Scholar disputes ‘facts’ in The Da Vinci Code

Scholars say there is a host of inaccuracies in Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code about the Gnostic Gospels – those tattered old texts that are the rock on which the book’s fictional historian Leigh Teabing builds his case, reported The Record of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge May 17. Discovered near Nag Hammadi in Egypt in 1945, the body of ancient Christian texts was translated and published during the 1950s and 1960s. Teabing calls the texts the original Christian gospels and earliest Christian records.

The Gnostic Gospel of Thomas could have been written earlier than the Gospel of Mark, which is considered to be the earliest of the Gospels in the New Testament, said Tony Chartrand-Burke, a York humanities professor who teaches early Christian texts and non-canonical literature. So it’s possible the Gospel of Thomas is older than some canonical Gospels, but scholars just don’t know, he said. But because of their content, the Gnostic Gospels quoted in The Da Vinci Code are believed to have been written later than New Testament Gospels, Chartrand-Burke said.

Gospels aren’t necessarily historical records, he added. “Facts often take a back seat to getting a message across.” Gospels might address history, but early Christians often used stories to spread theology, he said.

At one point in The Da Vinci Code, Teabing introduces Sophie Neveu, the heroine, to the Gospel of Mary Magdalene. (In truth, it’s just called The Gospel of Mary, noted the Record.) Astonished, Neveu says she didn’t realize there was a gospel written in Mary Magdalene’s own words. But gospels aren’t necessarily written by the person named in the title, Chartrand-Burke said.

Teabing finds a passage in the Gnostic Gospel of Philip, which calls Mary Magdalene the “companion” of Jesus. It’s absolute proof, Teabing says, that Jesus married Mary Magdalene because in biblical times the word companion literally meant spouse. Again, not true, Chartrand-Burke said. Authors in the biblical era use the word companion to mean spouse but also to describe someone who was just a friend, Chartrand-Burke said. Rather than promoting marriage, Burke said, Gnostic texts favour asceticism because Gnostics believed the world is an evil place and having children would just perpetuate the world. And people today who are attracted to gender-equal verses in Gnostic texts ignore much of the gospels’ “weird” theology, Chartrand-Burke said.

Documentary about York film prof

Two Toronto Star writers recommended viewing Nina Beveridge’s portrait of her father: The Idealist James Beveridge, Film Guru, scheduled to air on TVO May 17. TV critic Jim Bawden called it a must-see Canadian special of the week. And entertainment writer Martin Knelman wrote: To those interested in Canadian film history, James Beveridge was best known as a member of John Grierson’s inner circle during the glorious pioneer years of the National Film Board in the 1940s. After leaving the National Film Board, he went on to become the producer of documentary films, notably in India, for UNESCO. He also made his mark as a film teacher, especially at York University (from 1970 to 1987), where he founded the film studies graduate program. Beveridge’s films are rarely seen these days, and he’s remembered mostly by former students and colleagues rather than the public. But in The Idealist his daughter Nina Beveridge puts a compelling new spin on his story. What emerges is the painful, haunting story of the price his wife and children paid for his globetrotting, saving-the-world career.

Employees should act as ambassadors

Current employees’ ability to act as ambassadors when dealing with clients, friends, suppliers and the public can make or break a company’s reputation as an employer and organization, wrote Stephen Friedman in a “Best Practices” column in the National Post May 17. Friedman, an executive career coach and trainer who teaches organizational development and human resources management at York’s Schulich School of Business, gave an example: A marketing firm’s executive experienced a problem with a representative of a service provider who came to her home. When she called the company to correct the problem the issue was escalated all the way to the director. The director refused to address the problem, and was rude and abrupt. The marketing executive, who is well connected in the service providers industry, knew the offending director’s boss and shared her story with him and others in the industry. Generous salaries, benefits and the like can be a waste of money if your executives are incapable of acting as ambassadors and instead are focused on their own agendas, concluded Friedman.

Baltimore Ravens sign on York linebacker

The BC Lions confirmed Tuesday that linebacker Ricky Foley, chosen fourth overall in the Canadian Football League draft last month, has signed a contract with the National Football League’s Baltimore Ravens after participating in the team’s weekend mini-camp as a free agent, reported The Province in Vancouver May 17. The former York history student wasn’t among the first wave of Baltimore signings, but an NFL contract will extend his stay at least through the team’s next mini-camp, June 6-8, and possibly the Ravens main session, which starts on July 30.

New business program less expensive in Regina

The University of Regina’s new executive master of business administration program has everything that better known executive MBA programs have – except the big price tag, reported The Leader-Post in Regina May 17. At $24,000, “some people would say that’s a lot of money,” admitted Garnet Garven, dean of the faculty of business administration. But it’s a fraction of the $85,000 cost of the EMBA program at York’s Schulich School of Business, or the $75,000 at Queen’s School of Business and the University of Western Ontario’s Richard Ivey School of Business, or the $70,000 at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.