accordingly, we see the shekhinah as representing the more feminine side of God’s presence in the world.[/left]

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[left]2a) Now that I think about it, why do Christians believe that the pre-existent Word of God incarnated as a man? I suspect that the belief that it did (given that women, i.e. Mary, are presumably impregnated by male beings) may have given rise to the misconception (right?) that Christianity believes that God is necessarily masculine. Can my Catholic CAF friends help me here?[/left]

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[left]3) Judaism does not, in any way, denigrate or disparage the role of women (as Brown insinuated more than once). A common (and very condescending) liberal fallacy is that because a traditional faith like orthodox Judaism believes that men & women are different and have different roles, that we necessarily believe that women are inferior; people confuse uniformity with equality & mistake the absence of the former for a lack of the latter. This is nonsense. Neither does orthodox Judaism deny/disparage a married woman’s sexuality; indeed, it is our view that satisfactory sexual relations are the wife’s right & the husband’s duty to meet that right & not the other way ‘round. Our Sages teach that when a loving & respectful husband & wife unite in the act of love that the Shekhinah rests upon them and that they sanctify the physical act and invest it with holiness.[/left]

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#2

(cont.)

[left]4) The idea that Jews living in Roman Gaul would have kept the genealogical lists of Mary Magdelene’s presumed descendants is also pure hokum. Brown said (based on what?) that she was from the tribe of Benjamin & hinted at her descent from the House of Saul. Big deal; who cares? In Judaism, tribal affiliation is passed in the male line only & the House of Saul was perpetually excluded by God from the kingship. Also, David’s royal line continued among the Jews of Babylonia until well into Islamic times (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exilarch). Brown should know very well that Jews have never accepted Jesus’s presumed Davidic descent (no offense) & to assert that Jews in Gaul would have is ludicrous.[/left]

[left]5) Still, my wife & I found it to be a good whodunit conspiracy thriller and a fun read that shouldn’t be taken too seriously. That just generates more publicity & makes more even money for Brown. Learn from some Jewish groups’ way overblown, overreaction (which I didn’t agree with at all, by the way) to Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ.[/left]

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[left]Be well![/left]

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[left]ssv :wave:[/left]


#3

I’ve seen DB interviewed on many occasions…Discovery Times, History Channel…etc… I’ve never seen him claim that the book is factual (in it’s totality). Also some of the fictional ideas in his book are so easily refuted that it hardly stands to reason that he intended for the book to be some historical revelation. I think he did intend to make a lot of money…which behooves the necessity for controversy. I know a few devout Catholics who could care less about the book, and take it for what it is. Within some of the tale weaving…there are probably more than a few facts, plausibilities, and down right interesting theories…but oh well. Hardly enough to shake anyone from their faith. After saying all of this I freely admit to not reading the book, although I’ve read so much about it - I feel as though I have. hahaa


#4

Well…here’s the problem with Dan Brown - and I heard him say this during one of his interviews.

He agrees this is a work of fiction - that is why it is called a novel.
But he claims that the historical elements are true.
He doesn’t specify WHICH historical elements are true or not (all or some?) - so people are left to guess which he refers to.
So…in this sense - he is possibly claiming he wrote a historical novel - where an author weaves a fictional tale with fictional characters in and out of true historical events.

Well…that is bunk.

One major premise of the DC has to do with DaVinci’s painting The Last Supper.
Brown claims the young beardless figure is Mary Magdalene - she is pregnant - and because there is not chalice in the painting the “holy grail” must be the child in her womb.

Bunk.

Leonardo DaVinci sketched this scene prior to painting it. He clearly labeled the 12 apostles. The young beardless figure was labeled as John because it was believed he was a teenager or very young man at the time.
There is no chalice because the moment portrayed was NOT the eucharistic event - but rather the moment Jesus announced that one of them would betray Him. We know from scripture that Peter looked at John (who was sitting next to Jesus) and told John to ask Jesus who it would be. John leans into Jesus and asks Him.
This is the moment portrayed in the painting - quite well.

I really think Leonardo DaVinci would be horrified by all this.


#5

Well it goes without saying that it is “bunk”…all fiction in that sense is bunk…correct?..Since he titles it a novel…then that kind of removes that legitimacy of it, and since DB lives in a free society…the man can do whatever he wants with the written word. I think the biggest part of the controversy is the “reactionary phenomena”…literally right wing reactionary type behaviour from people who have such an austere idea of religion that it sucks the creative marrow out of everything that could possibly be forwarded onto the public…We can probably thank Catholics everywhere for helping to promote the book, and put more money in DB’s bank account…It’s the same problem right wing people have with Michael Moore…the guy is first and foremost a COMEDIAN…


#6

The major problem with the book is that any work of fiction requires the willing suspension of disbelief. That’s hard to give when page after page of the book attacks the Catholic Church. Those who are anti-Catholic will love it. Those who are Catholic or who are, at least, not anti-Catholic will find the continuous assault on the Church problematic at best.

Now, couple that with the fact that there are numerous errors factual in the book and it becomes even harder to read. Consider the fact that Leonardo da Vinci was always known as “Leonardo” – he happens to be from Vinci which is precisely what his name states: Leonardo of Vinci! He would never be called “da Vinci” by any reputable scholar, and yet this is the way he is addressed in the book. The so-called “golden number” (phi) is, indeed, a mathematical oddity. However, its relationship to human proportions only applies to the “average shape” – it does not account for people who have very long legs or, alternately, a very long torso. Human beings are not designed in accordance with the “golden ratio”. Rather, that ratio was discovered because it does fit a large number (60%) of all human beings. However, that leaves 40% that don’t fit. Brown doesn’t seem to be aware of this as he makes it seem like it’s a universal constant along the lines of Planck’s constant.

Deacon Ed


#7

[quote=Natas]Well it goes without saying that it is “bunk”…all fiction in that sense is bunk…correct?..Since he titles it a novel…then that kind of removes that legitimacy of it, and since DB lives in a free society…the man can do whatever he wants with the written word. I think the biggest part of the controversy is the “reactionary phenomena”…literally right wing reactionary type behaviour from people who have such an austere idea of religion that it sucks the creative marrow out of everything that could possibly be forwarded onto the public…We can probably thank Catholics everywhere for helping to promote the book, and put more money in DB’s bank account…It’s the same problem right wing people have with Michael Moore…the guy is first and foremost a COMEDIAN…
[/quote]

No. The book is more serious than that, and is in fact openly libellous of the Catholic faith, and Christianity in General.

It claims, and I have seen Brown claim, that all the historical, cultural and religious references are FACTS. And a lot of people clearly believe that. Look at many of the reader reviews on sites like Amazon.

In ract most of the historical and religious references are not only rubbish, but slanted rubbish, designed to make people hate the church. I think a lot more should be done to publicise the distortions in the book.

A few examples:

The church deliberately set out to reduce the status of women, which was supposedly wonderful in the pre-christian world.(not true in the least) And rooted women out of positions of authority.

The Church voted by a narrow majority that Jesus was God not an ordinary man in order to increase its power and that of Constantine.

The church crushed and killed the “true Christians” who knew Jesus was not God and followed Mary magdalene.

The Pope ordered the death of the templars and threw their bodies into the Tiber in Rome! (They were killed in Paris by King Philip)

The Church hated science and enlightenment

The Church has been brutally slaughtering members of the (non-existentt) Priory of Sion for centuries.

All of this is stuff that Jewish Groups would call a “blood-libel”, but millions of people are drinking this stuff in, in the belief that it is fact.


#8

hey…it’s just a book. If stupid people around the world consider it as reality or truth…what can you do. Welcome to the human race…

[quote=Axion]No. The book is more serious than that, and is in fact openly libellous of the Catholic faith, and Christianity in General.

It claims, and I have seen Brown claim, that all the historical, cultural and religious references are FACTS. And a lot of people clearly believe that. Look at many of the reader reviews on sites like Amazon.

In ract most of the historical and religious references are not only rubbish, but slanted rubbish, designed to make people hate the church. I think a lot more should be done to publicise the distortions in the book.

A few examples:

The church deliberately set out to reduce the status of women, which was supposedly wonderful in the pre-christian world.(not true in the least) And rooted women out of positions of authority.

The Church voted by a narrow majority that Jesus was God not an ordinary man in order to increase its power and that of Constantine.

The church crushed and killed the “true Christians” who knew Jesus was not God and followed Mary magdalene.

The Pope ordered the death of the templars and threw their bodies into the Tiber in Rome! (They were killed in Paris by King Philip)

The Church hated science and enlightenment

The Church has been brutally slaughtering members of the (non-existentt) Priory of Sion for centuries.

All of this is stuff that Jewish Groups would call a “blood-libel”, but millions of people are drinking this stuff in, in the belief that it is fact.
[/quote]


#9

Hi,

I enjoyed reading stillsmallvoice’s response to the book The DaVinci Code. I also felt the same way when I first saw the movie The Exorcist in 1970; it was a definite dig at Roman Catholicism and if any other religion were substituted, then there would be not end to the law suits.

In my own personal experience, I am inundated by false books and destructive misinformation about my neighborhood of South Boston (All Souls, Boyos, The Boston School Desegregation Dispute., Boston Against Busing…et al.) that are screeds which all of a sudden are treated as fact and historically reliable, even by some of my History professors (who should know better).

Books like The DaVinci Code, even though clearly labled as fiction, still manage to be treated as fact by the general reading population. And that’s how dangerous myths fester into reality.


#10

There was a recent Ask an Apologist thread on this. There was a great point made: If someone had written a novel which revealed that the Holocaust was a hoax, few would be whining, “it’s just fiction!” but rather calling it anti-Semitic agitprop (and they would be right).

Scott


#11

2a) Now that I think about it, why do Christians believe that the pre-existent Word of God incarnated as a man? I suspect that the belief that it did (given that women, i.e. Mary, are presumably impregnated by male beings) may have given rise to the misconception (right?) that Christianity believes that God is necessarily masculine. Can my Catholic CAF friends help me here?

I’ll try to answer this the best I can, but I’m a little unclear about what you’re asking. It is indeed a misconception that Catholics view God as a male. We don’t assign a gender to God, though the language used is generally masculine. What we do assign a gender to is God’s Incarnation on Earth, as we belief Jesus to be, because Jesus was definately a man. This follows from the fact that the Messiah would be a male figure. The Word’s flesh is indeed male, but God properly understood does not have a “gender”, but rather represents masculine and feminine concepts (both Father and mother hen, for example).

If I’ve not answered to your satisfaction, just clarify your question so I can clear up my own misunderstandings :slight_smile:


#12

It is good to see the Da Vinci code being lambasted by those of other faiths. It deserves reprobation from any religious person.


#13

[quote=stillsmallvoice][left][font=Arial]DW & I just read The DaVinci Code (we borrowed it from a friend). Then we read the CAF response to the book.[/left]

[left]As an orthodox Jew, I’ll say the following (& DW agrees). I can see very much how Roman Catholics might be (very) offended by the book. If this book had been written with a Jewish angle instead of a Roman Catholic one, Jewish groups (such as the ADL) the world over would be screaming bloody murder that it was libelous, anti-Semitic, etc (the CAF response correctly noted as much).[/left]

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thanks very much, knew we could rely on SSV for balanced view on what in this book is problematic from the standpoint of Jewish history and belief. Your exposition is very clear an informative. In most of sources I have read from Christian writers and from historians debunking TDVC, I have seen charges that it is anti-semitic, and that the principal sources Brown used (or plagiarized from, depending on POV) were anti-semitic. In your opinion, SSV, is this an accurate statement? Since you brought it up, I would also very respectfully solicit your opinion on The Passion movie by MG, is it in your view anti-semitic, or liable to be used to inflame anti-Jewish prejudices?


#14

[quote=Axion]No. The book is more serious than that, and is in fact openly libellous of the Catholic faith, and Christianity in General.

It claims, and I have seen Brown claim, that all the historical, cultural and religious references are FACTS. And a lot of people clearly believe that. Look at many of the reader reviews on sites like Amazon.

In ract most of the historical and religious references are not only rubbish, but slanted rubbish, designed to make people hate the church. I think a lot more should be done to publicise the distortions in the book.

A few examples:

The church deliberately set out to reduce the status of women, which was supposedly wonderful in the pre-christian world.(not true in the least) And rooted women out of positions of authority.

The Church voted by a narrow majority that Jesus was God not an ordinary man in order to increase its power and that of Constantine.

The church crushed and killed the “true Christians” who knew Jesus was not God and followed Mary magdalene.

The Pope ordered the death of the templars and threw their bodies into the Tiber in Rome! (They were killed in Paris by King Philip)

The Church hated science and enlightenment

The Church has been brutally slaughtering members of the (non-existentt) Priory of Sion for centuries.

All of this is stuff that Jewish Groups would call a “blood-libel”, but millions of people are drinking this stuff in, in the belief that it is fact.
[/quote]

The church clearly mis-portrayed Mary Magdalene for CENTURIES. What other reason would the church do this other than to undermine the status of women? BTW if memory serves me correctly the church retracted this lie after some 1400 years….so much for papal infallibility.

The church hated enlightened scientists, and any scientific facts that brought church teachings into question (see Galileo).

People ‘drink this stuff in’ because much of it is just as plausible as the church’s teachings…see above two examples for accuracy of church teachings.


#15

The church clearly mis-portrayed Mary Magdalene for CENTURIES

“Clearly”?
Facts please.


#16

[quote=Zippy]The church clearly mis-portrayed Mary Magdalene for CENTURIES. What other reason would the church do this other than to undermine the status of women? BTW if memory serves me correctly the church retracted this lie after some 1400 years….so much for papal infallibility.

the Catholic Church for 2000 years has honored Mary Magdalene as a saint, the first witness of the resurrection. In what way does that undermine the status of women? what “lie” about Mary Magdalene did the Church retract 600 years ago? source and verification, please.<<<<

The church hated enlightened scientists, and any scientific facts that brought church teachings into question (see Galileo).

Galileo was disciplined for teaching heresy, see CA tract on this subject it has been done to death get the facts. the church did not hate scientists, the first modern scientists were churchmen, the Church has always relied on science to establish scientific fact, and to stay out of religion. Galileo’s error (and Darwin’s) was to use science to explain religion. <<<<<

People ‘drink this stuff in’ because much of it is just as plausible as the church’s teachings…see above two examples for accuracy of church teachings. …>>>>>>you so far have provided no evidence for inaccuracy of infallible Church teaching. If you can’t do so, much better to stop talking now<<<<<

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#17

[quote=catsrus]“Clearly”?
Facts please.
[/quote]

In homily 33 Pope Gregory identified Mary as a prostitute…this is clearly not true.

In 1969 the Vatican FINALLY corrected this infallible error…


#18

It appears as though I have officially entered the SPIN ZONE…

The church writes it’s own history, and the followers ignore the facts.


#19

I don’t undertsand why it’s such a big deal who is “really” portrayed in the Last Supper. It’s a painting by a guy who (not sure if this actually true) was allegedly a homosexual and a humanist with an obvious agenda against the Catholic Church. Just because Leonardo painted a picture of one of his wacked out beliefs, doesn’t make it true. Why is daVinci an authority on this?


#20

Zippy: There has been a tradition within the Church that identifies Mary Magdelene as the unnamed woman who cleaned Jesus’ feet with her own tears. There is absolutely nothing that confirms nor denies this as truth. It’s simply been the perception that the woman described at that dinner was in fact Mary Magdelene.

Furthermore, this hasn’t ever been an authoritative teaching. I suggest you do some reading on what factors go into Papal Infallibility before making such accusations. Since there is no teaching of faith or morals that requires that Mary be that prostitute, it is completely removed from any kind of Papal Infallibility. Gregory simply identified her as the prostitute, rightly or wrongly, in order to demonstrate the conversion of sinners. The homily itself is of a hypothetical tone, as is its intent. He was simply using the common image of her to teach a lesson, and it can be seen that this was the common image of her before his homily was composed simply by the word’s he uses.

In 1969 the Vatican simply clarified that Mary Magdelene couldn’t be said for certain to be the prostitute.


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