Dan Brown wants us to believe that the church has, throughout history, conducted a "smear campaign" to malign the character of Mary Magdalene. It is, according to Brown, part of the church's overall effort to remove the "goddess" from our worship. He shows this through a bizarre speculation into Da Vinci's Last Supper fresco, as well as wrong teachings about the church's portrayal of Mary Magdalene.
Robert Langdon and Leigh Teabing are teaching Sophie Neveu about the Holy Grail as they examine a reproduction of da Vinci's Last Supper in a book:
Sophie scanned the work eagerly. "Does this fresco tell us what the Grail really is?"
"Not what it is," Teabing whispered. "But rather who it is. The Holy Grail is not a thing. It is, in fact, a . person" (236).
Langdon and Teabing go on to explain to Sophie how Da Vinci, in his famous fresco, allegedly depicted Mary Magdalene as one of the disciples. From this, and other sources they quote, they deduce that Mary was Jesus' companion ("the word companion, in those days, literally meant spouse," says Teabing) and the two had a child together. Thus, from this hypothesis it is presented that Mary herself is the Holy Grail, the recipient of the seed of Jesus. From this scenario, Brown weaves his code-the return of goddess worship into our culture.
Earlier, Professor Langdon tellingly contemplates: "A career hazard of symbologists was a tendency to extract hidden meaning from situations that had none." Unintentionally, this statement aptly describes the fantasies of The Da Vinci Code with regard to Mary Magdalene. Teabing explains to Sophie Neveu, "The Church needed to defame Mary Magdalen in order to cover up her dangerous secret-her role as the Holy Grail." Thus, the thinking follows, the church engineered a smear campaign to portray her as a prostitute. Langdon was right that "everyone loves a conspiracy." Brown, using discredited sources, tells a conspiracy tale like no other. Not only was Mary Magdalene Jesus' companion, but their relationship produced a child. And that bloodline lives today. Brown draws much of this conjecture from Holy Blood, Holy Grail. The authors of this 1982 non-fiction book go even further in their depiction of Mary as the Grail.
According to Brown's Leigh Teabing, "the marriage of Jesus and Mary Magdalene is part of the historical record."
There is no credible historical record that Jesus was married. None. We will not even enter the debate as to whether Jesus was married or not. This is simply, from a biblical and historical perspective, a non-issue, despite even the patently false supposition that Jews in Jesus' time were somehow forbidden to remain unmarried.
There is no evidence that the early church tried to tarnish Mary Magdalene's reputation by making her out to be a prostitute. Any reference to her as a prostitute does not come from the Bible. Here is what we do know of Mary from the biblical record:
Some have surmised that since her name and story appear immediately following the account of a prostitute, the two are one and the same woman (see Luke 7:36 through 8:2). But there is not biblical support for this conclusion. (Most historians agree that the reference to Mary Magdalene as a prostitute was started in the sixth century by Pope Gregory I.) Still others have conjectured that she is the anonymous woman caught in adultery. There is not evidence to support that assumption, either. Some have guessed that she might have been a prostitute simply because she came from Magdala, which was often associated with prostitution. Once again, the Bible says no such thing. Any association of Mary of Magdala with either of the above-mentioned anonymous women would have been merely a result of conjecture-or very careless scholarship-probably dating to the Middle Ages, as opposed to a smear campaign.
We do know that Mary Magdalene was a follower of Christ. We also know that Jesus ministered to her, as He did to hundreds-perhaps thousands-of men and women. And-most important-we know that she was the first person ever to report that Jesus was risen from the dead. Instead of questioning her reputation, the Bible assigns to her one of the highest honors of all time: announcing the single most important event in history, the resurrection.