Page 1

TtoM TrtE $nII{Ts Do not think that you maintain the He who does not believe according to Gospel of Christ as long as you separare the tradition of the undivided, universal yourselvesfrom the floc lock of Christ. Church is an unbeliever.

-St. Cyprian

-Sr.Johnof Damascus

In Him was life, and the life was the life of True is the word, firm is the promise. men. And the light shinesin the darkness, The church is insurmountable, even if and the darknessdid not comprehend it. hell itself were moved, and the rulers of darknesssummoned turmoil. -lohn 1:4-) -St.Athanasius

No wise men, enchanters, magicians or astrologers can show to King Nebuchadnezzer the mysterv which he has asked,but only God in heaven,\Who revealsall mysteries.

"Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the basic principles of the world, and not accordins to Christ."

-Col.2:B -Daniel

As we acknowledge only one God, so too can there be only one faith, and one interpretation of the truth.

"Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times io-. *ill depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons."

-St. Liberatus

-1 Timothy4:1-3

One will possessthe Holy Spirit only in proportion to his reverence for and adhesionto the Church of Christ. -St,Augustine

"Bewareof falseprophets,who come to you in sheeptclothing,but inwardlythey areravenous wolves." , r





This issue of PRAXIS addressesan important topic of concern for Christians, namely the recent surge in popular interest concerning ancient manuscripts Iike Tbe Gospelof Judas and contemporary rexts like TheDa Wnci Code,by author Dan Brown. Tlte Gospelof Judas is in fact a poorly preservedmanuscript, dated to the fourth century, and belongs to a large number of ancient texts known as "Gnostic" lirerature. The Gnostic heresy challenged the teachings of the Christian Church from its very beginnings. This heresy denied the divinity of Christ, and assertedabizarre and separatetheological system that strongiy opposed the dogmas and teachings of rhe Church.

7heDa Vinci Code,like the GospelofJuda.r,represenrs,in a wa1',a srrain of Gnostic literarure which has surfaced again in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries,recasting,in essence,some of the chaliengeswhich confronted the Christian Church as early as the secondcentury A.D. It is interestingin this light to take into accounr some of the negativereviewsfrom film critics regarding the cinematic version of 7heDa Wnci Codereleasedlast month, as well as its relatively lackiuster performance at the box office when compared to other popular films. It is furthermore interesting to observe the volume of sourcesof literature abounding within bookstores and websitesthat provide the public with the tools needed to "debunk" this conremporary tale of fiction. Perhaps these observationspoint to the realization that people are catching on to the historicai and theological fallacies contained in this work, and that the efforts of some uninformed people to fool the populace by labeling fantasy as fact constitute, at the end of the day, nothing lessthan an insult to our inteiligence as human beings.

The articles that follow in this issue of PRAXIS will provide readerswith an opportunity to learn why the resurfacing of Gnostic forms of thinking have suddenly reappearedin our modern times, and to piace them into their proper perspectiveconcerning the teachings of our Orthodox Christian faith. Accordingly, this issue of PRAXIS is geared not only toward our Orthodox Christian faithful, but to all Christians and indeed to all seekersof the authentic and incontrovertible Truth that is offered by the Lord JesusChrist, the very Son of God. May His wisdom serveas your guide as you read and learn from the articles in this informative issueof PRAXIS.


ru t7 'J,*-/--

I DEME,TzuOS Archbishop of America


page 2

2006 Summer

"BeloveC,I wrlshabove all thlngs that thou may prosper and be ln health, even as thy soul prospers. For I rejorced greatly, when the brethren came and testlfled of the truth that ls ln thee, even as thou walkestln the truth. I have no greater1oy than to hear that my chtlCrenare walkrng rn the truth." (3 John /4)

The recent cultural phenomenon surrounding Dan Brown's fictional novel TheDa Vinci Codehas much in common with the 90's appealof Chris Carter'sTV series,The X-Files.Both seemto be taking advantageof an attitude of suspicion that characterizes much of the postmodern Brown's cast of generation. While Langdon and Sophia stealthily rush from one clue to another through Parisian back aliies, FBI Agents, Muider and Scully, rummage through one X-File conspiracy theory after another in search of a truth that Carter insists is "out there." Yet, while both Brown and Carter warn their viewers to "trust no one" they nonetheless enthrone themselvesas the source of their respectivetruth. The real truth, however, is that the X-Fiies is sciencefiction, and 7beDa Wnci Codeis ecclesiasticalfiction! Postmodernsare susoiciousindividuals. They quickly ,ejeccauthority as powerful suppressorsand manipulators of history while uncritically becoming disciples of any and all conspiracy theories. Ciphers and mythologies have replaceddefinitions and creeds . . . superstition and culturai paranoiaconfict with logic and enduring faith. Orthodox Christians, however, are called to develop rhe ability to discern fact from fiction, truth from fantasy, by faithfully distilling contemporary speculations through the filter of Holy Scripture.

sway others to reject sound teachings. Consequently,in this, his very short Third Letter, Saint John refers to the issue of truth five times. In facr, while the Biblical word for truth is used 194 times in rhe entire Bible, 44 (23o/o)of those insrances are in Saint John'swritings. The major point of Saint John's text is that prosperity of health is connected to the soul's faithfuiness to the truth. As long as our soul prospers,the rest of our life will prosper as well. The soul prospers by remaining faithful to the truth. The \Word of God is the truth that prospers the soul. The articles and resources in this issue of PRAXIS have been assembledto provide real seekersof the "truth" with an opportunity for spiritual prosperity through the quesr of honest dialogue. Since Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code i s basedon so many i naccur acies goal is to help set an appropriate basisfor a healthy discussionconcerning the cultural merits of Christianity 6y first setting the historical, scriptural, and theological record straight. My prayer is that our souls and minds may greatly prosper from such faithfulnessl

Father Frank Marangos // /) //l /// n


The scriptural verse quoted on this v ]tt tv / page was written by Saint John the V .Apostle during a time of widespread -- Ex e c u t l v e u l r e c t o r o t L o m m u n r ca i l o n s internal division. Much like our own Greek Orthodox Archdiocese time, there were those within and without the church who simply did not care for the things of God. They were the initiators of bizarre theological speculations and the promoters of ecclesiasticallies. They began meaninglessgossip and set out to

Summer 2006


PRAXI, t,/


_f I

--1 - -*--, np0,â‚ŹLE

A pub.licationof the Greek Orthodox Archdioceseof Ame rica,PRAXIS magazineis publishedrwiceayear.The subscriptionrateis $15 for rwo years.Checks,payableto the Department of Religious Education, should be sent to: PRIXIS Circulation 50 GoddardAvenue Brookline, MA02445 ( 6 1 7 ) 8 t 0 - 1 281

SUBMISSIONGUIDELINES Submissionsshould be 1,000-2,000 words in length and directlv discusseducation in the theology and tradition ofthe Orthodox Christian churches. Lessonaids or graphic enhancementsmay accompany the articles submitted. \fle also encouragethe submission of photographs relevant to parish life (praxis). Pleasealso provide a biographical sketch ofrhe author not exceeding6fiy words. Praxis Magazine is seeking submissions of lesson plans based on articles from previous or current issues of Praxis. Submissions should use the article as the text/ background ofthe lessonplan. Lesson plans are welcome for any or severalage groups. P l easesend submi ssi onsi n a'S 7ord document w i th a l ength of 1,000-2,000 w ords ro Material previously published or under considerationfor publicarion elsewherewill not be consideredwithout prior consenrofrhe editor. W'ereservethe right to edit for usage and style; all acceptedmanuscriptsare subject to editorial modification. Articles sent by mail should be accompaniedby an electronic version on CD-ROM in Microsoft -Vord for or for Macintosh. Articles in Microsoft \ford may also be emailed as an -J/indows attachment to Address submissions to: Rev Dr. Frank Maransos and/or Elizabeth Borch.

CREDITS Executive Editor:

Reu.Dr. Franh Marangos

Managing Editor:

Elizabeth Borch

Design and Layout:

Tina Millsaps

Inside Cover:

Resunection Departmentof ReligiousEducation,Brookline,MA

Inside Back Cover:

Ihe My*ical Supper igi ous Educari on, BrookIi ne. MA D epait n ent of R71

Back Cover:

Ascension Deparnnentof ReligiousEducation,Brookline,MA


Arlantic GraphicSeruices, Inc., Clinton, MA

The color Icons appearing in this issue of PRAXIS are availablefor sale from the Departmentof ReligiousEducation(800) 566-1088. Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible containing the Old and New Testamentswith the Apocryphal/Deurerocanonicalbooks,New King JamesVersion. in this magazineare not necessarilythe views of the Department The views expressed of RelieiousEducation. 02006, Departmentof ReligiousEducationof the GreekOrthodox Archdioceseof America.ISSN 1530-0595. page4

i I


PRAXISVolume6, lssue1: fhe Do Vinci Code

Tw De Vwct CoorzTxe X-Fres oFANclENr LtEs Rev. Fr.Frank Marangos, D. Min., Ed.D.

TnsDn Vu,tctCooeMovrr Rev. Fr.Anoelo Artemas



EManncrNc rHEMYsTERY oF THECnoss

Txr CxnlsrCooe

Rev.Fr.Charles Joanides, Ph.D., LMFT




TneDeVntctCoor: Decoorr'rc rne Acenon Rev. Fr.Theodore Stylianopoul os,S.T.M., Th.D,

Rev.Deacon EvanEvanoelides



Deeut' TueDa Vwq Cooe Rev.Fr.StevenTsichlis

14 'DeVwct'Nor WonruouRWRATH Rev.Fr.NicholasGamvas,D. Min., Ph.D.

19 A LexrcocnApHtcAL Loox nr TneDn Vwct Coor Aoo r r u ouru: S enRcntruc rneS cnrpruR e s ! Cour-o Jesus HnveBeeru Mnnnleo? Rev.Fr.Mark Sietsema,Ph.D.


W nor sJesus?

Wnnr ARETHEApocRypxnnruo Txe Dn VtrucrCooe Currvrs? Presbytera EugeniaConstantinou

37 OnrxoooxRelrcrous Hor-ronys ANDTHEPusLrcSctoor-s Vasi Iiki Tsiqas-Fotinis,Ph.D.

4o WnoDo YouSnvCxnrsrls?; A Lesson Puru NikkiStournaras


Summer 2006



,1i:' .,,trili'l _ .:ali

"Whar has been ui// be again, what has beendone will be doneagain; thereis nzthing new under the sun Ecclesiastes l:9

HE EARLY CHURCH were in the second, third, and fourth SPENTMUCH OF ITS TIME centuries. D EBU N KINC HE RE S IE S .

but rather on an individual's ability to discover true knou4edge and wisdom on his or her ownl Whereas Orthodox The rage of the early Christiar-r Christianity preaches salvation to all Wrestling with the chaos of contending beliefs the Church was world, X-Files might be described as rhat rvi l l accepri t. Gnos r icismespouses compelled to differentiate itself between exotic religious texts that ciaimed to the belief that only an elite will be able Marcionism, Arianism, Nestorianism expresstruths about Jesus,His mother, to comprehend the breadth of hidden and other ancient lies by legitimarely the content and interpretation of rruth. fo rmu lat ing ir s rh e o l o g i c a l v i e w s the scriptures, and the nature of the ^ L ,,-^ L Fortunately, the false teachings of r rrr^ ^ -^r-- mari on of Greek through the gatheringofboth clergyand lrrurLlr. ^ drrr4rSa Philosophy,magic and easternideas, Gnosri ci smand those that per t ainedt o laitv in Ecumenical Councils. While most scholarsagreethat thesedoctrinal these manuscripts coalesced into a the other heresiesof early Christianity battles culminated in the development sectarianheresythat came to be knorvn were debunked bv theologians such of the non-negotiable tenets of the as Gnosticisn. Based on the Greek as Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Ni ce n e Cr eed ( + ' l' Ce n ru ry ). th e re c e n t r,vord for knowledge (gnosis) Gnostics Basil the Great, and Athanasius, who emergenceof heretically based novels, films, and magazine articles attest that the X-Files of ancient defeated voices are as much a temptation today as they


Summer 2006

held the central belief that sal'n'ationwas not accompiishedthrough the Church that was founded on the mystery of the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ

emphasized the apostolic exposition For these great of revealed truth. defenders of the Faith, the truth of the gospelwas not a matter of a secretbut

messageconveyed in "new gospels."We are encouraged to look to architectural JesusChrist. tansmitted by a legitimate symbols, secret rituals, and previously apostolic succession of bishops that discarded apocryphal rexrs such as rhe verified the authentic and conrinuous Gospels of Thomas and Judas for the voice of the apostles, this sacred truth reliable and authentic understanding of X-posed the illogical doctrines of the the nature of the Church and the Person Gnostics as ridiculous as worthless of Jesus Christ. Confronted with such X-Filesl an irrational invitation from a frenzied media to discard what is valid for what For nearly two millennia the X-ed is spurious one cannot but recall Saint Files of Gnosticism remained buried in Paul's admonition to the Galatians the arid sandsof ancienrhistory. In 1945, concerning the Gnostic pretenseof new however, a number of early Christian knowledge: Cnostic papyri manuscripts, translated "I am astonished that from Greek into Coptic, were discovered )tou are so deserting the quichly one who called by local peasants near the Egyptian you by the grace of Christ and are town of Nag Hammadi. Since the turning to a dffirent gospel which discovery of these documents, there has is really no gospel at all. Euidently been a resurgenceof interestin Gnostic some people are throwing you into doctrines throughout the world. In fact, confusion and are trying to peruert numerous social scholars (Armstrong, the gospel of Christ. But euen if we H; Bloom, H; Pagels,E; Hitchcock, J) or tln ttngel fom heauen should have all noted a strong Gnostic trend preach a gospelother than tbe zne we in contemporary media. The vogue of preached to )/ou, let bim be eternally mystical and exotically charged books condemned! As we ltaue alreadl such as The Da Vinci Code and 7he said, so now I say again: If anybo$t JesusPapersare the direcr result of the is preaching to lou a gospel other re-emergenceof these ancient worn-out than what you accepted,let him be debates. The appearance of Gnostic eternally condemned!" creedaltenants such as: (a) the suspicion (Calatians1:6-9) of authority, (b) private spirituality, (c) ofa sacredtradition that centeredon the Incarnation, Passionand Resurrection of

the rejection ofexternal forms ofworship, (d) the distortion of sexuality, (e) the

\X{hat can be done to guard the rejection of bodily Incarnation of God, authentic Christian messagefrom those and (0 the refutation ofabsolute trurhs, that would once again attempt to deattest to the Old Testament exhortation construct it? \Xtrat can we do to help quoted above. . . indeed, "what has been our children differentiate fact from will be again, what has been done wiil be fantasy articulated in novels Iike 7be Da done again; there is nothing new under Vinci Codethat have sold over 46 million copies in 35 languages?I would suggesr the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:9). that we turn our collectiveattenrion to According to Dan Brown, the Jesus the prayerful study of the theological Seminar, and Good Morning America, writings of the early Church Fathers . . . the tradirional gospels wrirten by the rampartsthat sustainedthe orthodoxy Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John can no of the Gospel in the pastl In so doing, we longer be trusted. Instead, we are asked will begin to develop our understanding to discard2,000 yearsof reliablewitness ofan Orthodox Christian world-view that and scholarship and replace it with the will provide the intellectual scaffolding

and filter for successfullydistinguishing truth from perversion of sugar -"coded" falsehood. AJthoughthere are many varianrs,ar irs core, Gnosticism asserrsthe belief that that the world in which we now live is our prison. Having rejected the notion that God is the Creator of the cosmos with all its potential sacramental elements, rhe iife-goal of the Gnostic is to escape the createdorder through the knowledge (gnosis) of deep seif-illumination. By abandoning the searchfor God, however, humaniry is destinedro rummage blindly through life, running from one "clue" to another, like Langdon, the pathetic character in Dan Brown's novel, trying in vain to discoverthe cipher to the code . . . the grail ofour existence! G. K. Chestertononcesaidthatwhen people ceasebelieving in Christianity, it is not that they will beiieve in nothing, but rather, they will believe in anything. The apocryphal myths contained in the X-Files of early heretical texts have once again emerged as the protagonists against the Sacred tadition of Orthodox Christianity seeking to lead the catechetically uninformed and spiritually fickle into a hollow pursuit whose ultimate destinationis death and destruction. Let future generationsfind us, aswe found our forebearers,worthy of defending the apostolic creedal truths of Orthodox Christianity againsthistorical revisionistswho basetheir conspiratorial accounts on the X-Files of ancient lies.

Reu,Dn FranbMarangos istheExecutiue Director of Communicationsand former Director of ReligiousEducationfor the Greek OrthodoxArcbdiocese of America. He is an adjunct assistantprofessorof religiouseducationand homileticsat Holy CrossGreek Orthodox Schoolof Theology in Brookline,Massachusetts andExcecutiue Editor of PRAXIS.

Summer 2006



FffiS$;}CW thâ‚ŹWs$ewy

K$KCroEs &

Scrapping fheDsVinci Code Rrv.Fn.Cm,nlrsJonrurors, Pr-r.D., LMFT HE,REIS A BOOK THAT HAS CAPTURE,D THE \(/ORLD'S ATTENTION called, The Da Vinci Code.This book is a work of

this book has generated lamenrable. A major reason is becauseI know that if people were ro take the time and energy thef i11rr.r,in understanding the details fiction, but many are arguing thar it is behind 7/te Da Vinci Code, and pur based on certain secretsthat har.e been half the amounr of time and e{Iort into suppressedfor centuries by the Catholic understanding Christ's story, their lives, Church. Two of the most provocative and the lives of their families r,vouldreap claims this book makes is that Jesus positive rewards. was clandestinely married to Mary Magdalene and that they had children. MnnnracEANDFauny Ltre Of course, for anvone rvith el.en a rudimentarv undersranding of Holy Tradition, these and other similar claims and assumptions are utterl,v baseless, and are quickly rendered fictitious when compared to ryhat Holv Tradition teaches.Yet, the fact remains that these fabrications have captured the curiosity of countless people, as is ra'itnessedby the 45 million copies of this book - and counting - that har.e been sold lvorld wide in numerouslanguages. As a pastor, therapist and marriage and family specialisr, I find the interesr


Summer 2006

IS S UF F E RI NG The fact is family life is reeling rvith seriouschallengestoday. The divorce rate remains frighteningly high - somewhere around 40o/o. Bkth rares among reens continue to hover around the one million mark annuallq Teen r.iolencecontinues to grow, and suicide among teens claims far too many young iives. In addition, the "one flesh" definition of marriage that has undergirded the institution of marriage from our country's inceprion is now being called into question. Then again, fatherhood is also seriously

unden'alued, as are a childt links to his or her biological parenrs. These trends are only the rip of the iceberg. So, here is my question. Given these and other similar trends,why is it that 7he Da Vnci Codeis a best seller,and valued information that can make a differencein people'slivesis often ignored, discredired, misunderstood or challenged? I really do not have the space ro address this question in this short article, bur in'hat I can say is that conrroversy related to Christ sells, especiallv in a society that is increasingly secular and antagonistic toward anything related to Christianity. A nd w hi l e none of uswouldquibble with the fact that the free exchange of ideas has valu.e,the fact remains that \ve can be easi l i di srr acr ed in r his market place of ideas from cerrain information that might otherwise be useful. One good example is related to how many Christians rhis Paschal seasonhave been distracted by details related to 7he Da Vnci Code to the

detriment of their efforts to embracethe messagebehind the Holy Cross.

Wunr rs Mrsseo? I suspectthat people who have been distracted by The Da Wnci Code have lost sight of the blessed,good news that Christ died and resurrecred some two thousand years ago. Good news that has transformative value for us; good news that provides us with purpose and meaning and significance; good news that can lift us out of the quagmire of spiritual darkness and guide us into God's light and life; good news that helps us cultivate a relationship with God our Father; good news that comforts us "with peacâ‚Ź that passes all understanding" (Phil.4r7), For, as St. John Chrysostom statesin one of his catecheticalhomilies read,atthe Resurrection Service,"Christ is risen and life is liberated. Christ is risen, and the tomb is emptied of the dead; for Christ, having risen from the dead, has become the first fruits of those wh o Fallas leep. "

YounPRronrrres I have asked you to consider these questions because the story that has come down to us through Holy Tradition surrounding the Holy Cross and our Lord's three day burial and Resurrection,is transformative in nature and can make a difference in your life. Conversely, the story behlnd 7he Da Vinci Code,however masterfully crafted, may have entertainment value, but has Iittle lasting, redeeming value. T h rough an undersrandi ngof the story behind Christ's Holy Cross, as protected through Holy Tradition, God comes into our lives, and we develop a personal relationship with God which changesthe way we seethe world around us. Moreover, the blessedmessagebehind this story not only has a direct, positive, transformative impact on us; it also has a blessedimpact on our marriages,families and our efforts to parent our children.

I am not suggestingthat you abstain from reading fiction. I am suggesting however, that you use this recent craze SoMeQuesroNs ro w h i c h i s sw eepi ng our nari on as an ,, o p p o rtu ni ry ro assessyour pri ori ri es. PoNo=n l So, if 7be Da Vrcci Code distracted you IF t hes e obs er v a ri o n sre s o n a rew i th this Paschalseason,and, if you failed to you personally.I would like ro ask you s p e n d a mpl e ri me i n prayerthi s E asrer to consider the following few questions. conternplating the real meaning of the \flhich story has impacted your life this Cross, do aot despair. Christ accepts Paschalseason?\7hich oftheserwo stories us at any rime. Even now as you are ca p tu r ed y our at t en ti o n ? Wh i c h s to ry cornpleting this article, He is knocking at do you know better? When compared the door ofyour heart seeking entrance. to the time you spent considering The If you let Him in, as Holy Scripture Da Vinci Code, how much tirne did you teachrs, He will come into your heart, spend contemplating the meaning of the into your marriage and into your family Cro ssand Res ur r ec ri o no f o u r L o rd a n d and make a positive difference. Sa vi or ?

For the bottom line is this, what I have been alluding to in this article has something to do with priorities. \fhat are yours?

Reu Dn CbarlesJoanides is the Director of the Interfaith/Interchurch Marriage Project of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, directing tlte ministry to intermarried couples and their families ( Fr. Joanides ls a licensedmarriage andfamifu therapist. He is the ?astor of St. Nicholas Greele Orthodox Church in Newburgh, New York.

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REv.Fn.TneoooRrSrylnNopouLos. S.T.M..Tu.D.


ITERATURE AND FILM, AS ALL ART, DO NOT H,rrnrLYENTERTAIN.It is rheirnarurero conveyrhe

faith, religion, and history, and that is all well and good. But why the apparently I deliberate ambiguiry between fact and I fiction? Vhy the fagrant twisting of Llin principlesand valuesofthei r crearorsand the major historical facts on which the so they instruct in subtleor not-so-subtle book's story line is built? ways, Much has been written and said about Dan Brown's 7he Da Wnci Code. \[as Jesus married, as Brown Potential viewers, as they evaluate the c o n re n ds? N o hi stori an, anci enr or film for themselves,ought to be mindful modern, and no follower or enemy of of the whopping historical falsehoodson Jesushas everseriouslyconsideredsuch a which the book is based. thing until Dan Brown at the end of the second millennium. Jesus'prominence, The literary merits of the book the open nature of his life and work, cannot be disputed. It flies along with its and the public mission of Christianity many threads, and seemsto iag only in all preclude the possibility of the the final chapters.Nor can one question Church keeping such a grand secret the advocacy of ideas and convictions throughout the ages. Of course, if on through the respectable Iiterary form the basisof historical evidenceJesuswas of historical fiction. \What is confusing not married, as historians support, the about the book, and Brownt public edifice of Brown's tale crumbles. I have statements, is the fudging berween yet to read or hear Brown sayclearly that fiction and historical fact, and therefore this cornerstone of his novel is without aiso the consequentmorai implication of historicalbasis. Startling at it may seem. misleading people unaware of rhe details however, the question can be reversed. of history. Brown says that he wrote For mainline Judaism and Christianity the novel to generate discussion about marriage was and is honorable and

Why the apparently

Celiberate ambtguity

between fact and fiction?

Why the flagrant twlstlng

of the major historrcalfacts

on whlch the book's story

llne is built? Summer 2006

page | |

presumed woman in Da Vinci's painting, Brownt story line concerning Mary Magdalene collapsesto dust. \fho was Mary Magdalene? One can either go by the evidence of the canonical Gospels written in the firsr century or that of the apocryphal Gospels of Philip and of Mary Magdalene written in the late second or even the third century. The picture ofJesusand his ministry in theserwo sets of documents is so radically different that one cannot cherry pick from both sides. An objective historian would rely on the sources and related witnessesclosest to Jesus and the events involved. On that basisMary Magdalene was one of the women healed byJesus and apparently ofsuch courage and wealth as to accompany and support Jesusalong with the male disciples (Luke B:2-3). She was not, as is sometimes thought, the sinful woman who anointed Jesus. Mary Magdalene is one of the most prominent women in the traditional Gospels, a leader privileged to be the first witness of the good news of Christ's resurrection, but in no way a rival to St. Peter or to anyone else. The Gospel of Mary Magdalene and the Gospel of Philip deserveno more credibility than the so-called Gospel ofJudas recently in the news. For the historian the bits of information about Mary Magdalene in the apocryphal Gospels, which in part inspired Dan Brown, come, as all fairy tales, from the realm ofpure fantasy. Did the Emperor Constantine virtually proclaim the divinity of Jesus in the fourth century? Brown claims that the Church, under Constantine's heavy hand, suppressedthe holy. \fhat would be so scandalous as theologian Eugenia apocryphal documents, promoted the canonical ones favoring Constantinourecentlywrote, about esus being married as the divinity of Jesus,and arrived at the decision that Jesuswas part of all the otherhuman attributes sharedwith humanity the Son of God for the first time First Ecumenical Council apartfrom sin?\(hywould the Chu need to concealsuch a (325 AD), and by a narrow vote at that! As history, these thing and perpetratea hoaxhad Jesus ually beenmarried? claims are nothing but rubbish in the eyesof an honest scholar. The divinity of Christ was already a firm teaching of St. Paul \7as Mary MagdaleneJesus'" disciple" depicted who was an eye-witnessof the risen Christ and one directly on the right hand ofJesusin Da Vinci' famous paintingof The connected with St. Peter and other original disciples of Jesus LastSupper? No seriousart hisrorian backed up Brown on (Galatians 1:12-18; 2:l-I0; Philippians 2:6-11; Colossians 1:15-18; Acts I5:l-29). Th. collection of the New Testament this claim. It is known that in DaVinc s ilme artlsts portrayed figures according to stock forms. For example students were books, while it occurred over a long period of time, was mostly depicted beardlessand with long hai , exactly the portrayal complete by the end of the second century and was the valued of John the Evangelist,the you and beloved disciple, documented harvest of the apostolic tradition kept within the found in a numberof Last Supperspai over the centuries. mainstream Church. In this collection processsome books, Besides, Da Vinci has left several prel minary sketchesof his such as the Book of Revelation and the Epistle of James, were famouspainting which leaveno that he was depicting disputed. The radically different apocryphal books, however, the youthful St. John, the beloved di iple, accordingto the were never even part of the debate for inclusion. receivedtradition, If arr historians re the claim about the

The accusation about su

absurdbecausethe oersecutedC had no power to suppressanyone. apocryphal books and the people wrote them had as much opportu luy for success in the Greco-R an society as the canonical books and he communities that fostered them. If t failed, they did so because of lack of substanceand appeal. And as far as he Council vote is concerned, it was ne r over Jesus' divinity, which even he Arians gladly proclaimed, but about he adequatelanguage to articulate this 6 held apostolic belief. That language as found in the word homoousios("of he very essence or being ofthe Father") t at orecluded the falseArian understandi bq' The final consensusamong the bis was 348 for and 2 against, hardly a c tally-and it was a vote understood o rc safeguard the received faith, not inuent (l) a radically new form of i Brown contends. \7here does all this leave regarding Brown's book and the fi Those who have read the book and t 9.) who may seethe film would do well t Dbeyond its story line to the agenda an ng Brown and others in our culture -'b \We have to the table. all our asendas of course. Let the agendas clash ho tly in open discussionin a free society. cannot do anything againstthe truth, only for the truth" (2 Corinthians 13 Free and honest discussion can peopie closer to what is right and for humanitv becausethat is the nat of truth. The problem with story, if I may put it plainly, is its of sulficient intellectual honesty, nd that misleads people. \X/ithout f, genuine dialog is impossible. Fact or fiction? Neither in book nor in his public statemenrs

Brown seem to make up his mind. He cunningly mixes the two. He claims to be writing fiction but on the basis of facts. But what kind of facts and of what magnitude? The foundations of his story, as indicated above, have been debunked again and again by historical scholars.\fhat then remains of Brown's imaginative work? Why does Brown not come clean and addressthe issue of the historical falsehoods that have been exposed?It is one thing to write fiction and advancewhatever views one desires. It is quite another to promote views invoking historical events and historical figures, and then twist and falsify them to promote an agenda, because such a thing moves from fictionai novel to intellectual dishonesty,from freedom of speechto moral cynicism, by confusing or misleading people. If this is ali true, and it seems to be so, then one must draw the conclusion that Brown respects neither his subjecr matter, nor his readers.

called Christianity that much resembles the post-modern, new age ideology pervading todayt media and \Testern cuiture. It is a philosophy of those pilgrims who submit to no authority but the self, commit to no abiding truth but their own prediiection, and live by no absolute value but that of what has been called the "do-it-yourself,kit" of self-discovery.

Theodore Stylianopoulos Rea. Dn is the Arcbbishop lakouos Professor of Orthodoxy, Theologyand Professorof New Testamentat Holy CrossGreek Orthodox School of Theolog1. A graduate of Holy Cross(1962), he obtained graduate degrees in New Testamentfrom Boston Uniuersity School of Theologyand Haruard Diuinity Schoo/. He has written and edited many articles and books. On weekendshe serues aspdstzr of the St. GeorgeGreek Orthodox Church in Keene,New Hampshire.

What remains is Brown's real agenda having to do with our cultural wars. His book, a captivating web of fantasy, exploits the magnitude of Jesusand the infuence that traditional Christianity still has on culture, in order to stealthily undermine bothl The book bears a messagesinister in the attempted cover-up of its real intent and foisted on unaware readersby appealsto half-truths and falsified historical events. tVhen decoded, the message is a broadside against the Roman Catholic Church. It is an attack on traditional Christian beliefs and valuescenteredon the person of Jesus Christ, human and divine. It repudiates the New Testament as a hoax in favor of the apocryphal books. It advocates unencumbered feminism, egalitarianism, and sexuality of all types. It is a messageabout an alternative so-



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HE DA VIIVCI CODE IS A MURDER MYSTE,RYSHROUDED IN A CONSPIRACY THEORY, a novelisticthriller, an airplanebook, the kind of book you readwhen you want ro wasrerime, an easyreadthat combinesa fastnarrativeDacewith short chaorers.

WuRt's wRoNGwrrH TUEDeVtNct Cooe?

that ls hrstorlcally false ln

Manv people are reading author Dan Brown's latest novel, a work of fiction, as if it accuratelyportrayed the facts about Christ, the New Testament,the Church and Christian history. But sadly,Iike one of my son'sroommates at Boston College, many people reading 7heDa Vinci Codecome away from the book with their faith in Christ and the Church shakerr. The definition of fiction according to the American HeritageDictionary:

this book that it's harC to

t. An imaginative pretense. 2. A lie. 3. A literarywork, suchasa novel,whosecontent is producedb1'the imagination and is not necessarilybasedon fact.

know where to begln "

page 14

S u m m e r2 0 0 6

The confusion about this book beginson the opening pagewhere the author, prior to actually beginning his storl', statesthat: "AJl descriptionsof arrwork, architecture, documents and secret rituals in this novel are accurate."Nothing couid be further from the truth. In fact, there is so much that is historically falsein this book that it's hard to know where to besin.

One of the main charactersin named Sir Leigh Teabing who is

book is an Englishman

tualiy the bad guy, the mysterious"Teacher"responsiblefor orderingthe murder of the curatorof the Louvrewith which he book opens.But Mr.

Brown never lets the fast pacedactio of the book stand in the with chapter 55, that's way of a good lecture and beginni vers. character Teabing exactlywhat the L er ' sbegin by lo o k i n g a i s o me there about the Bible and the 1" Ecu

rhe rhings that are said ical Council.

T ue L o n D JEs us ,rH E B l

LE AND THE Frn s rE c uv en t c A lC o u N IL ACCORDING

To THEDnVtr'tct CooE

From heaven" "The Bible did not arrive by Teabing."The Bibleis a roduct of man, my declares dear.Not of God. The Bible di not magically fall from the clouds. The Bible, aswe know it today, was peror Constantine collated by the pagan Roman to unify Rome he AD, deci the Great.In 325 under a single religion: Christi ity. Constantine rristian tradition needed to strengthen the new n as the Council and held a famous gathering history, i of Nicea. Until that moment Jesuswas viewed by his followers as a o rta l p ro p h et....a A n nonetheless. great and powerful man, but a mortal. Jesus'establishmentas t officially proposed and voted o Nicea. A relativelv ciose vote at establishing Christt divinity

e Son of God was by the Council of that. Nonetheless,

The earliergospelswereoutla burned."

, gatheredup and

as critical to the Empire and to the further unificationof the Ro newVatican Dowerbase.Consta tine commissioned ch omitted those and financed a new Bible, human traits and gospels that spoke of Christ's ade him godlike. embellished those gospels that

Fnsr: "The Bible as we know it Constantine the Great [who] commi Bible." This leavesthe impression tha which bookswould constitute the N and completely false. As a matter o there was a great deal of consensus

today was collatedby.... ioned and financed a new Constantine determined Testament. This is totally historical fact, although g the Churches as to

what constituted the New Testament well before the Council of Nicea, the first person to list the 27 books that all Christians today accept as the New Testament was not Constantine the Great but Athanasius the Great, the bishop and patriarch of Alexandria in Egypt, in a circular ietter to all the Churches in Egypt written in 367 AD, 42 years after the 1" Ecumenical Council. It was not Constantine who determined the canon of the New Testament as Part of a political power play, but the Church, in the personsof its bishops and teachers. SncoNo: We would agreethat the NewTestament "did not arrive by fax from heaven." The books of the New Testament were written by the apostles in order to get the story about opening Jesusstraight. This is made clear, for example, in the versesof the Gospel of Luke 7: 7-4, where Luke, a friend and disciple of the apostlePaul, statesthat he wrote his gospelas "an orderly account" of the life, ministry, death and resurrectionof the Lord Jesusafter having "carefully studied" and consulting "eyewitnesses."Virtually all scholars agree that Luke's gospel was written someLilne between B0 and 90 AD at the latest. Some scholarstheorize that his gospelwas written even earlier. Markt gospelwas certainly written earlier'no later than 65 AD, probably in Rome, within only a few years of the execution of Peter and Paul during the persecution of Christians under Nero. A1l of the Gospeisproclaim that Jesuswas not "a mortal prophet" and the disciplesunderstood that Jesuswas far more than just a man. rVhen the disciplesare askedby Jesus,"\(/ho do you say that I am?" the apostlePeter responds:"You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!" (Matthew 16:16) ' Nathaniel, another one ofthe 12 apostles,declaresto Jesus,"Rabbi, you are the Son of GodlYou are the King of Israel!"$ohn 1:49).After Jesuscalms a storm and walks on water, the Gospel of Matthew records that the disciples"exclaimed:Truly you are the Son of God!" (Matthew 14:33). In fact, Jesusis called "the Son of God" more than fifry times in the books of the NewGstamentl It would certainly be a surpriseto the apostles(including Paul) to learn that they did not proclaim Jesusto be the Son of God and that this had to wait undl the 1" Ecumenical Council. It is therefore utterly false to assert that "Jesuswas viewed by his followers as a mortal prophet....a great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless"prior to the Council of Nicea' Just the opposite is true: the 1" Ecumenical Council was held in Nicea to uphold the New Testament teaching that Jesusis the \ford and Son of God againstthe falseteaching of an Egyptian man named Arius, a priest who taught that Jesuswas more than a man but less than God - a kind of super angel. Athanasius, the future patriarch of Alexandria, attended the 1" Ecumenical

Summer 2006


Council as a young deacon. And, by the way, the vote was not "relatively close" at all. Of the 3 l8 bishopswho attended,all but 2 sided with the New Testament and the apostlesand not Arius. Tgm-o: In the 4,1'cenrury, during the reign of Constantine, there was no such thing as "rhe new Vatican power base." This is little more than an anri-Roman Catholic slur, one of many contained throughout the book. In fact, there was no such thing as the Vatican as we understand it today. For Mr. Brown, rhe author of Tbe Da Vinci Code, the onlv Church is the Roman Catholic Church and he reads back into the 4,1,century the medieval rise and development of the papacyin the \Wesr.This is anachronisric. The Vatican, as we understand it today, is the result of the fall of the Roman Empire in western Europe in rhe 5,1' and 6'h cenruries, the increasing civil responsibilitiesof the papacyduring the early Middle Ages, the emergence of the papal staresand a number of other historical processesstretching over many centuries,long after Constantinet death. And finally, the modern Vatican stateis a creation of the 19'h cenrury and the rise of Italian nationalism.

Teabing insists that the marriage of Jesusand Mary Magdalene is mentioned specifically in wo ancienr documenrs, The Gospel of Philip and 7be Gospel of

Christ whatsoever, in stark contrasr to the canonical New Testament Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John that clearly speak in historical terms of the

M ary M agdalene, which he calls, together birth, baptism, ministry, crucifixion and with the Dead Sea Scrolls,"the earliest resurrecrionof Christ. Christian records."

Gnosticism is an umbrella term that modern scholars use ro describe a number of religious movemenrs in the ancient Roman world, many of *.hich were not at all related to Christianiry all of which had several common themes: that members of the various gnostic sects had a secret knowiedge not available to the Old Testament prophet of others; rhat there were a seriesof lesser Jeremiah, the 7'h century B.C. who abstainedfrom mediating divinities sometimes called marriage as a sign ro the Jewish people Archons, sometimes called Aeons; and a that the end of the kingdom of Judah duaiistic outlook, an antithesis berween was near (Jeremiah f6:1-9); and rhe matter and spirit, body and soul and a Qumran communiry. a proro-monasric hatred of the physical world that was sect within Judaism at the time of Jesus often believed to have been created not responsiblefor producing and probably by God but by a lesser,evil demigod preserving rhe Dead Sea Scrolls so often to imprison the souls of human beings. mentioned in 7heDaVinci Codeaspart of None of thesebeliefs is Christian. the "earliestChristian records."Actuallr'. the Dead SeaScrolls, initially discovered To rake only one example from The in 1947, contain no ,,christian records', Da Vinci Code, The Gospelof Philip cited whatsoeverbecausethey are the products by Teabing as proof that Jesusand Mary of an ancientJewish communiry. Rather, Magdalene were married, was produced they contain - among other things - some at the end of the 3'd centuryAD, almost of the oldest known manuscripts of the two hundred years afier the Gospel of Old Testament. Ironically, the Dead Sea John, the last of the four New Tesramenr Jesus& Mnny MRaoer_eNe Scrolls were produced by a communiw gospelsto be written. Hardly part of "the Perhaps the most outrageous and of male Jewish celibates, precisely the earliestChristian records."Scholarstoday Iudicrous assertion made in this novel kind of people Langdon asserrscouldn't agreethar it was produced within circles is the character of Sir Leigh Teabingt have existed within Judaism at the time faithful to the teaching of a man named statemenrthar "the marriage ofJesusand ofJesus. Valentinus. He was an Egyptian gnostic Mary Magdalene is part of the historical reacherwho taught in Rome berween135 Second, 6orh The Gospel of Philip record." Two reasonsare then eiven for and 168 AD and who is one of the few this amazing asserrion.First, alccording and 7he Gospel of Mary Magdalene are gnostic reacherswhose theological views to Robert Langdon, the novel's main commonly called "gnostic" gospels b1. and subsequentdisciples,i.e. Ptolemaeus character,"BecauseJesuswas a Jew and New Testament scholars and historians and Markus, thar we know anything the social decorum during that time today. They are pseudonymous works abour. Their Chrisrian contemDoraries vinually forbid a Jewish man to be notoriously unreliable as historical i n i he anci enrw orl d, Ii k e St . I ienaeus, unmarried. According to Jewish cusrom, documents and in fact conrain no (the bishop of the ciry of Lyons) wrore a celibacy was condemned." Second, historical oudine of events in the life of seriesof books refuting the teachings of page 16

S u m m e r2 0 0 6

There is nor one shred of evidence acceptedby any credible historian stating thatJesuswasmarried to Mary Magdalene. First, while it is true that "Jewishcusrom" encouraged marriage, it was not at all unheard of for Jews to pracrice celibacy. Perhaps the rwo most famous casesare

Valentinus, his disciplesand other gnostic teachers,as well. These books, like Tlte

Wr r cH Hu Nr s

Gospel of Philip, have survived to this day and I, as a seminarian, had to read both these Gnostic documents and the responseto these documents by various bishops and teachersof the Church like Irenaeusand Clement ofAlexandria.

"During 300 years of witch hunts the Church burned at the stake an astounding5,000,000women" Langdon, Langdon characterasserts,that Sunday is the Harvard professor,saysto his French indeed the "Day of the Sun" in English. love interest, Sophie. In fact, even nonAnd Saturday, by the way, is "Saturns Christian historians now agree that Day' and not the Jewish Sabbath. the number of people - both men and Thursday is "Thor's Day." It is true that women - executedbenveen 1400-1800 Tu e o R y s o F TH Ew E E K the names for the days of the week in for suspectedwitchcraft was somewhere "Even Christianiry's weekly holy day modern English have all been adapted between 30,000 to 50,000. Modern was stolen from the pagans,"the Teabing from ancient mythologies. But in Greek, scholars suggest that perhaps 100,000 characterdeclares."Originally," Langdon things are very different. Only three days such trials were held between 1450 and adds, "Christianity honored the Jewish have names in Greek: Paraskevi,the Day 1750, with somewherebetween 30,000 Sabbath of Saturday, but Constantine of Preparation for the Sabbath; Sa\.vato, to 50,000 execurions, of which 25o/o shifted it to coincide with the pagan's the Sabbath dap and Kyriake, the Lord's 7,500 to 12,500 - were men. It is also veneration of the sun. To this day, most Day. After the Lord's Day, the days of the clear that desoite the involvement of churchgoers attend services on Sunday week are merely numbered; Deutera, the Church authorities, the vast majority morning with no idea that they are there of those condemned as witches were in Second Day (Monday'; Tiete, the Third on account of the pagan sun god'sweekly Day (Tuesday)and so on. In the Greek of fact condemned by local secular courts. trihrrre - l ,rrA " tr" the New Testament as well as in modern Of course,here, as throughout the book, whenever Mr. Brown uses the word Nothing could be further from the Greek to this day, there is no confusion "church" he is always referring to the truth. As a matter of pure and simple fact, regarding the Judeo-Christian origins of Roman Catholic Church and this book the New Testament records quite clearly the names for the days of the week. contains a clear anti-Roman Catholic that Christians gathered for worship on bias. But it is a simple fact that many the day of Christ's resurrection from the witch-hunts took place in Protestant dead, the day afier the Sabbath (Mark countries like England and her colonies 16:2) or the Lord's Day ("Kyriake" in "The Jervish tetragramaton YH\flH (for exampie, one need only recall the the original Greek) as it is described in - the sacredname of God - derived from infamous witch trials in Salem, MA). Revelation 1:i0. This ancient practice Jehovah,an androgynous physical union Interesdngly enough, in the Orthodox is also referred to in Acts 20:7 and b e rw e e nthe mascul i neJah and the preChurch, there never developedan Office i Corinthians l6:2. Furthermore, a Hebraic name for Havah." of the Inquisition as in the Roman number of post-New Testament writers Catholic Church; nor were there ever like St. Ignatius of Antioch (executed This is completely false! As any any witch-hunts or trials. in 115 AD) and St. Justin the Martyr first year seminary student can tell (executed in 155 AD) to name only you, Jehovah is actually a 16'h century two, confirm the practice of Christians rendering for the King JamesVersion of A CoNsprRAcY? gathering for worship on Sunday. the HebrewYH\X&{ using the vowels for "Everyone lovesa conspiracy,"thinks Constantine "shifted" nothing. All that the word 'Adonai" or "Lord," the word Langdon and indeed, this is perhapsone Constantine did in the year 321AD was which was read by devout Jewswhenever grant legal status as a holiday within they came acrossGod's name in the text reason why 7he Da Vinci Code fascinates the Empire to a centuries-old apostolic of the Old Gstament becausethey felt so many people and still dominates 7be practiceof,the Church. the actual name of God was too awesome New York Times bestseller list. Brownt conspirators in this rwo millennia long ro b e p ronouncedby human l i ps. But we also need to look at the cover-up include the Roman Catholic question of language. It is true, as the Church, the Knights Templaa Opus


S ummer2006


Dei (a Roman Catholic organization that in fact does nothave monks nor do its members wear a monastic habit of any kind, much lessgo around murdering people) the Masons, Interpol and a secretsocieryknown asthe Priory of Sion, (that is an actual organization officially registeredwith the French government

T u e Re r - r cs o F M n n YM Rco RleN e

But perhapsthe most fantastic claim of all is that the Holy in 1956 that most likely originated after W^M II and first Grail of Arthurian legend and popular movies hke Indiana came to public notice in 1962). So much for being a "secret" Jonesand the Last Crusadeis not the chalice that Christ drank from at the Last Supper but Mary Magdalene herself and a sociery!\With the exception of tomb that contains her remains. The main character in the French film maker Jean novel, Robert Langdon, cracksthe mysterious code left behind Cocteau, its illustrious by Sauniere,the murdered curaror of the Louvre and discovers list of Grand Masters that the bones of Mary Magdalene are buried in the Louvre. as presented in the \7here are the reiics of Mary Magdaiene today? Roman novel - Leonardo, Catholic and Orthodox Christians know that they are certainly Isaac Newton not buried in the Louvre! According ro the historical rradition and Victor Hugo of the Church, Mary Magdalene died in the city of Ephesus - is simply not and was buried there. Her body, an object of veneration by credible and Christians, was transferredto Constantinople in the 9'h century no historian by the Byzantine emperor Leo the Wise, an event that is still takes such claims commemorated on our liturgical calendar each year on May seriously. 4'h. Following the sack of Constantinople by the Crusadersin 1204, most of her relicswere carried back to Rome and placed under the altar in the Lateran Palace(the papal chapel). Some of her relics are located inYezelay,a small town near Marseilles in France,and are housed in St. Maximin's Basilica.Her arm is kept at the Monastery of Simonos Petra on Mt. Athos. 7he Da Wnci Code is a fast paced but pooriy written murder mystery full of ridiculous errors of fact. It is, after all, a work of fiction. \Xfhateverthe claims concerning his researchin preparation for writing this novel, the simple fact is that author Dan Brown knows iittle about Leonardo, little about art and virtually nothing about Jesus,the Bible and Christian history.

Reu Fn Steuen Tlicblis is thepastor of St. Pawl GreekOrthodox Churchin lruine, California.

Summer 2006

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F we are secure in our Christian their churches. If anything, the book r - ; , 1- . L- - Llr L d r l:^ r r / 1 ,- a fi c ri o n a l and movie will call for an awarenessof - ---^ novel should not be offensive. researchfor the curious and a rediscovery However, Dan Brown's 7he Da of faith with even deeper beliefs for the Vinci Code has prompted attention in faithful. the entire Chrisrian community. People, Brown's novel is in the fiction section. It is riddled with dubious historical Christian heresy that causes mind-boggling intrigue to a public looking for action and the latest trend. Yes,most Christian churchesareoffended and should be. But we musr remember, the book is a fictional expressionof the author'sfreedom of speechand brilliance to laugh ail the way ro the bank. T n r ealir y , ir i s n o r p ro mp ri n g American Christians to waver from


"But we must remember, the

Let us look at what is positive about 7he Da Wnci Cotle.

book is a flcttonal expresston

Brown brings out a true significant historical fact of Christian history and the church. In the course of Christian h i s ro ry. l ew eventsare l arger than the Council of Nicea in A.D. 325. \When

of the author's freedom of

St. Constantine, the newly converted Roman emperor and a canonized saint of the Orthodox Church, calls bishopsfrom around the world to Nicea in Asia Minor (present-day Turkey) and convenes the First Ecumenical Council (sometimes

speech and brillrance to laugh all of the way to the bank," S ummer2006



called Synod), the church had reached monumental theological crossroads. This council in Nicea defeatedthe Arian heresy and produced the Nicene Creed, recited in Orthodox churches to this day. Some form from the original texp is used in other Christian churchesas well. By the time of Nicea, church lea{ers debated the legitimacy of only ft* " books that we accept today in the Bible. Chief among them were Hebrews dnd Revelation, becausetheir authorship ivas in doubt.

leadersare asking, why would Christians be expected to sit by and watch while the media promotes a movie that insults Christianity? In America, it seems that most Christian leadershave opted for an educational approachto decipherwhat is true and what is false. TbeDa Vinci Code opens the doors to the curious and the faithful to researchreligion and to learn

and forever.The pseudo-historicalclaims of a modern novel or movie cannot make this false.

helps us to seefemale sainthood and the role ofJesus' mother, the Theotokos and ever-Virgin Mary, as the bridge between heavenand earth,


This book and this movie give Christians more strength to challenge themselves, their prejudices and There were numerous heresiesin the the imperfections of humanity, in a early church defeated by Ecumenipal perfection only found in Christ's church. Councilsbasedon the apostles'teachings, It is an occasion to strengthen our faith and deepen our beliefs. the church fathers and the oral tradition of the early church. Those witnesseshave The novel helps us realize that both attested that Jesus Christ was an equal men and women make up the church. It part of the Holy Trinity, yesterday,today,

The movie basedon the blockbuster novel recently opened in theaters, Many Christian leaders are preparing themselvesfor battle over the controversy expressedin the fictional Da Wnci Code. 'Whether Orthodox, Roman Catholic or Protestant, all churches agree that the book and movie attack Christianity by raising doubts in scripture and church history. Christians have not been this worked up since Martin Scorsese's Jesus steppeddown offthe crucifix in 7heLast Temptationof Christ in 1988. To be sure, many Christians do not regard this movie asa threat. It is threaded with heresy but with some accurate descriptions of artwork, documents and rituals. The debate is even being colored by the Muslim riots over Danish cartoons of the Proohet Muhammad. Christian




\7hen Christ was crucified, scripture tells us, Peter denied Christ three times, the apostleswere confused and scattered becauseoffear for safety.\7ho was at the cross?\fho was first at Christ's tomb? The mother of God, Mary Magdalene and the other myrrh-bearing women. The women who followed Christ were there. It is an affirmation of the courage and positive roles that women have carried out throughout the centuries of the Christian church,

Rea,Dn Nicholas V Garnaasis the dean of Sainx Constantineand Helen Greek Orthodox Cathedralof the Pactfc in Honolulu, Hawaii.

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And just what are the deeperideas that TheDa Vinci Code would convince you to accept? That pretty' much everything the author, is a point that FICTION-this Dan Brown, has repeatedly emphasized in the you learned in Sunday School was wrong: . face of critical anaiysis of his novel. And yet no Jesusdied but was never resurrected. . He left behind a wife and child who fled to Gaul to that response. satisfied with reader can be quite sophisticated escapepersecuti on. On the first page of the text, under the bold heading "FACT," . He did not reach, nor did His disciples believe, that the author proclaims: 'AIl descriptionsof artwork, architecture, documents, and secretrituals in this novel are accurate." The very presenceof this deciaration in and of itself indicates that the author's goal is not just to entertain, but also to persuade. Yes, 7he Da Vinci Code is fiction, but in the same sensethat George'sOrwell's Animal Farm is fiction. Both storiesare told with the aim of conveying deeper ideas.



He was the unique Son of God incarnate. He was an advocateand practitioner of the cult of the "sacredfeminine," in rvhich the Godhead is mystically experienced in the climactic moment of sexual congressthrough the rites of Hieros Gamos. The emperor Constantine, in order to consolidate his power over the Roman Empire, tried to destroy

S ummer2006





both the heirs and the memory of the royal bloodline of Jesusand his consort, Mary Magdaiene. To this end he literally rewrore the Gospels, deleting any referencesto their union and reinventing JesusChrist as an incarnate deiry who sanctioned Constantinet rule over the civilized *orld. The Council of Nicea in A.D. 325 was strong-armed by Constantine into changing the basic messageof the Church, so rhat, as Dan Brown tells us on page 233, Jesus'diviniry was established by "a relatively close vote" (whereas Mary Magdalene, ironicaily, is to be worshipped as "the Goddess" and "the Divine Mother" accordingro page2JJl. Christian intolerance through the centuries drove the cult of the sacredfeminine further underground, where it has survived until the present day through the genius of such men as Leonardo da Vinci, Sir Isaac Newton, and Victor Huso.

Let's start with something easy. On page I45 ol The Da Vinci Code we read: "Langdon was always surprised how few Christians who gazed upon 'the crucifix' realized their symbol's violent history was reflected in its very name: 'cross' and 'crucifix' came from the Latin verb 6yx16i77ys-1g torture." This is a simple factual claim: in Latin the word for "cross," crux, comes from the verb "to torture," cruciare. But if you turn in your Engiish dictionary to the entries for "excruciare," you will see the information in the etymology like this from Merriam-Webster's Colkgiate Dictionary, E/euenth Edition: lL excruciatu.i,pp. ofexcruciare, fr. ex- + cruciare to crucify, fr. cruc-, crux cross]. This etymology can be unpacked as follows. Our English word "excruciate"comesfrom the past participle of Latin verb excrucitre, which is composed of the Latin prefix ex- and the verb cruciare, the latter which has the specific meaning "to crucify" (and not, as the protagonist supposes,the more generaimeaning " to torture"), and this verb in turn is derived from the stem of the noun meaning "cross." So 7he Da Vinci Code has it backwards: cruciare comes from the Latin word crux "cross,"and not the other way around.

The road to these conclusions follows a labyrinthine course of clues from art, architecturp, symbology, European history, philosophy, cosmology, andl ecclesiasticaltradition. It would seem that graduate degreesfrom severaluniversities were necessaryto evaluate the voiurninous evidence issuing forth from the mouths of the charactdrsof T/teDa Vnci Code. How is the averageperson to know what to make of these farEditorially this is a minor mistake, to be sure. But there reaching claims? Rest assured,genrle readerl For this reason is more here than a failure of fact-checking. There is a lapse the author certifies for you his carefull'ress with the facts ere the of common sense. La,tin, like English and most languages, first sentenceof the story. generallybuilds words 6y addingsuffixesand prefixesto shorter stems and roots, not by subtracting out pieces from longer But is it so? Is Dan Brown the meticulous researcherthat words. It would be odd-and contrary to the experienceof he claims to be? a speakerof English or another Indo-European language-to suppose that Latin would derive a basic and common word For most of us who do not have a background in hke crux as a "back-formation" from the Ionger form cruciare. Renaissanceart, canon law, and the sociology of religion, just To suggestthat the word history runs in reverse,and to do so getting up to speed on the basic issuesof TlceDa Vinci Code in the face of every scholariy reference. .. well, that begins to wouid require a book in itself, beforewe couid even get around look a little bit like there might be an agendato assessingits claims of factuality. However, I can show you that there are problems with his researchusing a book that you If you go back to the quotation you will seeimmediately probabiy already have on your shelfand have consulted dozens what the agenda is: to paint the average Christian as an of times before-your dictionary! For in the courseof building ignoramus. It is a curious strategy on the part of the author, its conspiracytheory about JesusChrist and Mary Magdalene, to make up a "fact" about a rvord's history and then rather 7/teDa Vinci Codemakes many interesting ciaims about words reproachfully to expresssurprise at how few Christians are and their meanings and histories. Anyone who knows how to aware of his newly coined fact. use a good dictionary can check our the truthfulness of these claims. The agendaconri nuesw i th anorher l i ngu isr ic ar gum enr . On the same page in which the author indicts Christianity for



its "deceitful and violent history" of witch hunts, inquisitions, and smear campaigns againsr holy men who practiced ritual sexuality,he makes the following claim (p.125): "Not even the feminine associarion with the lefr-hand side could escapethe Church's defamation. In France and Italy, the words for 'Iefr'-gauche and sinistra-came to have deeply negative overrones,while their righchand counrerparrs rang of righteousness,dexterity, and correctness. To this day, radical rhoughr was considered left wing, and anything evil was sinister." Is it so? Is relentlessChristian bigotry responsiblefor common attitudes toward left-handedness?Look up the entry for "sinister" in your dictionary. You will seein the etymology information like the following:' [ME sinister, fr. AF senesrreon the left, fr. L sinistr-, sinisrer on the left side, unlucky, inauspicious] \What this tells you is thar the modern word "sinister" descendsfrom a Middle English word which had been borrorn'ed from the Anglo-French tongue of the Norman invaders, and that it came ultimately from Latin, where it a/ready has its unlucky cznnztatizns.In other words, the Church did nothing to the word sinistra in Italian: long before Christ appeared, the culture of the Roman Empire had unfavorableassociations with left-handedness.

invokes in his discussionof words. In another place (page 234) he traces the word beretic ro rhar momenr in history when emperor Constantine allegedly subverted the original teachings of Christianiry. He writes, "The Latin word haereticttsmeans "choice." Those who "chose" the original history of Christ were the world's fr.rstheretics." The dictionary entry for heresyand heretic will tell you, however, that these English words come not from Latin ultimately, bu through Latin from Greek. The Greek word for "heretical" is aeretikos,and it shows uD rhree cenruries earl i er than the ri me of C onstanti ne i n a f ir sr - cenr ur y document known as the Epistle of Saint Paul to Titus, chapter 3 and verse 10. The Greek word for "heresy" in the senseof a faction or splinter group is used nine times in the New Testament, and this usagecan be found even in preChristian literature.t Saint Constanrine did not invent the labels"heresy" and "heretic," and it is wrong to paint him as the father of all inquisitors. Dan Brown commits another chronological error when he contends that emperor Constantine, as a lifelong pagan, shifted the day of Christian worship from Saturdayto Sunday and that the very name "Sunday" proves Constantine's

unstinting allegiance rc So[ Inuictus, the Sun god. The problem with this argumenr is that in Greek and Latin the name for the first day of the week has nothing to do wirh the sunl Moreover, the Anglo-Saxons were calling the first This is not unusual for the ancient world. Many pre- day of the week "Sunday" (or in Old English sunnandeg) Christian culrures had superstitionsabout the left side.r In long before the first Chrisrian missionariesever found theml some contexts the very mention of the notion of "left" was There is simply no causaiconnecrion berweenour English word taboo. This taboo shows up in the Old Tesramenrin Judges "Sunday" and Saint Constantine's pre-conversiondevotion to 3:15 and 20:16, where the expressionfor being "left-handed" the Sun god. is in Hebrew 'itter yad-y''mino, Ikerally, "bound, restricted lJ7hereelsein the dictionary doesone need as to the right hand."'r The same fear of using the word for to turn to make "left" shows up in ancient Greek as well, where the left side the point? was spoken of with euphemisms, such as eovomos, "the well-named side," or arisreros,which as the compararive of To "Jehovah," which comes from rhe Hebrew form the superlativefor the word "good" means something like YH'X/H-and not the orher way around, as Dan Brown claims "the side that is better than best." By complimenting rhar on page309? which one feared,one hoped that its negarivepower could be averted. In any case,ir is a bit shrill to accuseChristianity To "grail," which is derived from the Middle French word of defaming left-handednessin a world that already despised for a bowl rather than from a misreading of the phrasesangreal (a r t1 lr), what was leftl royarDroocl\p. z>v)! This is but one of severalanachronisricfallacies(putting things out of their proper place in time) that Mr. Brown

'Io "rose,"which is an anagramof "eros"(p. 254 only in Englishand not in the originalGreekform rbodon?

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Or perhapsto the front marrerof the dictionary,in the section on the history of the Englishianguage,which showsthat, far from being a "pure language"(p. 303), Englishis perhaps the most mongrelizedof all Europeantonguesand was infuencedat rwo differentstagesby the Latin of Vaticanoverlords! If the authorof TlteDaWnci Codeis so careless with these f2615-sns5 that he knows you could vet with the aid of the average dictionary-how meticulous do you suppose is his use of more arcaneiore? If he tries to incriminate the Church in conspiraciesbased on imaginative word histories, who can doubt that there is an ideological agendato this work of fiction? fughdy does he quote Leonardo da Vinci (page 231), "Many have made a trade of delusionsand falsemiracles,deceivine the stupid multitude." So dark the con of man. indeedl

(Endnotes) lrr

' Merriam-Websters Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition. Merriam-\7ebster, Inc.: Springfield, Massachusetts,2003. 2 Th. .."ron is straightforward enough: most people are righthanded and therefore eat with the right hand, which in some cultures is called "the mouth hand." The left hand was used for


the hygienic needs that result from the digestive process, a task for which one would not employ the eating handl SeeJohannes P. Louw and Eugene A Nida, editors, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains. Volume 1:

SenncHrNG THE ScnrPruREs: Cout-oJrsus HaveBeeruMnnnreo?

Introduction and Domains. United Bible Societies. New York. NY. 1988. Page98, entries8.32 and 8.33. t-

' -FrancisBrown, editor, with S.R. Driver and Charles A. Briggs. The New Brown, Driver, and Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament. Houghton, Mi{fin, Oxford Unir.ersiry Press, London.

and Co., Boston and

Copyright 1907. Reprinted

1981 by the Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc.

Page 32,

enrry334. a

Seethe entry for a,LpeoL-tin A Greek-English Lexicon of the New

As Orthodox Christians, we might be entertainedby Tbe Da Wnci Code as a James Bond-style thriller, but we could never entertain the notion that Jesus Christ was married to Mary Magdalene or to anyone else. This idea undermines the key Christian belief that Jesuswas the Messiah, the fulfillment of thousands of years of prophecy, the One who came with absolutesinglenessof purpose to savethe world from sin, death, and the devii.

Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, page 23. Second Edition edited by William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich in a translation and adaptation of tiTalter Bauer's original German edition. Chicago,s IL: Universig' of Chicago Press.1979.



What kind of person, having a divine mission ro rescueall of humanity, would allow himself the distraction of a spouse and a family? Or conversell',what kind of family man would abandon his wife and child to destitution by pursuing a course of action that he knew of a certainty would result in his own death and their endlesspersecutionand misery? If Jesuswas married, he was completely irresponsible,either as a Messiah or as a husband or both!

Here are some more considerations from the Scriptures for why a thinking Christian could not supporr the idea that Jesuswas married. -


as "the bride of Christ." This lovely metaphor wouid be inappropriate (and even a iittle creepy) ifthe early Christians generally thought that the Lord Jesuswas already spoken for by Mary Magdalene.


believe that Jesus Christ, as rhe Son of God incarnate, embodies the life of the Kingdom of God. Christ taught that when the Kingdom comes fully at the time of the resurrecrion of all mankind, people "neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like the angeisin heaven" (Mark 12:25). If the Lord had been married, He would not have truly been living out the life of the Kingdom in our midst.

The Lord spokeofcelibacy asa specialgift in describing "those who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 79:72). If He were married, that would mean thar celibate Christians had been granted a grearer spiritual gift than JesusChrist Himself. The earliest Christians highly valued the choice of a celibate lifestyle. \X/riting in the 50s A.D. Saint Paul says, "He who marries does well, but he who refrains from marriage will do better" (1 Corinthians 7:38-see also 7:7-8, 25-29, 39-40). Coming out of a Jewish society that greatly preferred marriage to celibacy (as The Da Vinci Code itself stresses,page 245),it is unthinkable that the earlyJewish Christians wouid have so quickly switched their attitudes toward celibacy if the Lord Himself had been married. Even if the eleven surviving Apostles were jealous of Mary Magdalene and tried to cover her up (assome Gnostics suggested),they still would not have gone so far as to reversetheir attitudes on celibacy for that reason alone.

Nothing in the undisputed writings of the Apostles nor the earliest Church Fathers speaks of Jesus Christ as married. To speculate that the Lord was married requires one to suppose a grand conspiracy and cover-up on the part of the whole Church, and of the Apostles in particular. (This is what the early Gnostic hereticsused to say.) As Orthodox Christians we cannot accept the idea that the One Holy Church fell victim to or was the perpetrator of a deception. To believe this is to discredit Christ Himself, who promised the Holy Spirit would guide the Church into all truth (John 16 13). The Church Universal is the spotlessand undefiled bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:2-1. E ven though i ndi vi dual C hr isr ians m av sin, and even certain groups within the Church may fall away into error, the Church as a whole cannot ceaseto be the Body of Christ, animated by the Holy Spirit.

Reu, Dn (Brian) Marh Sietsema is the pastor of Holy Trinitl Greek Ortboclox Churcb in Lansing, Michigan. He has a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the MassachusettsInstitute of Technology. Prior to ordination he worked as a /inguistics professorand as a lexicographerfor Merriam-Webster dictionaries. He currently seruesds the associate pronouncerfor the Suipps lVational Spelling Bee.

Saint Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:l-7 defends the right of the apostles to be supported financially and even to be "accompanied by a wife" (i.e. for the Churches to support an apostle'sfamily too). If Jesushad been married, Saint Paul surely would have clinched his argument by making referenceto the fact. Both Saint Paul (in Ephesians5:23-33) and SaintJohn (in Revelation 19:7-9 and 2I:2) speak of the Church

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1 page25





"lf there is some good that

comes out of Brown'sbook it is that Christians agatn have an opportunity to rediscover their belrefs and

fortify their taith "1

T HAS BEENTHREE YEARS in canonical scripture or in any of the SINCE DAN BRO\rN'S THE non-canonical scriptures circulating in DA VINCI CODE FIRST the early church. There is no recorded BECAME A BESTSELLER,wedding forJesusof Nazareth byTemple and fascination with the novel has led to a movie produced by Ron Howard, starringTom Hanks. Although the novel is sold as fiction, many readersconsider it truth, and the high profile of the movie will further confuse the public. The book consistsof little reliable history mixed with a lot of fiction. Severalpoints presentedas fact by the author are known to be false by historians and scholars, and need to be pointed out.

officials or Roman officials, both ofwhom kept impeccable marriage records. A wedding in Jesus'time was a prominent community event that took place over sevendays, and would not escapenotice by anyone who was awake.

Brown assertsthat in the early church there were more than eighty gospels. At most, scholars and historians have identified twenty-eight alleged gospels; four of them being Matthew, Mark, The first is the assertion that Jesus Luke and John. There are significant was married to Mary of Magdala reasons why the Christian Church only (Magdalene).There is no such indication acceptedthe four, primarily becausethe

p X$,i.,

Vinci was not a preacher)apostle,teacher in Eastern and \Testern Christianity? or saint. John does look like a woman Brown conveniently ignores the role of in Da Vinci's Last Supper, but it is Da the Virgin Mary. Vi n c i ' s art, and he w as not a mai nsrream If there is some good that comes Christian. out of Brown's book it is that Christians Brown asserts that the Emperor Constantine concoctedthe ideathar Jesus Brown assertsthat the Vatican was again have an opportunity to rediscover was divine, and rhat the councilshe called involved in a conspiracy to suppress rheir beliefs and fortify their faith. It is invented the Divinity of Christ. It is clear women, as if the Vatican was the only good to question, strive and search for that in the 1" century the Apostlestaught ru l i n g authori ty i n rhe earl y church. understanding. Perhaps now is also a th e Div inir y of Ch ri s t, a n d th e g re a t Although the role of women in good time for Orthodox Christians to majority of early Christians acceptedthe Christianity has diminished over the examine why the role of women has Divinity of Christ. The Council of Nicea years,a full-fledgedconspiracyis giving diminished over the years, and how to in325 andthe Councii of Constantinople Rome way too much credit. It is clear best restore participation in ministry by in 381 simply clarified for non-believers that Mary Magdalene went from being all of the faithful. that JesusChrist and the Holy Spirit are the apostle to the Apostles (in being Divine, which many believersheld from the one who told the Disciples that r L - l - --i --i -Christ had Risen), to being declared Reu. Fr. Angelo Artermas is the pastlr a prostitute by the Vatican, to being of SS. Peter and Paul Greek Orthodox Brown assertsthat the Apostle John declared not a prostitute by a 20'h Church in Glenuiew,Illinois. He is the in Leonardo Da Vinci's Last Supper is century pope. This inconsistencydoes former Director of Youth and Young actually Mary Magdalene, since he is not make for a conspiracy. Besides, if Adult Minis*ies of the Greek Orthodox clean-shaven and looks feminine. Da the early church was involved in the Archdioces e of America. Vinci's Last Supperis nor an icon or a suppressionof women, why is the Virgin vehiclefor conveyingthe faith; it is art. Da Mary the highest regardedhuman being others were deemed not to be authentic, reliable or legitimate. Brown puts all of them on the samelevelwhile Christianity doesnot.


2Z I RaSe



Rrv.Fn.DuvrrRu Mncnrm, PH.D.

"But he satd to them, 'Do

not be alarmed, You seek

Jesus of Nazareth, Who was

crucified. He ls rlsen,tHe

is not here. See the place

where they lard Hrm."'

Mark /5.6

T HAS BEEN CALLED BRAINY A THRILLER. Exceedinglyclever!A gripping mix of murder and myth! A s p e l l bi ndi ng re-exami nati on of 2,000 years of Christian historyl You've probably read it: The Da Vinci Code. Dan Brown's popular page-turner soared to the top of T/teNew York Times best-sellerlist, and became the topic of heated conversationsin book clubs and Bible studies acrossthe country. It also inspired an army of writers to crank up their word processorsand fire back with books such as Da Vinci Code Decoded. Truth Behind the Da Wnci Code,and the like. Entire forests have been cut down to satisfy our craving for books about the Code.

At the heart of the mvstery is a secret that goes back to Leonardo Da Vinci, and even earlier - to the davs of Tesus Christ. Langdon becomes a suspect in the murder of the historian. and is chased through the Louvre, across the city of Paris, and finally into England. As he runs from the law, he searchesfor the true killer, aswell as for the ancient secretthat the historian was trying to protect. The secret, which has ignited a controversy across our country, is this: Jesus was not the single, celibate man that most Christians assume He was. No, Jesus and Mary Magdalene had a child, and they began a bloodline that continues to the present day. \X/ell, to say that rhis is outrageous stuff is an understatementl No wonder that groping "Christians" are anxious to crack, break, explore, and decodethe Codel

And now, film buffs can see the movie version of 7he Da Vinci Code, starring Tom Hanks as rhe religious symbology expert Robert Langdon. The srory begins with the murder of a historian at My friends, permit me to poinr the Louvre in Paris, and the discovery out that one of the most fascinating of a chain of cryptic codes and puzzles. questions in 7he Da Wnci Code involves

the identity of the disciple seatedat the right hand ofJesusin Da Vinci's painting of the Mystical (LasQ Supper. Is the femininelooking figure in this painting, the disciple John - a youthful, cleanshaven man? Or is it Mary Magdalene, the follower ofJesuswho would go on to be the first person to seethe risen Christ? The Da Vinci Code wanrs you to believe that the figure is Mary, and it encourages you to embrace the idea that shewas not only a follower of Jesus, but also His wife. If you look closely atDaYinci's Last Suppen you will notice that there is no Holy Grail on the table. That's because, according to the Code, the Holy Grail is not the wine-filled cup that Jesus used at the Last Supper. No, the Grail is actually Mary Magdalene hersele becauseshe was the vessel that carried the child ofJesus.So, AposrleJohn is not John - he's MarylAnd Mary is the Holy Graill I cannot help but emphasizethat I have never read so many aberrationsin just one novel! Only a diabolical mind could have contrived anyrhing like this. Tragically enough, some weak people think that finally they found the "Gospel truth" about Jesus! As a matter of fact, 7he Da Vnci Code raises a number of orovocative questions,but completely fails to make a persuading casefor most of its answers.

While the disciple John certainly doeslook feminine in Da Vinci's Last Supper,the fact is that such representations werepretty typical for the time. And the absenceof the Holy Grail doesn'tmake a case for Mary Magdalene as a human vessel.In fact, Da Vinci based his painting on the Gospel of John, which doesn't include a cuD in the

story of the Mystical Supper.In St. John'saccount,the focusis on washing

feet, not on drinking winel

perfectMan, JesusChrist, God Himself; and the Sonof the only True God!

As it turns out, the best way to crack the Code and get the goods on the Grail is to go straight to Da Vinci's source, the Gospel of St. John. \fell, in the first

It is Jesusthe Christ \Who keepsus from being blown away by the storms of lob loss,personalfailure and family verses 15 learn eight of chapter we that conflict. He is the One Who offersus Jesus the Christ is The True Vine, and " liuing water" when we are feeling dried that each and every one of us is a sign out and lifelessand Who nourishesus of His fruitfulness. To be connected to with His salvificteachingswhen we are Christ has nothing to do with sexual wanderingaimlesslyalong a dangerous relationship between Jesus and Mary, path (John 4:10).He is the One \Who but everything to do with being a supports us when we fall, forgivesus fruitful branch on the JesusVinel Jesus when we repent,and evenbreathesnew did have a love child. No doubt! Love life into us when we are feeline dead children, actually! Millions! But it's nor inside. the child, or children that Dan Brown talks about.

Our rootednessin Christ is what givesus the ability to be truly fruitful, Take a look: she'ssitting right here, becauseno good can come from a at the end of the first row. And he's branch that is broken,dried out, fallen saysJesus,"/r halfway to the back, slouching in his or dead.Keepconnected, seat. Two others are married to each without Me you can do ruothing!"(John other, exhaustedfrom raising children of l5:5)"7hisis My commandment, thatyou their own. You are a child of Jesus!Each loueoneanotherasI hauelouedyou," said (John15:12).The and every one of us who has received Christto His discipies the new nature from Christ through the key phrasehereis "asI hauelouedyou!" bath of regeneration- holy Baptism - is This is the commandmentobeyed by a child of Jesus,with a direct link to the Mary Magdalene,one of His disciples. True Vine! Just as a tree cannot thrive She deeply understood that "without without a root system that extends deep Christ we can do nothing- nothing that into the soil, none of us can reach the is properly motivated and givesglory to God-given human potential without God." a strong connection to the

This is why early in the morning, on the first day of the week, together with other Myrrh bearing women, Mary Magdalene rushed to the tomb, not asJesus' wife, but as His true follower.Deeply concernedabout the rolling awayof the stone from the door of the tomb, they

Summer 2006 j nas"Zr

experiencedthe greatestjoy, the greatesrGood News of human history! The angel who met them ar the door of the tomb told them: "Do not be alarmed. You seekJesusof Nazareth, Who was crucifed. He is risen! He is not here. Seetheplace where they laid Him" (Mark 16:6). in fact, she was the first to break the great News of the Resurrection. Yes,she who at one rime had seuen demonsnow becomesthe first ro seerhe risen Christl Beloved, many a time we enjoy, even bask in Iiving a desecratedlife in the maelsrrom of a pluralistic, mostly Godless and anti-Christian society.Yet in our secular comfortableness we lose sight of the fact that our pristine Christly duty is to live as true Disciples of Christ. One of the ways to live such a life is to visit the tomb, the tomb of Christ, the empty tomb, the only empty tomb of human history that was visited by Mary Magdalene and the Myrrh bearing women in today's Gospel pericope. Make no mistake: In being empty, the tomb is full of Christl In fact, it keeps us connectedto Christ - it gives us the glorified, true Christ. In a surprising way, one of the characters in Zhe Da Vinci Code actually servesas an admonition to us about the danger of becoming disconnected from Jesusthe Christ, The True Vne. A man named Silas is orphaned as a young man, falls into a life of crime, and spends time in

prison. Alter escaping,he finds refuge with a young Spanish priest who becomes the head of a strict Catholic group called Opus Dei. Under this priest's guidance, Silas is given a mission that is said to be critical to saving the true \7ord of God - a mission that involves murdering four leadersof a group called the Priory of Sion, in pursuit of a "keystone." Silas commits these crimes reluctantly, knowing that murder is a sin, but he carries out his mission becausehe is told that his actions will savethe Catholic Church. In the end, he learns that he has been duped, and he goes from being a menacing character to a truly tragic figure.



Summer 2006

You may ask: What's the messagefor us? Keep connected to Christ! Visit the empty tomb that is full of Christ as many times as the Divine Liturgy is celebratedl If you claim to be one of His children but keep focusing on rhings that make you a nominal child at besr, you deplorably missed the goal of your life - you are in a real danger of missing Christ everlastingly! Be one of Christ's true childrenl Remember: It was at the table in the first Christian community when He appeared to His disciples after Resurrection and gave them the Great Commission: "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.., baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observeall that I have commanded you" (Mark 16:i5; Matthew 28:19-20). Are you a true child of Christ? Then, do what He commands you to do: Bring as many of His children into the Kingdoml Christ is Risen!

Reu. Dr. Dumitru Macaila is tbe pastor of SS. Constantine & Helen Greeh Orthodox Church, in Swansea.Illinois.

WHO/S IESrlS? Rpv.Dr. EvnNEveNceuors

ANY PEOPLE, ARE INTRIGUED BYTHE CLAIMS PRESENTEDABOUT JESUS CHRIST, Church history, and Christianity in Dan Brown's best selling fictional thriller, The Da Vinci Code. It has been an extremely popular novel that has sold over 30 million copies world wide and has been translated into many languages. Tlte Da Vinci Code has also been turned into a major motion picture starring Tom Hanks. \[hat makesthis novel so popular and sohighlytalked about? 'Well, one of the reasonsis that it combines the literary elements found in thrillers, murder mysteries and romance novels to make for an exciting read. Brown manipulates his readers to identify with his smarr, glamorous characters,such as Robert Langdon a Harvard symbiologist (even though ' ::,,,,, there is no such discipline at Harvard) who seethrough the centuriesof lies and fabrications by the Church, who '. i:':'l' hide the truth about Jesus'divinity, his relationship to Mary Magdalene and the "sacred feminine." Another ..,.,. .:" reason is that the novel's anti-Christian messagein a secular and post-Christian age is popular. Dan Brown i::1;,, tries to debunk the fundamentals of the Christian faith, :i: rd.rnely Christ's diviniry, His resurrection, and His

i,:, ,.i ,!1

message for salvationfor all of humanity.To quotea line from one of the novel's main characters,"every body loves a good conspiracy," and it seems that peopl ecertai nl ydo.


We must remember. however. that The Da Wnci Code as a work of fiction is not a reliable source of information

no one - not even Christ's Apostles and followers - believed that Jesuswas anything more than a mortal prophet and great man. There is plenty of evidencein

Christians can separatefact from fictiqn and use this distinction as a means to educate ourselves in such a way that edifies and strengthens our Orthodox Christian faith.

form."; St. Clement of Alexandra said in 150AD that "it is fitting to think ofJesus Christ as God."; Tertullian said in 200 AD "Christ is our God."; St. Cyprian said in 250 AD that "Jesus Christ is our Lord and God."; and finally, St. Arnobius said in 305 AD that, "Christ

the centuries prior to Nicea had been that Jesus Christ was divine as well as human. The most basicconfession,'Jesus is Lord' (Rom 10:9) had been elaborated regarding Jesus Christ and Church history. You may have aiready asked, the four Gospels to suggest that Jesus and deepenedin the apostolic age." "Where is Brown getting all of this?" consideredHimself to be divine and the Contrary to the extraordinary claim Son of God. Here arejust a few references Well, his primary sources come from radical feminist scholarship: 7he Gnostic from the Gospels themselvesthat clearly by Dan Brown that JesusChrist was not Gospels by Elaine Pagels, written in point towards Christ's divinity: Jesus believed to be God until the Council of Nicea proclaimed Him as such, is the heyday of the woman's liberation allowed others to call Him, "the Christ" movemenr, in the mid 1970's.The other (Mat 16:15);Jesussaid He could forgive not supported by the scriptural and sources are from popular conspiratorial sin (Mat 9:2-6);Jesusdid not stop others historical record. Furthermore, there from calling Him, "the Son of God" was no overt need for Nicea to expressly histories such as Holy Blood Holy Grail\y Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln, and (Mat 14:33); Jesus said that His name proclaim Christ as God since this belief Tlte Goddessin the Gospels:Reclaiming must be confessed for salvation (Luke was accepted by all Christians of prior the Sacred Feminine by Margaret 12:8); Jesuspromised to rise from the centuries. What the Council of Nicea Starbird. The use of such unreliable dead (Mark 9:31); Jesusstated that He did do was to address the relationship sources belitdes Brown's pretensions to and God the Father are one (Tohn 8:14 between God the Son and God the Father. Are rhey equal? Are rhey one being an intellectual and a scholar. But a n d 8 :5 4 ). substance? In doing so the council he has apparently fooled at least some of There are also of plenty of textual addressed and condemned a popular his readers- a reviewer for the New York Dail). News trumpets that, "his research referencesfrom early Christians from the heresy called Arianism, which insisted end of the first century to the beginning that Christ was a lesserGod created by is impeccable." of the fourth century who thought that the Father at some point in time and did In the course of this article I will Jesus is the Christ and the divine Son not eternally exist with Him. Contrary be examining some of Dan Brown's of God. Let's look at some of them: St. to the fact that Brown wouid have you extraordinary claims and try to compare Ignatius of Antioch said in 105 AD that believe that Christ was proclaimed as God by a "relativeiy close vote at that," them to the historical record so that we as "God himself was manifested in human

TH eDrv r Nr rY oF J e s u s : Fncr vs. FrcroN Much attention has been given to Brown's outlandish claim that Jesushad an intimate relationship with Mary Magdalene and that the two had a daughter. An equally audacious claim of the novel is that the divinity of Christ was created at the First Ecumenical Council of Nicea in 325AD by Emperor Constantine and that prior to that time Dan




performed all those miracles in the duty of His Divinity for our salvation." These aforementioned quotations demonstrate that for the first three centuries leading up to the Council of Nicea that Christ was believed to be Divine and the Son of God. J.N.D. Kelly, one of the foremost scholars on early Christian doctrines, writes that "the all b u t u n i versal C hri sti an convi cti on i n

218 out of 220 bishops at Nicea upheld the belief that the Son was equally divine with the Father and of one essencewith Him. Even the book responsible for much of Brown's research, Holy Bloocl, Holy Grail acknowledges this historical reality. Brown's embellished version of the facts is contrary to the truth asshown by the historical recorc.

T He A u r He Nr c r rY o F T H E

Csnrsrnru CnruoN Brown alsoclaims that, "Constantine commissioned and financed a new Bible, which omitted those gospelsthat spoke of Christ's human traits and embellished thosegospelsthat made Him godlike. The

earlier gospels were outlawed, gathered up and burned." There is no evidence that the Gospels were embellished in the fourth century. Hundreds of copies of the Gospelsalready existed by the end of the second century that made up the scriptural canon received in the fourth century. One of the earliest references to a canon is found in the Muratorian Fragment that dates to the latter half of the second century, which mentions all the New Testament Books, including all the four Gospels by name, with the exception of Hebrews, James, and lst and 2nd Peter. \fhen Christians were no longer persecuted, the Church's Ieaderswere finally able to come together to proclaim and clarify what had been true from the beginning, prophesizedin the Old Testament and fulfilled by the very same God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as the transcendenr Creator and Redeemer of humanity, and inspired by God's Holy Spirit that proclaims Jesus as the Christ and His New Testament as salvation and as life. The bishops of Nicea and those gathered in later synods did not impose a canon from rhe top downwards, but only recognized a canon that already existed, was divinity inspired, recognized and accepted by local Christian communities. Contrary to Brown's assertion, the Church did not createthe canon; it merely validated a collection of scripture that was part and parcel ofthe spiritual and liturgical consciousness of early Christian churches.

Tne RenL vs. THEGNoslc

Jesus Another one of Brown's fantastic claims is that the early Christians literally stole Jesus and "shrouded his human messagein an impenetrablecloak

of divinity and used it to expand their power." The novel claims that the Gnostic Jesus is far more human than the divinized Jesusof the four canonical gospelscontained in the Christian Bible. It also claims that the Gnostic bibles paint a more accurate picture of Christ than the canonicalones.This is not true. All the books of the New Testament are dated prior to 80 AD, and are written by either Apostles or eyewitnessesto the Risen Christ, St. Paul who was not one of the original 12 Aposdes but witnessed the risen Lord on his way to Damascus sometime around 37 AD, began writing his Epistles before the Gospels, thereby establishing a consciousnessof divinely inspired revelation that became the cornerstone for spreading the Good News of the Christian Gosoel. Cnostics believedthat theyhad secret insights, knowledge and revelationsthat would allow peopie to know the key to the universe. Salvation did not come from God who frees you from sin but through what you knew - gnosis- that is the Greek word for knowledge. This movement flourished in the second, third and fourth centuries and was regarded as a heresy by early Christians. St. Paul in his letter to Timothy warns against the "falsely called knowledge" that bore Gnosticism a century later, as do lreneaus, Ignatius, and Tertulian, as well as many other Christian apologists who lived prior to the council of Nicea.

The second believersand eyewitnesses. and much later reactionary message called Gnosticism, referred to Gnostic Christianity by some scholars, and had its own set of writings that date from the late secondcentury to the beginning of the fifth century. These texts are not "the earliestChristian records" as Brown claims they are since none of these texts were written by eyewitnessesof Christ's earthly life, His ministry, His passion, His resurrection or by those who saw the resurrectedChrist, as did Sr. Paul. Given thesehistorical facts, one can definitively say that the Christian chicken did come before the Gnostic egg.

W r ll THETRUEManY M RconleNE PLEASE STANDUP One of the most controversialpoints in Brown's novel is that JesusChrist had intimate relationswith Mary Magdalene. According to Brown, Mary Magdalene is the true inheritor and interpreter of Christ's message,and not the Church, because she contained the blood of Christ within her, The Holy Grail, in the form of a female child. Christ tells his disciples that, "I will give you the keys to the kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven,and whatever you loose on earth will be loosenedin heaven"(Mat 16:18). Brown continues on to say that Mary, and not St. Peter, was the leader of the Apostles and that after Christt death, for fear of jealousy and retribution by the Apostles, escapedto France with her child who became the blood line for the Merovingian Kings of France.

7he Da Wnci Code. however. is right about one thing, namely that two versions of Christianity did develop side by side: Authentic and Gnostic Christianity. The first messagewas thar of Christ Himself and His Apostles, Brown's account of Mary Magdalene established though widely accepted is purely fictional and contrary to the texts written by the first generation of scriptural and historical record. The only



information we haveon MaryMagdalene in Scripture is the following: St. Luke says seven demons were cast out of her by Jesus(Lk 8:2); St. Matthew saysshe

a prostitute and is praised as the "aposrle to the apostles" who died in Ephesus along with St, John the Evangelist. In the \Testern Latin Church, her legend is a witness to Christ's crucifixion and of traveling to France that Brown speaks is present at His burial (Mat 27:32); St. about is no earlierthan the lOth century Mark says she went to anoint the body and her relics were not reported until of Christ (Mark 16:1); and St. John the 13th century. The cult of Mary says she was the first to see Jesus in Magdalene was established in YezeIay, His resurrectedbody (Jn 20:10). These France where it is believed that she lived scriptural accounrs of Mary Magdalene her final days as a cavehermit. However, are found within the ten Resurrection there is no texrual supporr for this legend Gospelsthat are read during the Orthros prior to the tenth century, service and are part of the iiturgical consciousnessand worship cycle of the If we want to truly honor the Orthodox Church within the context of feminine let's look at the fact thar a the Divine Liturgy. woman - the Holy Theotokos and Ever Virgin Mary - bore the Saviour of the Some throughout history have world. She as the second Eve redeemed erroneously surmised that since Mary the sin of the first Eve - and in doing so Magdalene appears immediately after has generationscalling her Blessed- for the account of Jesus forgiving the all of eternity. Let's look at the fact that prostitute that the two are one and the Christ's resurrection is announced not to same. But there is no scriptural support men but to women; let's look at the fact for this conclusion. The belief that that Christ revealshis messianicidentity Mary Magdalene was a prosritute firsr openly and plainly only to the Samaritan surfaced in the sixth century when Pope woman; let's also look at the fact that St. Gregory I referred to her as such in one Paul exhorts men to love their wives as of his sermons. However, in the Eastern Christ loves the church; and lastly let us Orthodox Church she was never seen as look at St. Paul'sscriptural reminder that

there is neither Jew nor Greek, male or female, slaveor free but all one in Jesus Christl

T He CO o EA NDT H EL AST Suppen Lastly, much of the Brown argument centers on Leonardo Da Vinci's Last Supper,a painting the author proposesro contain a coded messagethat revealsthe truth about Jesus and the Holy Grail. Brown points to the lack of a central chalice on the table as proof that the Grail isn't a material vesselor chalice, but a person, who he believesis Mary Magdalene. But Leonardo's painting specifically dramatizes the narrative in John's Gospel where Christ says, "One of you will betray me" (Jn 13:21).There is no Institution narrative and therefore there is no reason for Leonardo to show a chalice since John's Gospel that does not contain any description of the Eucharist. The person sitting to Jesus' right, is not Mary Magdalene but St. John, portrayed as a beardlesseffeminate youth consistentwith the artistic style of early 16th century Florence.This refects




what scripture and tradition say about John; namely, that the Evangelistwas the voungest of Christ's disciples.Jesus is right ar rhe cenrerof the painting with two groups of three disciples on either side. The identity of the three disciplesto Christ's right was never in doubt. They are Judas,Peterand John. Furrhermore, the Church of PonteCapriascanearLake Lugano in Switzerland contains a copy of Leonardo's Last Supperpainted in 1548. On that fresco,the name of eachaposrle is displayed from left to right, so John's identity was never in dispute.

Tue venNtNGoF THE Dn Vtttct Cooe ron OnrHo o o x CH R ts l A N rrY

Christianity has fought hard against through centuriesof difficulties,inrense persecutions, holy living, martyrdom and through the life transforming and savingmessageof the Gospelhas tried to debunk since its inception. O.thodo*y follows a straight and unwavering line from the teaching of Christ's earthly ministry to the writings of St. Paul and the other Apostles to the final decreesof the Ecumenical Councils that sought to preservethe unique truth of God as Creator and Redeemer of humanity through His Son,JesusChrist.

"The MessranlcBrrdeqroom

calls all marrled couples to

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freelv choose falthfu I ness

Both Paganism and Christianity offer good news and proposeredemption. Paganism offers liberation from the l ^, ,^ rh ^ Creator and the freedom to do what one Qt /( r y c l i l ^- -U J J Lt tc - ^.1tl ) )-Yi ^l F must do in order to figure out how to save At its most fundamental Ievel, 7be Da Wnci Code stands for the unity of oneself.Christianity offers reconciliation with the Creator, who as Redeemer, all faiths founded upon the ancient agape of Jesus - as the comes to His creation as Saviour, out worship of the goddessand nature. The of divine love. No one who truly seeks undercurrent of this global faith that Ihe Da Wnci Code advocareswanrs ro this Saviour will be turned away. \fhile I t t n r ^ h - nl i\Jttt n r : f Lft htva tlrl AllLQl n =r i f zl 7heDa Vinci Codecourageouslysearches tJttvtt vt lead the religions and philosophies of for the truth at any price, ir erodes the our world into a blurred unity that is fundamental characteristics of the nothing but paganism and modern day Christian faith, God as Creator and syncretism. This idea that all faiths are praxis of their famrlral Redeemer of humanity and the belief ultimately part of one cosmic expression that the messageof the Christian Gospel is far from novel. It is a pervasive idea is the uniquely inspired word of God that has plagued humanity, especially " a v r t r a <<i n n Himself - without which we are all lost. in a post-Christian age and secular age such as ours. For example, in American Jesus: How the Son of God. Became a Rea. Dn. Eaangelides serues as the National lcon, Srcphen Prothero, the Deaconat theHoly Trinity GreekOrthodox book's author and a religion professor at Boston University, states that, 'Jesus Church in New Rochel/e,Neu, Yorle. Prior to thdt he serued as the Deacon to His won't become a national figure unless he can move outside of Christianity." A Eminence Metropzlit/1n Euange/osof New non-Christian Jesusyou may ask?\Well, Jerseyand ds dn assistantto the Regisnar of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of such was the Jesusof the Gnostics and America. He was a teaching assistant th e Jes usof m oder n s y n c re ti cp a g a n i s m. This is anathema not only to Orthodox for the Departments of Hutory and Art History at Yale [Jniuersiry. Christians but also to Christians in general that take their faith seriously. This is a message that Orthodox

S ummer2006




are th" Apoc rrrpht

8 Ttr Da Vrci CoJoCl"irns? " PResgneRA EucENnConsrnNrNou

N CENERAL,'APOCRYPHA' Septuagint Greek translation in favor of The Catholic Church, in response, REFE,RSTO BOOKS THAT using Hebrew only, primarily because affirmed the inspiration of these books \rE,RE REJECTED FROM Christians used the LXX. The rejection at the Council of tent (1545), but THECANONOFSCRIPTURE.included about 10 books and portions of called them deutero-canonical, which Bur the term has different meanings depending upon if it is applied to the Old or New Testaments and whether Catholics, Protestants or Orthodox Christians use it.

THe TenmApocnYpHArN rre Olo TesrRvENr Regarding the OId Testament, originally all Christians had the same canon (list of books) of the Oid Testament, the Greek version of the Jewish Scriptures known as the "Septuagint" (LXX). The Septuagint was widely considered by the earliest Christians to be an inspired translation and wasthe Old Testamentofthe Church. The Latin translation of the Bible (called the "Vulgate," which originated with St. Jerome around the year 400) also included books found in the Septuagint. Around 100 AD the fews reiected the

books found in the LXX but that hadn't been in use by Hebrew speaking Jews in Palestine. The Christians continued to use the complete LXX, since the apostles used it. The Greek LXX (in the East) and the Latin Vulgate (in the tVest) were the undisputed versionsof the Christian Old Testamentfor about 1,500 years. But in the 16th century some Protestant reformers, such as Martin Luther. decided that the additional Old Testament books that formed part of the LXX but not used by Jews should

means they have a secondary status, but are still scriptural. However, for the Orthodox Church, these 10 books of the Old Testament, which Protestants call "apocrypha" and Catholics call "deutero-canonical" have always been and still remain canonical Scripture. The Protestant OId Testament canon contains the fewest books, just 39. Since Protestantspublish most Englishlanguage Bibles, these books are usually omitted from the Bible entirely or are found in a separate section in the

back of the Bible or between the two not be in the Bible, since the Jews had Testaments. If it is a Catholic Bible, decided not to include them. Luther such as the New American Bible or the first separated and later removed these JerusalemBible, most of these books are from his German version of the Bible in incorporated without distinction into 1534 and called them apocrypha, since the Old Testament, but not all of them. he determined they should not be part Thus, Orthodox Christians have the of the canon of Scripture. That term is oldest and most complete canon of the used to designate books rejected from Old Testament, 49 books. th e c a non ofS cri oture.

Summer2006 i page37 I

Tne Tenv ApocnypHn wrrH RE G A RD T o r H EN e w TesrRMeNr

(This is something like enticing people to participate in a financial scam where they are promised that only a few wiil be aliowed "in" on the secretof how to

(John. lB:20-21). For this reply a guard struck the Lord.

TheD a Vinci Code isa work of fi ction, but the author claims it is based on fact. However, its details are factually unrrue The authors of these counterfeit or the interpretation or meaning he gives books wrote them to promote their them are untrue. His skill as a writer heresies, suchasGnosticism.Gnosticism and his obvious anti-Christian and antiw a s a seri ous probl em i n rhe earl y Carholic agenda has led many people Church. Gnostics denied the human to question their faith and to at leasr nature of Christ. They said that Christ wonder whether the book is true. The was only divine, one of many divine author says that the powerful interests beings that exist. He only seemedto Lle in the Catholic Church -"The Vatican" human and only seemedto die on the - suppressedinformation about Christ. cross.This heresyis called "Docerism," First, the Catholic Church did not exist from the Greek word dokeo "ro seem" as a separateentity until the I 1th century. or "to appear." Gnostics claimed that The powerful and highly organized Jesusdid not comâ&#x201A;Ź to â&#x201A;Źarth to die of the Vaticar-rhe describesdid not evoive until salvation of human beings. He came to evenlater than that. Secondly,in the first earth to reveal secret knowledge about centuries of Christianity, the Church how to get to heaven to a few elite did not have the type of organization "spiritual" disciples. The only people or centralized leadership, such as the u'ho could go to heaven were those modern papacy, which would make u.ho had acquired the secretknowledge possible the suppressionof details about (gnosis). the life of Christ. get rich.)

The canon of the New Testament is the same for all but a tiny minority of Christians: 27 books. In the caseof the New Testamenr and for Orthodox Christians, the term apocrypha refers ro ancientwritings that falselyclaimed to be written by apostlesand by other disciples of the Lord. Thesebooks were rejectedby the Church as counterfeit writings in the third and fourth centuries and were not included among the books of the New Testament becauserhey were spurious and unauthentic. In fact, no Christians accept these books as genuine. These books appeared on the scene too iate to have been actually written by any apostle.Some also contain passages that were used to promote false teachings (heresy), which indicates that heretics composedthem.


How does this compare to what we know about the Lord? On the contrary, the Lord made a point of having a very public ministry. To say that people The word apocrypha means hidden. were saved only by secret knowledge (Perhapsthis is where the author of 7he would be to make His whole life and Da Wnci Code got his ideas.) People teachings a lie, as well as making the who wrote these counterfeit books had existenceand purpose of the Christian a problem: how to get peoplero read the Church entirely pointless. In fact, the books. Why would anyone read these Lord stated that He taught nothing \When He was brought to the books when Christians aiready had a secretly. New Testament? To encourage people high priest Annas, who questionedHim to read these counterfeit Christian about His teachings,the Lord replied, "I haue spokenopenly to the world. I haue books (apocrypha) that came into existence much later than the genuine always taugbt in synagoguesand in the books, peopie claimed the apocrypha temple, where all Jews come tlgether. I we re wr ir r en by r h e a p o s rl e s a n d hauesaid nothing secretly.Why do you asb contained hidden or secret teachings me?Ask tbose uho haue /teard me what of Tesusavailable only to an elite few. I said to them. 7he1,knoru what I said"

TueDa VrwcrCooe?


S u m m e r2 0 0 6

The author claims the Church concealedthe fact that Jesuswas married and had children.It alsoclaimsthat Mary Magdalene was the chief apostle and thatJesuswas an ordinary human being, not divine at all. It should be noted there would havebeenno reasonfor the Church to hi de a marri ageoFJesu s,wer e it t r ue. Marriage is not a sin. Had Jesusbeen married there would have been nothing sinful in that or in his having children. The baby and the marital relationship, had it been rrue, far from being hidden would have been extremely important in the early Church, just as His mother was extremely important in the early Church. Jesus would have presumably been the model of a married man, rather than the model of a celibate man.

Christians would have been accustomed this idea as part ofa largeragenda,along to the idea.In truth and fact, Jesusnever with the idea that God is male-femaleand married becauseHe knew the purpose that the Church is somehow anti-female. of His coming to earrh was to die on the But, in fact, women had important cross and He was completely devoted to leadershippositionsin the early Church, this purpose. There would have been no including that of "apostle."But the term p o i n t in get r ingm ar ri e d . apostle had a wider meaning in the early Church. The Greek word apostle means "one who is sent." Jesus aposte/os C ou l o r H E C H U R c H sent many people to preach, not simply HAVE SUPPRESSEDSUCH The Twelve. INFORMATION IF IT WANTED


The term apostle as used in the early Church meant someone who No, it would have been impossible had been part of the earthly ministry for the Church to eraseor expunge every of Jesus before the crucifixion and writing that would have made mention who had also witnessed Him after the of Jesusbeing married or having a child Resurrection alive again. (See Romans becausethat wpe of centralizedcontrol 16:7 for mention of apostleswho are never existed in the early Church. It also not among The Twelve). Apostle was would have been impossible because not used to mean what it does today, a books were hand-copied in antiquity telm synonymous with The Twelve. In and there was no control over the process fact, the Bible calls The Twelve simply of who copied books and who acquired th a r. " The Tw el ve"(S eeLuke 22:3.John them. 2 0 :2 4 .I n Luke 24:33 he cal i sthem " the Eleven," without Judas). Since apostle Coulo rHE DA VtNct did nor mean The Twelve as it does for Cooe cLAtMsBETRUE us today, it is correct ro say that women, N O N ETHELESS ? IS THE NE such as Marv Magdalene, Fotini (the

There is nothing historical about the painting, including what was on the table or even the fact that The Twelve are seatedaround a table.

is Presbytera Eugenia Constantinou an adjunct professorat the Uniuerstty of San Diego and a former professorof New Testamentat Holy CrossGreek Orthodox School of Tbeology.She is completing her doctoral dissertttti0non "7heInterpretation of the Booleof Reuelationin the Ancient Church of the East" at Uniuersiti Laual, Canada. She is married to Fr. Costas Constantinou who is the pastor at St. Andrew Greek Orthodox Church in San Lu is Obispo.CaI iforn ia


Sa ma ri ran w oman ar the w el l ). and Junia, mentioned in Romans 16:7 were among the female apostles of the early Ther e ar e m any . ma n y C h ri s ri a n Church. writings of different rypes - from rhe end Is there any hinted conspiracy of the first century through the second century and beyond and none of behind the Last Supper painting by these ever mention Jesusbeing married Leonardo Da Vinci? The author of 7he or having a chiid. Even the apocryphal Da Wnci Code claims that one of the gospelsof the third and fourth centuries figures portrayed among The Twelve was never menrion anything like that. This awoman. The obviousand simpleanswer idea is enrirely imaginary. is that Leonardo Da Vinci would have had absolutely no historical knowledge -lhe aurhor oi lhe Da Vinci Code of what first century Jewish garmenrs also ciaims that Mary Magdalene was looked like. Ancient Jews did nor creare the leading apostle.First, be awarethere paintings or srarues,so Leonardo relied is a strong feminist movemenr pushing solelyon his imagination in his painting.

S umme r2006


Vnsurrr Tsrcns-FolNrs, Pn.D.

HEN THE LORD BLESSED MY HUSBAND defined the ranking of importance for our reiigious holidays. Paschais the most important Feastof our Orthodox faith and AND I with the stewardship of two of His children, we wondered how we would teach there are also 12 Great FeastDavs. them. Our responsibility was ro introduce them Prior to conracting the State of New Jersey,I obtained a to their heavenly Father. We made an early decision that if we could not give them ar leasr one hour a day of spiritual food, Iist ofthe stareapproved religious holidays and discoveredthat then we would not give them an hour of TV (junk) food. We the Eastern Orthodox religious holidays needed updating. I consideredwhat these actions would teach them. \We felt that called the school, the district, and the county ofice. Each time I was referred to the next highest level. I then cailed the New the only way our children wouid learn to worship liturgically would be by worshiping liturgically. Therefore,from the time JerseyState Department of Education. they were each 40 days old we attended Orthos and Divine I wrote a letter to each of these offices which stated, "In Liturgy on Sundaysand as many weekday servicesas possible. addition to the wonderful education our children are receiving, When they became school age, we also made cerrain we as parents need ro nurture them in practicing our Faith. decisions.Should they attend public school,home school, or rry Therefore, we will be taking our children out of school for the 12 major Feast Days of the Eastern Orthodox Christian to deveiopan Orthodox school?After much prayer,we felt that Church in addition to Holy Thursday, Holy Friday and pascha the Lord wanted them to attend public school.The dilemma we (Easter). After attending services,our children will return to faced was how could they continue to attend church servicesas their classes if no further celebrationsfor that Feast Day are often as possibleand atrend school on a daily basisas well? \7e planned." feit that taking them out of school for every saint's Feast Day would be disruptive ro rheir schooling. Therefore, we needed \7e also notified the school and the district ofother local to determine which religious holidays were rhe most imporranr or individual holidays that we observeas a famiiy - the Feast and what could be learned by participating in the Vespersand the Feast Day Liturgies. Forrunarely, our Church has already Day of our church's parron Saint and the Feast Days of our children's patron Saints.


Summer 2006

(12) GnearFensrsnnE: THeTwer-ve September 8 September 14 November21 December25 January6 February2 March25 SundaybeforePascha Forty Daysafter Pascha Fifty Daysafter Pascha August6 August15

This process was an education for our children as well as their classmares, teachers, school personnel, and most especially other Orthodox Christians in our community. It was an act of witnessing; witnessing who we are - children of God, and witnessing how and when we worship - liturgicaily Orthodox. Just imagine if all Orthodox Christian educators and students in public school also attended services on these important days. They would be teaching through their actions to all who have eyesto see.

The Nativity of the Theotokos The Elevation of the Holy Cross The Presentationof the Theotokos to the Temole The Nativity of Christ Theophany (The Baptism of Our Lord) The Presentationof Our Lord to the Temple The Annunciation

Palm Sunday TheAscensionof Our Lord Pentecost The tansfiguration The Dormition of the Theotokos

sequenceof Feast and Fast Days related is the most holy." The choice is ours. Do to Pascha on the same dates. For all we teach our children to honor the Holy Orthodox, Pascha is the greatest of all Days our Church has given us or do we our religious holidays. In addition, all teach our children to ignore them? Our Eastern Orthodox Christians worldwide actions will speaklouder than any word! celebrateTh'elve (12) Great Feasts(B in honor of Our Lord and 4 in honor of His Mother). However, those following Dr. Vasilihi Tsigas-Fotinis,istheCANA the Julian calendar (fixed dates above) High SchoolCurriculum Coordinatorfor and those who follow the OId Calendar the Department 0f ReligiousEducation of the Greeh Orthodox Archdioceseof celebratethe same Great Feast Days 13 America. She is also an educational days later.

consultant,Iecturer,authzr and teacher. Shecan be reachedat DREuasiliki6iuno,

We also informed the state that com. Eastern Orthodoxy includes all ethnic I have heard from a number churchesin America (i.e. Greek, Russian, of Orthodox Christians that their Ukrainian, Serbian,Antiochian, OCA, respectiveproms have been scheduledon etc.) that canonically affiliate with Orthodox Good Friday. Including the one of the four ancient Patriarchates, Orthodox religious holidays on rhe srare (Constantinople, Jerusalem, Antioch, Iist of excusablereligious holidays would Alexandria), including the Patriarch of alleviate the dificult decisions srudents Russia,Church of Greece,erc. 'We could face. further explained that all Eastern Orthodox Christians worldwide St. Theophan the Reclusestated,"Of celebrate Pascha (Easter) and the all holv works, the education of children









Nativityof theTheotokos

September 8, 2006

September 8,2007

September 8, 2008

TheElevation of the HolyCross

September 14,2006

September 14,2007

September 14,2008

Presentation of theTheotokos

November 21,2006

Novem ber 21,2007

November 21,2008


December 25,2006

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Ja n u a ry 6 ,2007

January 6, 2008

January 6, 2009

ThePresentation of theLord

February 2,2007

2,2008 February

February 2,2009

Annun c i a t i o n




PalmSu n d a y

A p ri 1 l ,2 007

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TheAscension of theLord

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A u g u st6 ,2007

August6, 2008

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Dormition of Theotokos



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Who DoYouSayChristls? A Reponseto The Da Vinci Code

It is unfortunate that, aswell educatedas societyis today, most peoplehave only a rudimentary knowledge of religious education. Two yearsago the senior high school classat church went to seethe movie, 7hePassion. When we returned for refreshmentsand discussionregarding the movie, a student asked, "\fhen did Mary Magdalene marry Jesus?"By the intonation of her voice it was evident that she believed that this was an absolute.I askedher where she got this information. She replied, in"Tbe Da Vinci Code."Ar the same time a friend, who is a very well educatedOrthodox Christian, responded,"I did not realizethat Jesuswas married to Mary Magdalene." It is becauseof these experiencesthat this lessonplan was created to help the catechist respond to some of the falsehoodspresentedin the movie. By addressingthe conflicting messagesin 7he Da Vinci Code, the catechist can at the same time teach some basic tenets of the faith by answering the question, "But who do you sayChrist is?" This lessonplan was originally designedfor teenagestudents,but could also be usedfor an adult education class as well. If necessary,the lesson may be divided to allow adequatetime for discussion and a complete understanding of the material presented.

LessoNGonls nNoOe.Jecrrves

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Establish the divinity of Christ. Identify JesusChrist as the Son of God and the Second Person of the Trinity. Define the Arian heresy. Explain the churcht response that resulted in the Council of Nicea and the Nicene Creed. Identify St. Athanasius and his role in combating this heresy, Define Gnosticism and identify St. Iraenus and his role in combating this heresy. Identify Mary Magdalene.

Re co ,r l,uDED e N Re so uRcES o o

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Bibles for each student Large Icons of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection (showing Mary Magdalene) Dictionary Divine Liturgy books W'hite board and markers or chalkboard Praxis Magazine - 7he Da Vinci Code issue Encountering Women of Faith The St. Catherine'sVision Collection Volume I, (avaiiableat




PReseNurroN The Divinity of Christ Discussthe basicbeliefsof the Orthodox faith and their meaning. ' JesusChrist becameman in order that we may havesalvarion. ' JesusChristis Lord. Assignstudentstofnd thefollowing rrtrencesin thesuipture and NiceneCreedn definewho IesusChrist is.

becameobedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, ofthose in heaven,and ofthose on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every rongue should confessthat JesusChrist is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

Ask thestudentsto *r'i"'t,theirf'ndingson the board. hlatthew 16:15 He saidto them,"But who do you saythat I am?" Simon Peteransweredand said,"You arerhe Christ, the Sonof the livine God." John 3:16 For God so lovedthe world that he gavehis one and only Son,that whoeverbelieves in him shallnot perish but haveeternallife. John 14:6 Jesussaidto him, "I am theway,the truth, and the life. No one comesto the FatherexceptrhroughMe. Acts 10:38 "how God anointedJesusof Nazarethwith the Holy Spirit and with power,who went about doing good and healing all who were opposedby the devil, for God waswith Him." (Note: All threepersonsof the Holy Trinity are mentioned.) Revelation19:16 "King of Kingsand Lord of Lords" Philippians2:5-11 "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,who, beingin the form of God, did not consider it robberyto be equalwith God, but madeHimself of and no reputation,taking the form ofa bondservant, coming in the likenessof men.And beingfound in appearance asa man,He humbledHimselfand


Summer 2005



ffrom Divine Liturgy Book)

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible, And in one Lord JesusChrist, the only-begottenSon of God, begotten of the Father before all ages; Light of Light; true God of true God, begotten,not created, being of one essencewith the Father, through whom all things were made; \Who, for us and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucifiedalso for us under Pontius Pilate; He sufferedand was buried; Rising on rhe rhird day, according to the Scriptures; And ascending into the heavens, He is seated at the right hand of the Father; And coming again, in glory, to judge the living and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end; And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life; 'Who proceedsfrom the Father , Who together with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified, \[ho spoke by the prophets; In one, holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; I expect the resurrection of the dead; And the life of the age to come.Amen. Remind studentsthat we recitetbis ueed euerySunday during the Diuine Liturgt, and that tbis is the summar! of what we belieueas Orrhodox Christians.

TheArian Heresy Ask studentswhat they think a " h|resy" is. Assign a student to fnd defnition. ' '

it in tbh dictionary and read the

Heresy is theologicai e{ror, or adherence ro an opinion contrary to chufch dogma. Heresy originally meant a different opinion about something.

Ask the students f they can thinp of any /teresiest/tat are (Write dorun student prominent in our cubure and socNet1,. resplnsesas thesemay be ualuable puenuesfor future study.) Read thefo/lowing account to the

Arius was born about 250 D of Libyian descent He wasordaineda priesrin 1 3 . H e * r. kno* n ,, , gre at ora tor and had a lar ge church in a well-known

district of Alexandria cal B a u c a l i s .H e cl ai med "begotten" that JesusChrist was not t Son of God and ques t io n e dth e ru b s ra o F C h ri s r. H e thoughr that Jesuswas less than G . H e m a d e u p songsand slogansabout this, one of ich was, "There was the time when Christ was not." rius died in 336. The Arian Heresy was na

arosein thefourth centuryf

St. Athanasius was born in

The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed was accepted in the Second Ecumenical Council of 381. This is the statement of faith that we believe and recite today as Orthodox Christians. The Second Ecumenical council supplementedthe first creedwith doctrines on Holy Spirit, resurrection of the dead, Iife of the agesto come, and the Sacraments. Ask students to expldin in their own words wbat the Arian Heresy is. Ask studentsto reflect, discussand answer, .


tVhy is the Council of Nicea so important to Christendom? How does the Arian heresy play a role today in The Da Vincl Code storv?

after Arius. This heresy


which taught that, because hrist was begotten of the father, there was a time whe he was not, and thus he was not equal to God the h e r. In re s ponsero rhe division this belief caused,t Emperor Constantine called the Council of Nicea n 325.

and was well educated. A d First Ecumenical Council, Alexander to the Council opponent of Arius. At the St. Athanasius was elevated He is known as the great champion for God. He spen faith, and at that time, wro Antoqt of the Desert.

The First Ecumenical Council in Nicea was historically significant because it was the first attempt by the church to have a conciliatory assembly representing all of Christendom. It was brought together to addressthe following issues:Arianism, the date of the Resurrection (Paschaor Easter in the west), and the baptism ofheretics.

lexandria, Egyp. in 295 acon at the time of the accompanied Bishop N i c e a . H e w as a great rh o F Bi s h o pA l exander, h i s s e e(d i s tri ct)i n J28. nder of the faith and a 17 yearsin exile for his

the greatbiography,.lr.

Gnosticism Explain the meaning of Gnosticism to the class: Gnosticism describes a wide range of religious thought. It was very popular at the time of Christ, and it affected the beliefs of some early Christian teachers. "Gnosis" means knowledge or wisdom in Greek. Gnostics believed that they were an elite group that had been given secretwisdom from above. One of the first great tasks of early theologians was to idenrify what was "orthodox" and what was "heresy." The Church taught that there is no speciai, secret knowledge that is held by only a few people. God's salvation is freely offered to all.

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According to Gnostic belief '




The god of the Old Testamentis called the "demiurge." He is malevolent and ignorant, and the creator of this evil and illusory materiaf world. The New Testament god is superior to the Old Testament god and is good and "spiritual," rarher than material. This better, "spiritual" god was manifested in Jesus' physical body. (This beliefis centrai to a heresycalled Doc et is m ) . Gnosticism denied that Christ had a physical body (the incarnation). Gnostics sought ro escape the suffering of the physical world-"I want out of this bodyl"


Jesusthe god could not have been crucified: only his human "shell" died, and decayedto dust.


Salvation was attained through self-knowledge and self-realization. Early Gnostics were Vallntius, Basilides and P r olm eus .


i The early Church had to deal rlvith Gnostic teachings. Many of St. Paul's writings dea! specifically with this heresy.Here are iust two: Select two students to locate thesereferencesand read them to the class:


' ' .

The aposdestaught openly and the gospelwas for everyonenot for a selectfew. The four canonicalGospelsareauthoritative. The Creatorand the Fatherof Christ is one God, the Lord of both Old and New Testaments.

Haue students identify Gnosticism and explain how the "heresy" of the second century)plays a role in our society today. '

Does the Gnostic heresy play a role today in The Da Vinci Code xory?

Whois Mary lvlagdalene? Selectstudents to locate thesereferencesand read them to the class: Luke 8:2 "and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities-Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come sevendemons." John 20:l "Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away,"

"Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the basicprinciples of the world, and not accordilpgto Christ."

CoI.1:16 "For by Him all things were createdthat are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or prinQipalitiesor powers.All things were created through Him and for Him." St. Iraenus, bishop of Lyons { second century saint wrote a 6ookcalledAgainst Heresies.He wrote specifically against the Gnostics who claimed to be in possessionof secretdocuments. He said that:


Summer 2006

John 20:11-18 Jesusappearsto Mary Magdalene. John 19:25 "Now there stood by the crossof JesusHis mother and His mother'ssisterrhe wife of Clopas,and Mary Magdalene ." Readsidebarfom this issueof PraxisMagazine, "CouldJesus hauebeenmarried?"and discuss. Read/Reference pre-selectedsectionsfrom Chapter 9 of "EncounteringWomenof Fnith."

What DoesThis ltlean?


Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any Sometimeswe might think thar theseheresiesand beliefs comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection don't have any affect on us today. However, when we stop to and mercy, fulfill my jo," by being like-minded, having the think about it, the implications are very real and direct. same love, being of one accord,of one mind. Let nothing be \Yhat about Gnosticism?Why is it important to understandthat done rhrough selfishambition or conceit, but in lowlinessof mind, Let each esteemothers better than himself. Let each the material world is not euil? Here is just one example: Cnostics deny the importance of the body. This kind of belief might lead people to take poor physical care of themselves,perhaps mutilating themselves,or even committing suicide. lYhat about Ari.anism,?\Yhy is it important that Christ be understoodas equal to God tbe Father?

of you look out not only for his own interests,but also for the interestsof others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robberv to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant,and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearanceas a man, He humbled Himself and becameobedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is aboveevery name. that at the name of Jesusevery knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that JesusChrist is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Our understanding of the Trinity is that all three persons-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit-exist to live in communion among eachother.Jesusthe Son was begottenby the Father "before all ages" becauseof God's profound love. In other words, the very nature of God's exisrenceis one of a communiry of equals.Christ's willingness to be a servanr, Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as even though he was equal to the Father, is summed up by St. in my presenceonly, but now much more in my absence,work Paul: out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. "Ylur lfititude should be the same ds that of Christ Jesus: Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you \Vho, being in the uery/ nature of God, did not consider may becomeblamelessand harmless,children of God without equality with God something to begrasped,bur made himself fault in the midst of a crooked and perversegenerarion,among nothing, taking the uery nlzture of a seruant, being made in whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word numan ttkeness. (I'h/l 2:)-/) of life. I


(P hi l lipians2: 1- 14a)

So our understanding of how we should live-that we are all equal, that we should nor grasp for power but be the servants6f elhsss-6omes directly from our Orthodox understandingof who God is. Ask students to reflect on what they haue learned and how they will respondto The Da Vinci Code.

Nihhi Stournaras sâ&#x201A;Źruetlts the administratiue assistantto the Deans dt Hellenic College-Holy CrossGreek Orthodox School of Tbeologt where shealsopursuesstudiesin theologl on a part time basis.Shehasseruedaspresident ofthe St.Demetrios Philoptochos, Weston,MA, taught religious education classes for juniors and seniors,and a board member of tbe Metropolis of Boston Phi/optochos Society. Her persona/ interests include stadies in Orthodox spiritualiqt and pastoral care.

Summer 2006



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"Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the basic principles of the world, and not accordins to Chri...

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