Quick Links: Talumpati | Licensed Librarians | Filipiniana Online | Stereotypes | Leadership | The Philippines

The Da Vinci Code, The Gospel of Judas and (Mis)Interpreting the Bible

Today is Good Friday. It's the day when Christians commemorate the death of Jesus Christ. But have you ever wondered why, unlike Christmas, the day on which Jesus supposedly died keeps changing? Well, the same is true of Easter Sunday.

To truly understand why this is so, we need to remember that the calendar we now have did not exist during the time of Jesus. That no one really knows when Jesus was born, when he died and when he rose from the dead. That the early Church only set the dates—many decades after Jesus died—on the basis of the little evidence they had and existing Jewish and pagan traditions. For more information on how this came to be, see "Christian Calendar." To calculate the days on which "movable" feasts fell or will fall in previous or future years, check out "Calculation of the Ecclesiastical Calendar."

Does the fact that the Church set the dates for celebrating the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus without using official, verifiable documents bother you? If this is so, then you should probably just throw out your Bible and rely on what the media have been saying about The Da Vinci Code and The Gospel of Judas in the past weeks.

What we must always remember is that when it comes to books, literary form is very important. For instance, the Bible is not just one book, it is composed of many books (e.g., Genesis, Matthew). And while some of them may be considered history books, most of them are not. What's written in the Bible is not supposed to be taken literally.

The Da Vinci Code's literary form is "novel," while that of The Gospel of Judas is, well, "gospel." If reading the former or watching the documentary about the latter cause you to "lose your faith," then perhaps you deserve to lose it. Both should be read as they were written, and not as "proof" of anything. Please don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that either book is wrong or should not be read.

I've read The Da Vinci Code, and it's very entertaining, but please remember that it's in the fiction section. I haven't seen the documentary about The Gospel of Judas, but it's important to note that not everything that is "discovered" proves that a conspiracy exists. See "The Emergence of the Canon," which is part of the website of "From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians," a more credible and less hysterical documentary than the one produced by National Geographic.

Check out what I've written before about reading the Bible: "Introducing Gen X to the Bible" and "'Average' Catholics and the Bible." If you don't trust me and/or you have time to read long, scholarly documents, see the Pontifical Biblical Commission's "The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church" and "The Jewish People and Their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible."

Good Friday is not about historical dates. Just as the Bible is, as I've said before,
not so much about numbers or facts or history as it is about God's love for his people and the different responses to his love. But if we don't know how to read the Bible, we may just think that the early Israelites lived and thought the way we do today. Or that everything written in the Bible is factually correct. Or that Jesus really was a lamb. And miss the point.

Categories: Religion, Books and Movies

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...