Monday, July 23, 2007

Da Vinci: Duality and the Sacred Feminine

The gist of the book is that the Church has been covering up and rewriting Scripture to remove Mary Magdalene as the female god. The true religion, the one that has been covered up, according to the book, is a balanced, dualistic religion. The trouble with dualist religions is that they are inherently contradictory. If there are two balanced halves, there must be a whole. Your options are either worshiping the lesser beings or coming up with a binary unity. The problem of evil is the death blow to the second interpretation. Unless there is a third force causing evil, the binary god is the source of evil, and therefore unworthy of worship.

The dramatic cover up explained in the book is explained with the famous line, "The winners write the history books." This does not, however, mean that the books of the losers will be any more accurate. The losers in any particular conflict have their own agenda, only they are not limited by evidence ("The enemy destroyed it."), nor by pragmatism. The loser's story has both the bias of partisanship and the fault of extremism. Looking to the Gnostic Gospels for the truth is like reading "The Confederate History of the Antebellum South."

If you want to read an objective history of a subject, read the writings of someone who doesn't have a dog in the fight. The Jews have no reason to believe Christ was God, yet the Jewish Scriptures are full of prophecies that point to Christ and only to Christ and demonstrate that he must be divine. The response from fans of the book is that the church rewrote the Old Testament to fit their interpretation. There are several problem with that, not least of which is the Jews. You cannot find a group in history better suited to resisting attempts at changing their Scriptures than the Jews. They've been thrown out of every country, had their Scriptures and synagogues burned, suffered innumerable pogroms, yet they survive and carry their Scriptures with them.

A second problem is why this replacement of Scriptures with redacted versions is not mentioned in Jewish history? Wouldn't a people as dedicated to studying the word as the Jews notice the changes? Wouldn't they notice that their new copies were missing passages and had new passages inserted?

A third problem is the multiple edits needed. Even if the Church managed to round up all of the Jewish Scriptures to rewrite the prophecies, as well as limiting the Gnostic Gospels, they would not get it right on the first try. The Bible is intensely interconnected. Everything relates to everything else. If you push one bit out of alignment, the whole thing will be noticeably skewed. So even if they managed to round up everything and change it, these new Scriptures would need to rounded up again for a new reworking, and again, and again. One attempt is a stretch. The dozens needed would be impossible. It's like getting rid of something on the Internet. It's copied into so many places, downloaded by so many people, that eliminating it is virtually impossible.

In short, the church has not the power to edit the Scriptures to the extent needed (even if you assume that God is standing passively by while this happens), and the proposed alternative is either evil or contradictory.

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Blogger Karl said...

I would never consider the idea that Christians actually went back and changed the Jewish texts -- it's much easier to change the text you're actually writing instead. One prophesy about Nazareth, another about Bethlehem? OK, let's say Jesus grew up in Nazareth, but happened to be born in Bethlehem while he was on a trip. It's not like he actually had a birth certificate.

That's what I'd argue, anyway. "Fans of the book" might go the other way due to being stupidheads.

1:09 PM  
Blogger Prof. Roger Kovaciny said...

The prophecy about Christ's birth was in Bethlehem. But "he shall be called a Nazarene" says nothing about his birthplace, and the prophecy itself doesn't mention Nazareth--the closest they've come is that Matthew did a somewhat stretched interpretation of the Messiah being a nazar, which means "consecrated" in Hebrew.

The idea that anybody could change Jewish texts is beyond ludicrous. The Jews were such careful proofreaders that 1200 years of hand-copying turned up no significant errors when the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. The Jews not only counted every word and letter, they marked the MIDDLE word AND letter of each book.

3:13 PM  
Blogger Prof. Roger Kovaciny said...

On dualism, as C.S.Lewis wrote, Christ would not have been a problem in any other religion except Akhenaten's. What's one more god? But it was specifically to the Jews that he came, a people who had had it pounded through their adamantine skulls that there was one and only one God, not to be represented by any image and so big that the universe can't contain him because He is so great there can't possibly be two of them.

Haven't read the book but I doubt that Brown is scholar enough to know that St. Paul brought up the possibility of a goddess and decisively rejected it. On Mars Hill in Athens, in his sermon about the Unknown God, the Athenians thought he was talking about "strange gods" because he preached about--in the original Greek of Acts 17:18--Jesus and Anastasia. (Anastasia means "resurrection" but very few theologians seem to have noticed that Paul gained the interest of these pagans by using something with a double meaning--as Jesus Himself did on occasion, John 4:10. If there was a goddess, she would have been named Anastasia, not Magdalena.

3:28 PM  
Blogger Prof. Roger Kovaciny said...

On the birth certificate matter... I don't know exactly how the Jews did it but no people in history kept more exact and careful genealogies. One of the reasons Jews don't sacrifice lambs anymore is that when Jerusalem and the Temple was destroyed, so were the genealogies, so nobody named Levi could really be sure he was a Levite and no one named Cohen (priest) could really be sure he was a priest.

3:58 PM  
Blogger Karl said...

Re birth certificates: consider me pwned.

8:04 AM  

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