The last line of one of my favorite movies, Grand Canyon, says, “It’s not all bad.”
That’s how I felt when I got to see the Da Vinci Code last week. Not all bad, and certainly not all good. Not nearly as bad as the reviewers said, not nearly as good as I would have expected (from a cinematic perspective) from one of my favorite director/writer teams.
As a Christian, I found the threadbare arguments attempting to present Mary Magdalene as Jesus’ wife almost humorous. The plot twists were likewise very thin and I had to suspend disbelief at every turn.
What I see as valuable in the movie, though, is the way it points a finger at the oppressive, paternalistic activities of the Church. These are things that should never be forgotten. They should be explored, revealed, and the institutiion which hides them should be held to account. Indeed, that accountablility and ultimate recompense are exactly what the Scriptures foretell in some of the most lurid language of holy writ.
I write about this in a new website I’m developing, called www.davinciicnivad.com
Let’s look at one of the historical INaccuracies of the moviee: the claim that Constantine, a pagan, decided what would be in the Bible. That would have been in 325 C.E., during the Council of Nicea. What most folks don’t know, and what apparently most higher critical school scholars are too dishonest to admit, is that for the last 70 years we have had in our possession nearly complete Papyrus’s of most of the New Testament, dating back to between 200 and 250 AD, well before Constantine. These are called the Beatty Papyri, after the collector who assembled them and made them available for scholars to study. They include parts of the 4 Gospels and Acts, with John’s Gospel 2nd in order. THey contain almost the entire book of Revelation, and the Epistles of Paul, including Hebrews after Romans, proving that at that time it was attributed to Paul. 86% of those letters are preserved in these remarkable Papyrus scrolls.
What’s also noteworthy is what these Papyri do NOT contain. None of the “Gnostic Gospels”, such as Thomas, Judas, etc. Only the same 4 Gospels we read and study today, with textual accuracy and agreement with the other 24,0000 New Testament manuscripts.
The Bible is a firm foundation, and the more we learn about how it was preserved, the more it becomes apparent that God wrought a miracle in helping human beings speak his word faithfully, and preserve it adequately for confidence, without a requirement that every scribe or every preacher be accurate or even well-intentioned. The variety of textual fragments that survive reveal the evolution of many attempts to add to or delete portions of the Word.
For example, the Revelation manuscript of the Beatty Papyri contains the versess that refer to the Diadem and Dragon symbols pointing to Roman Imperial authority…. even though those terms were not in use at the time the manuscript was copied, let alone when John first penned it. Just as with the remarkable prophecies of the book of Daniel, the book of Revelation was clearly a prophetic work, with amazing insights into the historic development of “Christian” apostasy.