The Da Vinci Code claims an “unbroken chain of knowledge” (p.5) that can be traced back to the Old Testament. The New Testament also claims to be rooted in the Jewish Scriptures. But which of the two fits like a hand in glove with Moses and the Prophets?
Dan Brown attempts to tie his “secret knowledge” to early Judaism with this shocking statement: “Admittedly, the concept of sex as a pathway to God was mind-boggling at first. 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. . . . The Jewish tetragrammaton YHWH—the sacred name of God—is in fact derived from Jehovah, an androgynous physical union between the masculine Jah and the pre- Hebraic name for Eve, Havah (p.309).
Such concepts sound scholarly when spoken by a fictional Harvard professor of symbology. They can also be misleading when they come from the pen of someone who is trying to rewrite history to claim that God is pleased by the pagan practices of ancient fertility cults. This is another instance, however, where the facts are different.
Researchers Carl Olson and Sandra Miesel note:
The name “Jehovah” didn’t even exist until the thirteenth century at the earliest (and wasn’t common until the sixteenth century), and is an English word. It was created by artificially combining the consonants of YHWH (or JHVH) and the vowels of Adonai (which means “Lord”), the name substituted for YHWH in the Old Testament by Jews. The Hebrew—not “pre-Hebraic”—word for Eve is hawwâ, (pronounced “havah”), which means “mother of all living” (www.davinci hoax.com).
By contrast, Brown uses his own assumptions to make unjustified claims about Hebrew word meanings and origins. The reader is asked to accept the words of Robert Langdon, a fictitious authority in the field, who tries to tie the worship of Israel to the ancient fertility cults characteristic of Israel’s neighbors. Notice the difference of definition given by Hebrew scholars in the Theological Wordbook Of The Old Testament.
Most likely the name [YHWH] should be translated something like “I am He who is,” or “I am He who exists” . . . . More than anything perhaps, the “is-ness” of God is expressive both of His presence and His existence (p.214).
The self-description of God in the Old Testament is that He is personal and eternally existent. But why is this important? The ancient Hebrews were surrounded by pagan people who worshiped many gods and goddesses, offered their children as sacrifices, and engaged in ritual sex and other forms of moral depravity. These forms of worship were condemned by the prophets. In fact, a ruler of Israel or Judah was often approved or condemned on the basis of whether he accepted or rejected such pagan cults (1 Ki. 15–16).
Yet The Da Vinci Code claims that the original form of Judaism was polytheistic with goddess worship and ritual sex (p.309). To place such pagan practices within the Holy of Holies would have been a blasphemous violation of Mosaic law.
The Da Vinci Code contradicts the combined witness of the Hebrew Scriptures. What about the New Testament? Does it give a picture of continuity with the Old Testament? Together, the writings of Paul, Peter, James, John, and Jude combine with the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John to cite multiple sources from the Old Testament to support their view of Christ. They build on the testimony of Jewish prophets who anticipated a coming Deliverer who would be born of a virgin (Isa. 7:14; Mt. 1:18,24-25). This Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (Mic. 5:2; Lk. 2:4-7). Although a king, He would enter Jerusalem humbly on a donkey (Zech. 9:9; Mt. 21:6-11). Even the piercing and death of Messiah were foretold centuries before the invention of crucifixion as a form of execution (Isa. 53; Zech. 12:10; Mt. 27). And the Messiah triumphing over death in resurrection was foretold (Ps. 16:10; Isa. 53:10; Acts 2:31). These fulfillments of messianic predictions are only part of a much wider range of other elements of continuity also fulfilled by the unique person of Jesus of Nazareth.
Many have noted down through the centuries that “the New Testament is in the Old Testament contained and the Old Testament is in the New Testament explained.” They do fit together like a hand in glove—a fit that would have been impossible to contrive.
Do “the winners” rewrite history to suit their desires?
Dan Brown’s expert “Grail hunter” tells Sophie: “History is always written by the winners. When two cultures clash, the loser is obliterated, and the winner writes the history books— books which glorify their own cause and disparage the conquered foe. As Napoleon once said, ‘What is history, but a fable agreed upon?’ ” (p.256).
One problem with the book’s observation that the emperor Constantine rewrote history is that Constantine could not have collected and altered the combined evidence of history that preceded him.
Ancient documents including but not restricted to the New Testament accounts tell the story of witnesses who saw the Old Testament Scriptures fulfilled in Christ and who were willing to suffer and die for what they saw in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. These witnesses lived and died in spite of the power of Rome, not because of it. For most of the years preceding Constantine they were a hated and persecuted people (1 Cor. 1:26-31). Followers of Christ were the outcasts of society. They were the poor and powerless witnesses of the history of Christ, not “the winners,” as alleged by Brown.