by Jenifer Johnston
AUTHOR Dan Brown is set to reignite controversy over his
bestseller The Da Vinci Code today, by defending claims he
makes in the book that Jesus Christ married and had a child.
In a rare television interview to be broadcast tonight on the
National Geographic Channel, Brown reaffirms his “belief”
in book’s key theory – that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and
their French-born child started a blood line stretching to the
present day. Critics have denounced the new claims as “bonkers”.
The Da Vinci Code, first published in 2003, has sparked
worldwide religious debate. The quasi-historical thriller claims
Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting The Last Supper holds the
key to the Holy Grail. According to the book, the Grail is
not a chalice, as traditionally believed, but Mary Magdalene.
It alleges Jesus and Mary married and had a child and that
their bloodline survives to this day – a secret kept by
the Catholic Church.
Christian, especially Catholic, churches across the globe have been
inundated with inquiries about the validity of the Bible and
the possible existence of descendants of Jesus. Senior
the Vatican have dismissed the book
In tonight’s documentary, Unlocking Da Vinci’s Code, Brown
defies his critics, insisting that there are grounds for taking
seriously his theories.
“I began as a skeptic,” he says. “As
I started researching Da Vinci Code I really thought I
would disprove a lot of this theory about Mary Magdalene and
holy blood and all of that. I became a believer.”
Brown also argues in the
documentary that efforts to describe Mary Magdalene as a
prostitute were part of a smear campaign against the wife of
“It’s possible that his relationship
with Mary Magdalene really was sort of set aside and that she
was portrayed in some way ... as a fallen woman. Simply such
that we could explain her presence; that Jesus wasn’t in love
with her, he was trying to help her out.”
Brown contends that Jesus
must have wed because “in that time in history, for a young Jewish
man to not be married … it was practically a sin.” Others featured
in the TV film agreed it was odd for Jesus to be a single
man, but they point to the celibate community of apostles around him
at the time.
Film makers tried to find the sources from which Brown said
he gleaned the information to compile his theory. However, they
noted that some of the claims were not supported by historians,
theologians or in academic works.
One interviewee in the documentary, Rev Robin Griffith Jones
of London’s Temple Church, for example, disputes Brown’s
claim that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married.
But he told the Sunday Herald he was nevertheless glad of the
increase in visitors his church has seen because of The Da Vinci
“I think that among the visitors we
have there are some who have taken the book on board as an
absolute truth, but there are far more who come and ask
interested and interesting questions. That is very nice indeed.”
Leading Catholic commentator John
Haldane, a professor of philosophy at St Andrew’s University,
said Brown’s new claims were “bonkers”.
“I think that Dan Brown lets
himself down by showing that he takes some of the book’s
theories half-seriously. It’s just bonkers. If you’re going to
advance a thesis, the obvious thing one wants to know is the
evidence behind it.
“The stuff that’s being put up as evidence [by Brown] is just
hopeless. If an undergraduate put this kind of theory into a
first year essay, you would be wondering how you were going to
sort them out.”
A spokesman for the Church of
Scotland’s panel on doctrine was also unmoved by Brown’s
“Generally speaking, New Testament
scholars have not been convinced by those theories which suggest
that Christ married Mary Magdalene.”
The Da Vinci Code has been in the
British bestseller list for 69 weeks, and has now sold over 25
million copies world wide.
Forbes magazine rate Brown as the 12th most powerful celebrity in
the world, estimating that between June 2004 to June 2005 he earned
$76.5 million in publishing royalties.
Brown’s personal fortune is set to increase further when a film
version of the book is released next year. Directed by Ron Howard
and starring Tom Hanks, filming will take place at the Louvre,
Lincoln Cathedral and at the Rosslyn Chapel outside Edinburgh. The
success of the Da Vinci Code has propelled his other works
into best-seller lists and spawned a mini industry of websites,
tours, merchandise and counter-claim books.
Brown, a former English teacher, rarely gives interviews or
makes personal appearances, and claims to solve plot points by
hanging upside down in gravity boots.
He became interested in the works of Da Vinci after his
university lecturer pointed out that the depiction of The Last
Supper contains no cup of the Holy Grail, and suggested
the grail could be Mary Magdalene.
In March this year the Vatican denounced the novel for its “lies”,
with the Archbishop of Genoa declaring there was “a very real risk
that many people who read it will believe that the fables it
contains are true.”
However, Brown says in the documentary that the debate has
been “good for religion”.
“There have been alternative
theories about Jesus Christ forever. The one force that
can challenge faith is apathy. People just losing
interest. Agree or disagree, at least we’re talking about it.
And that’s good for religion.”