In our last segment we read Brown’s assertions about secret documents that somehow he knows a lot about (but, since they are secret, doesn’t have to prove). His last claim was an inaccurate comment on the Q source. We continue,
“Writings by Christ Himself?”
“Of course,” Teabing said. “Why wouldn’t Jesus have kept a chronicle of His ministry? Most people did in those days. Another explosive document believed to be in the treasure is a manuscript called The Magdalene Diaries—Mary Magdalene’s personal account of her relationship with Christ, His crucifixion, and her time in France.” (255-256)
Here we see one of those areas where Brown’s thesis is wildly removed from that of more notorious critics of Christ such as the Jesus Seminar. How so? Because the Jesus Seminar theories would preclude any meaningful recording of anything about the life of Christ during his life itself. Jesus was barely a local “splash,” let alone one who had thousands of devoted followers, as Brown has already intimated. And as those who have listened to my debate with John Dominic Crossan from last August know, Crossan believes Christ would have to have been illiterate, incapable of reading or writing anything at all. So the idea that Jesus wrote a chronicle of His own ministry is not only a theory without a scintilla of historical evidence, it is not the viewpoint of any portion of scholarship at all. In the same way, the fanciful Magdalene Diaries once again cause us to wonder how anyone can know anything about secret documents that are so…secret. But we entered into the arena of the utterly a-historical a very long time ago, so we should not be overly surprised at almost anything by this point.
As I mentioned at the beginning of our series, I am limiting my review to the specifically biblical claims made by Brown in his work. There are, of course, many other problems with the text, but there are plenty of sources you can go to to read about those issues. I specifically looked for every reference to the Bible, Christ, church history, etc., that would be apologetically relevant to the readers of Pros Apologian. So with that in mind, there is only one relevant passage yet to address. The scene has changed from Teabing’s home to his aircraft. On page 309 we read the following:
Langdon’s Jewish students always looked flabbergasted when he first told them that the early Jewish tradition involved ritualistic sex. In the Temple, no less. Early Jews believed that the Holy of Holies in Solomon’s Temple housed not only God but also His powerful female equal, Shekinah. Men seeking spiritual wholeness came to the Temple to visit priestesses—or hierodules—with whom they made love and experienced the divine through physical union. The Jewish tetragrammaton YHWH—the sacred name of God—in fact derived from Jehovah, an androgenous physical union between the masculine Jah and the pre-Hebraic name for Eve, Havah.
Once again we are faced with horrifically absurd assertions that defy rationality. Langdon’s Jewish students would have every right to look flabbergasted at such an inane claim. There is not a shred of historical evidence to substantiate such an allegation concerning the Temple, and much that argues against it. Those Jewish students may well have realized that the form of Temple worship is clearly laid out in the Scriptures, and that long before Constantine, and that the only time ritualistic sex would have taken place in the Temple was during times when the Temple was profaned by foreign armies, or, times of idolatry entered into Israel’s experience, against which the prophets thundered with a voice from on high.
Secondly, shekinah was not a female deity, but a word referring to the glory of God that accompanied the Jewish people on the Exodus, and was manifested in the Tabernacle. Where does Brown get the idea this referred to some female consort? Simple: it comes from medieval Jewish Kabbalistic texts! Ah yes, nothing like sound historical sources going right back to the time period under discussion…well, OK, removed by 2200 years, but hey, at least there’s a source this time! One almost feels relieved to find something outside of Dan Brown’s fertile imagination you can interact with after all the silliness that has come before. But Kabbalistic sources from the medieval period are hardly worthy of interaction, either: the idea that they represent ancient sources is ridiculous as well.
Finally, the assertion concerning the divine name is completely backwards and once again reveals the depth of Brown’s lack of scholarship. Jehovah is derived from Yahweh, not the other way around. Jehovah is a Germanicized form, coming from the medieval period, and represents the much later Jewish prohibition on speaking the divine name. The Jews took the vowels for the term “Lord,” Adonai, and inserted them in the Tetragrammaton, YHWH, producing a false reading, but one that served the purpose of warning the reader not to read the divine name out loud. It was this ya-how-ah artificial reading that came into the developing Germanic languages and then into English as “Jehovah.” Brown can’t put Constantine in the right century nor can he follow a simple, basic line of historical development regarding the name Jehovah. One is truly astonished at the riches one can gain through utter ignorance.
Given the backwards nature of his understanding of the origination of the divine name, his assertion regarding the pre-Hebraic name for Eve and its joining with a masculine form falls flat on its face as well. The original term was Yahweh, leaving no ground for Brown’s imaginative attempt to insert the “divine feminine.” While there is much discussion of what Yahweh means, focused upon self-existence or continuing stability/faithfulness, ground of being, etc., none of these are relevant to Brown’s wild-eyed theories.
In our final discussion we will summarize our discussion and offer some suggestions regarding how we can be best prepared for the release of the film adaptation of Brown’s book in May of this year.