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Chapter Ten Other Themes Explored in The Da Vinci Code

Cryptology and the Atbash Cipher

The term cryptology comes from the Greek kryptos, “hidden,” and logos, “word.”

The first recorded use of cryptology for correspondence was by the Greek Spartans in about 400 BC. They used what is called a skytale sz that military commanders could commu­nicate secretly. A message was written on a piece of leather or parchment and wrapped spirally around a tapered baton. When unwrapped, the message appeared to be a jumble of letters, and could only be read when put around another tapered baton of exactly the same size and proportions.

The Atbash cipher is~ m in which the last letter repre­sents the first, and the second letter the second to last.

In the Roman alphabet, it appears like this:
PLAINTEXT a b c d e f g h i j k 1 m
CIPHERTEXT Z Y X WV UT S R Q P O N
PLAINTEXT n o p q r s t u v w x y z
CIPHERTEXT M L K J I H G F E D C B

The cipher was discovered by Dr. Hugh J. Schonfield. Dr. Schonfield was one of the original researchers working on the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran and his most notable book on Biblical history is The Passover Plot. He applied the code to some of the scrolls that were otherwise indecipherable to his fellow researchers. It had been used to conceal names in Essene/Zadokite/Nazarean texts in the first century. In fact, it was used as early as 500 BC by scribes writing the Book of Jeremiah. It is one of the few code systems that are used in the Hebrew language.

In The Messianic Legacy, Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln write that Dr. Schonfield describes in The Essene Odyssey how he became fascinated by the Baphomet that was worshiped by the Knights Templar and applied the Atbash cipher to the word “Baphomet.” To his surprise, he found that the word decod­ed itself into Sophia, the Greek word for “wisdom.”

The word “Baphomet” in Hebrew is as follows, bearing in mind that Hebrew is read right to left:
[taf] [mem] [vav] [pe] [bet]

Applying the Atbash cipher to the above, Schonfield found the following:
[ alef] [yud) [pe] [vav] [shin]

which results in Sophia, the Greek word written in Hebrew right to left.

Sophia doesn’t only mean “wisdom.” Sophia was also the god­dess who was supposed to be the bride of God. Many believe that the Knights Templar worshiped this goddess.

The fact that the Knights Templar were familiar with the Atbash cipher strongly suggests that there were people around from a Nazarean sect at the time of the Knights Templar who were familiar with the code.

Dan Brown’s idea that English is the “purest” language may be fanciful, but it is not new. Abbe Henri Boudet of Rennes­-le-Bains, a neighboring village of Renne-le-Chateau, wrote a book called Le Vrai Langue Celtique, claiming that English was a sacred language which had perhaps been spoken before the time of the destruction of the Tower of Babel. It has been said that the book is not meant to be taken literally and conveyed a different message, written in code. We also have to bear in mind that, similar to many other European lan­guages, many English words have their roots in Latin. As Tracy Twyman in the pages of her Dagobert’s Revenge magazine points out, the English language has 2 6 letters and so can be used perfectly with the Atbash Code. Other European lan­guages do not ·have an even number of letters. Additionally, she has always thought that the Priory of Sion favored the English language.

The Cryptex

This appears to be an instance of The Da Vinci Code’s author exercising his poetic license and creating a completely fic­tional device. I could find no evidence that “The Cryptex” ever existed in realJife, although it is perhaps not entirely unlikely that Lei:mardo could have come up with such an invention.

Baphomet

Brewers Dictionary of Phrase and Fable tells us that “Baphomet” is a corruption of “Mahomet” or “Mohammed” in English, the Muslim prophet. As the Templars associated themselves with the Muslim Hashashin, some believe that they adopted Muslim ways, but this ignores the fact that the Muslim religion forbids idolatry. There is also the theory that the word comes from the joining of two Greek words meaning “absorption into wis­dom.” During their persecution, the Knights Templar were accused of worshipping an idol named Baphomet. It was said to take the form of either a head or a black cat.

It is believed that the imagery of the Baphomet derives from the ancient Egyptian god Amon, meaning “The Hidden One” who is also known as the Goat of Mendes.

To a great extent, the beliefs about Baphomet have been sub­ject to the fashion of the age. In the nineteenth century it was popular to consider the Knights Templar as devil wor­shipers, whereas in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries the belief that they were battling against a corrupt govern­ment and church is more prevalent. However, the story about Baphomet has survived.

The Dictionary of the Occult and Supernatural by Peter Underwood gives us the following definition:

Baphomet was the deity worshipped by the Knights Templar, and in Black Magic as the source and creator of evil; the Satanic goat of the witches’ Sabbath and one of the names adopted by Aleister Crowley.

Eliphas Levi (real name Alphonse Louis Constant) the nine­teenth century occultist, described some of the more com­mon and varied descriptions of Baphomet:

-An idol with a human skull
-A head with two faces
-With a beard
-Without a beard
-With the head of a cockerel
-With the head of a man
-With the head of a goat and the body of a man but with wings and cloven feet (the Sabbatic Goat)

The last concept of the Sabbatic Goat that he depicts led to the present -day perception of the devil. As Dan Brown tells us in The Da VInci Code, Baphomet’ s head became that of the Christian devil. The sign of the devil, the two fingers raised behind a friend’s head, that he also mentions as being jokingly employed in group photographs, is also used in southern Europe to signify a cuckold. Both British occultist Aleister Crowley and Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey later adopted the Baphomet imagery. It was only under the torture that was meted out to the Templars at the hands of the French King, Philippe, who was in collusion with Pope Clement V, that the Templars admitted to the worship of a large idol of the demon. The Grand Master of the Templars, Jacques de Molay, as he was roasting to death on the spit, said that the only thing that the Templars were guilty of was lying under torture.

According to Tracy Twyman, co-author of Vessel of God, when the Templars’ Paris preceptory was raided another Baphomet head was found. This was described as “a great head of gilded sil­ver, most beautiful, and consisting of an image of a woman. Inside were two head bones wrapped in a cloth ofwhite linen, with another red cloth around it. There was a label attached upon which was written the legend ‘Caput 58M.”‘

Other depictions of the origin of the Baphomet include the (head ofJohn the Baptist, who was considered by the Templars to be the true messiah, in favor of Christ who was considered to be false. The image that Eliphas Levi propagated of the Baphomet now illustrates the Devil in the Waite version of the Tarot cards as half male, half female, half human, half animal. As the Baphomet is depicted with not only women’s breasts but men’s sexual organs, he is androgyne. The purpose of this image was to indicate the struggle between two conflicting opposites. Some readers may recall that Marilyn Manson also utilized Levi’s Baphomet at one point in his “branding.”

The Fibonacci Sequence and the Golden Ratio

The “Fibonacci Sequence” was the invention of the mathe­matician Leonardo Fibonacci (born in about 1170, probably in Pisa, died after 1240.) He was also known as Leonardo Pisano. In 1202 he wrote Liber Abaci (“Book of the Abacus”). He was the first European to work on Indian and Arabian mathe­matics. His father was appointed consul for a community of Pisan merchants in what is now Algeria and Leonardo studied mathematics under an Arabic tutor. He also studied mathemat­ics in Egypt, Syria, Greece, Sicily and Provence.

When Liber Abaci first appeared, the Hindu-Arabic numerals were known only to a few intellectuals. The book soon spread very quickly and drew the attention of Holy Roman emperor Frederick IL Leonardo was invited to appear before him where he was asked to solve various mathematical problems. This was the start of several years’ correspondence with Frederick II and his scholars, exchanging mathematical problems.

The Fibonacci Sequence derived from a problem in Liber Abaci:

A certain man put a pair of rabbi ts in a place surrounded on all sides by a wall. How many pairs of rabbits can be produced from that pair in ayear if it is supposed that every month each pair begets anew pair which from the second month on becomes productive?

The resulting sequence is, as Dan Brown tells us, l-l-2-3­-5-8-13-21, and then goes on to 34-55 and on forever. Each number is the sum of the two preceding numbers and it was the first such number sequence known in Europe.

The mathematician Robert Simson at the University of Glasgow discovered in 1753 that as the numbers got greater, the ratio between succeeding numbers approached the number (), the golden ratio, or the Divine Proportion or its Greek name “Phi.” It is the num­ber l.6l80339887498948482 which is similar to “Pi” in that its decimal points go on into infinity without repeating the sequence. It can be calculated exactly using this formula:()) = (1 + * 5) / 2.

In a Golden Rectangle, the ratio of the length to the width is the Golden Ratio. Therefore if one side of the rectangle is 3 units, the other side will be 3 x 1.62 = 4.86.

The term Fibonacci Sequence was first used by the French mathematician Edouard Lucas. From this point onwards sci­entists began to note more and more examples of such sequences in nature, for example, the spirals of a sunflower head, in pine cones, the arrangement of leaf buds on a stem, the growth pattern of seeds into plants and animal horns. Also the growth pattern of human beings goes through the stages of fetus, baby, child, adult using the Golden Ratio.

Take any Golden Rectangle using the above formula and you will find that if you remove a square from it, you will be left with another smaller Golden Rectangle. Constant removal of squares from the resulting Golden Rectangles will result in smaller and smaller Golden Rectangles.

Similarly with the Fibonacci Sequence, you can do the oppo­site by st~th a square of measurement unit 1. Add a square of the same size and you will form a rectangle. If you continue adding squares to the longer sides of the rectangles that you form, the longer sides will be successive Fibonacci numbers, and you will eventually reach a Golden Rectangle.

Draw two squares measuring I x 1 each, next to each other, and then draw a 2 x 2 square next to them. Then draw a square measuring 3 z3 on the edge of one I x I side com­bined with one 1x 2 side. The next step is to put a 5 x 5 next to the 3 x 3 and 2 x 2, and the spiral effect will become apparent. If, as is inevitable, the piece of paper you are using runs out, draw in the spiral itself, connecting one corner of each square to the opposite corner with a curve. The Parthenon in Athens fits into a Golden Rectangle. Leonardo da Vinci and more modern artists such as Seurat and Mondrian also used this geometry.

The solar system itself is a Fibonacci spiral, acting as a vortex, of which the center is the Sun. In fact Leonardo said, “A vor­tex, unlike a wheel, moves faster to its center.” For example Mercury’s year lasts 88 Earth days whereas Pluto’s lasts 248 Earth years. According to Tracy Twyman and Boyd Rice in Vessel of God, it goes even further than that: the distance between the Sun and Mercury added to that between Mercury and Venus equals that between Venus and Earth.

Secret Societies

The Da Vinci Code’s main theme is the effect that at least one secret society, the Priory of Sion, has had on history and all our lives as a consequence. Secret societies have been around since the dawn of human existence because men have always felt the need to manipulate world events behind the scenes, whether for good or evil. A secret soci­ety is often referred to as a “cabal.” This word originated with a committee of five ministers under Charles II of England whose surnames began with C, A, B, A and L. In some religious traditions, such as Judaism and Buddhism, there exist cabals of carefully chosen individuals, living throughout the world, who ensure that the world operates in the way that their God intends. In Buddhism this involves the reincarnation from one generation to the next of “Secret Masters.”

There are, of course, degrees of secrecy and to a greater or lesser extent secrets exist in all religions. The inner order of the Jesuit arm of the Catholic Church was until recently the Holy Office, otherwise known as the Inquisition. That has now developed into Opus Dei, discussed in Chapter Nine. The Rosicrucians managed to maintain such a high degree of secrecy that some suspect the Order may not have even existed at all. And of course, the Priory of Sion is about as secretive as is possible.

The most familiar “secret” society today is Freemasonry, which is no doubt the largest secret society in the Western world. It has the ambiguous identity of being both a posi­tive charitable organization, and, some suspect, something more sinister -at least in its upper echelons.

Other present day societies that can be considered “secret” include the Mafia, the Trilateral Commission, the Bilderberg Group, the Skull & Bones Society, Bohemian Grove, and according to some, the Illuminati (prominently featured in Dan Brown’s first Robert Langdon novel, Angels & Demons). As well as being powerful in their own right, they also have the ability to inspire fear and it is in this way that they exercise their greatest controlling power.

Throughout history, such people as Charles Nodier, who was reputed to be one of the Grand Masters of the Priory of Sion, played upon the fear that secret societies inspire. He would invent societies, write about them and then accuse perfectly innocent people of belonging to them. This pro­voked the hapless individuals involved to form themselves into a real secret society to offer each other mutual protec­tion, rendering the fictitious secret society an omen of the real one, a self-fulfilling prophecy.

One’s perspective of any secret society is likely to be at least partly formed by whether or not one is a member of it. The secret society that Dan Brown deals with in The Da Vinci Code is the Priory of Sion which, we are led to believe through the evidence, has operated powerfully and under wraps for centuries. There have also been several secret societies that are suspected of an association with the Priory of Sion.

The Sovereign and Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem

This society was.founded in its present form in only 1804. However, they claim that Jacques de Molay, the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, left a charter legitimizing their society when he was executed in 1314. This charter is generally thought to be genuine, although some historians doubt its authenticity. As the order is largely devoted to charitable works, it is not perceived as a threat.

Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln met its Grand Master several times in 1982 . They were told that a faction had broken away and established itself as a neo-Templar organization in Switzerland and that it was run by Anton Zapelli. This name rang a bell with Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln as they had been told some years before that a person named Zapelli was the real power behind the Priory of Sion. After some investiga­tion they discovered that Zapelli was involved not only in pri­vate banking, but in the establishment of”the role of modern Templars in the reunification of Europe,” which, according to Zapelli, was the original intention of the Templars. What they meant by “Europe” was the countries stretching from the Atlantic and the Mediterranean to the Urals of western Russia. They have almost achieved what they claimed to want in the present European Union, which currently spreads from Ireland in the west to Poland in the east.

P2

P2 (its full name is Raggruppamento Gelli Propaganda Due), founded in 1966, is a Masonic Lodge which was also involved in the fight against communism. In the opinion of the leader of Italy’s Republican Party at the time, P2 became “the center of pollution of national life -secret, perverse, and corrupting.” It brought down the government of pre­mier Arnaldo Forlani. It acted as a conduit for the supply of funds from the Vatican and the CIA to anti-communist organizations in Europe and Latin America. P2 was exposed when “God’s banker,” Roberto Calvi, was found murdered, hanging under London’s Blackfriars Bridge in 1982. Calvi funneled millions ofVatican dollars to the Polish revolution­ary group “Solidarity.” When Calvi’s own private bank was in trouble, he went to the Vatican for help, making vague threats that he would expose the origin of Solidarity’s sup­port. He lived for a further twelve days before his untimely
death -and the disappearance of his briefcase, which the Vatican later bought for about 10 million euros.

Some say that P2 was (and probably still is) controlled by the Mafia. Others that the KGB, CIA or even the Priory of Sion are responsible.

The way in which P2 operated was through the Grand Master, Licio Gelli, convincing potential members that he had huge influence and they believed that Gelli could pave the way for their own personal greater success. This system was self-perpetuating and Gelli’s power increased exponen­tially. He managed to extract official secrets from his mem­bers that he could use both to increase his power and to blackmail others.

In 1981, after the police raided Gelli’s premises, they found the membership lists, which were published in the Italian press. One of the headings was “Opus Dei” and one of the members was listed as Giulio Andreotti, the Christian Democratic politician who was six times Prime Minister of Italy and alleged to be a member of the Priory of Sion. In 1995 he was accused of selling political favors to the Mafia and of complicity in the murder of a journalist in 1979. In 1999 he was acquitted of both charges. This decision was upheld in the appeals court in 2003.
The Sovereign and Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem was also mentioned in the P2 membership list.

Compagnie de Saint-Sacrement

The Compagnie de Saint-Sacrement was founded between 1627 and 1629. Some consider it to be so similar to the Priory of Sion that they were in fact the same organization or that the Priory controlled the Compagnie. It is a rare example of a secret society whose history is well document­ed. The Priory of Sion documents claim that the Priory “dedicated itself to deposing Mazarin,” and refer often to the Compagnie. It was Mazarin, in the seventeenth century, who acted as chief minister of France under Louis XIV. His administration was so unpopular that opposition to him initiated the civil wars that are referred to as “the Fronde.”

The Compagnie is well-known in France. However it was so secretive that even its members were unaware of who ran it and initiates were led to believe that it was devoted to char­itable work. Its influence radiated from the Seminary of Saint-Sulpice in Paris, which is where the character of Silas tries to find the “keystone” in The Da Vinci Code. In fact Jean­Jacques Olier, the founder of Saint-Sulpice, was closely asso­ciated with the Compagnie. Other well-known families who were connected with the Fronde and the Priory of Sion were also associated with it. At the center of the activities of the Compagnie was what is referred to as “the Secret,” the identity ofwhich nobody is aware. It is now thought that its activities involved espionage, particularly in royal circles and other institutions such as the legal profession, the police, and the government. Although its raison d’etre was supposed­ly to oppose heresy, it was accused of heresy itself by Catholic authorities.
King Louis XIV ordered the Compagnie to disband in 1660, but his wishes were successfully ignored for five years until 1665. All its documents were collected and deposited in an unknown place, suspected to be Saint-Sulpice. The Compagnie seemed merely to go underground, however, and it was said to survive into the twentieth century. In 1667, the French playwright and staunch royalist, Moliere, staged a play called Le Tartuffe which had clear and damaging references to the Compagnie. The Compagnie showed its continuing influ­ence by getting the play banned for two years.
The Origins of Tarot
The origins of the “Game of Tarot” are obscure, but it was likely to have been introduced into France to amuse the jaded and manically depressed Charles VI who reigned from 1380 to 14 2 2. It also appeared in Italy at about the same time. The tarot was used in France as an amusement until relatively recently. Some cards, dating from the fourteenth and fifteenth cen­turies, which show figures similar to those found on present day tarot cards, have survived. A simple card game which included theological “Virtues and Vices” was played in Italy. The author ofthe tarot as we now know it was likely to be one of the Hebrew cabbalists who wanted to present ancient Eastern wisdom into Europe and modernized the symbols accordingly. He was no doubt aware of the power ofusing the medium of a pastime to get his message across effectively. A similar recent example is ·the pack of cards published by the American military with the images of wanted Iraqis. Dan Brown’s assertion in The DaVinci Code that the tarot describes the story of “the Lost Bride and her subjugation by the evil church” is perhaps far-fetched but not impossible.
Contrary to what Brown says, as Tracy Twyman and Boyd Rice state in their book Vessel of God, it is a proven, though lit­tle known fact that the Minor Arcana derives from the mod­ern card pack and not the other way around.
There is no evidence that it was used for fortune telling until the end of the sixteenth or beginning of the seven­teenth centuries. Significantly, neither Paracelsus nor
Other Themes Explored in The Da Vinci Code
Boissard mention the tarot in their treatises on divination in the sixteenth century. The first mention of the tarot’s use in this way was in a book published in Frankfurt in the early seventeenth century. It was not used widely for divination until the eighteenth century and was first employed by Gypsies. From the eighteenth century, tarot’s association with the esoteric was established by different writers and we have inherited these ideas.
However, the symbolism of some of the cards in the Major Arcana dates back to at least the second century AD. Egyptian culture had had a strong influence on Greek culture and the concept of divine unity, of which the Sun was an important component, endured. The knowledge behind their beliefs was conveyed in symbols of which only initiates knew the key. The external rituals of their religion served simply as a physical manifestation of these beliefs.
Such symbols may be associated with the tarot in which the Major Arcana (22 cards) can be interpreted as spiritu­al matters and trends in the questioner’s life, while the Minor Arcana ( 5 6 cards) reflects business and career mat­ters. The use of such symbolism is seen in Chinese charac­ters and even western heraldry.
The tarot could therefore be said to be a book written in symbols that emanate from the ideas of ancient Egypt, Asia Minor and the Science of the Universe as it was perceived in the second century. However, as Twyman and Rice point out, many scholars also speculate that playing cards were brought and adapted to Europe by the Knights Templar and that the descendants ofTemplars had a decisive role in the formation of the tarot.
Dan Brown writes that swords correspond to spades in pres­ent-day playing cards, hearts to cups, clubs to scepters ( or wands) and diamonds to pentacles. However it is generally accepted that clubs correspond to pentacles and diamonds to wands. The modern tarot pack is based upon the Venetian
13 I

or Piedmontese tarot. Each card has its own meaning: wands are associated with business matters, cups with love, swords with conflict and pentacles with money and materi­al comfort. The cards are laid out in front of the questioner by the fortune-teller and a few cards are selected by either the fortune-teller or the questioner in what is known as a “spread.” The meaning of the card is dependent on whether or not it is upside down, its position in the spread and the cards that precede and follow it.
History of the Vatican Observatory and Castel Gandolfo
The Vatican Observatory
The Vatican Observatory is reputed to be one of the oldest astronomical institutions in the world. It can first be traced to Pope Gregory XIII setting up a committee to look into the scientific implications of reforming the calendar in 1 5 8 2. Since that time the Papacy has expressed interest in astronomical matters and founded three early observato­ries -the Observatory of the Roman College ( 1 7 7 4 ­1878), the Observatory of the Capitol (1827 -1870), and the Specula Vaticana { 1 7 8 9 -1 8 2 1) in the Tower of the Winds which is situated inside the Vatican. In the nine­teenth century, the well-known Jesuit Father Angelo Secchi broke new ground by classifying the stars according to their spectra. In answer to an accusation of the Catholic Church ignoring the advance of science, the Specula Vaticana was re-founded in 1891 by Pope Leo XIII and located on a hillside behind the dome at St. Peter’s Basilica. The intention was to map out the whole sky, but it was moved to Castel Gandolfo in 1936 (see below.) Participants in the Observatory’s activities were made by the various religious orders, including the Augustinians and Jesuits. One of the most notable was Johann Georg Hagen, a Jesuit priest and astronomer who discovered and studied dark clouds of tenuous, interstellar matter some­times known as Hagen’s clouds. In 1906 Pope Pius X appointed him director of the Vatican Observatory. In 1981, because of the continuing encroachment of light affecting observations, the Observatory was moved again,
Other Themes Explored in The Da Vinci Code
this time as the Vatican Observatory Research Group (VORG) in Tucson, Arizona. The Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope is now situated at Mount Graham,
Arizona.
Castel Gandolfo
The village and castle of Castel Gandolfo is situated in the Roma provincia in the Lazio (Latium) regioneI, in central Italy. It is on the shores of Lake Albano, about 35 kilometers south­east of Rome, and has been a summer residence of the Popes since the construction of the Apolostolic, or Papal, Palace.
Its name originates from the castle which belonged to the ducal Gandalfi family of the twelfth century. Construction of the Palace was begun by Pope Urban VIII who reigned as Pope from 1623 -1644. It is officially part of the Vatican State and the former Villa Barberini was built on the ruins of a villa of the Roman Emperor Domitian. It housed the Vatican Observatory from 1936 when it was realized that the lights of Rome were preventing the furthest stars from being observed at the Observatory in Vatican City. Two new telescopes and an astrophysical laboratory were installed. The Castle library has about 22,000 books including rare antique books by Copernicus, Galileo and Sir Isaac Newton. The village was used in the 1960 Olympic Games for the rowing events and the area has a reputation for peaches, wine and fish from the lake.
The Gnostic Gospels
The word Gnostic comes from the Greek gnosis meaning “knowledge,” especially esoteric knowledge. Gnosticism is a system of religious dualism; that is the belief that the co­equal powers of good and evil ruled the universe.’ Some also believed in “Abraxas,” who was believed to be omnipo­tent and both good and evil.
‘ Some Gnostics believed that the material world, ruled by the God who creat­ed it, “Rex Mundi'” (King of the World) is evil, whereas the spiritual world, which was created by the God who rules it, was considered to be good.

The term “Abraxas” was used by the Basilideans who were a second century Gnostic sect. The magical word “Abracadabra” derives from this name. Their belief was that Jesus Christ had come from Abraxas and lived as a phantom on Earth. They attached special significance to the name Abraxas as it contains all seven of the Greek letters that add up to 3 65, the number of days in three out of four years. As an extension of this, Abraxas was believed to rule over 365 gods who each possessed a virtue, meaning that each day of the year was assigned a specific virtue.
The Gnostic Gospels ultimately feel under the category of what is referred to as the New Testament Apocrypha. The term “Apocrypha” originally meant that the writings were secret and they were accepted only by some Christians and minori­ty heretical groups. From the fourth century onwards it came to refer to books that were not read publicly in church. Eventually their status in the eyes of the church diminished to the extent that they were said to be forgeries.
The Gnostic Gospels are written in the names of, or about, the apostles, but were not by them. They were written during the second century AD, before the list of accepted books of New Testament was drawn up. Originally there were many different gospels, but in 3 6 7 AD, Bishop Athanasius ofAlexandria select­ed some of the writings and these texts were then agreed and approved at the Council of Hippo in 393 AD. The list was cut down further later on and finally it was only the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John which were approved.
These wntmgs were gradually excluded from Christian reading, both public and private. Most have survived only as fragments but some have been found in Greek and Coptic papyrus from Egypt. They reflect popular beliefs of the day about Christ, his followers and Christian traditions. The cler­gy believed that what was written about Christ in these books was false and so did not give their permission for them to be read.
Other Themes Explored in The Da Vinci Code

The Gospel of Philip, which The Da Vinci Code’s Leigh Teabing says “is always a good place to start,” is one of the Gospels ascribed to the Twelve Apostles and is what is known as a Valentinian Gnostic treatise. Valentinus was an Egyptian reli­gious philosopher who founded the Roman and Alexandrian schools of Gnosticism. The Gospel of Philip is a collection of about one hundred short excerpts from sources of Christian Gnostic instruction. It details initiation rites and the meanings of names, especially that of Jesus. More controversially, and probably one of the reasons why Teabing finds it so appealing, is that it states, “Some say Mary was conceived by the Holy Spirit. They are wrong. They do not know what they are saying.” The gospel was found in the Codices of the Nag Hammadi papyri, a collec­tion of thirteen codices of Gnostic scriptures and commen­taries written in the second or third century ( although the codices themselves’ are fourth-century copies) which were found in 1945:'”Nag Hammadi is situated on the west bank of the Nile, in Upper Egypt, on or near the site of the
ancient town of Chenoboskion