We welcome Rose Line Productions who will be filming three scenes of The Da Vinci Code in the Cathedral during August. We welcome too all those who will be drawn to visit here as a result and stimulated to think about the Christian faith.
The Da Vinci Code is a novel and as such it is not to be taken too seriously from a religious point of view. It is a work of fiction as its author freely admits. It is an intriguing and complex "thriller" into which is woven a series of assumptions and claims about the life of Jesus Christ and the history of the Christian church. These have been around for centuries, surfacing every now and again only to be refuted each time.
The book is not in our view offensive to the Christian faith, merely speculative and far-fetched. It is not blasphemous in that it does not denigrate God in any way. Some of what is said in the book about the church and its teaching is heretical and is based on ideas put forward rather late in the church's history.
The facts about Jesus' life are to be found in the New Testament; the earliest writings are St Paul's letters begun around AD50. By AD130 the four gospels and thirteen of Paul's letters were widely accepted as Holy Scripture containing all a person needed to know for a full faith. Certainly by then Jesus was acknowledged to be both human and divine.
Mary Magdalen is mentioned twelve times in the Gospels, eleven of them in the context of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection. In the other, she is one of several women from whom Jesus cast out evil spirits. There is no evidence at all that she was married to Jesus. It is far more likely that Jesus came from the same prophetic line as John the Baptist and would have been celibate. There is, however, plenty of evidence in the Gospels of his friendships with women which in his day would have been extremely controversial. A careful study of all Jesus' relationships goes a long way to restore faith in the concept of friendship, which has been so debased by the modem obsession with sex and sexuality which lies behind the fantasies about Jesus and Mary Magdalene as a married couple.
The Da Vinci Code stimulates debate and the search for truth and we are glad to be part of this process. The book claims that the church has suppressed important facts about Jesus. The way to counter this accusation is to be open about the facts as we understand them and welcome vigorous debate. This is part of the Cathedral's mission - to get people talking about the truths of the Gospel.
Our Bishop has said "People have been coming to Lincoln Cathedral for centuries in search of the Lincoln Imp. Through the warmth and friendliness of their welcome and the challenge of the building, they have gone away having found God. There can be no better place for The Da Vinci Code to be filmed".