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A critique of Martin Lunn’s book, ‘Da Vinci

Code Decoded’.

By Paul Hildreth

September 2006

What follows is my response after reading the book ‘Da vinci Code Decoded’, by
Martin Lunn, which claims to be ‘the truth behind the New York Times bestseller’.

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A critique of Martin Lunn’s book, ‘Da Vinci Code
Decoded’.

‘Da Vinci Code Decoded’ was published by the Disinformation Company.

I quote from their website:

The political bias of our staff just happens to be ‘liberal’ or ‘progressive’, but that
doesn’t mean we close our minds to ideas that are deemed conservative, far from it.
How can someone be truly well informed with only half the story?

Theirs is a site professing to expose disinformation, in a search for truth. I therefore


believe that I am correct in saying that any information coming from the site should
also be subject to the possibility of being considered by reasoning, thinking people, to
be disinformation, and consequently subject to scrutiny and criticism.

I am a firm believer that we are lied to and manipulated by the ‘powers that be’
(wherever and whoever they might be), for their own benefit. I wholeheartedly
welcome any well researched information that exposes this.

I am also familiar with the methods used to maintain the lies. People are told what
they want to hear. Under these circumstances, belief is easy. We are fed information
that is easy for us to accept, because it fits with our preconceived ideas and supports
our own interests.

So, imagine my disappointment when reading ‘Da Vinci Code Decoded’, purporting
to be ‘the truth behind the New York Times No 1 Bestseller’. In my opinion, this
book contains exactly the kind of dis-information that I find so objectionable.

I believe that the book panders to readers with pre-conceived ideas, simply
confirming for them what they already believe, and telling them what they want to
know.

I know what you are thinking.

No, I am not an angry Roman Catholic, or a fundamentalist Protestant


Christian. If I was, you could well assume I might be an ultra-strict creationist, or a
preacher of hell and damnation. These, I am definitely not. You might not believe it,
but Christian faith can be more rational than you think. Faith does not have to be a
leap in the dark. You do not have to commit ‘intellectual suicide’.

I am as much against extreme fundamental Christian beliefs as any of you. If you


spend time reading my writings, you will discover my views on human nature and
other subjects, including religion, politics, economics, inequality, evolution,
globalisation and ecology. I search for the truth behind the lies. I hate dis-information,
and love to find the truth, using reason.

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In doing this, I challenge all extreme viewpoints. If a viewpoint is extreme, it
immediately suggests to me that it might be biased by preconceived ideas or self
interest. Reason is easily sidelined.

My search for the truth has led me to disagree with neo-liberal economics, atheists,
humanists, fundamental Christians, established traditional Christian institutions and
Moslems, amongst others. In doing this, I am not claiming that I know everything,
and everyone else is wrong. No one on earth can do this. I have my opinion, you have
yours. I firmly believe that my belief is based on reason rather than prejudice or self
interest. If it was not, I could never be happy with it.

If you believe in reason, you must be ready to consider that your cherished beliefs
might be lies. That should apply to all of us.

****
Let’s return to the book in question.

I have a number of issues with what I consider to be this conjectural sensationalism,


masquerading as serious historical inquiry. In my opinion it is simply an inconsistent
regurgitation of some well-worn points of view. Much of it is pulled straight from the
pages of the Da Vinci Code (which is, in turn, gleaned from other well worn sources),
and then combined with a few minor corrections to the ‘facts’. As such it is a clear
(and cheap) attempt to cash in on the controversy currently surrounding Dan Brown’s
book and the recent movie based on it, supported by an apparent personal agenda on
the part of Mr Lunn.

Before you ask, yes, I have read the ‘Da Vinci Code’ and seen the movie. As it is, the
book is a good piece of escapist action, and well worthy of a read. Putting it onto the
screen loses something. Perhaps watching it on a screen exposes the inherent
absurdity of the story. This is something more easily forgotten as you read a well
written book. With a good book you can more easily suspend your disbelief, even if
you disagree with its content.

Regarding the Roman Catholic Church, yes, I too believe that it has exercised its
abusive power and control since the fourth century by using an interpretation of
Christianity that has been dedicated to maintaining that power and control, including
its dominance by men. As I will try to demonstrate below, this is definitely NOT
Paul’s version of Christianity, as Mr Lunn claims.

Let me say here that many Roman Catholic Christians have a very sincere faith, and I
am not criticising them. They are Christians despite the institution they belong to, not
because of it. Having said this, I do believe that many ‘nominal’ believers are also
blindly controlled and misled by the Church’s traditions, superstitions and hierarchy.

It is not as if criticism of the Roman Catholic Church is anything new. If this was not
the case the sixteenth century Reformation would neither have been needed, nor taken
place.

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Where I disagree is over whether there are any deliberate, clandestine motives behind
the power the Church has gained over the centuries, as suggested by authors such as
Dan Brown and Martin Lunn, and many others, ad nauseum.

Why can’t it simply be said that the power, influence and control have been a
natural result of the perversity of human nature? Why should the fact that a
human institution has, at many times, been led by corrupt human beings, lead to
the conclusion that all of the beliefs it was founded on are also corrupt or wrong?
Why should this then lead inevitably to the many attempts there have been at
finding something that would once and for all discredit all basic Christian
beliefs?

This is like writing off the whole concept of all charitable giving because some
organisations are found to misappropriate their funds. Then again, some people do
this, for the same reason as it is done with Christianity. It gives them a convenient
excuse for not getting involved.

We find it very easy to recognise human nature in action in other large human-made
organisations, as the reason for their power, control or corruptibility. Why not the
Church?

Think about it. If you are that way inclined, what better way is there to get away with
the exercise of human depravity than from behind the protection of the Church?

This is still no reason to write off the basic belief system that was misused to create
such a monstrosity.

Yes, the Church was given the opportunity to achieve absolute power, as soon as it
became the recognised religion of the Roman Empire. The man made institution of
the Church on earth is controlled by human beings. Human beings are, by nature,
subject to human failings. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Many attacks on the whole concept of Christianity are, and over the centuries have
been, based on a criticism of Roman Catholicism and extreme fundamentalist
Protestantism (the ‘fundos’). The reasoning for much of the criticism seems to follow
these lines:

• The Roman Catholic Church claims to be God’s Church, with the Pope as
God’s representative on earth.
• We see the Roman Catholic Church, and we assume that this is Christianity.
• The Roman Catholic Church is corrupt, and some its practices are based on
out-dated superstitious nonsense.
• ‘Fundos’ are right wing, dogmatic, puritanical, self righteous, hypocritical
bigots.
• Therefore, the whole concept of Christianity must be rubbish.
• So, let’s do all we can to find ways of demonstrating that it is. People need to
know.
• In the process of de-bunking Christianity, we can release millions of people
from slavery to it. We can enlighten them. We can show them the lies.

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• Oh, and because this is so controversial, and it is what many people want to
hear, we can also possibly make lots of money along the way.

*****

Was Jesus married with children?

‘Da-Vinci Code Decoded’ proposes, amongst other things, that Jesus was married and
had children. Out of all the issues covered in the da Vinci Code debate, this seems to
be the one that excites the most public interest and controversy, because it is the one
that strongly suggests to people that Jesus was not God incarnate, but just a human
being. This is what they want to hear. The alternative is much harder to accept.
First of all, what is all the fuss about? What does it matter if Jesus was married?
Firstly, I will say that I believe that Jesus did not have children, and was not married.
However, there is nothing sinful about being married, and there is nothing sinful about
having sexual relations in marriage. Jesus could have been married and still be
considered to be the sinless Lamb of God, the Saviour of the world. In accordance
with the Creeds of the Church, the man Jesus was totally God and totally human.
Christ had a human nature and a divine nature, but separate. This was the only way
that God could experience living as a human, every aspect of it. Procreation is a
human function. Any children of Christ would not be gods, just humans.
If we think about it, anyone alive today who could truly claim descent from Jesus
would have as much right to claim advantage from this as, say, someone descended
from Leonardo da Vinci could claim that they were a genius.
If Jesus was truly God, or even if he just believed himself to be God, I would suggest
that he might not have considered it sensible of him to have children, for their sake. It
would have opened up the possibility of a future dogged by constant claims made by
pretenders to his throne. He also considered his Kingdom to be of Heaven, not earth.
Here lies the dilemma. Jesus would not have children if He was God, so if we can
prove that he had children, therefore we prove that he was not God. Why should this
automatically follow? The bloodline, if there was one, could have died very quickly,
even at the first generation. There was always going to be, at some time, speculation
over possible descendants of Jesus, it was just a matter of time. The burden of proof
lies with those making the claims.
****
So, what is the real problem?
Here, the Roman Catholic Church rears its head again. It makes celibacy compulsory
for its priests, thereby implicitly stating that Jesus, the ‘high priest’, must have been
celibate. In the popular mind, the Roman Church equates sex with sin, so if Jesus had
sex, or was burdened by a wife, he was not perfect, as claimed. The Pope claims to
speak as God’s representative. The fundamentalist Christian position is just as
dogmatic, for other reasons. They say that it does not say in the Bible that Jesus was
married, so therefore he was not. So, if we can prove that Jesus was married, then we
prove that Christianity is rubbish. Why should this follow?

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Even Paul defended his own right to have a wife (though he seems to have remained
unmarried). He uses the marriages of the other apostles, Jesus’ brothers, and Peter to
support his point.
Why did Paul recommend remaining single? What were the advantages?
In 1 Corinthians chapter 7, Paul basically said that for anyone believing that to serve
Jesus’ objectives was the most important thing in their life, then to stay single was an
advantage. The married person must also care for his or her family, but the unmarried
person is not distracted. It was purely practical advice. He also made it clear that this
was a choice, not a command, and emphasised that if you married you did not sin. He
understood that not everyone was called to be single, nor could everyone manage it.
This did not imply that if you married, you could not serve Christ.
It can definitely not be thought of as a veiled reference to Christ being married. If it
was, Paul would surely not have put it in, if his objective was to hide the fact that
Jesus was married.
Elsewhere, Paul’s words in his letters have been misinterpreted and misused by the
established Church to ensure centuries of religiously justified male domination. I give
more details of my views on this in my book ‘Pure Christianity’. To interpret this
misuse as a deliberate move to overturn an ancient veneration of the female, and to
suppress knowledge of Jesus’ marriage, as presented in the ‘Da Vinci Code’, is over
imaginative and sensationalist speculation.
For a new religion to prosper, it would have needed an inevitable sweeping away of
old beliefs. Advantage was then taken of the wrongly perceived position of men.
Human beings placed in a position of power unfortunately tend to do this. It was not a
Christian conspiracy to suddenly place men into power. They had held most of the
power long before Christ came, and the misinterpreted words of Paul came as a false
justification, not a revolution.

****
We now turn to some of the ‘evidence’ given by Mr Lunn to say that Jesus was
married.:
Ancient texts
What about the non-Biblical documents that claim to tell of Jesus’ life? We are
informed by Mr Lunn that the Da Vinci Code tells us that one of them, the Gospel of
Philip, gives us evidence for Jesus being married, and that this was one of the reasons
it was excluded from the Bible. Readers could easily be given the impression that
there is evidence of Jesus’ marriage in the non Biblical gospels. Mr Lunn makes no
attempt to discredit this impression, so the assumption can be that he supports it.
Do the non-Biblical gospels really support the Jesus marriage theory?
The Gospel of Thomas
This is probably the earliest of the non biblical ‘gospels’, possibly first century.

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Mary is mentioned once, asking Jesus ‘Whom are your disciples like?’ She is then
mentioned at the end of the gospel, as follows:
Simon Peter said to them, "Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of Life."
Jesus said, "I myself shall lead her in order to make her male, so that she too may
become a living spirit resembling you males. For every woman who will make herself
male will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.".
So, it’s Paul that was sexist, and the Church deliberately included writings that
ensured male domination, did they? Strange that this one was left out, then.
The Gospel of Peter: Second century.
This concentrates on the last hours of Jesus, saying he felt no pain when he was
crucified. Mary only appears at the tomb of Jesus, and is described as a ‘female
disciple’.
The Dialogue of the Saviour: Second Century.
This is a dialogue between ‘the Saviour’ and some disciples, including Mary.
She is said to ‘know the all’, i.e. she has a special knowledge. She is seen as a person
with a special insight. There is no mention of a marriage.
The Sophia (wisdom) of Jesus Christ (Middle of second century)
In this, Mary asks Jesus ‘Holy Lord, where did your disciples come from, and where
are they going, and what should they do here?’. She is not considered further. There is
no suggestion of her being married to Jesus.
The Pistis Sophia (Third Century)
This is a Gnostic gospel. In it Mary is a main character, and asks most of the
questions. She is praised as one whose ‘heart is more directed to the Kingdom of
Heaven than all her brothers’. Jesus says that she is ‘blessed beyond all women upon
the earth, because she shall be the pleroma of all pleromas and the completion of all
completions’ (Pleroma means the fullness of knowledge of the divine). Jesus is
impressed with Mary’s spiritual excellence, and promises not to hide anything from
her. In this gospel she is clearly regarded as a source of understanding and revelation,
with a close relationship to Jesus. There is nothing that suggests a marriage.
Gnosticism valued secret knowledge above all, so emphasis on Mary’s eminence is
therefore not surprising.
The Gospel of Mary (second century Gnostic)
In this gospel, Mary’s close relationship to ‘the Saviour’ (the name Jesus is not
mentioned) makes her a source of secret revelation. Peter asks her ‘Sister, we know
that the Saviour loved you more than the rest of women. Tell us the words of the
Saviour which you remember, which you know but we do not or have not heard
them’. Mary is said to have received revelations in a vision. The disciples were not
too sure about Mary’s supposed insights. Andrew said ‘I at least do not believe that
the Saviour said this’. He thought the ideas expressed were strange. Peter asked why
they should listen to a woman. Levi defended her, saying that if the Saviour loved her
more than them, this is no reason to treat her as an enemy. So, Jesus preferred Mary to

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the other disciples, and loved her more than them. Clearly, according to some people,
this is evidence that he married her. There is nothing in the Gospel of Mary to suggest
a sexual or marriage relationship between Jesus and Mary.
The Gospel of Philip (mid third century)
Finally, we come to the last of the non-Biblical gospels to mention Mary. This is the
one that is used the most by those claiming she was married to Jesus. That it is from
well into the third century does not seem to matter. It is a collection of Gnostic
observations, not all mentioning Jesus. Two passages refer to Mary.
‘There were three who always walked with the Lord: Mary his mother and her sister
and Magdalene (Mary), the one who was called his companion’(Wesley W Isenberg
translation)
It is the word ‘companion’ that causes the interest. This word is said to have been used
for a marriage companion. The Greek word is ‘koinonos’. The word means ‘partner’,
and is used a few times in the New Testament with that meaning (for example
Philemon chapter 1 verse 17, where Paul is Philemon’s koinonos).
The second passage says:
‘And the companion of the Saviour is Mary Magdalene. But Christ loved her more
than all the disciples and used to kiss her often on her mouth. The rest of the disciples
were offended by it and expressed disapproval. They said to him, 'Why do you love
her more than all of us?' The Saviour answered and said to them, 'Why do I not love
you like her?' When a blind man and one who sees are both together in darkness, they
are no different from one another. Then the light comes, then he who sees will see the
light, and he who is blind will remain in darkness’
In the Da Vinci Code, the Saviour’s answer is replaced by a section giving his views
on marriage, as though they follow from the comments about Jesus kissing Mary on
the mouth. The comments on marriage were made elsewhere in the gospel, and not
directly related to the passage on kissing. This is a clear attempt to mislead. Mr Lunn
does not point this out, so the assumption can be that he concurs.
If we accept that these things were actually said, first of all, if Jesus was married to
Mary, or clearly loved her with a view to marriage, why were the disciples offended?
If it had been prior to a marriage, their worries could have been dispelled by a simple
explanation of Jesus and Mary’s future intent. Are we suggesting that they were all
gay and therefore sexually jealous? Note also, that there is no mention of an actual
sexual relationship. Jesus explains the relationship by saying she has an ability to see
the light. This, they could have been jealous of.
Note also that what is said about kissing elsewhere in the Gospel of Philip may shed a
light on Jesus’ kissing of Mary.
‘Grace comes forth by him from the mouth, the place where the Logos came forth;
(one) was to be nourished from the mouth to become perfect. The perfect are
conceived thru a kiss and they are born. Therefore we also are motivated to kiss one
another— to receive conception from within our mutual grace’.

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From this passage, kissing on the mouth could therefore conceivably be a symbol for
the passing on of knowledge.
The disciples are, in other non-Biblical gospels too, seen to be jealous of Mary’s
knowledge. They could, therefore easily have been offended in this way by Jesus’
kissing of Mary.
If this seems to stretch credibility, I ask again, where can you find a reference to a
definite sexual relationship?
So, there we have it. That's the best non-Biblical evidence for the marriage of Jesus
and Mary.
Anyone can take ‘evidence’ such as this and concoct a theory, and imagine a
conspiracy to cover up ‘the truth’. I could suggest that Jesus was an alien, because he
appeared on a mountain surrounded by glowing beings which were obviously aliens,
and that he was taken up into the sky. Oh, I’m sorry. That’s been done before. And it
was believed. It was yet another attempt to discredit the truth about Jesus, just like the
one we are discussing.
The texts quoted above simply do not support the idea that Jesus was married. It is
much more reasonable to accept that Mary was a close disciple of Jesus, and someone
who had a special understanding of the message of Jesus.
The Bible makes no attempt to exclude Mary Magdalene. In the Bible, Mary is one of
the women who went with Jesus on his preaching mission. She helped to support him
financially (Luke 8:1-3). By including women, Jesus was counter cultural. Mary was
a close follower of Jesus, went with him on journeys, learned from him and then was
faithful to him even when other disciples disowned him. She was the first to see him
after the Resurrection, and the first person to announce that he had risen. Does this
sound like the Bible had been re-written to exclude women? Why does it have to
suggest that he was married to her? Surely these passages would have been taken
out if the church was deliberately stressing male domination, or hiding Jesus’
marriage.
In Jesus’ day, Jewish teachers very rarely taught women or involved them. Jesus was
exceptional. He included everyone. He said ‘Whoever does the will of God is my
brother and sister and mother’.
The ‘da Vinci Code’ is a fictional novel that has been taken as historical truth,
convincing people, amongst other things, that the non-Biblical gospels are full of
evidence about Jesus’ marriage, and that this is a major reason why they were
suppressed. Seriously, after looking at them in detail, can we really, truly say that this
is the truth? I don’t think so, do you?
Other ‘evidence’ for Jesus being married
Jesus as a ‘Rabbi’.
It is suggested that because Jesus was a teacher and the disciples called him ‘Rabbi’,
that he would have been married, because that was the Jewish custom for Rabbis.

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Firstly, Jesus was not officially a Rabbi, and never claimed to be. The disciples called
him Rabbi because they accepted him as their teacher. He never held any Jewish
office of Rabbi. He was asked by the Jews by what authority he did the things he did,
such as preach within the Temple.
Social decorum and duty
This is said to have forbade a Jewish man to stay single, especially one of the royal
line of David.
It is claimed that celibacy was condemned, but there is evidence that some Jewish
men chose to be unmarried, and were actually praised by leading Jewish thinkers
Philo, an early Jewish historian, described celibacy as ‘an enviable system’, and that it
was admired by ordinary people and by royalty, i.e. by all levels of society.
Josephus, another early Jewish historian, says about the Jewish Essene Community
(they provided us with the Dead Sea Scrolls), who practiced celibacy, that ‘It also
deserves our admiration how much they exceed other men that addict themselves to
virtue’.
Paul, in the New Testament, said that celibacy was useful in order to avoid
distractions from God’s work.
With such a mission as Jesus perceived for himself, it can be easily accepted that he
chose not to marry, whether it was against social convention or not. When it is also
considered that he saw his Kingdom as of Heaven, not this earth, it is reasonable to
assume that he could see no need for another heir in the Davidic royal line. This
would apply even if you believe Jesus was deluded or just plain crazy, as some people
do.
Any children of Jesus would have been pursued to their graves, in the search for his
successor. I find it difficult to believe that they could have been kept secret.
Christianity as it developed would never have got off the ground. It would have been
simply ‘The King is dead. Long live the King (or even Queen)’. A successor would
have been the first thing people would have looked for. It would not have taken more
than a hundred years for such claims to have been made. It was not until the late 2nd
century that a Christian leader is seen to deny that Jesus Christ was married (implying
that claims had been made that he was). Justin Martyr and Clement of Alexandria said
that a married Jesus was inconsistent with His role as the Savior of the world. They
did not say that marriage would make him sinful, but that His mission had been
related to Heaven, and too demanding to allow Him the opportunity for marriage.
There is then a gap of another eight or nine hundred years before there is any sign of a
visible organization being associated directly with the idea that Jesus was married, as
the Templars and the Cathars (Albigensians) have been claimed to be, and despite
what is claimed for the Merovingian dynasty in 5th to 7th century France (see below).
First show me the evidence of a search for Jesus’ successor in first century Palestine.
From the centuries in between, find me some documentary evidence for a marriage,
and descendents of Jesus, that matches the amount that we have for mainstream
Christian beliefs.

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‘But it was a secret’, you will say, so naturally there is none, or it is hidden
somewhere until ‘the time is right’. If it is a secret, it’s not been kept very well
recently, has it?

The wedding feast at Cana

The following is John’s account in the Bible of the wedding feast at Cana.

John, Chapter 2, verses 1 to 11:


On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there,
and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was
gone, Jesus' mother said to him, "They have no more wine."
"Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied, "My time has not yet come."
His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."
Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing,
each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.
Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water"; so they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet."
They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into
wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn
the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, "Everyone brings out
the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to
drink; but you have saved the best till now."
This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus
revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.

Mr Lunn says that in June, 30AD, Mary anointed Jesus with spikenard at this wedding
feast. Can anyone find any reference to this? Where does Mr Lunn get it from that
Jesus was anointed at the wedding feast?

So, this was Jesus’ wedding, was it? Why was he just ‘invited’? Why is Jesus
mentioned by name six times, but it is ‘the bridegroom’ that is called aside by the
master of the banquet? Yet, according to Mr Lunn, they are one and the same.
Why would Jesus ask his mother why he is being involved, if he was responsible for
the supplies, as Mr Lunn says? Mary says ‘They have no more wine’. Would she not
say ‘We have no more wine’, if the wedding feast was for her son?

I’m sorry, but the theory that this was Jesus’ marriage is pure conjecture that ignores
the simple probability that Jesus, his mother and the disciples were just wedding
guests. Why can’t it more easily be assumed that it might be the wedding feast of
another of Mary’s children, so therefore Jesus and his mother would be honoured
guests?

Anointing with perfume.


Mr Lunn says that the anointing with spikenard (nard) must surely indicate a wife or
prospective wife, as part of a wedding ceremony. The concept that anointing with
perfume could also be used for the recognition of a King, or for the dead or dying, has
been completely ignored by Mr Lunn.

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Regarding the three anointings of Jesus by a woman, spikenard is only mentioned
twice. For the passage that does not mention spikenard, it does not say specifically
that the woman was Mary, or even a prostitute, as is claimed by many. The woman is
simply called ‘a woman that had led a sinful life’.
Luke 7:36-50
Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the
Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. When a woman who had lived a sinful life
in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an
alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began
to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and
poured perfume on them. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to
himself
"If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of
woman she is—that she is a sinner."
Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you."
"Tell me, teacher," he said.
"Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,
and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he cancelled
the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?"
Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt cancelled."
"You have judged correctly," Jesus said. Then he turned toward the woman and said
to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any
water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.
You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped
kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my
feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But
he who has been forgiven little loves little."
Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."
The other guests began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives
sins?"
Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."
This seems to me (and would to most reasonable people) to say that the woman had
come to Jesus for forgiveness of her sins, believing that Jesus was the Messiah, and a
great King, so an anointing was appropriate. To a Jew, only God could forgive sins. Is
that not a more sensible interpretation?
Let’s now look at the other two episodes, sometimes said to be two different
descriptions of the same event.
Mark 14, 1-9
Now the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and
the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some sly way to arrest
Jesus and kill him. "But not during the Feast," they said, "or the people may riot."
While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon
the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of
pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. Some of those
present were saying indignantly to one another, "Why this waste of perfume? It could
have been sold for more than a year's wages and the money given to the poor." And
they rebuked her harshly. "Leave her alone," said Jesus. "Why are you bothering her?
She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and

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you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what
she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. I tell
you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has
done will also be told, in memory of her."

There was no mention of a marriage ceremony, just criticism of the use of expensive
perfume, and Jesus pointed out that it was in relation to his death. This version does
not even say that the woman was Mary.
John 12 1-10
Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom
Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus' honour. Martha
served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary
took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus' feet and
wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the
perfume. But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him,
objected, "Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was
worth a year's wages.]"
He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as
keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.
“Leave her alone," Jesus replied. "It was intended that she should save this perfume
for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not
always have me."

This one does say that it was Mary, but Jesus once again relates the anointing to his
death, and the same comment was made about use of expensive perfume.

I see no absolutely no need at all to imagine a marriage ceremony in any of these


accounts. To do so is pure conjecture and wishful thinking. Then, if it was ever
suggested that the passages had been ‘doctored’ to take out references to marriage and
to give them a different meaning, wouldn’t it have been easier to leave them out
altogether, to avoid controversy?

****

Mr Lunn also proposes the following:

• Paul (or Saul) basically wrote (or re-wrote) the New Testament to create
his own version of Christianity, and it is this version that was taken up by
the Church of Rome.

and

• In the fourth century, the Emperor Constantine ensured the victory of


Paul’s version of Christianity, and gave the Church its dominant position,
suppressing all other views.

According to Mr Lunn, Paul wrote or re-wrote the four Gospels, the book of Acts and
the letters of Peter, James, John and Jude, and the letter to the Hebrews in Rome, in

13
addition to his own letters, all to suit his own version of Christianity and, presumably,
his own ambitions.

A friend of mine has said that, having read the New Testament, he considers that
Paul’s letters seem to give a message that is inconsistent with the gospels. I have
heard this said before. Apparently Paul did not do a very good job. Damned if you do,
damned if you don’t.

That Paul’s life was fraught with the very real possibility of being killed for his beliefs
seems to be overlooked. He could not always rely on his Roman citizenship to save
him. According to people like Mr Lunn, Paul must have been some kind of first
century social climber.

Apparently, about three hundred years later, ‘Paul’s version’ of Christianity also suited
the ambitions of the Emperor Constantine and the Roman Catholic Church. It seems
that ‘Paul’s version’ was determined to be the New Testament, by Constantine at the
Council of Nicaea in 325 AD.

This ignores the long deliberations over the authenticity of scriptural documents that
had gone on for the previous few hundred years. Early Christian writers (for example,
Ignatius, executed in Rome in 115AD, and Polycarp (martyred about AD160) had
quoted from the gospels and Paul’s letters, treating them as authoritative. Clement,
writing about AD95, accepts Paul’s letters as being on an equal basis with other
scriptures.

On the Following page is a table that shows the development of the ‘Canon’ of Holy
Scripture from the year AD200 onwards.

14
New Testament New Testament New Testament New Testament
used at Rome used by Origen used by Eusebius fixed for the
AD 200 AD 250 AD 300 Western Church by
the Council of
Carthage AD 400
Four gospels Four gospels Four gospels Four gospels
Acts Acts Acts Acts
Romans Romans Romans Romans
1 & 2 Corinthians 1 & 2 Corinthians 1 & 2 Corinthians 1 & 2 Corinthians
Galatians Galatians Galatians Galatians
Ephesians Ephesians Ephesians Ephesians
Philippians Philippians Philippians Philippians
Colossians Colossians Colossians Colossians
1 & 2 Timothy 1 & 2 Timothy 1 & 2 Timothy 1 & 2 Timothy

15
1&2 1&2 1&2 1&2
Thessalonians Thessalonians Thessalonians Thessalonians
Titus Titus Titus Titus
Philemon Philemon Philemon Philemon

James Hebrews
1 Peter 1 Peter James
1 & 2 John 1 John 1 John 1 & 2 Peter
Jude 1, 2 & 3 John
Revelation of John Revelation of John Revelation of John Jude
(authorship in
doubt)
Revelation of Peter Revelation
Wisdom of
Solomon

Others under Others under Others under


consideration consideration consideration
The Shepherd of Hebrews James
Hermas
James 2 Peter
2 Peter 2 & 3 John
2 & 3 John Jude
Jude
The Shepherd of
Hermas
Letter of Barnabas
Teaching of the
Twelve Apostles
Gospel of the
Hebrews

The New Testament as we know it was fixed by the Council of Carthage in AD 400,
but had largely been established two hundred years before that date.

As another excuse for disbelief, some people say we have no actual written
eyewitness documents dating from the time of Jesus.

No, we have not got complete copies of letters or gospels from an early date. We do
have evidence that some form of letters and gospels were in existence in AD100, but
no way of proving physically that the translations we have now are in line with these.
I have no problem with these facts.

The New Testament is actually a body of historical evidence of Jesus, from witnesses
of the events, but it comes to us in the same way as any other historical evidence we
have about that period. The documents we have are from a later period, but there was
a time period of events in between when there could have been written evidence that
has either not been found, or lost for ever. There are fragments and collections of

16
Biblical evidence that are much earlier than the earliest evidence for other events, yet
these other events are easily accepted as historical 'fact'.

If we wanted to rely on complete documents from the time that the history took place
to give us much of our history of that period (including what we know about the
Roman Empire), we would have no history of it at all that we could believe in.

We could just as easily say that later generations of the Roman imperial family
tampered with documents and invented the glorious deeds of Julius Caesar, to
emphasise their right to the title of Emperor, or their claims to be gods.

With the New Testament documents, the difference is what we are being asked to
believe, and whether we can accept it. We are not now being asked to believe that a
Roman Emperor was a god, so we can accept the history. You are still asked to believe
that Jesus was God, so you do not accept it.

If someone said they had seen a ghost and you didn’t believe them, it is not their
experience that is in dispute, it is your belief in ghosts. Much criticism of the New
Testament tries to say that the experiences never actually happened. This is like
calling the person who really experienced what they saw as a ghost a liar, just because
you do not believe in ghosts. This is true dogmatic bigotry, and it is ironic that this is
what Christianity is accused of by those very same critics.

The dispute should not be not over whether the New Testament documents are
genuine historical documents, but over the implications of belief in their content.

We need to ask ourselves, ‘What if it is true? What if it really happened?’ We need to


look at the durability and credibility of the belief, and also consider the effects of
belief or disbelief in the lives of millions upon millions of believers over the
centuries.

Some of the stories about Jesus may have originally been passed on verbally, and then
collected in writing. Given the well known capacity of the minds of peoples of the
near east for this purpose, there is no real reason to suggest that the stories suffered
from inaccuracy or embellishment over time, or the effect of ‘Chinese whispers’.

What we do know is that there was a community of both Jews and gentiles that
followed a man called Jesus, who had been crucified by the Romans. If the Jews
expected a liberator, but he did not liberate them, and if he simply died, why would
they follow a failure? If we can believe that Peter and the other disciples did continue
to follow Jesus, why? If we can believe the New Testament, they disowned him at his
death, assuming failure.

We also know of a Jew called Paul who clearly believed that Jesus was not just a
liberator, but a culmination and synthesis of east and west, with a message for all of
them. Paul called on his Roman, Greek and Jewish heritages, as his way of showing
that Jesus was not just a failed liberator.

Imagine Jews talking to gentiles, holding out a Jew as their saviour. Difficult. Then
imagine them talking to Jews and telling them that Jesus was not a failure, but he was

17
also for the gentiles. Difficult, again. The two were apparently irreconcilable, yet both
Jews (some of them) and Gentiles believed them.

Christianity united Jewish and Romano/Greek beliefs. How did Paul and the other
apostles convince both sides? It seems to me that it is highly likely that there must
have been something very special or unusual that happened, and there must have been
enough eye witnesses to make it credible.

There may have only been about twenty very close supporters of Jesus at the time of
the crucifixion. According to the New Testament, there were very many more
witnesses to the appearance of Jesus after his death. Within a couple of generations
there were many more followers of Jesus. What happened? Surely something must
have happened, and I cannot believe that the growth of Christianity was created by the
efforts of one man trying to form his own new religion, given the difficulties
involved. Something very special must have happened.

****

To say that it would not have been allowed to take down Jesus’ body from the cross
ignores the possible status of Joseph of Aramathea. All four gospels mention him as
the authority for the taking down of Jesus’ body. He is said to have consulted with
Pilate, and is called a rich man and a ‘council member’, probably of the Jewish
Sanhedrin.

Pilate would not have wanted any more trouble with the Jews over Jesus, so agreeing
to the burial of his body (after ensuring that he was dead) seems a reasonable thing to
do. I know that there are other claims made about the Resurrection, for example that
Jesus did not really die on the cross, or that his body was stolen, etc. etc. I will not
discuss these further here. They are discussed in more detail in my book ‘A Challenge
to an Atheist’.
****

When Mr Lunn talks about the addition of some verses at the end of the gospel of
Mark, and the exclusion of some others, he is clearly implying that the Bible has been
manipulated over the years. He does not mention that this addition is recognised in
modern translations of the Bible, e.g. the New International Version, which is honest
and says ‘The most reliable early manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not
have Mark 16:9-20.’ He also does not say that its omission would not make a shred of
difference to a belief in the story of the Resurrection, as given in Mark’s gospel and
elsewhere in the New Testament. Neither would it discredit the basic message of the
New Testament. Without the verses that are in doubt, the gospel ends with:

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and
Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus' body. Very early on the
first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they
asked each other, "Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?"
But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been
rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe
sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

18
"Don't be alarmed," he said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was
crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell
his disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him,
just as he told you.' "
Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said
nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.
Regarding the exclusion of a section of Mark saying that Lazarus was not dead: First
of all, the letter found by Morton Smith, from Clement to Theodore, has been
challenged as a fraud. Whether it is or not, the passage concerned does not even
mention Lazarus by name, just the young brother of an unnamed woman.
And they come into Bethany. And a certain woman whose brother had died was there.
And, coming, she prostrated herself before Jesus and says to him, 'Son of David, have
mercy on me.' But the disciples rebuked her. And Jesus, being angered, went off with
her into the garden where the tomb was, and straightway a great cry was heard from
the tomb. And going near, Jesus rolled away the stone from the door of the tomb. And
straightaway, going in where the youth was, he stretched forth his hand and raised
him, seizing his hand. But the youth, looking upon him, loved him and began to
beseech him that he might be with him. And going out of the tomb, they came into the
house of the youth, for he was rich. And after six days Jesus told him what to do, and
in the evening the youth comes to him, wearing a linen cloth over his naked body. And
he remained with him that night, for Jesus taught him the mystery of the Kingdom of
God. And thence, arising, he returned to the other side of the Jordan."
***

I can understand it when people say that there have been many great leaders who have
later been considered to be Gods, so why should this make Jesus special? These
theories have usually been developed by later generations. Paul lived at the time of
Jesus. Could anyone really have made these claims at that time and got away with it if
there had not been the evidence of the Resurrection, fresh in people’s minds? Some
say that the belief in Jesus as God came later. If Jesus was not claimed to be God at
that time, how did the new religion succeed as it did? It would just have been another
story of a failed Messiah, amongst the many others that circulated at that time.

****

Let’s now consider the Emperor Constantine.

At the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, Constantine may have presided over the
proceedings, and may have even thought of himself as a god, but there is no
indication that he controlled the Council, or had a hand in the determination of the
contents of the New Testament. The council did help to confirm the basic composition
of the Bible as we know it, but its main purpose was to state the orthodox position on
Jesus as God and man, in the face of opposition from the ‘Arians’, followers of Arius,
who had basically said that Jesus was a created being. It did not establish the Pope as
supreme head of the church, neither was it used by Constantine for any plans he might
have had to centralise church authority under the control of the Emperor. Look at the
following, a conclusion from the Council.

19
Let the ancient customs in Egypt, Libya, and Pentapolis prevail, that the Bishop of
Alexandria have jurisdiction in all these, since the like is customary for the Bishop of
Rome also. Likewise in Antioch and the other provinces, let the Churches retain their
privileges.
Council of Nicea, in the year 325.

Does this suggest that Rome was always considered to be the central church, and ruler
of the others, or that Constantine would control the church? Does it justify the
primacy of Rome?

Constantine had bowed to popular pressure. Christianity had grown to be a major


religion, and there were political advantages to be gained from its official recognition.
Rome had always supported the most popular religions, part of their attempt to keep
the masses happy. It is not sure whether Constantine himself was truly converted to
Christianity. From this point on, however, the Church in Rome did begin to develop
its power and control, and as the Empire crumbled, so the Roman Church grew in
power, maintaining the illusion of a united Christendom, and as the heir of the Roman
Empire. The Roman Catholic claim that the primacy of the Pope goes back in an
unbroken line to Peter as the first Bishop of Rome is stretching credibility, to say the
least.

****
Has Mr Lunn actually read the New Testament? What are his other sources that
substantiate some of his opinions about the dispute between Paul and the Jerusalem
church? Are they also second hand, unoriginal opinions? Why does he not quote
them, if his work purports to be a valid piece of historical research?

In the first century, there was a definite dispute between Paul and the Jerusalem
church over the issues of Jewish circumcision and ritual law. To transform this into
the version of the ‘facts’ that Mr Lunn purports to present us with requires a fertile,
over active imagination and an embarrassingly biased interpretation of the wording of
the New Testament.

Mr Lunn says that Paul called James one of his ‘enemies in the church’. Where does
he make the link between Paul’s comments about false practices in the widespread
churches he was writing to, and James in Jerusalem? Paul and James certainly had
disagreements, but this is pure embellishment of the facts for dramatic effect.

He says that James ‘angrily’ summons Paul to Jerusalem’. Where is this from? It
seems to be Mr Lunn creating the dramatic effect he requires. Paul was warmly
welcomed.

Where does he get it from that James considered that Paul was destroying the good
inherent in the message? By this, does he think that ‘Paul’s version’ annoyed the Jews
because it was considered to allow freedom to break the old Jewish laws? It allowed a
release from unnecessary ritual laws, not freedom to break them, and this is essentially
what the dispute was over. There is a difference, as I will attempt to explain below. Mr
Lunn is completely missing the point.

20
Where is the conflict between Paul and James about Jesus’ birth and whether he was
divine? Any disputes with established Christian congregations that Paul was trying to
solve in his letters do not mention James, and any disputes with James do not question
the person of Jesus. Many of these disputes amongst Christians came later, as the
generations went by and the eye-witnesses to the truth about the life of Jesus passed
away. Mr Lunn seems to be making a very big assumption for his own purposes.

Paul’s letters do include much advice and correction of disputes within the early
Christian Church. They illustrate that Christians are by no means perfect, but have
natural human failings. No one tried to hide this.

In the following centuries there were many alternative viewpoints, for example
Manicheans (from the late 3rd century), Montanists (late 2nd century), Novatian (late
3rd century), Marcion (2nd century), Gnosticism (2nd century onwards) and Arianism
(4th century). All were well known, recognised and criticised. We are now asked to
believe that there was another one, but it was secret. We are supposed to believe that,
in a widespread church with no real central control at that time, and amongst many
conflicting views that were given a wide circulation, one particular viewpoint about
Jesus, that he was married and had children, was deliberately kept hidden away.

****

As for the accusation that Paul was a ‘manipulative liar’, the passage in 1 Corinthians
chapter 9 that Mr Lunn is referring to is as follows:

Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as
many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under
the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as
to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having
the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win
those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become
all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for
the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

This is not manipulative deceit. It is diplomacy. He says he is under Christ’s law, so it


is not a licence to do as he pleases. To take an extreme example, he is not saying that
you should become a prostitute to evangelise prostitutes. The objective was to share
what he saw as the ‘Good News’. To antagonise, for example, Jews, by abruptly
distancing himself from his heritage, would not have achieved the objective. Neither
would it do to antagonise non Christians by appearing as a self righteous do-gooder.
We see this today, and some modern day would-be evangelists would do well to take
Paul’s advice.

As for Paul coming ‘well prepared with a sizeable financial contribution’, is this what
Mr Lunn is referring to? I can’t find anything else. The money was for famine relief.

Acts 7, 26-30
During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them,
named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would
spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.)

21
The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers
living in Judea. This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.

If Paul was in the process of re-writing the gospels for his own benefit, and passing
this off to the ‘Gentiles’ (non-Jews) as the truth, why did he return to Jerusalem at all?
There would have been many there who knew Jesus at first hand. Why on earth would
he try to change their opinions? How could he hope to? Any dispute would not have
been over the basic facts of Jesus’ life, and any changes he was making to the written
or oral records would have been easily apparent. To have returned to Jerusalem, he
must have most certainly believed in his idea of the truth. His life was threatened, a
great risk, even given that he could ask for Roman protection.

At every opportunity, he wished to speak to Jewish authorities, never shying away


from the danger. Many Jews at that time would have found it very difficult to accept
that the man who was claimed to be their Messiah should be much more than a
deliverer from their present troubles with the Romans.

There is no indication of a dispute over whether the message of the gospel should be
given to non- Jews. In Acts 15, Peter (himself a Jew, and close disciple of Jesus, and
who first recognised Jesus as the Messiah) said that the gentiles would hear the
message of the gospel from his own lips. He questioned whether the gentiles should
be asked to accept a burden they could not bear (Jewish ritual law).
In the same chapter, James said that it was his judgement that they should not make it
difficult for the gentiles to believe.

The gospel of Jesus Christ became, very clearly, accepted by Jewish Christians as a
message that was by no means exclusively for Jews.

It was the role, not the person of Jesus that had been in dispute at that time. This is
naturally so, because there had always been disagreements amongst Jews as to the
role of their Messiah. Disputes over the person of Jesus, such as the Arian
controversies, came later.

Mr Lunn says that ‘Paul did not recognise that Jesus’ role was to liberate from the
Romans’ Paul was a Jew, and had been an ‘ultra- Jew’, you might say. To suggest that
it did not cross Paul’s mind that part of the expected role of a Messiah was to liberate
the nation from Roman rule is downright unbelievable. Paul’s persecution of
Christians before his conversion would have come from a belief that Jesus was a false
Messiah, partly because Jesus did not act primarily as a liberator, and also because of
the extreme claims he was making about himself, which would have been considered
blasphemous.

Once it is accepted that it was established by Jewish Christians that Jesus was the
Messiah, and for the whole world, not just the Jews, it seems eminently much more
reasonable to assume that the dispute was exactly as it is presented in the New
Testament, and that the only dispute related to Jewish ritual law, including
circumcision and food regulations. The Jewish Christians wanted to hold on to these
time honoured rituals, and Paul wanted not to burden non-Jewish Christians with
unnecessary laws. This is the crux of the matter. The Jewish laws were now
unnecessary for salvation. Jesus himself had said this, and believers such as Paul

22
realised it. Salvation was not earned by human efforts. It was a gift of Grace from
God, given by virtue of Jesus’ sacrifice, and if they all realised it, it made sense. No
one on earth could, all of the time, perfectly keep all of the laws given to the Jews, so
no one could, by these laws, earn their salvation.

This interpretation of the disputes at Jerusalem is surely more reasonable than the
extreme claims made by people such as Mr Lunn.

It is also the interpretation that sets out Christianity as distinct from other religions.
Christianity says we cannot earn our own salvation, by good works, rituals, or any
efforts we make. If we all look closely at ourselves, we know this is true.

To say that the Roman Church was the beneficiary of ‘Paul’s version’ of
Christianity is made all the more ridiculous when this is realised. The Roman
Catholic Church is built on a hierarchy of ritual and rules designed to earn
merit, exactly the Pharisaic slavery to the law that Paul said Jesus had swept
away.

****
Mr Lunn also says that there is no evidence for the census mentioned in the gospel of
Luke, causing Joseph and Mary to have to go to Bethlehem. He does not attempt to
explain that the dispute is over the dates of censuses, not whether they took place or
not, so is misrepresenting known facts to his own advantage.

That there was a governor of Syria named Quirinius, as stated by Luke, is verified by
the Jewish historian of the time, Josephus, but stated as from 5 to 12 AD. Josephus
tells of a census in 7AD. The King Herod mentioned in the Bible by Matthew at the
time of Jesus’ birth died in 4BC, so any census related to Jesus’ birth would have to be
before that date. There is a dispute as to whether Quirinius had two periods in office.
Quirinius was serving in the near east in various capacities at the time of Jesus’ birth
in 5BC, and there is no reason to believe that he could not have been involved in a
census. It is not definitely known that he served a first period as governor, but it is not
impossible.

This is all irrelevant if we accept that the Greek used in Luke could be interpreted to
say 'This census took place before the one when Quirinius was governor of Syria'.
This may sound like it is stretching credibility, but why shouldn’t a governor’s name
and a census be mentioned that were nearer to the memory of contemporaries? To
give an example, if we did not have a numbered scale of years that everyone would
recognise, as was the case at the time Luke was writing, we could say that something
happened ten years before Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister, knowing that many
of our listeners would be able to identify with this time period because she was a well
known character in their memories.

So, given the inevitable difficulty of trying to date events of these times, and applying
less freedom for assumption and speculation than Mr Lunn applies on a regular basis
in his book, any sensible person could reasonably accept Luke’s version as possible
historical fact, and not write it off because it does not agree with their ideas.

The dispute can become a fruitless argument, depending on one’s point of view.

23
Think about it. If whoever wrote the gospel of Luke (even if it was Paul!), was trying
to establish that Jesus was born in Bethlehem yet lived in Nazareth, if he was
fabricating it surely it would have been simpler to just say that Jesus was born in
Bethlehem and the family moved to Nazareth. If Paul wrote or re-wrote Luke’s
gospel, as Mr Lunn suggests, are we now adding the additional insult that Paul was an
idiot for not being consistent when compiling Matthew’s and Luke’s gospels?

Luke was recording as many known facts as he could. Why take the chance of putting
this information in if he knew it was false, and consequently laying himself open to
possible criticism? At the time the words were written, it would have been much
easier to discredit them than it is for us today. It is reasonable to believe that Luke was
telling the truth as he knew it.

There seems to be an assumption that current human knowledge can always explain
everything. There is another assumption that it is the Bible that is always in error. For
example, we are told that the story of the visit of the Magi (the ‘wise men’) to Jesus is
improbable and therefore a myth. When it is said that there are other similar stories or
actual historical events, as there are for such visits, we are told that it is too much like
these others, and was obviously based on them. On the other hand, if the Bible seems
to be disagreeing with other sources of history, it must have been invented. This is a
typical ‘heads I win, tails you lose’ situation, based on self justification of pre-
conceived ideas. It is easy to stop your search for explanations when you have
already arrived at the conclusion you wanted.

****
To be fair, Mr Lunn gives as much historical evidence as possible relating to the other
claims made in the Da Vinci code. He is reasonably objective here, simply setting out
what is known, in an attempt to explain where the theories come from. He does not,
however, seem to give a definite opinion of his own, so, in view of his support of the
Jesus marriage theory, it can easily be assumed by readers that he concurs with the
other claims.

These claims are about the descendants of Jesus, and the organisations charged with
the keeping of the secret.

• The Merovingian Dynasty in 5th to 7th Century France was descended


from Jesus.

• The Templars discovered the secret of Jesus’ marriage and descendants


by excavations at the Temple in Jerusalem, and prospered from their
ownership of this ‘treasure’. This is why the Church destroyed the
Templars.

• The Priory of Sion continues to protect the ‘treasure’, supposedly secret


documents that would confirm the secret knowledge of Jesus’ marriage
and descendants, and the truth about the female aspect of the divine. The
treasure is the ‘Holy Grail’ of legend, and has been suppressed over the
centuries by a Church anxious to maintain its male dominated control.

24
Here is my interpretation of the history of these organisations.

The Templars were heavily influenced by Gnosticism, and their successors are secret
organisations such as the Priory of Sion and the Freemasons.

Gnostics claimed to own a knowledge that others did not possess. They said that
people could be saved by possession of this secret knowledge (Gnosis). The
ownership of a secret knowledge that others do not possess can be a great attraction. ‘I
know what you do not. That makes me special’. This was the original appeal of
Gnosticism.

If Leonardo da Vinci was a part of this supposed preservation of secret knowledge, he


could have given us cryptic clues, yes. However, it is just as reasonable to suggest,
given his own reputed tendencies, that in his painting of the Last Supper, he depicted
the disciple John as being gay.

If you add to this a possible advantage to be had from membership of such secret
organisations, especially a possible financial gain, you are pandering to basic human
greed. The Templars certainly seemed to take advantage of this. They prospered
financially. It can just as easily be assumed that the ‘treasure’ of the Holy Grail was an
actual treasure trove of ancient riches. What better way to hold on to riches than by
suggesting that they are not really riches, but a secret knowledge? Why are people
who are associated with the ‘secret’ suddenly found to be wealthy?

If you can also use the knowledge to justify yourself as the heirs to a ruling family,
then all the better. You rule by God’s will. What better way to get people to sit back
and accept their oppression and your riches?

This was the original source of the ‘divine right’ of Kings to rule their subjects. It was
the basis of the Holy Roman Empire, and consequent ruling houses in Europe down
until the early twentieth century. It was the root cause of the disputes between the
Roman Catholic Church and temporal rulers, from the Merovingian dynasty until the
Reformation.

It had led directly to the need for fraudulent claims such as the ‘Donation of
Constantine’, to establish the power of the Church, and to the idea of a ‘secret’ about
descent from Jesus, to justify royal rule and the divine right of Kings.

The search for this secret became associated by some with the romanticised and
chivalric stories of the search for the Holy Grail, originally simply the cup that Christ
used at the Last Supper.

Human greed led to the consolidation of the powers and control exercised by the
Church, in direct competition with the temporal rulers.

In the context of human greed and ambition, why can’t all of this be seen as perfectly
understandable?

None of it should automatically lead to the conclusion that basic Christian beliefs are
invalid, or that it was ‘Paul’s version’ of Christianity that allowed it all to take place,

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or that the Church has deliberately suppressed the knowledge of Jesus’ marriage and
descendants, and there is a secret organisation that knows ‘the truth’. Neither does it
justify the claim that there was a deliberate plan to discredit earlier worship of female
deities in order to ensure male domination.

Yes, this can also be surmised from an interpretation of history that suits the theory,
but I ask you, what is the more reasonable interpretation?

If we disregard the very real possibility that much of the Church actually believed it
was simply defending the true faith, can’t the domination of the Church simply be
accepted as the inevitable result of basic greedy human nature? Can’t we say that part
of it has also been a misinterpreted and misused justification of a long standing
tendency for domination of men over women?

We could just as easily say that the Quran was written deliberately with male
domination in mind. Think what trouble we would have if we went around making
our views known to Moslems. Male domination in Arab society was a long standing
tradition. No one says that Mohammed was trying to overturn an ancient worship of
the female. No, it is Christianity that has been blamed for this.

This is similar to the charge levelled at Christianity that it has created the ecological
nightmare we are coming towards. The Bible, in Genesis, gave us dominion over the
world, they say, so we dominated. This ignores the other passages in the Bible that
speak of stewardship of God’s creation. It would surely be foolish of a master of a
slave to work him to death if he did not have a replacement. These people do not
comprehend that it is human nature that is destroying our world, the same human
nature that the Bible continually tells us is the real problem. But then, it is their
human nature too, and they do not want to admit to that, so they attach the blame
elsewhere.

Is it really likely that there is a secret that is being held ‘until the time is right to
release it’? When will this be? Why hasn’t it been released before? What good is it in
this day and age to have descent from Jesus if Christian beliefs are discredited? Why
should it even be needed in today’s world to defend women’s rights, if that was to be
one of it’s perceived uses?

To say that it might shake the foundations of the Church and bring it down could
well prove to be correct. If this was the Roman Catholic Church, there are quite
a lot of Christians who would not lose a lot of sleep.

Some Christians might say that if such a secret is to be released at some time in the
future, it would just be part of the ‘end days’, the coming of a ‘false prophet’, as
forecast in the Bible. It might easily convince many people to ignore or forsake
Christianity.

What it would not succeed in doing is shake the faith of believers whose faith is
based on a rational study and consideration of the real facts.

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It would also give a real opportunity for these facts to be presented and believed.
Many people might just start to look behind the hype, sensationalism and
fanaticism, start to use reason, and try to find the truth.

********

If you have found this interesting, why not download or buy my books, ‘Mad
World’, A ‘Challenge to an Atheist’, and ‘Pure Christianity’, all available on
www.lulu.com.

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