On Monday three years to the week after “The Da Vinci Code” was first published the multimillionaire writer found himself on the witness stand in courtroom 61 of London’s High Court, denying accusations of copyright infringement from authors Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh.
In a witness statement made public by lawyers as he took the stand, Brown said was “shocked at their reaction” to his book. But under questioning by the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Brown acknowledged that he could not always recall exact dates of milestones in the creation of his novel. Both books explore theories dismissed by theologians that Mary Magdalene was not a prostitute but Jesus’ wife, the couple had a child and the bloodline survives.“I cannot possibly tell you the precise date I learned that Mary Magdalene was not a prostitute,” Brown told attorney Jonathan Rayner James in front of a courtroom packed with journalists, religious skeptics and fans.
So, um, are Baigent and Leigh seriously trying to take credit for the idea that Mary Magdalene was not a prostitute? My Protestant friends have always been quick to point out that there is no biblical support for this idea, and there is no support for it in Orthodox tradition either. It’s a uniquely Catholic thing.
FWIW, my favorite line on this is this quote from E.P. Sanders’ The Historical Figure of Jesus (pages 74-75): “Mary Magdalene has appealed enormously to people who have imagined all sorts of romantic things about her: she had been a prostitute, she was beautiful, she was in love with Jesus, she fled to France carrying his child. For all we know, on the basis of our sources, she was eighty-six, childless, and keen to mother unkempt young men.”