The Purple Pinup Guru Platform

When purple things are pulsating on your mind, I'm the one whose clock you want to clean. Aiding is Sparky, the Astral Plane Zen Pup Dog from his mountain stronghold on the Northernmost Island of the Happy Ninja Island chain, this blog will also act as a journal to my wacky antics at an entertainment company and the progress of my self published comic book, The Deposit Man which only appears when I damn well feel like it. Real Soon Now.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Sparky: I guess Xtianity doesn't get the jokes always been on them ... Always. Formatting is as random as always. :D = Joy!

Rejection of
Pascal's Wager's
Paul Tobin:
The Twelve Apostles

(enhanced ala the MetaWeb of old)
Maybe there is a case for Rufus - the forgotten 13th apostle,
from Dogma, played by Chris Rock to be made -

Like almost everything else in the gospel accounts of “Jesus'” life, we find problems with the accounts regarding the apostles of “Jesus”:
• Problems with the Names of the Apostles
◦ There are fifteen names for twelve slots. A problem not easily reconcilable.
◦ We do not even know if Matthew and Levi are the same person
• Problems with the Subsequent History of the Apostles
◦ Even in the New Testament, most of the apostles appear as merely names on the list of apostles
◦ The additional details about some of the apostles given in John are unhistorical.
◦ Subsequent Christian tradition had very little of historical value to add.

All these show that by the time the gospels were written very little was known about most of the apostles except their names and even of these there were already divergent traditions. Our suspicion about the historicity of there being twelve apostles is further heightened by the fact that the number twelve itself is a number pregnant with Old Testament symbolism. In short, Christianity which claims itself an historical religion spread by eyewitnesses to the miraculous events of “Jesus” life, has a problem with this: the eyewitnesses themselves may well be fictitious!

The Apostles: Fifteen Names for Twelve Slots

According to all the four gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, “Jesus” selected a band, twelve in number, of disciples to help him to preach his message. Each of the synoptic supplied a list of the twelve apostles while Acts listed the eleven left after Judas committed suicide. In all other respects, the list in Acts is identical to that in Luke, which is to be expected, since they were both penned by the same author. In the gospel of John the names of nine apostles can be found interspersed in the narrative. The table below gives a summary of the four lists.
The Apostles of “Jesus”

A glance at the table above will show that the four lists (I count the lists in Luke-Acts as one) are by no means harmonious. The only two lists that tally each other are those of Mark and Matthew. Luke's list differ from these by including a second Judas (son of James) among the twelve. His list excluded the name Thaddaeus found in Mark and Matthew. John's list agrees with Luke in including a second Judas but compounds the problem by including yet another apostle not found in any of the three earlier lists: Nathanael.

The apologists had tried to reconcile these discrepancies. First they claimed that Bartholomew is actually bar Talmai (son of Talmai) and that his name is Nathanael. (It is amazing that this explanation, if true, was first mentioned only in the ninth century CE) And then they claimed that Thaddaeus is the surname of Judas son of James. These reconstructions, of course (the avid will reader would have already gotten used to the method of the apologists by now), have no support whatsoever for it. In other words we do not know if Bartholomew is Bar Talmai, and we definitely do not know that Nathanael was the son of one Talmai. We definitely have no reason whatsoever to even believe that Thaddaeus was the surname of Judas son of James. These reconstructions are proposed solely to reconcile the four lists to one another and save the precious doctrine of Biblical inerrancy.[1]

This is not all. In ancient manuscripts of Mark and Matthew the name of the tenth apostle are rendered in two different ways: Lebbaeus and Thaddaeus. These names are not interchangeable and represent two distinct names. The balance of evidence from these manuscripts point to Lebbaeus being the original reading in Matthew and Thaddaeus in Mark. [2][a]

Is Levi the same as the apostle Matthew ?

Another difficulty arises with the apostle Matthew. The gospel named after him gave an account of his calling:

Matthew 9:9-10
As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office; and he said to him, "Follow me," he told him. And he rose and followed him. And as he sat at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples.

The problem with that account is that Mark (copied by Luke) gave exactly the same story but supplied a different name for the tax collector:

Mark 2:14-15 (Luke 5:27-29)
And as he passed on, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office, and he said to him, "Follow me." And he rose and followed him. And as he sat at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were sitting with Jesus and his disciples; for there were many who followed him.

Luke's account also gave Levi as the name of the tax collector. In all the synoptic lists however, it was Matthew and not Levi who was placed in them. Christian apologists simply assumed that Matthew and Levi are one and the same person. Some had suggested that Matthew was the Christian name taken on by Levi after he followed Christ. This, however, does not resolve the problem. There is no evidence that Matthew was the Greek name for Levi. [4] In fact Matthew is as authentically a Hebrew name as Levi. [5] Note that Mark, by calling Levi the son of Alphaeus makes him very probably the brother of the apostle James son of Alphaeus. Nowhere in the gospel of Matthew do we find any hint of a family tie between Matthew and James. Mark in his list of the twelve apostles, gave the name of Matthew and not Levi. He surely would have stated that this Matthew was Levi, whose calling he narrated earlier, had that been the case. [6]

The Lacuna in the New Testament

Coupled with this uncertainty as to who exactly constituted the original twelve apostles, we are even more uncertain about what their subsequent histories were. In the New Testament, our knowledge of the apostles are mainly limited to Peter and the sons of Zebedee (John and James). According to the gospels Peter, John and James formed the inner circle of Jesus disciples. They were the only ones present to witness the raising of Jairus' daughter (Mark 5:37; Luke 8:51), the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1; Mark 9:2; Luke 9:28) and the prayers in the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:37; Mark 14:33). [7]

Outside the gospel and Acts we have the genuine epistles of Paul attesting to Peter and John as the "Jerusalem Pillars" (Galatians 2:9). We also know from Paul that Peter was married (I Corinthians 9:5), he was the first to see the risen Jesus (I Corinthians 15:5) and that he traveled outside Jerusalem (Galatians 2:11).

Matthew, surprisingly, is mentioned only once outside the list of apostles given above, in the short passage in the gospel of Matthew 9:9-10. This passage narrates his calling as an apostle followed by Jesus having dinner at his house.

Two apostolic deaths are narrated in the New Testament. Judas Iscariot was the first apostle to have died (Matthew 27:9; Acts 1:18) by committing suicide after the crucifixion of Jesus around 30 CE. The next disciple to have suffered martyrdom was James son of Zebedee (Acts 12:2); he was beheaded by Herod Antipas around 44 CE. [8]

With no exaggeration, the above represents the sum total of (somewhat) reliable information about the apostles in the New Testament. The information about the rest of the apostles are either nonexistent or unreliable.

The apostles Thaddaeus, Simon the Cananean, James son of Alphaeus [b] and Bartholomew appear only in the list of apostles given above. Nothing else is written about them in all of the New Testament! [10]

Added to these there are two other apostles that appear only as names in the Synoptic gospels and Acts: Thomas and Philip [c]. Thus as far as the synoptic gospels and Acts are concerned, these two are merely names, just like the other four above. Indeed the case with Thomas is even worse: it was not even a name! "Thomas" comes from the Hebrew T'hom, which means "twin". The seemingly additional surname in John 11:16 translated in the King James as "Thomas who is called Didymus" adds nothing new, for "didymus" is simply Greek for "the Twin"! Modern translations now give this passage as "Thomas who is called 'the Twin'". There is no evidence in contemporary literature that either Thomas or Didymus was ever used as names during that period. [12]

Andrew is mentioned, in the synoptics, only a little bit more than the other six we have seen above. We are told of his calling (Mark 1:16; Matthew 4:18) and his questioning Jesus at the Mount of Olives (Mark 13:3). [d]

Thus in the New Testament, except in the gospel of John which we will examine immediately below, we are told nothing more about six of the apostles - Thaddaeus, Simon the Cananean, James son of Alphaeus, Bartholomew, Thomas, Philip - except their names! Even Matthew and Andrew barely get any mention beyond their names in the list of the twelve apostles. Indeed these eight apostles are shadowy characters-we know nothing much beyond their names.

John's Treatment of the "Shadowy" Apostles

Three of the shadowy apostles mentioned in the section above, Thomas, Philip and Andrew, are given more prominent roles in the gospel of John. The passages concerning these apostles in John are as follows:

  • Thomas
    • John 11:16 The Raising Of Lazarus
      Then Thomas who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, "Let us go, so that we may die with him."
    • John 14:5 Jesus' Farewell Discourse at the Last Supper
      Thomas says to him, "Lord, we do not know where we are going; how can we know the way?"
    • John 20:24-29 Story of Doubting Thomas

  • Andrew
    • John 1:35-42 The Call of Andrew and Peter
    • John 6:8-9 The Feeding of the Multitudes
      One of the disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, says to him, "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fishes. But what are these among so many?"
    • John 12:21-22 Greek Believers in Jesus
      Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus." Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew amd Philip went and told Jesus.

  • Philip
    • John 1:29-51 The Call of Philip and Nathanael
    • John 6:5-8 The Feeding of the Multitudes
      Jesus said to Philip "Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?"...Philip answered him, "200 denarii would not be enough bread for each of them to get a little."
    • John 12:21-22 Greek Believers in Jesus
    • John 14:8 Jesus' Farewell Discourse at the Last Supper
      Philip says to him, "Lord, show us the father, and that suffices us"

Many of these incidents given in the gospel of John in which the names of these apostles are included are demonstrably unhistorical.

For instance the presence of Andrew (John 6:8-9) and Philip (John 6:5-8) in the miracle of the feeding of multitudes is merely the addition of names to an incident which never happened. The Jesus Seminar called this event "a narrative ritualization of a common practice" of Jesus sharing a common meal of fish and bread with his friends. [13]

Similarly the appearance of Thomas in the Raising of Lazarus (John 11:16) and his major role in the Doubting Thomas episode of the resurrection narratives are merely addition of his name to fictitious accounts. [14]

On other occasions the names of the disciples are merely added with questions for Jesus to break the monotony of his long discourses. This is the judgment of the Jesus Seminar on the questions of Thomas (John 14:5) and Philip (John 14:9) in the farewell discourse of Jesus during the last supper:

In the "farewell speeches", the fourth evangelist attributes to Jesus, he occasionally inserts dialogue in order to relieve the monotony of long, uninterrupted monologues. In this segment Thomas is the foil for the question about the way to the place Jesus is going in v.5. Philip functions as the dolt in v.8. These questions and Jesus' answers are completely alien to the historical Jesus, the crafter of parables, aphorisms, and witticisms. Both the words and the contrived narrative framework deserve a black rating. [i.e. "largely or wholly unhistorical" according to the rating system of the Jesus Seminar-PT] [15]

The appearance of the pair, Andrew and Philip, in the episode of the Greeks who were seeking Jesus (John 12:20-22) faces similar problems. The whole story seems to serve as justification for the existence of Gentiles in the second century church when there was no story of Jesus preaching to them. The obviously unhistorical element of a voice speaking out from the sky (John 12:28-29 - akin to the episode of Jesus' baptism in Mark 1:10-11) simply confirms the whole unhistorical nature of the story. The Jesus Seminar rated this episode as unhistorical (i.e. black). [16]

We are left only with the calling of Andrew/Peter (John 1:35-42)and Philip/Nathanael (John 1:43-51).

Let us look at the call of Andrew and Peter first. We have John the Baptist calling Jesus "the lamb of God" and "son of God" (John 1:29-36). The narrative mentioned that Andrew "heard this" and followed Jesus and later convinced Peter to do the same. Yet this is totally implausible. We know from the old sayings source Q (Luke 7:18-20/Matthew 11:2-3) that when John the Baptist was imprisoned, he actually sent out his disciples to ask Jesus "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?" . Thus even after his arrest, the Baptist is still not clear who exactly Jesus was. To him pronounced Jesus as "son of God" and "lamb of God" the moment he laid his eyes of Jesus is being a little, to quote Winston Churchill, "economical with the truth". [17]

For the calling of Philip and Nathanael, there are several difficulties which suggest the story as it stands is unhistorical. Firstly we note that the pair of call stories (Andrew/Peter and Philip/Nathanael) parallels that found in Mark (1:16-20) where we have the pairs of Peter/Andrew and James/John. These strongly suggest that the early oral tradition felt that two stories of the calling of pairs are sufficient for purposes. The oral tradition went through a natural evolution and diverged into two strands where the names of the second pair become Philip/Nathanael in John and James/John in Mark. Secondly, we note that the name , Nathanael, is in itself suspect. As we have seen above, the name is not found in the list of the twelve apostles in the synoptics. The name Nathanael, which means "God gives", is very rarely found in Rabbinic writings. According to John March, these factors strongly suggest that John chose this name "more for theological meaning than historical exactitude". So apart from the name Philip, which is confirmed by the other sources, very little in the story as narrated by John can be confidently said to be historical. [18]

We can safely conclude that the gospel of John adds no new information to the shadowy apostles of the synoptics.

Later Tradition of Apostles

Outside the New Testament, there is even less reliable information about the twelve apostles. In the words of the historian of early Christianity, Professor Henry Chadwick, in the immediate aftermath of the death and "resurrection" of Jesus:

Most of the twelve disciples disappear from history. Only Peter, John, and James the Lord's brother are more than names. [19]
[Italics mine-PT]

Another historian who has also written on early Christianity, Paul Johnson, concurs.

Only with Peter can we trace any activity; with John it is barely possible, though we can assume it since he was martyred. And it is quite impossible with the rest. James, Jesus’ brother, is an identifiable personality, indeed an important one. But he is not an "apostle", nor one of the "twelve". [20]
[Italics mine-PT]

To fill this lacuna of stories regarding the apostles, during the period spanning roughly 150-250 CE, five apocryphal acts were written. These were The Acts of Peter, The Acts of John, The Acts of Andrew, The Acts of Thomas and The Acts of Paul. These are all works written chiefly to entertain, to instruct and to spread Christian propaganda. Very little in these works can be considered historical. [21]

  • The Acts of Peter is preserved today only in scattered fragments in various languages. That the work is largely a fictional invention can be seen from its obsession with virginity and morbid hatred of sex-a trend that was developing during the time it was written. However it does seem to preserve some authentic tradition of Peter's martyrdom in Rome. According to this work, Peter was crucified on an upside down cross during the persecution of Nero. [22]

  • The Acts of John is of little historical value since it confused the John the seer of Revelation with the apostle John. [23] John the son of Zebedee is some sort of an enigma. Tradition from late second century (Ireneaus [c130-c200] and Clement of Alexandria [c150-c215]) asserted that John died in Ephesus during the reign of Trajan which would put his death around the year 98 to 117. [24] There is an alternate tradition however, that placed his death very early; stating that he was martyred, together with his brother James, in 44 CE. [25]

  • The Acts of Andrew is another work of Christian fiction. It story of Andrew's martyrdom in Patras Greece is generally considered unhistorical. The tradition that he was crucified on an X-shaped cross (St. Andrew's Cross) is based on an even later tradition; around the thirteenth century. [26]

  • The Acts of Thomas narrates the story of Thomas' mission to India. Some scholars, about a century ago, argued for this historicity of this Acts due to mention of an actual Indian King, Gundaphorus in the work. [27] However this view is no longer held today. The presence of the reference to actual historical personae is due to the fact that during the time the Acts of Thomas was written, there was a lively commercial and cultural exchange between Edessa, where the Acts was composed, and India. Thus there was ample opportunity for the author to pick up historical details to weave into his narrative. [28] One of the main reason why the Acts of Thomas is considered unhistorical is due to the presence of late Gnostic, Mandean and Manichean influence in the work. [29] [e]

The fact that there was little information available on the twelve apostles can be seen from the excerpt below from Eusebius' History of the Church:

History of the Church 3:1
Meanwhile the holy apostles and disciples of our Savior were dispersed throughout the world. Parthia, according to tradition, was allotted to Thomas as his field of labor, Scythia to Andrew, and Asia to John, who, after he had lived some time there, died at Ephesus. Peter appears to have preached in Pontus, Galatia, Bithynia, Cappadocia, and Asia to the Jews of the dispersion. And at last, having come to Rome, he was crucified head-downwards; for he had requested that he might suffer in this way.

It should be recalled that Eusebius (c260-c340) was the ecclesiastical historian of early Christianity. He had access to the vast library of early Christian works at Caesarea which he cited and quoted extensively in this book. Yet when it comes to the subsequent career of the apostles, all he could muster was the same four names as the apocryphal Acts: Thomas, Andrew, John and Peter! Furthermore he gave no indication that his list was incomplete or that it was merely an excerpt. [30]

After the publication of these five apocryphal Acts, the next generations of Christian hagiographers concocted even more grotesque and less believable Acts. There were Acts of Philip, Acts of Peter and Andrew, The Martyrdom of Matthew, The Acts of Andrew and Bartholomew and so on. Schneelmacher's New Testament Apocrypha Volume II listed forty of such works. These works were mainly expansions of the original five apocryphal Acts with no historical value. [31]

Needless to say, the traditions regarding the later ministries of the "shadowy" apostles are late and extremely unreliable. For instance, the apostle Matthew was supposed to have been martyred (according to different traditions) in Ethiopia, Persia and Pontus! [32] Like Matthew, Bartholomew also managed to die multiple deaths of martyrdom. He was supposed to have been martyred in India and in Armenia. Contradictory, late and unreliable traditions exist about all the apostles. [33] History knows nothing about them.


We thus know nothing about the subsequent careers of the apostles except for Peter, James and John. Even as early as the end of the first century, when the gospels and Acts were first composed, we have clear evidence that information regarding the apostles was already hard to come buy. We find fifteen names for the list of twelve apostles. Even if we confined ourselves to the twelve names given in Mark and Matthew the problem is not resolved. For at least six of these names are nothing more than names; we know nothing about Thaddaeus, Simon the Cananean, James son of Alphaeus, Bartholomew, Thomas and Philip. With Matthew and Andrew we know only slightly more: that Matthew was a tax collector when he was called and that Andrew was Peter's brother. With Judas, there are problems with the whole story of his betrayal. [Which we examine elsewhere.]

Subsequent traditions have no more to add to these. The early apocryphal acts of Peter, John, Andrew and Thomas, contain very little that is historically reliable. The later ones were even worse and are merely fanciful expansions of these earlier works. Even the ecclesiastical historian Eusebius, could do no more than repeat the four names of the apocryphal acts when recounting what he knows about the subsequent careers of the apostles.

Two possibilities present themselves. The number twelve, as we have noted has rich symbolic value in Judaism being equal to the tribes of Israel. This means that the number twelve could be one that tradition assumed the number of disciples to be. [f] The other possibility, more damning, I think, to Christian belief, is that the mission of the twelve was a failure. We know today that a large part of Christian theology has its roots in the epistles of Paul who was not one of the original twelve apostles. The original apostles, the ones actually hand-picked by Jesus, made no impact on Christian history whatsoever. [34]


a.The editors of the UBS Greek New Testament decided to leave Thaddaeus as the reading for both Mark 3:18 and Matthew 10:3. However as one of the editors explained the issue was not that simple. While they rated the Thaddeus reading in Mark as "A", meaning they are certain that this was the original reading here, the issue was "more difficult" with the reading in Matthew. There were four different types of reading here: "Thaddaeus", "Lebbaeus", and "Lebbaeus who was called Thaddaeus" and "Thaddaeus who was called Lebbaeus". Finally the editors opted for "Thaddaeus" but rated the reading a "B". [3]
b.The identification of James the son of Alphaeus with James the Less (Mark 15:40) or with James the brother of Jesus (Mark 6:3) is pure conjecture. [9]
c.Not to be confused with Philip, one of the seven Hellenist deacons in Acts (6:5; 8-4-50; 21:8).
d.Even this meager information is considered suspect by scholars. The Jesus Seminar called the whole backdrop of the thirteen chapter of Mark (at the Temple and then at the Mount of Olives) a "fictive setting" and the verses containing the question of Andrew of Peter (Mark 13:3-4) as a continuation of the fictitious narrative framework. [11]
e.We will not be discussing the Acts of Paul here as he was not one of the twelve apostles.
f.Sources hostile to Christianity preserved different numbers of apostles. The second century critic of Christianity, Celsus, mentioned that there were ten (or eleven) apostles. (see Origen Against Heresies 2:46 & 1:62) The Babylonian Talmud listed only five apostles: Matthai, Nagai, Nezer, Buni and Thoda (Sanhedrin 43a). [35]


1.Cadoux, The Life of Jesus: p105
Craveri, The Life of Jesus: p150-151
Nineham, Saint Mark: p117
Riedel, The Book of the Bible: p437
2.Fenton, Saint Matthew: p152
Nineham, Saint Mark: p117
3.Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament: p26, 81
4.Fenton, op. cit: p136
5.Craveri, op. cit: p153
6.Nineham, op. cit: p99
7.Riedel, op. cit: p428
8.Livingstone, Dictionary of the Christian Church: p267
Riedel, The Book of the Bible: p435
9.Brownrigg, Who's Who in the Bible: The New Testament: p146
10.Goodspeed, The Twelve: p19, 41-44
Riedel, op. cit: p437-438
11.Funk,, The Acts of Jesus: p133-134
12.Goodspeed, op. cit: P 25, 43
13.Funk,, op. cit: p387
14.Funk,, op. cit: p409-411, 422
Ludemann, Jesus After 2000 Years: p510, 582
15.ibid: p422
16.ibid: p415
17.ibid: p368-369
18.ibid: p370-371
Ludeman, op. cit: p429-433
Marsh, Saint John: p135-136
19.Chadwick, The Early Church: p17
20.Johnson, History of Christianity: p33
21.Goodspeed, op. cit: p146, 163
Scneemelcher, New Testament Apocrypha Vol II: p78-83
22.Goodspeed, op. cit.: p157
Perkins, Peter, Apostle for the Whole Church: p141-144
Riedel, The Book of the Bible: p431
23.Goodspeed, op. cit.: p152
24.Eusebius: History of the Church: 3:23 & notes p380
25.Craveri, The Life of Jesus: p152
26.Eusebius: History of the Church: notes p344
Livingstone, Dictionary of the Christian Church: p20
Riedel, The Book of the Bible: p433
27.Streeter, The Primitive Church: p29-30
28.Scneemelcher, op. cit: p325
29.Goodspeed, op. cit.: p158
30.Scneemelcher, op. cit.: p19
31.Goodspeed, op. cit.: p163-164
Scneemelcher, New Testament Apocrypha Vol II: p426
32.Riedel, op. cit.: p437
33.Brownrigg op. cit: 42
Ferguson, Encyclopedia of Early Christianity: p168
34.Guignebert, Jesus: p221
Nineham, Saint Mark: p115
35.Scneemelcher, op. cit.: p17

Friday, March 05, 2010

Sparky Says Camp Time!

And there's another Gay

GOP "Gay Basher" outed!

Jason Linkins
DADT Support
Letter Signed
By A Bunch
Of Dead Guys

On the matter of "Don't Ask Don't Tell," Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) once promised that he would listen to "leaders in the military," telling people that the "day that the leadership of the military comes to me and says, Senator, we ought to change the policy, then I think we ought to consider seriously changing it." But when those military leaders came to him and told him it was time to change the policy, McCain retreated from his previous pledge, because it turns out he gets to pick and choose which military leaders he gets to heed.

And in this case, McCain has chosen the signatories of a letter signed by "over a thousand retired and flag general officers," among other folks. But, as noted by Amanada Terkel, that letter turns out to be something of an exercise in ghost whispering:

...a new Servicemembers United report obtained in advance by DC Agenda severely undermines the legitimacy of this letter. Some of the problems:

- The average age of the officers is 74. The "oldest living signer is 98, and several signers died in the time since the document was published." Servicemembers United Executive Director Alex Nicholson added that only "a small fraction of these officers have even served in the military during the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' period, much less in the 21st century military," so it's hard to believe that they "know how accepting and tolerant 18- and 21-year-olds are today."

- "At least one signer, Gen. Louis Menetrey, was deceased when the letter was published and didn't sign the document himself. According to a footnote on the letter, his wife signed the document for him after his death using power of attorney -- six years after Alzheimer's disease robbed him of the ability to communicate."

Additionally, there's the little problem of those living signatories who "never agreed" to sign the letter, as well as a handful who have some remarkably backward views on the world in which we live, such as this guy.

Anyway, for his next trick, John McCain will produce an 1876 letter from General George Armstrong Custer that reads, "No, no, don't worry, I can totally take these guys!"

Cenk Uygur:
Michael Moore:
There's Going to
Be a Second
Crash (And
Glenn Beck
Can F--k Off)

We interviewed Michael Moore on The Young Turks today and he was not shy about sharing his opinions. Anyone surprised? He had very strong words for the Democratic Party, the state of our political system and Glenn Beck.

What he thinks of Democrats and Republicans:

You know, I tell you, these Democrats are disgusting. Wimps and wusses and weasels. You know, get some spine. This is why I have to admire the Republicans. They at least stand for something. They at least have the courage of their convictions. They get elected to office, they come into town, and they go "Get outta my way, there's a new sheriff in town. This is the way we're doing things. Get outta here." And then they do it. You know. I mean what they do is crazy. But dammit, they are good at it. We should take a page out of their book.

Can we fix the broken political and economic system in America?

It's not going to get fixed. There's going to be another crash. The commercial real estate bubble hasn't burst yet. That's going to burst. The credit card debt is so huge right now, it will never be repaid. That's a house of cards waiting to fall. So the crash of '08 is going to look like coming attractions. And we're in for a much, much worse time.

What he would have said to Glenn Beck if he was in Van Jones' place:

Fuck off! That's what I would have said. But again, you mentioned Glenn Beck, and of course, he's the guy that's called for my removal from the planet Earth, so...

Watch the whole interview here:

Read full transcript here.

There's one thing you know about Michael Moore, he's going to come strong. Unfortunately, I share his pessimism about the system. But I believe there is hope at the end of that tunnel. And as corny as it sounds, that hope is with the American people. We have to stop letting corporate interests buy our politicians and government officials. Make a change.

Robert Byrd:
Daily Mail
Editorial Resembles
'Barkings From
The Nether Regions
Of Glennbeckistan'

In a letter to the editor of the Daily Mail, published Thursday, Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W. Va.) blasted the West Virginia newspaper for an editorial the paper ran on earlier this week related to health care reform.

Byrd charged that the newspaper demonstrated a clear misunderstanding of congressional rules and procedures, which resulted in the publication confusing its readers.

The Democratic senator went on to write that the editorial more closely resembled the "barkings from the nether regions of Glennbeckistan" than the "sober and second thought" of his hometown newspaper.

From Sen. Byrd's letter:

With all due respect, the Daily Mail's hyperbole about "imposing government control," acts of "disrespect to the American people" and "corruption" of Senate procedures resembles more the barkings from the nether regions of Glennbeckistan than the "sober and second thought" of one of West Virginia's oldest and most respected daily newspapers.

Palin At Oscar
Gift Suite:
Sarah Palin
And Entourage
'Like Locusts'

Palin Oscar Gift Suite
Sarah Palin and her 'grabby' entourage were 'like locusts' according to witnesses at an Oscar gift suite.

Sarah Palin aligns her public image with the heartland, but it appears the former Alaska Governor has gone Hollywood. And when she leaves, she may be taking some of it with her.

On top of an appearance on the Tonight Show and rumors that she's shopping around a TV show with reality producer Mark Burnett, Palin and her entourage were seen partaking in one of celebrity's lushest rituals -- the Oscar gifting suite.

While the group was loading up on freebies, the Los Angeles Times reported that, "Palin's middle child, Willow, got her hair styled, receiving a blowout from Erick Orellana of the Chris McMillan Salon (Jennifer Aniston's longtime hairstylist)."

The Times also indicated that Palin was supposed to donate $1,700 along with all of her gift items to the Red Cross, which is currently helping with relief efforts in Haiti and Chile.

But E! Online insists, "we can assure you she did not give up any of her swag." They quote an unnamed vendor who claims that upwards of 20 people from the Palin camp swarmed the event. "They were like locusts," he told the entertainment news outlet.

According to AOL's Pop Eater, publicist Ben Russo of EMC/Bowery said, "she kind of cleaned the place out." They list out a number of her swag-grabs, including United Hair Care products, jewels from Pascal Mouawad, Skagen watches and a whopping 40 pairs of AIAIAI earphones.

It didn't stop there. reports that she also picked up a blue Kenya robe from designer Jenna Leigh, facewash and a pair of foam Bandal sandals.

Or, in common-sense language, Palin and her handlers, "practically cleaned out the suite."

Another unnamed source, from, says that the former Vice Presidential candidate was intent on spreading all that wealth around her own circle. "She insisted every person in her huge entourage get something, and there were assistants, nannies, security - insanity!" The same source also said that security swept the venue and would not allow photos, which are often expected by companies to use as promotion in exchange for the free products.

Bob Cesca:
The Tea Party
Is All About

I was going to open this piece with an analogy about the tea party groups and why they're treated seriously by the press and the Republicans. The analogy would go something like: "Imagine [insert left-wing activist group here] getting a serious profile in a mainstream newspaper, and imagine serious Democratic politicians appearing at their convention."

The problem is, when I really evaluated what the various far-left activist groups are all about and compared them with the tea party movement, there really wasn't any equivalency. At all.

Because when you strip away all of the rage, all of the nonsensical loud noises and all of the contradictions, all that's left is race. The tea party is almost entirely about race, and there's no comparative group on the left that's similarly motivated by bigotry, ignorance and racial hatred.

I hasten to note that I'm talking about real racism, insofar as it's impossible for the majority race -- the 70 percent white majority -- to be on the receiving end of racism. That is unless white males, for example, are suddenly an oppressed racial demographic. But judging by the racial composition of, say, the Senate or AM talk radio or the cast members playing the Obamas on SNL, I don't think white people have anything to worry about.

This isn't an epiphany by any stretch. From the beginning, with their witch doctor imagery, watermelon agitprop and Curious George effigies, the wingnut right has been dying to blurt out, as Lee Atwater famously said, "nigger, nigger, nigger!"

But they can't.

Strike that. Correction. founder Dale Robertson brandished a sign with the (misspelled) word "niggar." So they're not even as restrained as the generally unstrung Atwater anymore.

Most of the time, they merely imply the use of the word. Rush Limbaugh referring to the president as a "black man-child," for example. Every week, a new example pops up on the radio and somehow the offenders are able to keep their job while Howard Stern is fined for saying the comparatively innocuous word "blumpkin." Limbaugh, on the other hand, can stoke racial animosity on his show by suggesting that health care reform is a civil rights bill -- reparations -- and no one seems to mind. And no, the impotence isn't an adequate Karmic punishment for Limbaugh's roster of trespasses.

The tea party is an extension of talk radio. It's an extension of Fox News Channel. It's an extension of the southern faction of the Republican Party -- the faction that gave us the Southern Strategy, the Willie Horton ad, the White Hands ad and the racially divisive politics of Lee Atwater and Karl Rove. It's an extension of the race-baiting and, often, the outright racism evident in all of those conservative spheres.

But unlike the heavy-handedness of Dale Robertson and others, the tea party followers are generally more veiled about why they're so outraged by our current president.

In the New York Times this past weekend, David Barstow profiled a teabagger from Idaho:

SANDPOINT, Idaho -- Pam Stout has not always lived in fear of her government. She remembers her years working in federal housing programs, watching government lift struggling families with job training and education. She beams at the memory of helping a Vietnamese woman get into junior college.

But all that was before the Great Recession and the bank bailouts, before Barack Obama took the White House by promising sweeping change on multiple fronts, before her son lost his job and his house. Mrs. Stout said she awoke to see Washington as a threat, a place where crisis is manipulated -- even manufactured -- by both parties to grab power.

Now you might be saying to yourself, I don't see the racism here. But if you eliminate all of the reasons for Stout's participation in the tea party movement as being contradictory or nonsensical, all that's left is race.

Let's deconstruct.

She claims to be against the bank bailouts, but the tea party is against the president's bank fee designed to recover the TARP money. They also appear to be against financial regulatory reform. None of this makes any sense. If tea partiers are against the bailouts, basic logic dictates that they ought to be in favor of getting the money back. Or do they prefer that the banks keep the money and orchestrate further meltdowns? Honestly, I'm not even entirely sure they realize that the bailouts and the recovery act (stimulus) are two different things. But they're also against the recovery act -- you know, whatever that is.

She also told the New York Times that she's tired of politicians "manufacturing crisis."

Right. Three things here.

First, where was she -- where were the teabaggers -- when the far-right endorsed and supported a massive increase in the size of government, unitary executive power grabs and unconstitutional measures fueled by fear-mongering over the very remote threat of terrorism? Crickets chirping. The odds of being killed in an airborne terrorist attack are literally 1 in 10 million. You're much more likely to kill yourself than to be killed by a terrorist.

Second, I refuse to believe that health care is a "manufactured crisis." People are going broke and dying every day. Even the most conservative estimates show that there are 9/11-level casualties each month due to a lack of adequate health insurance. The horror stories are readily available online. Just Google "health insurance horror story" and see how manufactured the crisis is.

Third, look at any bar graph of the economy as of one year ago or any basic jobs number and tell me if the crisis is manufactured. Hell, Pam Stout's son lost his house! How can she possibly suggest the economic crisis was manufactured?

I hate to single out one person, but Stout's incongruous anger is indicative of the entire movement.

From the outset, the tea party was based on a contradictory premise (the original tea party was a protest against a corporate tax cut). And when you throw out all of the nonsense and contradictions, there's nothing left except race. There's no other way to explain why these people were silent and compliant for so long, and only decided to collectively freak out when this "foreign" and "exotic" president came along and, right out of the chute, passed the largest middle class tax cut in American history -- something they would otherwise support, for goodness sake, it was $288 billion in tax cuts! -- we're left to deduce no other motive but the ugly one that lurks just beneath the pale flesh, the tri-corner hats and the dangly tea bag ornamentation.

Irrespective of whether the president passed a huge tax cut or went out of his way to bring Republicans into the health care process, the seeds of racial animosity from the far-right were sown during the campaign. In those lines waiting for then-vice presidential candidate and current tea party heroine Sarah Palin, their loud noises spread the pre-scripted lies, lies that entirely hinged on the president's African heritage. A white candidate would never be accused of being a secret Muslim. A white candidate would never be accused of being a foreign usurper. Only a black candidate with a foreign name would be accused of "palling around with domestic terrorists."

In the final analysis, when you boil away all of the weirdness, it becomes clear that the teabaggers are pissed because there isn't yet another doddering old white guy in the White House -- like they're used to. That's what this is all about.

By way of a postscript, one of the many faceless radio talk show wingnuts, Jim Quinn, this week called President Obama a "Kenyan wuss" who should be "slapped silly." The Kenyan lie and the "slap silly" insult aside, this president is no wuss. You know how I know? He's a black man who ran for president and won despite the growing mob of gun-toting militant white bigots like Jim Quinn who are sucking air in America. President Obama achieving this despite the hatred and threats against him takes serious guts. Guts that Jim Quinn and the tea party movement will never understand.

Jon Stewart Exposes

Fox News 'Balance,'

Goes After Sarah Palin

And Megyn Kelly (VIDEO)

It looked like Jon Stewart was going for some of his bread-and-butter Sarah Palin jokes on Wednesday night, mocking her appearance on NBC's Tonight Show and tossing in a little ribbing of Jay Leno.

But the quips about a Palin "Fair and Balanced" remark quickly turned into an amusing -- if not scathing -- indictment of Fox News programming, particularly host Megyn Kelly and her new mid-day program, America Live.

Stewart hounded the network about an apparent lack of balance, ranging from the show's promos (showing a clean-cut man in a Jesus t-shirt evidently representing the right, juxtaposed with an "angry nose-ring liberal lady" pointing at his face) to the actual reporting and clips that only showed one-sided opinions from a very homogeneous group. He emphasized that this was one of the few programs held during the network's allotted news time, as opposed to shows that are explicitly opinion.

The Daily Show segment ended with a flourish, showing clips that seemed to indicate an inconsistent approach at Fox News to polling, endorsing or dismissing polls depending on the results.


Roy Ashburn


Anti-Gay State Sen.

Got DUI After

Leaving Gay


Early Wednesday morning, State Sen. Roy Ashburn (R-Calif.) was pulled over and arrested for drunk driving. Sources report that Ashburn -- a fierce opponent of gay rights -- was driving drunk after leaving a gay nightclub; when the officer stopped the state-issued vehicle, there was an unidentified man in the passenger seat of the car.

Ashburn has issued an apology for the incident:

"I am deeply sorry for my actions and offer no excuse for my poor judgment. I accept complete responsibility for my conduct and am prepared to accept the consequences for what I did. I am also truly sorry for the impact this incident will have on those who support and trust me - my family, my constituents, my friends, and my colleagues in the Senate."

WATCH (h/t Josh Marshall: "Entering The Larry Craig Pantheon")

Anti-Gay Lawmaker

At Gay Club Before

DUI Arrest

Roy Ashburn Dui
Sacremento — Sources tell CBS13 that a state senator from Southern California was arrested for allegedly driving drunk after leaving Faces, a gay nightclub in midtown Sacramento, early Wednesday morning.

The California Highway Patrol pulled over Senator Roy Ashburn at 2:00 a.m. Wednesday after an officer noticed a black Chevy Tahoe swerving at 13th and L Streets.

The Sacramento County district attorney says Ashburn's blood-alcohol level was .14 percent when he was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving near the Capitol.

Ashburn, a father of four, is a Republican Senator representing parts of Kern, Tulare and San Bernardino Counties, with a history of opposing gay rights

When the officer stopped the state-issued vehicle, Ashburn identified himself as a senator. He was arrested without incident and charged with two misdemeanors: driving under the influence, and driving with a blood alcohol level higher than .08% or higher.

A male passenger, who was not identified as a lawmaker, was also in the car. He was not detained.

Ashburn was booked into the Sacramento County Jail and released on $1,400 bond.

Ashburn issued a statement on the arrest Wednesday afternoon:

"I am deeply sorry for my actions and offer no excuse for my poor judgment. I accept complete responsibility for my conduct and am prepared to accept the consequences for what I did. I am also truly sorry for the impact this incident will have on those who support and trust me – my family, my constituents, my friends, and my colleagues in the Senate."

Ashburn served six years as a state Assemblyman before being elected to the State Senate. According to Project Vote Smart, Ashburn's voting record shows he has voted against every gay rights measure in the State Senate since taking office including Recognizing Out-Of-State Same-Sex Marriages", Harvey Milk Day and Expanding Anti-Discrimination Laws.

I guess Asshats never learn ... We're watching them!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Sparky says buy Barry's books - and shun sick dumbasses like Glenn Beck —

Maybe this will come to us as a DVD movie --

Bestselling novelist Barry Eisler spent three years in a covert position with the CIA's Directorate of Operations, then worked as a technology lawyer and startup executive in Silicon Valley and Japan, earning his black belt at the Kodokan International Judo Center along the way. Eisler's thrillers have won the Barry Award and the Gumshoe Award for Best Thriller of the Year, have been included in numerous "Best Of" lists, and have been translated into nearly twenty languages. Eisler lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and, when he's not writing novels, blogs about torture, civil liberties, and the rule of law.

HuffPoCo: Barry Eisler: Torture Tales:

There are a number of factors behind America's growing embrace of torture, but among them, largely overlooked, is a brilliant campaign of cross-promotion between right-wing ideologues and right-wing entertainment.

First, the right reduced the entirety of torture to a simple talking point: "Can you really say torture never works?" And then answered the question through thriller novels and television shows.

There's a reason Glenn Beck so assiduously hawks what he calls the "conservative porn" of novelist Vince Flynn. When Flynn's series character, covert operator Mitch Rapp, saves the day through torture, his deeds vindicate the authoritarian worldview Beck advocates. Beck even has a list of his top ten thrillers at Borders, with Flynn and another rightist thriller writer, Brad Thor, in the top two slots. Nor is Beck alone: he is joined in his promotion of pro-torture novels by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Hugh Hewitt. And of course the right loves no one so much as Jack Bauer, the "24" operative whose defense of America always depends on torture -- a love the show returns in kind.

All of which raises an important question: why? Given that expert interrogators like the Air Force's Matthew Alexander and Steven Kleinman and the FBI's Ali Soufan and Jack Cloonan agree not only that torture is unnecessary, but that, by producing false leads and creating new jihadists, it has made America less safe; given the existence of scientific evidence demonstrating why and how torture produces false information; and given that there is no reliable evidence that America's resort to torture foiled any jihadist plots, we have to ask, why does the right continue to promote it?


HuffPoCo: Barry Eisler: Fear, With Good Reason:
Last week, Dahlia Lithwick had a terrific piece in Slate in which she ponders America's "Terrorism Derangement Syndrome." America does seem to be in the grip of morbid fear, doesn't it? KSM could irradiate Manhattan if he's given a trial there... terrorists can melt the walls of supermax prisons... the Underwear Bomber is so diabolically clever he would laugh off traditional interrogation methods. With all this terror, you might even think... I don't know, that terrorism is working pretty well.

Lithwick attributes some of the cause of TDS to Republican fear-mongering and to Democratic acquiescence in GOP scare tactics. I agree -- but I think there's something more fundamental going on, something that explains both the fear and the fear-mongering.

Something like... our own policies.

I believe some deep-seated part of our national consciousness is aware there will be consequences for what we've done, and continue to do. The wars, and kidnappings, and illegal imprisonment, and off-the-mark Predator strikes, and, most of all, torture -- we sense a reckoning for all this, a conflagration waiting to engulf the combustible materials we insist on piling recklessly, relentlessly higher. Our tactics worsen the danger. The worse the danger, the more scared we get. The more scared we get, the less capable we are of rational policies. As our rationality deserts us, we embrace more tightly primitive tactics. And the more primitive we become, the worse we make the danger. And so on.

And follow the man on twitter ... bless his soul.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Just for Easter — Reposts ...

Sparky Steals From His Betters:
Xtians really Paulists ——
“Jesus” Was Only A Whisper
Campaign Gone Horribly Wrong

"The conversion of Paul was no conversion at all: it was Paul who converted the religion that has raised one man above sin and death into a religion that delivered millions of men so completely into their dominion that their own common nature became a horror to them, and the religious life became a denial of life." - George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)

I go farther than Hyam Maccoby in saying that Paul of Tarsus created the whisper campaign that spawned 'Jesus' as we know "him" today.

bad dream

The events surrounding "Jesus" were supposed to have taken place within a certain time in history, normally taken to be around 4 BCE to 33 CE. A rudimentary knowledge of the history during that period is needed. The main information sources of Jesus' life are from the documents known as the gospels. It is important to note that there is no independent contemporaneous source, external to the gospels, that gives any reliable information about Jesus. Thus it becomes very important to know as much as we can about the background of these gospels: namely the authorship, date of composition and general reliability. Next we ask ourselves the obvious question, could documents written at least close to half a century after the death of its main character, by non-eyewitnesses, give reliable testimonies of that person's life. We ask whether the oral tradition gives us confidence in the gospels? The answer is a resounding "No." The elapsed period between the written account and the purported events certainly allow corruption of the stories.

For Example: The Nativity is 100% mythological with no basis in historical fact. Ironically, the best external support for this comes from an episode in the gospel of Mark.
  1. The genealogies in Matthew and Luke contradict one another.
  2. The Virgin Birth is based upon pagan myths and a mistranslation of Isaiah.
  3. Despite what the Catholic Church teaches, Mary was no "perpetual virgin".
  4. The stories relating to "Jesus'" birth in Bethlehem are not consistent.
  5. The story of Herod's slaughter of the innocents, told in Matthew is a work of pure fiction.
  6. The two stories in Matthew and Luke with respect to their (Joseph, Mary and "Jesus") settling in Nazareth are not compatible.
  7. Matthew openly relies on Old Testament passages to construct his story of the nativity. In some cases he even twisted the Old Testament passages to fit his story.
  8. Two historical events, the census of Quirinius and the death of Herod, separated from each other by a decade, were presented in the gospels as contemporaneous.
  9. The Herod-Quirinius problem means that any attempt to date the birth of Jesus based on the gospel accounts, is predestined to fail.
  10. Other elements of the Nativity can also be shown to be unreliable. These stories were most likely constructed from the ground up from Old Testament accounts and popular myths.

First rewriting Old Testament stories to make up new stories have little to do with dishonesty, at least in the way the first century evangelists see it. The key word here is midrash. It is a method used by the ancient Jewish theologians to interpret and expand the sacred scripture. It is the belief that current events are somehow tied to past sacred events in a very systematic way. That it is present in the Old Testament has been long known to theologians. Old Testament passages actually takes precedence over the evangelists other source documents. As example, Matthew copied extensively from Mark, and must have considered it to be a reasonably reliable source. Yet he would change Mark's account if it does not fit into what Matthew believed to be Old Testament prediction about "Jesus." The glaring example is the passage where Matthew had "Jesus" sitting on two donkeys at the same time during the Triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

Secondly, we see above that Matthew did not faithfully record what the Old Testament verses said. He twisted and changed the passages to make them fit his theological preconceptions. So, far from proving the Bible prophecies, reliance on Old Testament passages tends to point towards the basic unhistoricity of the stories.

No reference whatsoever to "Jesus" from contemporaneous Jewish sources exists:
  1. Philo of Alexandria: would have been a contemporary of "Jesus" — someone who maintained an active interest in the welfare of Israel and thus should have learnt of this "Son of God" — and in his writings there is no mention of "Jesus" or his followers.
  2. Justus of Tiberias was a Jewish historian who was born in Galilee about the time of the claimed crucifixion. In his two great works, a history of the war of independence and a chronicle of events from Moses to Agrippa II (d. 100 CE), not a single reference was made to "Jesus."
  3. Flavius Josephus was trained as a Pharisee and the passages attributed to him do not read true to this; It fails a standard test for authenticity, in that it contains vocabulary not used by Josephus per the Complete Concordance to Flavius Josephus, ed. K. H. Rengstorf, 2002. Professor Shlomo Pines found a different version of Josephus testimony in an Arabic version of the tenth century. It has obviously not been interpolated in the same way as the Christian version circulating in the West. Most scholars do not believe Josephus wrote the passages, but that it is a later addition by Christian scribes - Bishop Warburton denounced it as "a rank forgery and a very stupid one, too."
  4. The Canonization of the Tenach occurred between 180 BCE through 200 CE. It does not mention 'Jesus' anywhere.
No independent historical testimony on "Jesus" from non-Christian sources exists either:
  1. Cornelius Tacitus echoed popular opinion about "Jesus" and had no independent source of information. The passage in the Annals as written in 115 CE has no value as a historical evidence for "Jesus."
  2. His contemporary Suetonius's erroneous single use of the title Chrestus as though it was a proper name indicates that he got his information from popular opinion and not independent historical testimony as he is talking of the period of 41 - 54 CE when Claudius is ruling Rome as Emperor. He also seems to imply that there was someone called Chrestus in Rome in 49CE when the expulsion occurred. This makes him a very dubious source indeed.
Missionaries lie ... and are ignorant of their own dogma. Lay persons are just displaying “magical thinking” ...

ISBN 0968601405 The Jesus Puzzle. Did Christianity Begin with a Mythical Christ?: Challenging the Existence of an Historical Jesus, Earl Doherty, Publisher: Canadian Humanist Pubns; 1st edition (October 19, 1999)
ISBN 085632096X The Jesus Hoax, Phyllis Graham, Publisher: Frewin; (1974)
ISBN 2226047298 Jesus, Charles Guignebert, Publisher: Albin Michel; (December 31, 1969)
ISBN 0879752564 An Anthology of Atheism and Rationalism, Gordon Stein, Publisher: Prometheus Books; (December 1, 1989)
ISBN 087975429X The Historical Evidence for Jesus, George A.Wells, Publisher: Prometheus Books; (January 1, 1988)
ISBN 089526239 Jesus: The Evidence, Ian Wilson, Publisher: Regnery Publishing; 1 edition (October 1, 2000)

* Did the Jews have the right to execute?"
* Rejection of Pascal's Wager: which strongly influenced the above...
* Lord, Liar, or Lunatic?
* Reasons Why Christians Suck

Reagan the Rapist bitchslaps Pepper Anderson

Reagan Quote: Detail:
"Everything is falling into place. It can't be long now. Ezekiel says that fire and brimstone will be rained upon the enemies of God's people. That must mean they'll be destroyed by nuclear weapons... Gog the nation that will lead all of the other powers of darkness against Israel, will come out of the north... Gog must be Russia... now that Russia has set itself against God... it fits the description of Gog perfectly."
-- Rapist, Cad, Future President and Hollywood's Mafia pointman Ronald Reagan, in a speech delivered during a political function (1971) - From page 129 of The Bible Tells Me So: Uses and Abuses of Holy Scripture by Jim Hill and Rand Cheadle (Anchor Books, New York: 1996)

Next Sparky guest blog will tell you what to say to Christian Missionaries hopefully.
- 0&o - Sparky

Sparky says:
Tell Them The Truth — They've got Bupkis.

Sir Moses Montefiore
According to an apocryphal account, Sir Moses Montefiore is
supposed to have been confronted by an anti-Semitic member
of the House of Lords at a state function, who informed him
that he had recently returned from Japan, "where they have
neither pigs nor Jews." Montefiore is alleged to have responded
"in that case, you and I should both go there, and then they shall
have one of each."

I'm counting on all the PP Guru readers being hip to my earlier rant on "Baby J" — Xtians are sometimes puzzled and hurt by the allergic reaction of us Jews to “Jesus” -- even to the mention of his name. But the energy is not really to “Jesus” the person, about whom Jews (like everyone else), know very little, but to his appropriation by the church and the oppression of Jews in his name.

The Other Albert
Albert Schweitzer
The quest for the historical “Jesus” has gone on for about three centuries with no success. Now, the classical study was done by Albert Schweitzer in his book, "The Quest of the Historical Jesus" — What he showed was that from the 18th century on, the attempt to find out who “Jesus” really was had been conditioned all the way through by the needs and wants and desires of the people who were writing the Gospels.

Funny thing is no one wants to admit they have bupkis here. Nada. Nothing. And certainly “human framework” to hang the myth on. there's really very little that we can know in a firm historical sense about the real “Jesus” as he is nonexistent. We really are only seeing the wake of the myth fashioned by Paul.

Franz Rosenzweig when asked what Jews thought about “Jesus,” he answered simply, "They don't. " But in regard to the historical “Jesus,” the same thing could be said about Xtians.

The historical information about “Jesus,” therefore, is precious to me as a way of understanding not just the historical puzzle about this “whisper campaign gone awry,” but also to understand the nature of the source religion and of its varieties. Modern scholars have routinely reinvented “Jesus” or have routinely rediscovered in “Jesus” that which they want to find, be it rationalist, liberal Christianity of the 19th century, be it apocalyptic miracle workers in the 20th, be it revolutionaries, or be it whatever it is that they're looking for, scholars have been able to find in “Jesus” almost anything that they want to find.

Yet Jews have also been fascinated by the “Jesus” myth. When Jews began to think about their own history, they had to consider him as part of its' baggage. Nineteenth-century scholars who investigated “Jesus” included the Jewish historians Heinrich Graetz and Abraham Geiger. Claude Montefiore wrote a two-volume commentary on the Synoptic gospels in the early part of this century, and What A Jew Thinks about Jesus, published in 1935. Joseph Klausner wrote Jesus of Nazareth in Hebrew in 1922. Translated into several languages, it is still the best-know book on “Jesus” by a Jew. The present generation draws a bold line between “Jesus” as Jew and Christianity's picture of him. Just as earlier generations of scholars often separated “Jesus” from his Judaism, present-day scholars, Jewish and Christian, both distance him from the Christianity that claimed him. Jewish writers — when coerced under the gun to tell fundamentalists their myth was real — often characterized him as simply another unexceptional Jewish holy man, beyond his later public-relations image first created by Paul, or so unlike Jewish expectations of a Messiah as to make his lack of acceptance by most early Jews utterly unsurprising.

Honestly, even if all the hoopla was about a real person, he'd simply be yet another "failed messiah" versus the harsher "phony messiah" skeptical historians label him. If you want a person considered to be a messiah (or annointed leader) that would be Simon Bar Kokhba.

The Jewish sage Rabbi Akiva convinced the Sanhedrin to support the impending revolt and regarded the chosen commander Simon Bar Kokhba the Jewish Messiah, according to the verse from Numbers 24:17: "There shall come a star out of Jacob" ("Bar Kokhba" means "son of a star" in Aramaic language).

Due to the failure of the earlier Great Jewish Revolt in the eastern Roman provinces, Bar Kokhba's support was mostly limited to the Roman province of Judea. Despite some initial successes, his revolt was brutally crushed by Emperor Hadrian: Bar Kokhba and his followers were killed in a dramatic last stand at the fortress of Betar, southwest of Jerusalem. Many of his supporters were executed, among them Rabbi Akiva. Nevertheless, it was a costly victory for Rome, and the generals, when reporting to the Senate, did not begin with the customary greeting: "I and my troops are well." After Bar Kokhba's defeat, Jerusalem was razed, Jews were forbidden to live there, and a new Roman city, Aelia Capitolina, was built in its place.

Over the past few decades, much new information about the revolt has come to light, thanks mainly to the discovery of several collections of letters, some possibly by Bar Kokhba himself, in the caves overlooking the Dead Sea. These letters can now be seen at the Israel Museum.

At the time, Christianity was still a minor sect of Judaism and most historians believe that it was this messianic claim that alienated many Christians (who believed that the true messiah was Jesus) and sharply deepened the schism.

The Jewish leaders carefully planned the second revolt to avoid numerous mistakes that plagued the first one sixty years earlier. In 132 CE, it quickly spread from Modi'in across the country, cutting off the Roman garrison in Jerusalem.

Remember the real messiah will fulfill all of the below in his first visit:
  • The Sanhedrin will be re-established. (Isaiah 1:26)
  • Once he is King, leaders of other nations will look to him for guidance. (Isaiah 2:4)
  • The whole world will worship the One God of Israel. (Isaiah 2:17)
  • He will be descended from David HaMelech (Isaiah 11:1) via Solomon (1 Chron. 22:8-10)
  • The Moshiach will be a man of this world, an observant Jew with “fear of God” (Isaiah 11:2)
  • Evil and tyranny will not be able to stand before his leadership. (Isaiah 11:4)
  • Knowledge of God will fill the world (Isaiah 11:9)
  • He will include and attract all cultures and nations (Isaiah 11:10)
  • Jews will have returned to their homeland (Isaiah 11:12)
  • He will swallow up death forever (Isaiah 25:8)
  • There will be no more hunger or illness, and death will cease (Isaiah 25:8)
  • All of the dead will rise again (Isaiah 26:19)
  • The Jewish people will experience eternal joy and gladness (Isaiah 51:11)
  • He will be a messenger of peace. (Isaiah 52:7)
  • Nations will end up recognizing the wrongs they did Israel (Isaiah 52:13-5)
  • For My House shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations (Isaiah 56:3-7)
  • The peoples of the world will turn to the Jews for spiritual guidance (Zechariah 8:23)
  • The ruined cities of Israel will be restored (Ezekiel 16:55)
  • Weapons of war will be destroyed (Ezekiel 39:9)
  • The Temple will be rebuilt (Ezekiel 40) resuming many of the suspended mitzvos
  • He will then perfect the entire world to serve God together, as it is written (Zephaniah 3:9)
  • Jews will know the Torah without Study (Jeremiah 31:33)
  • He will give you all the desires of your heart (Psalms 37:4)
  • He will take the barren land and make it abundant & fruitful (Isaiah 51:3, Amos 9:13-15, Ezekiel 36:29-30, Isaiah 11:6-9)
To paraphrase Maimonides who wrote why Jews believe that Paul of Tarsus was wrong to create Christianity (and why they believe that Mohammad was wrong to create Islam) he laments the pains that Jews felt as a result of these new faiths that attempted to supplant Judaism. However, Maimonides then goes on to say that both faiths help God redeem the world.
As for Paul of Tarsus, who claimed “Yeshua of Nazareth” to be the anointed one who was killed by the Roman court, Daniel had already prophecied about him, thus: "And the children of your people's rebels shall raise themselves to set up prophecy and will stumble" (Ibid. 14). Can there be a bigger stumbling block than this? All the Prophets said that the Anointed One saves Israel and rescues them, gathers their strayed ones and strengthens their mitzvot whereas this one caused the loss of Israel by sword, and to scatter their remnant and humiliate them, and to change the Torah and to cause most of the world to erroneously worship a god besides the Lord. But the human mind has no power to reach the thoughts of the Creator, for His thoughts and ways are unlike ours. All these matters of “Jeshua of Nazareth” and of Mohammed who stood up after him are only intended to pave the way for the Anointed King, and to mend the entire world to worship God together, thus: "For then I shall turn a clear tongue to the nations to call all in the Name of the Lord and to worship him with one shoulder.

How is this? The entire world had become filled with the issues of the Anointed One and of the Torah and the Laws, and these issues had spread out unto faraway islands and among many nations uncircumcised in the heart, and they discuss these issues and the Torah's laws. These say: These Laws were true but are already defunct in these days, and do not rule for the following generations; whereas the other ones say: There are secret layers in them and they are not to be treated literally, and the Messiah had come and revealed their secret meanings. But when the Anointed King will truly rise and succeed and will be raised and uplifted, they all immediately turn about and know that their fathers inherited falsehood, and their prophets and ancestors led them astray.

Mostly I'm rambling again but I am tempted to show the attempted Mongol Invasion of Japan was actually "Jew on Jew" violence - Sparky

PS Wishing I had a good scan of Sean Kelly and Neal Adam's Son O' God Comics.
PPS Never forget that the KJV version of Daniel and Isaiah are sort of tainted and bad. They have errors and edits to make Xtians look better.


Ponder the below:

Jonathan Chait: 'Off we go, into the Christian yonder'
Posted on Friday, May 20 @ 09:31:53 EDT

Air Force Academy situation shows the real agenda of evangelicals.
Jonathan Chait, Los Angeles Times

Conservatives have been arguing for years that the religious right is simply misunderstood. These vilified godly folks don't want to impose their beliefs on anybody else, we're told. They simply want to defend their traditional beliefs and practices against the aggressive impositions of a secular culture. Therefore any suggestion to the contrary is liberal hysteria or, worse, discrimination against "people of faith."

So how do conservatives explain what's been going on at the Air Force Academy?

As a number of newspapers have documented, the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., has essentially established evangelical Christianity as its official religion.

The examples are legion. Last season, the football coach hung a banner in the locker room laying out a "Competitor's Creed," including the lines "I am a Christian first and last" and "I am a member of Team Jesus Christ."

And here are other examples among those noted in an April report by the Washington-based Americans United for Separation of Church and State: Campus chaplains have encouraged proselytizing among the students, and younger cadets who skipped out on prayer services have been forced by their seniors to march back to their dorms in a ritual called "heathen flight." On one occasion, every seat in the dining hall was covered with a flier advertising a showing of "The Passion of the Christ," including the tagline, "This is an officially sponsored USAFA event."

These are just a few examples among many. Non-evangelicals have described an atmosphere of pervasive religious pressure. A top academy chaplain was discharged for speaking out against this state of affairs.

So, again, what do the conservatives have to say about this? Not very much. I searched three major conservative publications — the Washington Times, National Review and the Weekly Standard. I found only one article referring to the Air Force scandal: a Web-only column by conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt in the Standard decrying the Air Force's promised internal investigation as an unnecessary inquisition and devoting one sentence to summarizing the charges.

And no wonder the conservative press, normally obsessed with the role of religion in public life, would have so little to say about this scandal. It undercuts its long-standing effort to portray the religious right as merely defending itself. A notable subset of this effort consists of pleas by politically conservative Jews to their moderate and liberal brethren to stop worrying about the religious right. "All right, enough, already. The Christians aren't coming to get you," writes National Review's Jonah Goldberg in a typical salvo.

Now, it's easy to get carried away by one extreme example, just as conservatives do when some school principal somewhere doesn't let a kid wear a Santa Claus hat or some such nonsense. But the situation at the Air Force Academy, though atypical of the United States, does not represent random excess by the religious right. It's an embodiment of the religious right's vision of America. When asked about the allegations, a spokesman for Focus on the Family replied, "If 90% of cadets identify themselves as Christian, it is common sense that Christianity will be in evidence on the campus…. I think a witch hunt is underway to root out Christian beliefs."

This comment is telling, because it basically jibes with what religious conservatives have been saying for a long time. Most Americans are Christian, therefore the United States is a Christian country. Therefore, the institutions of the state ought to promote the religious views of the majority, and everybody else ought to shut up and take it.

To be sure, I do think liberals can get carried away exaggerating the threat of the religious right. The truth is that the religious right does not have a great deal of influence at the national level — certainly not proportional to its share of the Republican base.

President Bush hasn't even made the slightest effort to push a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, for instance — even though he says he supports it. The influence of the religious right mostly remains confined to isolated strongholds, such as Colorado Springs and Kansas.

But although the religious right doesn't have the capacity to impose its views on the rest of the country, it certainly has the intent to do so. Conservatives may dismiss fears of a Christian theocracy as liberal hysteria. Theocracy, though, is not an inaccurate description of life at the Air Force Academy.

© 2005 Los Angeles Times. Reprinted from The Los Angeles Times (Link on article title)
Bloggers and radio hosts: Don't be shy -- tell your readers you saw it on Smirking Chimp! I read in the L. A. Times but liked the formatting on the Chimp.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Now this triggered another article in the Saint Petersburg Times:

Robyn E. Blumner: 'The Air Force Academy's force-fed evangelism'
Posted on Sunday, May 29 @ 10:16:10 EDT

By Robyn E. Blumner, St. Petersburg Times

In my book, true heroism is defined by those who talk truth to power even to their own detriment. It includes people like Sherron Watkins, the former Enron vice president who blew the whistle on the financial manipulations that hid the company's crushing debt. (Go see the movie Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room for all the gory details.)

Watkins has become famous for her rectitude, but rarely do such acts lead to public accolades. Bad endings for the truth sayer are far more likely.

Capt. MeLinda Morton is a prime example. A chaplain at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Morton has been trying her mightiest to end the force-fed evangelism that is rampant on campus. Rather than thanks, her outspoken defense of the Constitution has gotten her booted from her job and a one-way ticket to exile in Japan - known as "reassignment" in military speak.

Her fight against proselytizing is taking place in Colorado Springs - control central for the most radical elements of the Christian Right. James "tolerance is a homosexual plot" Dobson's Focus on the Family is based there - a concern so large that there is no need to use a street address on a letter. Also nearby is the Officers' Christian Fellowship, an organization whose express purpose is to create "ambassadors for Christ in uniform." Its slogan is: "Christian Officers Exercising Biblical Leadership to Raise up a Godly Military." (That's funny, the Taliban say something very similar.)

There is significant cross-pollination between the local evangelical groups and the Academy, to a point where cadets are reportedly cajoled, harangued and even bullied into being "saved."

Mikey Weinstein, an attorney in Albuquerque, N.M., has been collecting complaints of this nature for more than a year and says he has about 150 of them. Weinstein is a graduate of the Academy, as is his elder son. But when his youngest son, who is a member of the class of 2007, was called a "f--- Jew" and taunted as a Christ killer, Weinstein got involved.

"The Air Force Academy is suffering from a constitutional disease," Weinstein said. "They are trying to tell people whose God is best." He said his complaints have received little more than lip-service.

"I love and cherish the Academy," he said, "but it's been overtaken by the evangelical right."

Morton, a 48-year-old Lutheran minister, has seen this up close over the past 2 1/2 years. She says the academy is sending cadets the message that adopting Christian conservative evangelical values is key to their success at the school.

"There's nothing wrong with people reaching out to cadets," Morton said. "But when the purpose is to proselytize and make the military into a godly force, then that's inappropriate."

Fisher DeBerry, the Academy's head football coach, exemplifies the explicit sectarianism on campus. Two weeks after the academy had ostensibly begun religious sensitivity training, DeBerry posted a banner in the football locker room that read: "I am a Christian first and last *** I am a member of Team Jesus Christ."

Challenging authority is difficult in any institution, but it's career suicide within a military structure that maintains a strict hierarchy in which the way to advance is to parrot what those above you say. Morton, who was executive officer of the 16 chaplains, knew what she was risking when she started criticizing the religiously freighted climate and repudiating the Academy's official stance that remedial steps were being taken.

Since coming forward, Morton has been removed from her administrative position and has orders to transfer to Okinawa by the end of July. The Academy has said in news reports that the posting is a routine reassignment. (It will no longer discuss her case with the media.) Morton says the move is to get rid of her.

"I spent 2 1/2 years putting in 16-hour days," Morton said. "Now I have no specific duties."

The recent publicity over the religious atmosphere has put pressure on the Pentagon. Forty-five members of Congress joined a letter this month telling the Air Force, in effect, "we're watching." A Pentagon task force was dispatched to investigate the allegations. But the group didn't even bother to contact Weinstein (who calls it a "mask force.") As to Morton, she said the group spoke with her just hours before briefing the Air Force's acting secretary - giving it no time to investigate her claims.

It looks like a classic whitewash in the making.

The Academy has just recently emerged from a scandal over the insensitive way the rapes of female cadets were handled. Now it's accused of conversion by intimidation. The leadership either has the sense of a flea or is seeking to dissuade women and non-evangelicals from attending the Academy. I wonder which?

© 2005 St. Petersburg Times. Reprinted from The St. Petersburg Times:

What amuses Sparky is that the Xtian Zombie Forces attacked Robyn and left Jonathan alone - but quoted his sources trying to make the Xtians seem openminded when they're really going after other faiths:

It irks me that they want to label us liberals when we are offended by calling us filthy Jews. But it makes it easier to view them as archreactionary bible thumpers who don't get it. I loved working with the USAF and NASA in the 1980s. Time the archreationary knucklewalkers remembered “Separation of Church and State” - and shut the Fuck up in public about their piss poor imaginary friend. - Sparky - o&o

Friday, August 26, 2005
SPARKY: Ho Hum — It's Another Anti-Xtian Tirade
Sparky watched Disney's ABC TV Discovery Channel 2 hour special debunking the popular Dan Brown novel. And it contained nothing that Doug Moench had not already covered better in the old Parodox Press “Big Book of Conspiracies” now The Big Book of Conspiracies (Factoid Books) ... basically it's all pap for the Papists and other Xtians. So start below and continue:

Wired: Michelle Delio: Da Vinci: Father of Cryptography?
“ Dan Brown's latest novel, The Da Vinci Code, cites Leonardo da Vinci as an unheralded privacy advocate and encryption pioneer. ... Ever looked at the Mona Lisa and wondered why he's got such a goofy grin? ... Yes, we do mean he. ... Evidently, Mona isn't quite the woman art historians thought she was. But only those who know the secret code can look at Leonardo da Vinci's famous portrait and see the happy hermaphrodite that lurks within. ... Dan Brown's latest novel, The Da Vinci Code, published by Doubleday Books, is about the famous Renaissance artist and the oblique references to the occult contained in his equally famous paintings. It's also about ancient secret societies, modern forensics, science and engineering, and the history of religion. ... Most of all The Da Vinci Code is about the history of encryption -- the many methods developed over time to keep private information from prying eyes. ... The novel begins with Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon receiving an urgent late-night phone call: The elderly curator of the Louvre has been murdered inside the museum. ... (complete in link)”

Wikipedia: The Da Vinci Code

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The Da Vinci Code book cover

The Da Vinci Code is a novel written by American author Dan Brown and published in 2003 by Doubleday Fiction (ISBN 0385504209). It is a worldwide bestseller with 36 million copies in print (as of August 2005) and has been translated into 44 languages. Combining the detective, thriller, and conspiracy theory genres, the novel has helped spur widespread popular interest in certain theories concerning the legend of the Holy Grail and the role of Mary Magdalene in the history of Christianity—theories that Christians typically consider to be heretical. It is a sequel to Brown's 2000 novel Angels and Demons, again featuring character Robert Langdon. In November 2004, Random House published a "Special Illustrated Edition", with 160 illustrations interspersed with the text.

The book claims that the Roman Catholic Church has been involved in a conspiracy to cover up the true story of Jesus. Because the novel claims to contain elements of historical truth within its fictional framework, it has attracted a large amount of criticism for its historical claims, as well as for its clichéd style and improbable storyline. At least ten books debunking its claims have been written.


Vitruvian Man, by Leonardo da Vinci. Renowned curator Jacques
Saunière is found murdered in the spread-eagle position on the
floor of the Louvre museum, a cryptic message written in black-light
pen next to his naked torso, which has had a pentacle drawn on it in blood.

The book concerns the attempts of the protagonist, Robert Langdon, Professor of Religious Symbology at Harvard University, to solve the murder of renowned curator Jacques Saunière (see Bérenger Saunière) of the Louvre Museum in Paris. The title of the novel refers, among other things, to the fact that Saunière's body is found inside the Louvre naked and posed like Leonardo da Vinci's famous drawing, the Vitruvian Man, with a cryptic message written beside his body and a Pentacle drawn on his stomach in his own blood. The interpretation of hidden messages inside Da Vinci's famous works, including the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, figure prominently in the solution to the mystery.

The main conflict in the novel revolves around the solution to two mysteries:

  • What secret was Saunière protecting that led to his murder?
  • Who is the mastermind behind his murder?

The novel has several concurrent storylines that follow different characters. Eventually all the storylines are brought together and resolved at the end of the book

The unraveling of the mystery requires the solution to a series of brain-teasers, including anagrams and number puzzles. The solution itself is found to be intimately connected with the possible location of the Holy Grail and to a mysterious society called the Priory of Sion, as well as to the Knights Templar. The Catholic organization Opus Dei also figures prominently in the plot.

The novel is the second book by Brown in which Robert Langdon is the main character. The previous book, Angels and Demons, took place in Rome and concerned the Illuminati.


These are the principal characters that drive the plot of the story. It seems to be Dan Brown's style that many have names that are puns, anagrams or hidden clues:

  • Robert Langdon – A well-respected professor of Religious Symbology at Harvard University. At the beginning of the story, he is in Paris to give a lecture on his work. Despite his post, and the fact that his work largely centers around access to the Vatican Library, Langdon is described by the author as lacking even rudimentary Italian language skills. Having made an appointment to meet Jacques Saunière, the curator of the Louvre, he is startled to find the French police at his hotel room door. They inform him that Saunière has been murdered and they would like his immediate assistance at the Louvre to help them solve the crime. Unbeknownst to Langdon, he is in fact the prime suspect in the murder and has been summoned to the scene of the crime in order that the police may extract a confession from him.
  • Jacques Saunière – the curator of the Louvre, secret head of the Priory of Sion, and grandfather of Sophie Neveu. Before being murdered by Silas (an albino monk) in the museum, he reveals false information to Silas about the Priory's keystone, which contains information about the true location of the Holy Grail. After being shot in the stomach, he uses the last minutes of his life to arrange a series of clues for his estranged granddaughter Sophie to unravel the mystery of his death and preserve the secret kept by the Priory of Sion. Saunière's name may be based on Bérenger Saunière, a real person who was extensively mentioned in Holy Blood, Holy Grail.
  • Sophie Neveu – the granddaughter of Jacques Saunière. She is a French government cryptographer, who studied at the elite Royal Holloway, University of London Information Security Group. She was raised by her grandfather after her parents were killed in an automobile accident when she was a girl. Her grandfather used to call her "Princesse Sophie" (French for Princess Sophie) and trained her to solve complicated word puzzles. As a girl, she accidentally discovered a strange key in her grandfather's room inscribed with the initials "P.S.". Later, as a college student, she made a surprise visit to her grandfather's house in Normandy and observed him participating in a sex ritual. The incident led to her estrangement with her grandfather until the night of his murder.
  • Bezu Fache – a captain in the DPJF, the French criminal investigation police. Tough, canny, persistent, he is in charge of the investigation of Saunière's murder. From the message left by the dying curator, he is convinced the murderer is Robert Langdon, whom he summons to the Louvre in order to extract a confession. He is thwarted in his early attempt by Sophie Neveu, who knows Langdon to be innocent and surreptitiously notifies Langdon that he is in fact the prime suspect. He pursues Langdon doggedly throughout the book in the belief that letting him get away would be career suicide. "Bezu" is not a common French personal name, but "le Bezu" is the name of a castle in Rennes-le-Château with Cathar associations. When we first encounter Fache, he is compared to an ox; note that "Bezu" is an anagram (and the spoonerism) of zebu (zébu in French), a type of ox. On a related note, fâché is French for "angry", but "Fache" is also a reasonably common French surname.
  • Silas – an albino devotee of Opus Dei who practices severe corporal mortification. He was orphaned in Marseille as a young man, fell into a life of crime, and was imprisoned in the Pyrenees until accidentally freed by an earthquake. He finds refuge with a young Spanish priest named Aringarosa, who gives him the name Silas and who eventually becomes the head of Opus Dei. Before the beginning of the events in the novel, Aringarosa puts him in contact with the Teacher and tells him that the mission he will be given is of utmost importance in saving the true Word of God. Under the orders of the Teacher, he murders Jacques Saunière and the other three leaders of the Priory of Sion in order to extract the location of the Priory's "keystone". Discovering later that he has been duped with false information, he chases Langdon and Neveu in order to obtain the actual keystone. He does not know the true identity of the Teacher. He is reluctant to commit murder, knowing that it is a sin, and does so only because he is assured his actions will save the Catholic Church.
  • Bishop Manuel Aringarosa – the worldwide head of Opus Dei and the patron of the albino monk Silas. Five months before the start of the narrative, he is summoned by the Vatican to a meeting at an astronomical observatory in the Italian Alps and told, to his great surprise, that in six months the Pope will withdraw his support of Opus Dei. Since he believes that Opus Dei is the force keeping the Church from disintegrating into what he sees as the corruption of the modern era, he believes his faith demands that he take action to save Opus Dei. Shortly after the meeting with the Vatican officials, he is contacted by a shadowy figure calling himself "The Teacher", who has learned somehow of the secret meeting. The Teacher informs him that he can deliver an artifact to Aringarosa so valuable to the Church that it will give Opus Dei extreme leverage over the Vatican. The name "Aringarosa" seems to be the (approximate) literal Italian translation of "red herring" ("aringa rossa"; "aringa rosa" means, literally, "pink herring"), although this is not the expression used in Italian for "red herring" in its figurative sense.
  • The Teacher – a shadowy figure who drives the plot of the story. He has learned not only about the plight of Opus Dei, but also the identities of the four leaders of the Priory of Sion, who in turn know the location of the keystone. He contacts Aringarosa and agrees to supply him with a fantastic artifact that will give Opus Dei great power, namely documents that, if released, would destroy the Church. Aringarosa, acting out of self interest and piety, agrees to his offer in order to save both Opus Dei and the Church. The Teacher uses Silas, Aringarosa's protectee, to carry out his plans.
  • André Vernet – president of the Paris branch of the Depository Bank of Zurich. He is surprised when Neveu and Langdon arrive at the bank and inform him that Jacques Saunière, a longtime account holder at the bank, has died and that Neveu now possesses the depository key to the account. His suspicions are aroused when Neveu and Langdon, after accessing the bank with the key, do not know the account number, indicating that they have no legitimate business being in the bank. When he sees a news report that Neveu and Langdon are fugitives suspected in Saunière's murder, he returns to where he left them, but he finds that they have indeed entered the correct account number and retrieved a rosewood box from Saunière's safety deposit. Realizing they are legitimate clients according to the strict rules of the bank, he feels duty-bound to help them escape. Acting as a bank driver, he bluffs his way past the police in one of the bank's trucks with Langdon and Neveu concealed in the back of the truck. He later changes his mind and attempts to turn them in, but is thwarted by Langdon, who steals the truck and escapes with Neveu to the nearby château of his friend, Sir Leigh Teabing.
  • Sir Leigh Teabing – British Royal Historian, a Knight of the Realm, Grail scholar, and friend of Robert Langdon. Independently wealthy, he lives outside Paris in a château, where Langdon and Neveu take refuge after escaping from the Depository Bank of Zurich with the rosewood box containing the keystone. He reveals the "real" interpretation of the Grail to Neveu (see below). After they are discovered at his home simultaneously by Silas and the French police, the three of them flee with his chauffeur Rémy, flying to England in his private jet. They take Silas with them bound and gagged. After Neveu solves the combination lock of the keystone, he interprets the enclosed riddle as meaning they should go to the Temple Church in London to find the next hidden clue that will let them unlock the second combination lock of the keystone. Note that Sir Leigh's name is an anagram of the surnames of Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh — authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail, a book which espouses very similar beliefs to Sir Leigh's. Teabing is revealed at the end of the story to be the Teacher.
  • Rémy Legaludec – chauffeur to Leigh Teabing. After flying with Teabing, Langdon, and Neveu to England, he drives them to the Temple Church in London. Unbeknownst to the others, he is in fact working for the Teacher. While they are inside the Temple Church, he rescues Silas, who was tied up by the other three. Armed with a pistol, he enters the church before the others can locate and solve the riddle supposedly hidden there. He takes Teabing hostage and demands the keystone from Langdon. When Langdon gives him the keystone, he and Silas flee in his car with Teabing as hostage. Rémy Martin is a famous brand of cognac, and cognac plays a role in Rémy's fate.
  • The docent at Rosslyn Chapel – he is giving a guided tour of Rosslyn Chapel to Langdon and Neveu when he sees the rosewood box they are carrying and realizes that it seems to be an exact duplicate of a box owned by his grandmother, who is the head of the trust that oversees the chapel. He is revealed to be Sophie's brother.
  • Guardian of the Rosslyn Trust – she is, in fact, the wife of Jacques Saunière and Sophie Neveu's grandmother. The docent is Sophie's brother. Believing that they had been targeted for assassination by the Church for knowing the powerful secret of the Priory of Sion, she and Saunière agreed that she and Sophie's brother should live secretly in Scotland. Only Sophie's parents were in the car at the time even though the whole family was supposed to be there. Saunière told the authorities that Sophie's grandmother and her brother were in the car. She tells Neveu and Langdon that although the Holy Grail and the secret documents were once buried in the vault of Rosslyn Chapel, they were removed to France by the Priory of Sion only several years ago. Reading the parchment inside the second keystone, she realizes where the Grail is now hidden, but refuses to tell Langdon, saying he will figure it out eventually on his own. According to her, the Priory of Sion never intended to reveal the secret of the Grail according to any set timetable. She believes that such a revelation is unnecessary anyway, since the true nature and spiritual power of the Grail is emerging into the world without the location of the actual artifact being revealed. She also informs Sophie Neveu of her true identity through her bloodline.

Summary of spoilers

  • Jacques Saunière was the head of the Priory of Sion and therefore possessed the knowledge of the "keystone", which in turn reveals the location of the Holy Grail, as well as documents which would shake the foundation of Christianity and the Church. He was killed in order to extract this information from him and eliminate the members of the Priory of Sion.
  • The reason that Sophie Neveu disassociated herself from her grandfather is that she witnessed him participating in a pagan sex ritual (Hieros Gamos) at his home in Normandy, when she made a surprise visit there during a break from college.
  • The message Saunière wrote with a black-light pen on the floor before dying contained the extra line "P.S. Find Robert Langdon". This was the reason Bezu Fache suspected Langdon of being the murderer. Fache had erased this line before Langdon arrived so that Langdon would not be aware that the police suspected him. Sophie Neveu saw the entire text of the message by accident when it was faxed to her office by the police. Sophie realized immediately that the message was meant for her, since her grandfather used to call her "Princesse Sophie" (i.e. "P.S.") when she was a girl. From this she also knew Langdon to be innocent. She informs him of this secretly when they are in the Louvre by telling him to call her personal voicemail box and listen to the message that she had left there for him.
  • The other three lines of Saunière's blood message are anagrams. The first line are the digits of the Fibonacci sequence out of order. The second and third lines ("O, draconian devil!" and "Oh, lame saint!") are anagrams respectively for "Leonardo da Vinci" and "The Mona Lisa" (in English). These clues were meant to lead to a second set of clues. On the glass over the Mona Lisa, Saunière wrote the message "So dark the con of Man" with a curator's pen that can only be read in black light. The second clue is an anagram for Madonna of the Rocks, another Da Vinci painting hanging nearby. Behind this painting, Saunière hid a key. On the key, written with the curator's pen, is an address.
  • The key opens a safe deposit box at the Paris branch of the Depository Bank of Zurich. Saunière's account number at the bank is the Fibonacci sequence digits, arranged in the correct order.
  • The instructions that Saunière revealed to Silas at gunpoint are actually a well-rehearsed lie, namely that the keystone is buried in the Church of Saint-Sulpice beneath an obelisk that lies exactly along the ancient "Rose Line" (the former Prime Meridian which passed through Paris before it was redefined to pass through Greenwich). In reality, the message beneath the obelisk simply contains a reference to a passage in the Book of Job which reads "Hitherto shalt thou go and no further". When Silas reads this, he realizes he has been duped.
  • The keystone is actually a cryptex, a cylindrical device invented by Leonardo Da Vinci for transporting secure messages. In order to open it, the combination of rotating components must be arranged in the correct order. If forced open, an enclosed vial of vinegar will rupture and dissolve the message, which was written on papyrus. The rosewood box containing the cryptex contains clues to the combination of the cryptex, written in backwards script in the same manner as Leonardo's journals. While fleeing to England aboard Teabing's plane, Langdon solves the riddle and finds the combination to be "S-O-F-I-A", the ancient Greek form of Sophie's name, also meaning wisdom.
  • The keystone cryptex actually contains a second smaller cryptex with a second riddle that reveals its combination. The riddle, which says to seek the orb above a tomb of "a knight a pope interred", refers not to a medieval knight, but rather to the tomb of Sir Isaac Newton, who was buried in Westminster Abbey, and was eulogized by Alexander Pope (A. Pope). The orb refers to the apple observed by Newton which led to his discovery of the Law of universal gravitation, and thus the combination to the second cryptex is "A-P-P-L-E".
  • The Teacher is actually Sir Leigh Teabing. He learned of the identities of the leaders of the Priory of Sion and bugged their offices. Rémy is his collaborator. It is Teabing who contacts Bishop Aringarosa using a phony French accent to hide his identity and dupes him into financing the plan to find the Grail. He never intended to hand the Grail over to Aringarosa but was simply taking advantage of Opus Dei's resolve to find it. Instead he believed that the Priory of Sion intended to renege on its vow to reveal the secret of the Grail to the world at the appointed time, and thus he was planning to steal the Grail documents and reveal them to the world himself. It is he who informed Silas that Langdon and Sophie Neveu were at his chateau. He did not seize the keystone from them himself because he did not want to reveal his identity to them. His plan to have Silas break into his house and seize the keystone was thwarted when the police raided the house, having followed the GPS device in the truck Langdon had stolen and having heard Silas' gunshot. Teabing leads Neveu and Langdon to the Temple Church in London knowing full well that it was a blind alley. Rather he wanted to stage the hostage scene with Rémy in order to obtain the keystone without revealing his real plot to Langdon and Neveu. The call Silas receives while riding in the limousine with Rémy is in fact Teabing, surreptitiously calling from the back of the limousine.
  • In order to erase all knowledge of his work, Teabing kills Rémy by giving him cognac laced with peanut powder, knowing Rémy has a deadly allergy to peanuts. Teabing also anonymously tells the police that Silas is hiding in the London headquarters of Opus Dei.
  • In Westminster Abbey, in the showdown with Teabing, Langdon secretly opens the second cryptex and removes its contents before destroying it in front of Teabing. Teabing is arrested and led away while fruitlessly begging Langdon to tell him the contents of the second cryptex and the secret location of the Grail.
  • Bishop Aringarosa and Silas believed they were saving the Church, not destroying it.
  • Bezu Fache figures out that Neveu and Langdon are innocent after discovering the bugging equipment in Teabing's barn.
  • Silas accidentally shoots Aringarosa outside the London headquarters of Opus Dei while fleeing from the police. Having realized his terrible error and that he has been duped, Aringarosa tells Bezu Fache to give the bearer bonds in his brief case to the families of the murdered leaders of the Priory of Sion. Silas dies of fatal wounds.
  • The final message inside the second keystone actually does not refer to Rosslyn Chapel, although the Grail was indeed once buried there, below the Star of David on the floor (the two interlocking triangles are the "blade" and "chalice", i.e., male and female symbols).
  • The docent in Rosslyn Chapel is Sophie's long-lost brother.
  • The guardian of Rosslyn Chapel, Marie Chauvel, is Sophie's long-lost grandmother, and the wife of Jacques Saunière.
  • Even though all four of the leaders of the Priory of Sion were killed, the secret is not lost, since there is still a contingency plan (never revealed) which will keep the organization and its secret alive.
  • The real meaning of the last message is that the Grail is buried beneath the small pyramid (i.e., the "blade", a male symbol) directly below the inverted glass pyramid of the Louvre (i.e., the "chalice", a female symbol, which Langdon and Sophie ironically almost crash into while making their original escape from Bezu Fache). See La Pyramide Inversée for further discussion.
  • At the end of the book, Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu fall in love, with implications of them having sex. They arrange to meet in Florence.

Narrative paradox: The novel continually portrays characters reacting with total amazement and disbelief when told the "true" story of the Grail and of Mary Magdalene, while also presenting this "truth" as so well-known that there is no serious dispute amongst academics about it. It also implies that the "secret" is so widely shared that it has been conveyed in numerous publicly available books and art works throughout history, while still remaining unknown to the general public.

Continuity question: at the conclusion of Angels & Demons (which precedes The Da Vinci Code) Robert Langdon sleeps with Vittoria Vetra. Where Sophie is Saunière's granddaugher, Vittoria is the daughter of Leonardo Vetra, whose murder launches Angels & Demons. Like Sophie, Vittoria is a stranger who, along with Langdon, resolves the various mysteries posed in the story.

Secret of the Holy Grail
Detail of the The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. As explained by
Leigh Teabing to Sophie Neveu, the figure at the right hand of Jesus
is supposedly not the apostle John, but Mary Magdalene, who was
his wife and pregnant with his child. The absence of a chalice in the
painting indicates that Da Vinci knew that Mary Magdalene was
actually the Holy Grail (the bearer of Jesus' blood). This is reinforced
by the letter "M" that is created with the bodily positions of Jesus,
Mary, and the male apostle (Saint Peter) upon who she is leaning.
(Based on a scan by Mark Harden).

According to the novel, the secrets of the Holy Grail, as kept by the Priory of Sion, are as follows:

  • The Holy Grail is not a physical chalice, but a woman, namely Mary Magdalene, who carried the bloodline of Christ.
  • The Old French expression for the Holy Grail, San gréal, actually is a play on Sang réal, which literally means "royal blood" in Old French.
  • The Grail relics consist of the documents that testify to the bloodline, as well as the actual bones of Mary Magdalene.
  • The Grail relics of Mary Magdalene were hidden by the Priory of Sion in a secret crypt beneath Rosslyn Chapel.
  • The Church has suppressed the truth about Mary Magdalene and Jesus' bloodline for 2000 years. This is principally because they fear the power of the sacred feminine, which they have demonized as Satanic.
  • Mary Magdalene was of royal descent (through the Jewish House of Benjamin) and was the wife of Jesus, of the House of David. That she was a prostitute was a slander invented by the Church to obscure their true relationship. At the time of the Crucifixion, she was pregnant. After the Crucifixion, she fled to Gaul, where she was sheltered by the Jews of Marseille. She gave birth to a daughter, named Sarah. The bloodline of Jesus and Mary Magdalene became the Merovingian dynasty of France.
  • Sophie Neveu and her brother are descendants of the original bloodline of Jesus and Mary Magdalene (their last name was changed to Neveu, "nephew," to hide their ancestry).
  • The existence of the bloodline was the secret that was contained in the documents discovered by the Crusaders after they conquered Jerusalem in 1099 (see Kingdom of Jerusalem). The Priory of Sion and the Knights Templar were organized to keep the secret.

The secrets of the Grail are connected to Leonardo Da Vinci's work as follows:

  • Da Vinci was a member of the Priory of Sion and knew the secret of the Grail. The secret is in fact revealed in The Last Supper, in which no actual chalice is present at the table. The figure seated next to Christ is not a man, but a woman, his wife Mary Magdalene. Most reproductions of the work are from a later alteration that obscured her obvious female characteristics.
  • The Mona Lisa is actually a self-portrait by Leonardo as a woman. The androgyny reflects the sacred union of male and female which is implied in the holy union of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Such parity between the cosmic forces of masculine and feminine has long been a deep threat to the established power of the Church. The name Mona Lisa is actually an anagram for "Amon L'Isa", referring to the father and mother gods of Ancient Egypt (namely Amon and Isis). (However, a closer look at Egyptian mythology shows that Isis was never the spouse of Amon, but of Osiris (god of the underworld), and Amon's spouse was Mut. Dan Brown also incorrectly claims that Amon was the god of masculine fertility.)

The mystery within the mystery

Part of the advertising campaign for the novel was that the book itself held four codes, and that the reader who solved them would be given a prize. Several thousand people actually solved the codes, and one name was randomly chosen to be the winner. The prize was a trip to Paris.

The solution to the mystery involved discovering that the book jacket conceals latitude and longitude coordinates, written in reverse. Adding one degree to the latitude coordinates gives the coordinates of the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency in northern Virginia, which is the location of a mysterious statue called Kryptos, which will supposedly figure prominently in Dan Brown's next novel.

Inspiration and influences

The novel is part of the late twentieth-century revival of interest in Gnosticism. Its emphasis on the role of Mary Magdalene in early Christianity comes straight from Gnostic scriptures, as does much of its portrayal of fertility rites and mystery cults in the practices of the ancient church. The later ecclesiastical history described in Langdon and Teabing's lengthy soliloquies is largely adapted from modern interpretations of the relationship between Gnosticism and Christianity; the most influential of these is probably 1982 pseudo-documentary book Holy Blood, Holy Grail (which is explicitly named, among several others, on page 253). It has been claimed that The Da Vinci Code is a romanised version of this work, which was itself based on a series of short films that ran on the BBC in the late 1970s. Similarities include Mary Magdalene as the living Holy Grail, the divine origin of the French royal dynasty, occultism, ancient Egyptian wisdom, papal conspiracy, and the use of steganography. In the book, the French painter Poussin with his "Et in Arcadia ego" canvas plays the same role that Brown later assigned to Leonardo da Vinci (years later one of the authors openly admitted to the press that the entire story had been invented). In reference to Baigent, Brown named the villain of his story "Teabing".

Some also claim Brown has reworked themes from his own earlier Robert Langdon novel, Angels and Demons (see that article for a more thorough discussion).

Umberto Eco's earlier Foucault's Pendulum also deals with conspiracies, including the Holy Blood theme and the Temple.


Because of the book's opening claim:

"Fact: (...) All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate."

many have viewed The Da Vinci Code as a genuine exposé of orthodox Christianity's past. As a result, the book has attracted a generally negative response from the Catholic and other Christian communities, as well as from historians who believe that Brown has distorted – and in some cases fabricated – history, and from art historians and other readers complaining of sloppy research. Others, including the author[1], note that the "fact" statement does not claim that the theories presented by the characters in The Da Vinci Code regarding Mary Magdalene, Jesus of Nazareth, and Christianity's past are accurate.

Criticisms include:

  • The claim that, prior to AD 325, Christ was considered no more than a "mortal prophet" by his followers, and that it was only as a consequence of Emperor Constantine's politicking and a close vote at the First Council of Nicaea that Christianity came to view him as divine: This has been debunked by various authors with extensive reference to the Bible and Church Fathers, sources that pre-date the First Council of Nicaea. (See this example, or Olson and Meisel (2004), who refer to The Church in Crisis: A History of the General Councils, 325–1870 (1964) by Philip Hughes.) At the Council, the central question was whether Christ and God were one, or whether instead Christ was the first created being, inferior to the Father, but still superior to all other beings (see Arianism). The central issue of the book, the female deity and unity of male and female, is one of the main preoccupations of modern New Age Wiccan Paganism, but was never an issue in early Christianity. Brown does not quote scriptural support for his thesis, whether canonical or apocryphal. While it can be argued that the role of Mary Magdalene was generally underestimated in history, and this argument has scriptural support, the assertion that she was romantically involved with Jesus is pure conjecture; even gnostic apocrypha do not go that far).
  • The claim that Mary Magdalene was of the tribe of Benjamin (Chapter 58): This is not supported by any historical evidence. The fact that Magdala was located in northern Israel, whereas the tribe of Benjamin resided in the south, weighs against it. Furthermore, Paul was a Benjamite but makes no mention of this supposed marriage.
  • The idea that the purported marriage of Jesus and Mary Magdalene would create a "potent political union with the potential of making a legitimate claim to the throne" (Chapter 58): The worldly connotations of Jesus' kingdom being in or beyond the world have long been a subject of debate in scholarly communities. For those who believe in the story of the gospels, his death and departure after resurrection would exclude him from being an earthly king. However, the connection of the Christian church with actual earthly governments cannot be denied.
  • The assertion that "the sacred feminine" has been suppressed by Christianity: In Roman Catholicism, for example, Mary (of Nazareth), the mother of Jesus, is specially venerated as the "Mother of God," the "Queen of Heaven," the spiritual mother of all mankind, and is believed to be free of sin. However it is also of merit to note that in the gospels Jesus did not accord her any privileges, and treated her with a seeming indifference. This claim, however, can be countered by arguing he tells one of his apostles, The Beloved Apostle, to watch over and care for her as he would his own mother.
  • The claim that Rosslyn Chapel was built by the Knights Templar. It was actually founded by Sir William St Clair, third Earl of Orkney and Lord of Rosslyn.
  • The allegation that "the Church burned at the stake five million women" as witches has been a problem for many critics because data do not exist to permit an estimate. Reports have ranged from between the extremely high figures of 9 million and extremely low figures of mere hundreds, both of which have been vigorously challenged. More considered estimates range between 40,000 and 60,000, mostly carried out by secular Christian courts, and not by the Church. Witch burnings were also much more prevalent in some Protestant denominations, although the Da Vinci Code claims that they were a purely Catholic event.(Jenny Gibbons, Brian Levack, WIlliam Manchester, Norman Cantor)
  • The assertion that the original Olympics were held "as a tribute to the magic of Venus" (Chapter 6), i. e. apparently Aphrodite: Although the origins of the Olympic festivals remain in obscurity, it has been well documented that they were religious festivals in honor of Zeus and Pelops, not Venus [Aphrodite].
  • The theory that Gothic architecture was designed by the Templars to record the secret of the sacred feminine: historians note that Templars were not involved with European cathedrals of the time, which were generally commissioned by their own bishops.
  • The depiction of the Templars as builders, guild-founders and secret-bearers: Templar historians point to abundant evidence that Templars did not themselves engage in building projects or found guilds for masons, and that they were largely illiterate men unlikely to know "sacred geometry," purportedly handed down from the pyramids' builders. However they did build large fortresses. And the Masonic order, founded in the eighteenth century, did seek to rewrite the history of the Templars in this respect.
  • The portrayal of the Priory of Sion as an ancient organization: While the Priory is a genuine organization claiming to have been the Templars' driving force, most historians suspect that the present Priory of Sion originated in the aftermath of World War II, on the grounds that it was registered with the French government in 1956, and only became widely-known in 1962 (see Pierre Plantard). However, the present Priory claims to be continuous with the mediaeval Priory of Sion, a small community of Augustinian canons founded between 1090 and 1112 to serve a church on the supposed site of the Last Supper, and eventually suppressed by Louis XIII in 1619.
  • The suggestion that all churches used by the Templars were built round, and that roundness was considered an insult by the Church: Some churches used by the Templars were not round, and those that were round were so in tribute to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Moreover, there are quite a number of round churches, including Bramante's Tempietto, built for Pope Julius II on the site of St. Peter's crucifixion. The circle was thought to be holy and perfect by many Christian thinkers.
  • The contention that the Mona Lisa was painted by Leonardo da Vinci as a self-portrait and that its title refers to the Egyptian gods Amon and Isis: It is uncertain who was the historical Mona Lisa; but there have been persuasive sources pointing to her being Lisa Gherardini or, less probably, Isabella of Aragon. However, other researchers have concluded, using "morphing" techniques, that the resemblance to Leonardo is striking (Lillian Schwartz of Bell Labs and Digby Quested of the Maudsley Hospital in London). The title was not chosen by Leonardo, and it was not applied to the painting until the nineteenth century. "Mona" is a contraction of "madonna" (meaning 'lady' or 'madam'). Lisa is the name of the most likely subject of the painting. In any case, it is more commonly known as "La Gioconda" in Italian (Lisa Gherardini's married surname).
  • The book matter-of-factly states that Leonardo Da Vinci was a homosexual. While there are clues about Da Vinci's personal life that may form a basis for this argument, it is not conclusively known to be a fact, nor do scholars agree upon this.
  • The depiction of Opus Dei as a monastic order which is the Pope's "personal prelature". In fact, there are no monks in Opus Dei, which has primarily lay membership. The term personal prelature does not refer to a special relationship to the Pope. It means an institution in which the jurisdiction of the prelate is not linked to a territory but over persons, wherever they be. However, members of Opus Dei do practice mortification of the flesh, as has been a Christian tradition since at least St Anthony in the second century AD.
  • The contention that the first version of Leonardo's The Virgin of the Rocks was rejected by the church because of its heretical content. There is no evidence for this claim. There is, however, evidence for a lengthy legal dispute over payments and expenses.
  • Mary Magdalene is said to have been labelled a whore by the Church (Chapters 58 and 60). This derives from a common linkage initiated by Pope Gregory I between figures mentioned in the Gospel of Luke, chapters 7 and 8, one of whom is Mary Magdalene, described as a victim of demonic possession: "Mary who is called Magdalen, out of whom seven devils were gone forth" (Luke 8:2). Gregory equated her with Mary of Bethany and an unnamed female "sinner". Later, Mary was also equated with the "woman taken in adultery" in the Gospel of John, increasingly connecting Mary with sexual sins. It is true that Catholic tradition has tended to defend these integrations in contrast to other Christian traditions (see the Catholic Encyclopedia [2]), However the "promotion" of adultery into prostitution arises from Mary's role as patron saint of repentant sinful women. [3] The euphemistic term "magdalen" has been used to refer to repentant prostitutes because of this (see Magdalen Asylum), becoming attached to Mary herself.
  • The suggestion that the Tetragrammaton is "an androgynous physical union between the masculine Jah and the pre-Hebraic name of Eve, Havah" (Chapter 74). It is generally believed that the four Hebrew letters that form the Tetragrammaton (Yud, Hay, Vav, Hay) literally translate to 'To be, to become" which are believed to represent the name of the God of Israel.
  • Venus is depicted as visible in the east shortly after sunset (Chapter 105), which is an astronomical impossibility. This was corrected to "west" in some later editions, like 28th printing of British paperback, ISBN 0552149519 and apparently current printings of the US hardback. [4].
  • Brown characterized the cycle of Venus as "trac[ing] a perfect pentacle across the ecliptic sky every four years", and from there claimed this as the basis for the four-year Olympic period (Chapter 6). The fact is, Venus completes five cycles in eight years.[5] [6], a fact well known to the ancient Greeks and Mayans. This eight-year cycle is one of the factors in predicting the transit of Venus. This was changed to "eight years" in some later editions such as the British paperback and at least the April 2003 printing of the US hardback - [7].
  • The assertion that "left" is associated with terms such as "sinister" and other negative overtones because of "the Church's defamation"; as a matter of fact, such associations are older than Christianity and also exist in other cultures, such as Hinduism (for instance, "left hand tantra"). Also, the claim that "left brain" colloquially means irrational, emotional mind is false; the left hemisphere of the brain is associated with rational, male functioning.
  • The claim that the early Israelites worshipped the goddess Shekinah as the equal to Yahweh. In fact the term Shekinah (derived from Hebrew for "dwelling") does not appear in early Judaism at all, but was used in later Talmudic Judaism to refer to the "dwelling", or presence of God among his people. It also came to be interpreted as the more "homely" or feminine aspects of God.
  • One of the cryptex clues claims that the Knights Templar worshipped a pre-Christian fertility god (a horned god) named Baphomet. However, this name is only known from records of the Templars' trial on charges of witchcraft, and is most probably a corruption of the name Mohammed.

The popularity of the book, and widespread acceptance of it as being factually correct, has created controversy in Christian communities, which has resulted in the publication of various books on the subject. Among others, this includes Steve Kellmeyer's Fact and Fiction in the Da Vinci Code and The Da Vinci Hoax by Carl Olson and Sandra Miesel.

Much of the problem of the book is its readiness to assert as fact opinions on debates that have not been resolved by scholars. And for many, because of its claim to fact, the line where 'fact' ends and fiction begins (as the novel is certainly fiction) is blurred. This, combined with the controversial religious opinions that combat or offend the communities discussed, has caused a great deal of debate and partisan material to erupt.

There have been widespread criticisms of the book as reflecting antiquated Protestant calumnies against Catholicism (eg on the BBC's Sunday programme on 24 July 2005), or more general anticlerical traditions. On March 15, 2005, Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, Archbishop of Genoa and former second-in-command of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, castigated the book and those who sell it on grounds of anti-Catholic bias. "This seems like a throwback to the old anti-clerical pamphlets of the 1800s," he said. It was a "gross and absurd" distortion of history, full of "cheap lies." The Archbishop also made a strong defense of Opus Dei, the Catholic organization which is a major target of the book.

Regarding the style of this book and others, Brown has also been criticised. In The Da Vinci Code there are many characters that evidently reflect US stereotypes of Europeans, leading Europeans in particular to attack Brown's offhand clichés and 'tired stereotypes'.

Facts and mythology behind the book

Motion picture adaptation

Sony's Columbia Pictures is adapting the novel to film. More information is found at the separate The Da Vinci Code film article. And the likely reason Disney ABC was so intent on debunking the book.

Further reading

External links


The one thing I despise is the assumption we all believe in “Jesus” - or that we don't know how bi Leonardo was ... ala CHIAROSCURO: PRIVATE LIVES OF DA VINCI

Go get this at Mile High Comics - Sparky

PS - I know I'm a windbag - but we do want your comments!