Kirsti Copeland

Kirsti Copeland
Ph.D. in Early Christianity
Adjunct Lecturer, Stanford University

Book Discussion: The Da Vinci Code

The Round Room, Memorial Church,
Stanford University
Tuesday, January 20, 2004,
Noon-1:30 pm

Edited by Peter Y. Chou

Dan Brown's
The Da Vinci Code

Transcribed from Kirsti Copeland's Handout: "Breaking the Da Vinci Code"

The heresies, then provided us with no decisive confirmation of a connection between Jesus' family and the Merovingians, who appeared on the world stage some four centuries later. For such confirmation we were obliged to look elsewhere— back to the Merovingians themselves. At first glance, the evidence, such as it was, seemed to be meager. We had already considered the legendary birth of Merovee, for example— child of two fathers, one of whom was a mysterious aquatic creature from across the sea... And while the Merovingian royal bloodline was credited with a sacred, miraculous and divine nature, it was not explicitly stated anywhere that this blood was, in fact, Jesus.
— Michael Baignet, Richard Leigh, Henry Lincoln, Holy Blood, Holy Grail, (1982) p. 387

There is complete silence in the Gospels concerning the marital status of Jesus. No wife accompanies him in his public career, or, for that matter, stays at home... Such a state of affairs is sufficiently unusual in ancient Jewry to prompt further enquiry... Rabbi Eliezar ben Hyrcanus even went so far, at the end of the first century AD, as to compare deliberate abstention from procreation to murder; and so did his contemporary, Simeon ben Azzai. As Simeon was himself unmarried, this exposed him to the criticism of his colleagues... he pleaded unceasing devotion to biblical study... The outlook of the early Hasidim in this respect is not expressed verbally in the sources... Among these are devoutness, humility and the fear of sin, but also sexual abstinence and the holy spirit which is the hallmark of prophecy.
— Geza Vermes, Jesus the Jew, (1981) pp. 99-102 (Wedding at Cana)

From this, Irenaeus says, the Valentinians derive direct implications concerning sexual activity. Those who have experienced that "mystery of syzygies" are enjointed to enact marital intercourse in ways that express their spiritual, psychic, and bodily integration, celebrating the act as a symbol of the divine pleromic harmony... Some scholars (myself included) have sometimes taken Irenaeus's statement as evidence that Valentinian Christians rejected the ascetic practice that other Gnostic Christians based upon similar exegesis... Yet now I find myself more cautious about drawing such implications... The inconclusiveness of the evidence suggest to me that Valentinian Christians like the orthodox, may have expressed a wide range of views and tolerated a wide variety of practices... Whether the sources remain silent on the literal question, they speak clearly concerning the symbolic ones.
— Elaine Pagels, "Pursuing the Spiritual Eve"
    in Karen L. King, Images of the Feminine in Gnosticism (2000), pp. 203-204

The whole tradition of considering ancient pagan religion sexy and its women cultic functionaries as sex partners is a myth. It speaks more about its adherents than about the ancients. It is born of conflicted attitudes towards sexual activity in Western civilization, of the inability to think of roles for women priestesses in any area other than sexual. Nevertheless, it points out the absence of biblical discourse on sexuality. It is hard to imagine that ancient Israel did not have more to say about sexuality than the Bible offers.
— Tikva Frymer-Kensky, In the Wake of the Goddesses (1993), p. 202

[11] Then said Judah to Tamar his daughter-in-law, "Remain a widow at thy father's house, till Shelah my son grows up"— for he feared that he would die, like his brothers. So Tamar went and dwelt in her father's house. [12] In course of time the wife of Judah, Shua's daughter, died; and when Judah was comforted, he went up to Timnah to his sheepshearers, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite. [13] And when Tamar was told, "Your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep," [14] she put off her widow's garments, and put on a veil, wrapping herself up, and sat at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah; for she saw that Shelah was grown up, and she had not been given to him in marriage. [15] When Judah saw her, he thought her to be a harlot, for she had covered her face. [16] He went over to her at the road side, and said, "Come, let me come in to you," for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law. She said, "What will you give me, that you may come in to me?" [17] He answered, "I will send you a kid from the flock." And she said, "Will you give me a pledge, till you send it?" [18] He said, "What pledge shall I give you?" She replied, "Your signet and your cord, and your staff that is in your hand." So he gave them to her, and went in to her, and she conceived by him. [19] Then she arose and went away, and taking off her veil she put on the garments of her widowhood. [20] When Judah sent the kid by his friend the Adullamite, to receive the pledge from the woman's hand, he could not find her. [21] And he asked the men of the place, "Where is the harlot (qedeshah) who was at Enaim by the wayside?" And they said, "No harlot (qedeshah) has been here."
Genesis 38

The Gospel of Philip Excerpts:
* The heavenly man has many more sons than the earthly man... For it is by a kiss that the perfect conceive and give birth. For this reason we also kiss one another. We receive conception from the grace which is in one another.
* There were three who always walked with the Lord: Mary, his mother, and her sister, and Magdalene, the one who was called his companion (koinonos). His sister and his mother and his companion (horter) were each a Mary.
* And the companion (koinonos) of the [...] Mary Magdalene. [...] loved her more than all the disciples, and used to kiss her often on her mouth. The rest of the disciples [...]. They said to him "Why do you love her more than all of us?" The Savior answered and said to them, "Why do I not love you like her? When a blind man and one who sees are both together in darkness, they are no different from one another. When the light comes, then he who sees will see the light, and he who is blind will remain in darkness."
* Great is the mystery of marriage! For without it, the world would not exist. Now the existence of the world [...], and the existence of [...] marriage. Think of the [...] relationship, for it possesses [...] power. Its image consists of a defilement.
* When Eve was still with Adam, death did not exist. When she was separated from him, death came into being. If he enters again and attains his former self, death will be no more.
* A bridal chamber is not for the animals, nor is it for the slaves, nor for defiled women; but it is for free men and virgins.
* If the woman had not separated from the man, she should not die with the man. His separation became the beginning of death. Because of this, Christ came to repair the separation, which was from the beginning, and again unite the two, and to give life to those who died as a result of the separation, and unite them. But the woman is united to her husband in the bridal chamber. Indeed, those who have united in the bridal chamber will no longer be separated. Thus Eve separated from Adam because it was not in the bridal chamber that she united with him.
* The soul of Adam came into being by means of a breath. The partner of his soul is the spirit. His mother is the thing that was given to him. His soul was taken from him and replaced by a spirit. When he was united (to the spirit), he spoke words incomprehensible to the powers. They envied him [...] spiritual partner [...] hidden [...] opportunity [...] for themselves alone [...] bridal chamber, so that [...].

The Thunder, Perfect Mind Excerpts:
For I am the first and the last.
I am the honored one and the scorned one.
I am the whore and the holy one.
I am the wife and the virgin.
I am and the daughter.
I am the members of my mother.
I am the barren one
and many are her sons.
I am she whose wedding is great,
and I have not taken a husband.
I am the midwife and she who does not bear.
I am the solace of my labor pains.
I am the bride and the bridegroom,
and it is my husband who begot me.
I am the mother of my father
and the sister of my husband
and he is my offspring.
I am the silence that is incomprehensible
and the idea whose remembrance is frequent.
I am the voice whose sound is manifold
and the word whose appearance is multiple.
I am the utterance of my name...
For I am the wisdom of the Greeks
and the knowledge of the barbarians.
I am the judgement of the Greeks and of the barbarians.
I am the one whose image is great in Egypt
and the one who has no image among the barbarians.
I am the one who has been hated everywhere
and who has been loved everywhere.
I am the one whom they call Life,
and you have called Death.
I am the one whom they call Law,
and you have called Lawlessness.

Gospel of Mary IX.3-9:
Peter answered and spoke concerning these same things...
"Did He really speak with a woman without our knowledge and not openly?
Are we to turn about and listen to her? Did He prefer her to us?"
Then Mary wept and said to Peter, "My brother Peter, what do you think?
Do you think that I have thought this up myself in my heart,
or that I am lying about the Savior?"
Levi answered and said to Peter, "Peter you have always been hot tempered.
Now I see you contending against the woman like the adversaries.
But if the Savior made her worthy, who are you indeed to reject her?
Surely the Savior knows her very well. That is why He loved her more than us..."
PBS: Gospel of Mary

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