From John's Gospel to Dan Brown: The Magdalene Code

Robin Griffith‐Jones

in The Oxford Handbook of the Reception History of the Bible

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199204540
Published online May 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

From John's Gospel to Dan Brown: The Magdalene Code


This article considers the roles of women in which the New Testament bears witness. In Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, the claim that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married raised the ire of churches. The more interesting question is: why does it matter to so many people that they were or might have been? To attend exclusively to the question of Jesus' marriage is to evade the general charge laid by the novel's characters at the Church's door: that the Church has consistently marginalized and belittled women. Was Jesus (ever) married? There is no unambiguous evidence, either way, to enable us to decide, and not much ambiguous evidence either; the debate can be refined and subtle and, forever unresolved, can leave disputants as confident as ever of the view they have always maintained or presumed. Far more unsettling is the impassioned argument over the Church's treatment of women; and it may become clear in retrospect that Christian responses to the novel have shone the spotlight so brightly and narrowly on Jesus' supposed marriage that the charge of systemic misogyny has been (conveniently) forgotten in the surrounding darkness.

Keywords: The Da Vinci Code; Mary Magdalene; gospels; New Testament; women; Jesus; marriage

Article.  6797 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Religious Studies

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