Thursday, March 15, 2007



“The Da Vinci Code” is a novel written by Dan Brown. It is a controversial book. Many Christian people and organization do not agree with it and in fact are against its publicity. Inspite of this disagreement among the Christians, it is one of the best sellers in the world. For the 1st edition, 230, 000 copies were sold out within a few weeks. In 16 months, “The Da Vinci Code” has been reprinted for 45 times. In Forbes Magazine, Dan Brown is ranked as the 12th richest person in the world, accumulating an asset of US$76, 500, 000 from June 2005 till July 2005.
This fact has made Hollywood adapted the book into a film. Sony Film had to pay US$6 million to win the copyright of the book. On Friday, 19th May of 2006, a premier show was held in Indonesia. Most of the Indonesian churches were against the showing of the film. However, in Malaysia, the film is a box office for a few weeks![1]
The question now, why is this film black listed by the church? What is the controversial issue? Why does the church not ban any Hollywood soap opera films which portray free thinkers’ (atheist’s) ideologies?
The novel “The Da Vinci Code” depicts a scene on Christian's most controversial issue - the Council of Nicaea. Besides the council, the story is based on the myth of the Holy Grail. The novel tells us that the Christian theology is false and a lie from the Church. To know more about the secrets, let's read and analyze them.
This paper is not an extensive research, but merely some observations and readings on some of Christian theological aspects. This paper is based on chapter 55 of the book, which encompasses 3 main points.
The first point is a dialogue among three characters - Leigh Teabing, Sophie Neveu and Robert Langdon. Leigh is trying to explain the theory of the Holy Grail. To understand the Holy Grail, we must understand the Bible first. Leigh said the Bible is not written by God, but by man.
In order to know the truth of the Bible, we must be acquainted with some facts from Islamic theology. Islam believes that the holy books, such as the al-Qur'an, the Gospel (Injil), Torah and Psalm (Zabur) are God's words.[2] Any sayings or actions from the prophets are called hadiths. The example of God's word in the al-Qur'an is "إنا أنزلناه في ليلة القدر" which means: "We have indeed revealed this (Message) in the Night of Power".[3]
An example of God’s word in the Bible is "The Lord said to Moses: Find out how many grown men there are in Israel and make each of them pay me to keep him safe from danger while you are counting them".[4] The example of hadith is like the Prophet Muhammad’s sayings: “Seeking knowledge is an obligation to all Muslims".
As we know, the Bible consists of two books; the first is the Old Testament and the second is the New Testament. The Old Testament is a collection of books from Torah, Neviim and Ketubim. These books are the agreement between God and the Israel people. The New Testament is supposed to be God's word (Gospel) for the Christians given to Jesus Christ. This is in agreement with the al-Qur'an "ثُمَّ قَفَّيْنَا عَلَى آثَارِهِمْ بِرُسُلِنَا وَقَفَّيْنَا بِعِيسَى ابْنِ مَرْيَمَ وَآتَيْنَاهُ الْإِنْجِيلَ وَجَعَلْنَا فِي قُلُوبِ الَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوهُ رَأْفَةً وَرَحْمَةً " which means "Then, in their wake, We followed them up with (others of) Our apostles: We sent after Jesus the son of Marry, and bestowed on him the Gospel; and We ordained in the hearts of those who followed him Compassion and Mercy".[5]
But the reality is that the New Testament (A collection of four gospels) is more likely to be the sayings of Jesus Christ (hadiths). As an example, in this passage from the Bible "Simon Peter asked: Lord, where are you going? Jesus answered: You can't go with me now, but later on you will".[6] The other evidence is the verse said by Jesus concerning his companion, Barnabas as written in the Gospel of Barnabas. Barnabas reported, "Then Jesus turned his head and watched the writer of this letter (Barnabas), and He (Jesus) said: Lo Barnabas, you shall write my Bible and everything that had happened to me while I was on this earth".[7] From this verse, we can understand that Jesus himself asked Barnabas to write the Gospel which portrays Jesus’ life. This means that the Old Testament and the Gospel (the New Testament) are two different things.
This is one of the serious errors made by the Church. We have to accept the fact that even hadiths have errors (such as hadiths maudhu'). This is not so in the case of the al-Qur'an which is free from any error or alteration. Thus the Bible that is claimed by the Christians as God’s word is very questionable.
On the other hand, why does the Church not accept some Gospels found in the period between 18th to 20th Century, such as The Gospel of Barnabas and the scriptures of Nag Hammadi? There are more than 80 gospels that were considered to be the New Testament, and yet relatively few are accepted to be included in the New Testament.
The Christians always give absurd reasons for not accepting these gospels; for example they say these gospels are faked, although scientific analysis proved that these manuscripts were originally written around 1st and 2nd Century. At times the Church, though accepting their originality based on scientific analysis, states that the gospels were written by Gnostic sects who want to deviate from Christianity.[8] This is such a weak argument. Is it a coincidence that Barnabas said: "Then Judas’ speech and appearance changed until he looks like Jesus, and we thought he is Jesus"[9], which is similar with the verse in the al-Qur'an: "وَقَوْلِهِمْ إِنَّا قَتَلْنَا المسيحَ عيسىَ ابْنِ مريمَ رَسُوْلَ اللهِ وَمَا قَتَلُوْهُ وما صَلَبُوْهُ ولكن شُبِّهَ لَهم "[10] which means "That they said (in boastfulness), we killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Apostle of God, but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them?" To investigate this issue deeper, we would have to study the influence of St. Peter and Council of Nicaea.
The other issue is who decided which Gospels to be included in the New Testament? As we know there are many gospels in manuscript form, that are proven original without any doubt, through scientific analysis. We will discuss it later in great depth when we discuss the Council of Nicaea.
As what we have discussed earlier, the Council of Nicaea has caused Christianity to be divided. Before we discuss this, let us first discuss more on Christianity.
For all Christians, there are many days considered as “ritual days”; for example Christmas Day, Easter, Good Friday, Sunday’s communion. All of these rituals are not originally or uniquely Christian, but rather an adoption from Pagan rituals. In the book “The Da Vinci Code”, Robert Langdon terms it as “Transmogrification”. For example, the "Egyptian sun disks became the halos of Catholic saints. Pictograms of Isis nursing her miraculously conceived son Horus became the blueprint for our modern images of the Virgin Mary nursing Baby Jesus. And virtually all the elements of the Catholic ritual-the miter, the altar, the doxology, and communion, the act of 'God-eating'-were taken directly from earlier Pagan mystery religions".[11]
Sunday's communion is also a false. Why do Christians choose Sunday as the day of worshipping God? In the Christian faith, Jesus came not to destroy the Law of the Prophets from the Old Testament but rather to fulfil it.[12]
As we know, Sabbath is the day where Jews practice their ritual or praying to God and it is also one of the 10th Commandments.[13] Even Jesus also practices the Sabbath.[14] The question is why modern Christians choose Sunday as the day for their communion; why do they not choose Saturday as the Sabbath day, since Jesus came not to change the Law of Moses or the other prophets? The answer is since the Council of Nicaea, pagan Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, shifted it to coincide with the pagan's veneration day of the sun which is ‘SUN-DAY’ = ‘Sunday’.
The other interesting issue is the Christmas Day itself. Christian believed Christmas Day is the day that Jesus was born. However, scholars are still debating its truth. The precise origin of assigning December 25 as the birth date of Jesus is unclear. The New Testament provides no clues in this regard. December 25th was first identified as the date of Jesus' birth by Sextus Julius Africanus in 221 and later became the universally accepted (but this opinion has no strong evidence to support it). One widespread explanation of the origin of this date is that December 25th was the Christianizing of the dies solis invicti nati (“the day of the birth of the unconquered sun”), a popular holiday in the Roman Empire that celebrated the winter solstice as a symbol of the resurgence of the sun, the casting away of winter and the heralding of the rebirth of spring and summer. Indeed after December 25th had become widely accepted as the date of Jesus' birth, Christian writers frequently made the connection between the rebirth of the sun and the birth of the Son. One of the difficulties resulting from this view is that it suggests a nonchalant willingness on the part of the Christian church to appropriate a pagan festival when the early church was so intent on distinguishing itself categorically from pagan beliefs and practices.[15]
The Council of Nicaea (325 AD) was the most important part of Christian history. It was the first ecumenical council of the Christian Church, meeting in ancient Nicaea (now İznik, Tur.). It was called by the Pagan Roman Emperor Constantine I the Great, an unbaptized catechumen,[16] or neophyte, who presided over the opening session and took part in the discussions. At first, the Roman Empire was an empire with strong doctrine of sun worship (the cult of Sol Invictus, or the Invincible Sun) while Constantine was the head priest. At that time, three century after the rise of Jesus, Christians had multiplied exponentially. Christians and Pagans began warring, and the conflict grew to such proportions that it threatened to rend Rome in two. So Constantine decided to unify Roman Empire under a single religion, Christianity. The reason he chose Christianity was because he could see that Christianity was on rise, and many Romans convert to Christianity. But at the same time, he did not want to lose the Pagan's tradition that had been assimilated among the Romans. He did not want the Romans who still practice Paganism to rend Rome in to two. So he combined these two religions into one doctrine, Christianity, by fusing Pagan symbols, dates, and rituals into the growing Christian tradition, he created a kind of hybrid religion that was acceptable to both parties.
At this council, many aspects of Christian faith were debated and voted upon such as the important dates, the role of the bishops, which Gospels to included and of course, the divinity of Jesus. May Allah safe us from any kind of polytheism.
Before this council was held, Jesus was just a mortal man like others. Perhaps only some of Christian sect believed Jesus as divine. Many Gospels were found to defend this fact such as that of Barnabas, Phillip, and even Saint Mary Magdalene. But when Constantine sat on the council, the Roman Empire became a strong empire with its new official religion Christianity and a unity of faith, where Jesus is anointed as the son of God (May God safe us from any kind of polytheism).
So basically, the divinity of Jesus is based on the needs of the Roman Empire, not the truth about the faith itself. Even though it may be the New Testament is the true Bible, is it possible that it had a wrong interpretation? This is what al-Ghazali said in his book: al-Radd al-Jamil ala Ilahiyat al-'Isa bi al-Shorih al-Injil. Al-Ghazali said, that all of the verses are illogical and interpreted as metaphors not literal. For example in al-Qur'an: "يد الله فوق أيديهم"[17] which literally means "The Hand of God is over their hands"; this verse doesn’t make sense, because how can God have hand. On the contrary, there are other verses, for example, "ليس كمثله شيء"[18] which means "There is nothing whatever like unto Him". Thus the meaning of Hands are not hands literally, but we have interpreted it as power. So the meaning will be "The power of God is over their power".[19] Therefore, all the verses in Bible using the word son and father of God, is not literal (haqiqi) but a metaphor (majazi).[20]
Evidence to support this argument is the fact that the head council of Nicaea had to solve the problem created in the Eastern Church by Arianism, a heresy first proposed by Arius of Alexandria that affirmed that Christ was not divine but a created being. The polemic of the divinity of Jesus had already being debated upon even before Islam arrived. This shows that there was of possibility that at that time, Christianity believed in one God and Jesus is the prophet of Allah.
“The Da Vinci Code” has actually brought upon another version of the theological debate of the divinity of Christ. Even though the ‘answers’ to the divinity of Christ and the Holy Grail given by the author in the final chapter of the novel (with such thrilling and entertaining skills) are yet to be proven on scientific and rational grounds, it has open up again the controversy question on the origin of Christianity. The question is whether the Christians are brave enough to face the fact of the unscrupulous Council of Nicaea and what it had construct or to conclude it with another version of answer that would defend the Christian theology.

[1] Rizki Ridyasmara. Knights Templar Knights of Christ (Jakarta: Pustaka al-Kautsar, 2006), XV.
[2] M. Abd al-'Adhim al-Zarqani. Manahil al-'Irfan fi Ulum al-Qur'an Vol. 1 (Beirut: Dar al-Kutb al-'Alamiyah, 2004), 17; J.D Douglas. Ensiklopedi Alkitab Masa Kini Vol. 1 (Jakarta: Yayasan Komunikasi Bina Kasih, 2005), 28-29.
[3] Al-Qur'an, 97:1.
[4] Holy Bible, Exodus, 30:11-12.
[5] Al-Qur'an, 57:27.
[6] Holy Bible, John, 13:36.
[7] Barnabas, 221:1.
[8] James Emery White. The Da Vinci Question? (Yogyakarta: ANDI, 2006), 10.
[9] Barnabas, 216:4.
[10] Al-Qur'an, 4:157.
[11] Dan Brown. The Da Vinci Code (United States of America: Doubleday, 2004), 252.
[12] J.D Douglas, Ensiklopedi Alkitab Masa Kini Vol. 1 (Jakarta: Yayasan Komunikasi Bina Kasih, 2005), 29.
[13] Holy Bible, Exodus, 20:8-11.
[14] Ibid, Luke, 4:16.
[15] Encyclopædia Britannica. Christmas. (Retrieved December 24, 2006, from Encyclopædia Britannica 2006 Ultimate Reference Suite DVD).
[16] a convert to Christianity receiving training in doctrine and discipline before baptism
[17] Al-Qur'an, 48:10.
[18] Ibid, 42:11.
[19] Husain Afandi. Al-Hushun al-Hamidiyyah (Surabaya: Maktabah al-Hidayah, n.y.) 37.
[20] Muhammad Al-Ghazali. Al-Radd al-Jamil li al-Ilahiyat al-Isa bi Shorih al-Injil (n.c.: Pustaka Da'I, 1994) Translated by Hasan Abrori, 141.


fadz said...

kata tak nak tulis menda akademik...tapi tulis gak, huhu, btw, great aerticle!

akitiano said...

Kan I cakap, tidak se formal, bukan berarti tidak boleh ada yang formal!!! btw, i still blajar macam mane nak guna blog nie,so tunjuk ajar la ye...

fadz said...

kalau dah formal, formal aje sampai ke hujung, huhuhu..boleh, tapi eli pun tgh belajar ni..tgklah, how dull my blog looks like