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DVC: Part Two


So who do you believe?

    Intro:
  1. Literarily, a fiction writer has the freedom to write compelling literature, even if it offends some
  2. Eternally, each of us will answer for the impact we have had on other's movement toward or away from the Truth as personified in Jesus Christ. "But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea." *Note-DB article excerpt.

V. DVC's credibility: DB offers two responses when challenged about the content of DVC.

  1. It's just a story;
  2. It is thoroughly researched, implying thoroughly credible. Point: He desires to create and maintain an illusion of credibility without taking responsibility for the factual content of his book.

  1. Questionable sources and circular reinforcement ("scores of historians" and many scholars")
    1. 1. Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Michael Baigent (teacher with psych degree), Richard Leigh (novelist), and Henry Lincoln (TV producer)-shortly after publication it was developed into a BBC documentary (motive for writing?) Amy Welborn, masters in church history from Vanderbilt: The book ".is widely derided as a work of speculation, unfounded assumptions, based on fraudulent documents.
    2. 2. The Templar Revelation by two paranormal experts who also authored The Mammoth Book of UFO's
    3. 3. Two books by Margaret Starbird: The Woman with the Alabaster Jar (a novel) and the Goddess in the Gospels: Reclaiming the Sacred Feminine-Starbird has described herself as a spiritual Harriet Tubman leading women to spiritual freedom from slavery of traditional, historical, patriarchal Christianity (refers to Virgin Mary as a rape victim.-Starbird admits no proof of her assertions about Mary Magdalene and her relationship with Jesus, but points to vague themes in the Gnostic gospels (Phillip, Mary, Thomas) and recent movies to give weight to her claims.
    4. 4. Circular reinforcement: Books of questionable historical and spiritual integrity inspire work of fiction that refers to them as solid scholarly works to create aura of credibility for the story; people like the story and read referred books, assuming they are scholarly, reinforcing the credibility of the claims made in the novel; authors of referred books write more books on coattails of DVC's popularity (Baigent-The Jesus Papers) thereby increasing the volume of "scholarly" material supporting the novel, etc., etc.
  2. "Fact page" assertions and purpose
    1. Priory of Sion:
      1. a. PoS, a church (priory) built in Jerusalem in 1099 (Crusades) after liberating Holy Land, destroyed in 1219 when Muslims regained control, priests moved to Sicily, later absorbed by Jesuits in 1617-leaders never called Grand Masters, rather "priors."
      2. b. 1956 Pierre Plantard, man with political ambitions, registered PoS with the French governments a private social society, then later planted false documentation in France's national library (Les Dossieres Secrets) listing many famous historical figures as Grand Masters (later proved to be printed on same presses he used to publish his political newsletters---think Dan Rather and George Bush). Plantard and cohort later admit fraud, well publicized in France, reported by BBC in '96; still, DB lists it under his fact page. -Clever wording: Did and does exist (registered)/documents found in French library-but fraudulent!
    2. Art expertise: La Gioconda, "Da Vinci," and Last Supper detail
      1. DB claims Mona Lisa==clever word play for names of ancient god and goddess + androgynous depiction of Leonardo himself, art history==24 year old wife of Florence nobleman Francesco del Giaconda (Lisa Giaconda) + Leo called it La Gioconda. First referred to as Mona Lisa (My Lady Lisa) in Giorgio Vasari's bio of Leo written 31 years after hi death.
      2. Art Historians don't refer to Leo as "da Vinci I": Da V refers to his father's place of residence, Vinci. Historians' using "da Vinci" is like Christians calling Jesus "of Nazareth"
      3. Claims about number and position of cups in Last Supper simply false or misleading (author must have assumed no one would check): cup was common, not unique.
    3. The importance of presumed credibility in history, religion, and art
      1. a. Books appeal based largely on possibility that characters' claims may be true; therefore, DB establishes an air of historicity and authority to heighten credibility and make the reader feel embarrassed for "ignorance," yet it is built upon lies, false assumptions, shoddy history, and requires ignoring the most credible information available (including the Bible).

VI. Gnostic Gospels' credibility:

  1. Late authorship + false apostolic attribution
    1. Earliest (generous) written 125 AD, 50-75 years (2-3 generations) after most NT books, some written 1-2 centuries later (Phillip=ca. 250); numbers exaggerated
    2. Apostolic attribution-Thomas, Philip, Mary (Judas) impossible because of date of origin
  2. Inconsistency
    1. Eyewitness accounts: details, emphasis, and overall themes conflict greatly with earlier historically reliable accounts
    2. Inconsistent with OT patterns and themes
      *Note-Veith Article + Jones excerpt + Book Spotlight
  3. Absence in authoritative church teaching: In the writing and teaching of the earliest church leaders, Gnostic sources are not only not used as support but are sometimes specifically criticized or rejected.

VII. NT Gospels' credibility:

  1. Eyewitness/Apostolic authorship: Matt and John personal disciples/apostles; Mark a disciple of Peter (1st generation); Luke disciple of Paul, physician and historian: all written with eyewitness time frame of Jesus.
  2. Early authorship: gospels and epistles written ca. 50-66 AD; John's writings may have been as late as 90-95 AD
    1. Difference between NT books and Gnostic gospels==Monty and Jim writing memoirs of their time in Vietnam vs. two modern white supremacists writing a new history of the Civil War-personal experience vs. ideological agenda
  3. Volume of reliable manuscripts: NT texts==most reliable of all texts from ancient world:
    1. #2==The Iliad: written 800BC; 650 existing manuscripts, earliest ca. 200-300 AD (1000 years after Homer lived)
    2. NT texts: written 50-95 AD; over 5000 existing manuscripts, earliest within a few decades of original, complete volumes within ca. 200 hears, 99,5% consistency in content with no substantial, meaningful variation. -Far more reliable than Homer, Cicero, Plato, etc + certain Gnostic gospels
    3. Inspiration-authorship "God breathed": (a) originals are trustworthy because of Holy Spirit's involvement in authorship (Jn 14:25, 26; 2 Ti 3:17, 17); (b) later copying manuscripts done with reverential care to not detract from inspired message
  4. Consistency
    1. 1. Shared internal consistency: NT gospels and epistles present a consistent view of Go the Father and Jesus the Son, particularly in the areas of Jesus' redemptive mission, his sacrifice on the cross, and his resurrection
    2. 2. Consistent with OT patterns and themes: Harmony in themes, fulfillment/completion of OT patterns (Passover, bronze snake, atonement, etc)
  5. Used authoritatively in early churches (important factor)
    1. 1. Earliest church leaders (Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Irenaeus) used the NT gospels and Paul's letters as instructional and inspirational standard in both teaching and liturgy (*Note again Irenaeus' Against Heresies)
    2. 2. Compilations of Paul's letters were circulating as early as the end of the 1st century, and the four NT gospels were established as foundational and authoritative by mid-2nd century, over 150 years before Constantine and Nicea

Note:
When discussing Jesus' identity, DB chooses never to cite the far more reliable NT gospels in favor of the far less reliable Gnostic gospels: Is this consistent with legitimate "extensive research" and a desire to "seek the truth"?

VIII. Development of NT Canon

  1. Chronology
    1. Writing: 50-95 AD
    2. Acceptance and authority: nearly universal by mid 2nd century
    3. 2nd and 3rd century leading bishops and theologians begin to list specific books given greatest authority; 27 NT books established in 4th century
  2. Criteria:
    1. Apostolic tradition-written by apostles themselves on their immediate disciples/co-laborers
    2. Catholicity-universal application and acceptance;
    3. Orthodoxy-in harmony with apostles teaching
    4. Use in worship liturgy
  3. Challenges: Other schools of thought challenged orthodox Christianity in early centuries, wanting to claim Jesus but rejecting his moorings in historic Judaism:
    1. Gnosticism: rejecting Jesus' incarnation and atoning death as means of redemption
    2. Marcionism: rejected OT as valid history and depiction of God, cutting Christianity off from its Hebrew roots
    3. Challenges, and their writings, prompted move toward official clarification of already authoritative Christian texts-NT Canon

IX. Constantine and Nicea

  1. Unifying the empire under Christianity
    1. Motives and impact:
      1. Battlefield vision of the cross led to legalization/endorsement of Christianity, previously outlawed as atheists (because they rejected the diverse Roman smorgasbord of gods)
      2. Aided internal peace/unification of sprawling empire
      3. Eased communication, cooperation within the expanding church
  2. The Council of Nicea
    1. Purpose and issues
      1. Resolution of conflict: theological conflict threatened stability of both church and empire
      2. Arianism: Jesus' divinity-God's first and greatest creation (Arius) vs. divinely co-existent with God from beginning (orthodox belief)
      3. DB notes vote on Jesus' divinity as though it were a new concept; however, from 1st century on church writing and liturgy clearly affirm Jesus' divinity
        - Even casual reading of NT books reveals a clear understanding of Jesus as God the Son
        - Most Nicean bishops had experienced severe persecution only years earlier under previous emperors without compromising their faith. Why would they then so easily capitulate and rewrite their faith for the next (more friendly) emperor?
    2. Outcome: Divinity affirmed-vote not close, as DB claims (thorough Research ?); 220-300 in attendance, 2 dissenting (Arius) votes
  3. Constantine's bibles: He authorized 50 copies of those NT texts universally accepted at the time (The Book of Revelation was still being debated) to be distributed among new churches being built-he in no way dictated content.

X. Pagan influence and Christianity

  1. Significance of common themes
    1. Common religious themes should not surprise us (Ro 1:18-20)-e.g. a flood; sowing and reaping-common truth + common humanity = universal religious ideas
    2. Note: no other religion has as it's core the theme of substitutional atonement for sin by a merciful incarnate God
  2. Who influenced who?
    1. Skeptics point to similarities as proof of borrowing by Christianity, In fact, many similarities to pagan religions began to emerge in their 2nd century writings, indicating that they borrowed from Christianity
      1. Concept of "god-eating" drawn from communion
      2. Christmas (Jesus' birth) -Western C's date of crucifixion=March 25; -ca 270 Emperor Aurelian declares unifying religious festival (Birth of the Unconquered Sun) on December 25
        --Implication: Aurelian gave deference to "stubborn" Christians choosing his date
      3. Jesus and Mithras:-Mithras was central figure to cult popular throughout Roman Empire, believed to have had a virgin birth and arisen from the dead; however, records of Mithraism worship only emerge after the establishment of Christianity

XI. Odds and ends:

  1. Mary Magdalene:
    1. Sainted and honored by Catholic church (not vilified);
    2. Called "apostles to the apostles" because she was first to report Jesus' resurrection to them:
    3. Prominence in some Gnostic gospels;
      1. ascribed leadership role in early church
      2. called Jesus' "companion" (koinonos, from which we get various terms for fellowship) only in the Gospel of Phillip, a term used to indicate a variety of relationships from friend to wife. This one reference is what DB calls a "matter of historical record"; however, there is no record anywhere, in NT, Gnostic, or historical texts that identifies MM as Jesus' wife. MM is always associated with her town of origin, not in relationship to any man as are many other women in the gospels.
      3. Jesus kissed MM, as he did other disciples, in keeping with the Gnostic belief that kissing imparts spiritual insight. Sensual relationship was viewed negatively because of the Gnostics' poor view of the physical body
    4. Last Supper: Feminine depiction of John to Jesus' right is consistent with artistic styles of the time ( showing youth as feminine, no facial hairs); there are 13 cups (Grail) on the table, one in front of each of Jesus' hands
    5. Prostitution myth: 591 AD Pope Gregory delivered a sermon linking MM with the "sinful" woman who anoints Jesus' feet (MM is named in a different context in the next chapter, thus the association). This woman is neither clearly identified as a prostitute nor as MM. A broader view of the four gospels suggests it was actually Mary of Bethany, not Mary of Magdala, who anointed Jesus.
  2. The "sacred feminine" in the Hebraic-Christian faith:
    1. God, Creator of al things, created man male and female in his own image. This simply means that God embodies all qualities and traits that we value in our godlike humanity.
    2. Jehovah is not a biblical blending of male and female names. The name originated sometime between the 13th and 16th century as a lending of the unpronounceable Hebrew name for God (YHWH) with the vowels from Adonai, the Hebrew word for "Lord" used as a substitute
    3. The word "shekinah" is not in the Bible and there was no female counterpart to God first emerges in the 11th century Jewish Kabbalah (Tradition), a mystical, Gnostic leaning philosophy that is not consistent with historical, orthodox Judaism.
    4. The suggestion that temple sex rituals were part of the early Hebrew patterns of worship (as in many ancient pagan religions) are laughable on two counts:
      1. they are clear conflict with standards of the Mosaic Covenant, and
      2. severe consequences followed those occasions when Israel did dabble in pagan worship patterns
  3. Opus Dei: a conservative lay movement within the Catholic Church encouraging believers to live their daily lives consistent with their biblical beliefs (a good idea!). Opus Dei has not monks
  4. Knights Templar: Order of the Poor knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon, founded in 1118 to protect Pilgrims to the Holy Land during the Crusades era. Became lenders, acquired wealth, and were eventually rounded up and executed (on the original Friday the 13th) by France's King Phillip IV, who had essentially kidnapped the papacy and moved it to France (not Pope Clement V in a Catholic conspiracy),a to use their accumulated wealth to finance his wars.

XII. Reading list:

  1. The Da Vinci Hoax by Carl Olson and Sandra Miesel
  2. The Da Vinci Deception by Mark Shea and Edward Sri for the Catholic Exchange
  3. Church History in Plain Language by Bruce Shelly
  4. The Case for the Christ by Lee Strobel (Strobel also has a new book out specifically responding to the De Vinci Code)
  5. Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh MacDowell
  6. De-Coding Da Vinci by Amy Welborn

Return to http://www.fishermansnet.com/Strong_Christianity/