Saturday, May 13, 2006

Archbishop Niederauer on "The Da Vinci Code"

Archbishop George Niederauer of San Francisco is in a good position to comment on The Da Vinci Code, having earned both graduate degrees in theology and in literature. In a recent issue of The Tidings, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, he lays out the various truth claims that lie barely under the surace of Dan Brown's novel and its coming motion picture adaptation and show how they don't stand up to the facts of history. Go here for the article.

Excerpt:

DVC: "Jesus as a married man makes infinitely more sense than our standard Biblical view of Jesus as a bachelor." [Here's why] "Because Jesus was a Jew, and the social decorum during that time virtually forbid a Jewish man to be unmarried." " ... according to Jewish custom celibacy was condemned." "If Jesus was not married at least one of the Bible's Gospels would have mentioned it and offered some explanation for his unnatural state of bachelorhood

TRUTH: Jesus was unmarried, as were the prophet Jeremiah, John the Baptist, the Apostle Paul, and members of the Essene community. The words of Jesus from the Cross, entrusting his mother to the care of John the Apostle, suggest the truth of this assertion.

Brown stresses the importance of the social decorum at that time. If "social decorum" had been a high priority for Jesus, he wouldn't have healed people on the Sabbath, talked to the Samaritan woman at the well, knocked over the moneychangers' tables in the Temple, or socialized often with public sinners.

As for a Gospel explanation for Jesus' "unnatural state," here is Jesus' teaching on celibacy, from Matthew's Gospel: "Some are incapable of marriage because they are born so; some, because they were made so by others; some because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it" (Mt. 19:12).

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