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Vatican vs. Da Vinci Code

May 2006

"Painfully clear"

"...Such lies and errors ... remain unpunished."

— Archbishop Angelo Amato, the Vatican

It's moderately bizarre that the Vatican has chosen to combat
the book and film "The Da Vinci Code."

Archbishop Angelo Amato, number 2 in the Vatican doctrinal office, asked that Catholics around the world protest the film, just as they did in 1988 on the launch of Martin Scorcese's "The Last Temptation of Christ."

Organized protest of that film contributed to its notoriety. Its notoriety contributed to the film's cinematic and proceeding VHS and (continuing) DVD commercial success.

Besides that, a separate irony derives from the connection to that earlier-protested film.

"The Last Temptation of Christ" offered as one of its revisionist perspectives the notion that Jesus requested Judas betray him.

The "Gospel of Judas," a manuscript recently published under auspices of the National Geographic Society, tells just that story — that Judas' delivery of Jesus to the Romans was an act of obedience to Jesus' request.

Scholars accept that the "Gospel of Judas" is genuine, contemporary* with Biblical Gospels.

(The alternative conception of Judas' behavior did not originate with publication of this codex, nor of course with Scorcese's film, but has a lineage in Biblical scholarship.)

The point is, The Gospel of Judas (not written by himself) asserts an idea that probably inspired most of the animosity and fired up most of the protest against "The Last Temptation of Christ" — protest which helped enhance viewership; protest against an idea supported by contemporaries of the Gospel authors.

"The Da Vinci Code," reputed amongst literati and now film-critics for being a sloppy enterprise, has at least received official objection by the Catholic church.

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* Nobody wrote about Jesus of Nazareth while he was alive — neither in the Roman nor the Jewish culture, both of which were literate.

The story of a famed messiah about whom nobody wrote until years post-mortem is unlikely. Indeed, logic suggests that Jesus did not exist.

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