Holy Blood, Holy Crap: The Da Vinci Code Lawsuit and Michael Baigent’s The Jesus Papers

“You stole my ideas! Even though they’re not mine!”
The Da Vinci Code lawsuit was a prime example of wanton, greedy litigiousness. Two of the three “historians” who wrote Holy Blood, Holy Grail (1982) sued Dan Brown over alleged theft of intellectual property, even though Brown’s book is a work of fiction and theirs was supposedly nonfiction. If the stuff in Holy Blood, Holy Grail is truly factual (and I doubt it), how can Brown be accused of stealing the “ideas” in it? You can’t steal facts. The questionable documents and standard historical sources on which the authors based their weirdo premise (“Christ faked his crucifixion and eloped to France”) are available to anyone with a library card.
The third Holy Grail author, Henry Lincoln, was smart enough to capitalize on DV Code‘s success by appearing in related documentaries and whatnot. The other two guys, Baigent and Leigh, are just freakin’ lazy. And calling them “historians” is an insult to real historians. It would be like calling Anna Nicole Smith a nutritionist.

In March, Dateline NBC aired a story about Michael Baigent’s new book ,The Jesus Papers, exploring Baigent’s “startling new theory” that Christ survived the crucifixion. I guess no one remembered that Holy Blood, Holy Grail briefly went into this idea over 20 years ago. From the 1983 Corgi edition of Holy Blood, Holy Grail:

“Is there any evidence that Jesus did indeed survive the Crucifixion – or that the Crucifixion was in some way a fraud?” (371)

“There is, quite simply, no reason why his Crucifixion, as the Gospels depict it, should have been fatal.” (372)

“He should have survived…for a good two or three days. And yet he is on the cross for no more than a few hours before being pronounced dead.” (372)

“In the Gospels Jesus’s death occurs at a moment that is almost too convenient, too felicitously opportune. It occurs just intime to prevent his executioners breaking his legs…Modern authorities agree that Jesus, quite unabashedly, modelled and perhaps contrived his life in accordance with…prophecies, which heralded the coming of a Messiah…And the details of the Crucifixion seem likewise engineered to enact the prophecies of the Old Testament.”

Baigent speculates that the sponge soaked in vinegar offered to Christ might have been soaked in opium or belladonna. “But why proffer a soporific drug? Unless the act of doing so, along with all the other components of the Crucifixion, were elements of a complex and ingenious strategem – a strategem designed to produce a semblance of death when the victim, in fact, was still alive.” (374)

“According to Roman law at the time, a crucified man was denied all burial…Yet Pilate, in a flagrant breach of procedure, readily granted Christ’s boy to Joseph of Arimathea…In the Greek version [of Mark] when Joseph asks for Jesus’s body, he uses the word soma – a word applied only to a living body.” (376)

“the priest-king would seem to have had friends in high places; and these friends, working in collusion with a corrupt, easily bribed Roman Procurator, appear to have engineered a mock crucifixion…an execution was then staged – in which a substitute took the priest-king’s place on the cross, or in which the priest-king himself did not actually die. Towards dusk..a ‘body’ was removed to an opportunely adjacent tomb, from which, a day or two later, it ‘miraculously’ disappeared.” (377)

On Dateline, Baigent rehashed his “Jesus faked the Crucifixion” theory, then discussed new evidence that Christ was writing letters to his followers years after his supposed death. He admitted he has only seen two such letters; the others he “knows” about haven’t been photographed, copied, nor even seen. He’s not actually certain they exist. The letters he did see are squirreled away in the basement of a wealthy European collector who prefers not to be named, Baigent says. So that’s it! That’s the evidence for his book The Jesus Papers. A bit underwhelming, isn’t it?

Significantly, it was pointed out that Baigent’s new book is nearly identical to one written some 40 years ago: The Passover Plot, by Hugh J. Schonfield.

Dan Brown won the lawsuit.

BTW, if you’re interested in messages concealed in artwork, check out my post on a new documentary that claims that the blame for the Catholic abuse scandals lies in subliminal sexual/occult imagery hidden in religious paintings…

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15 thoughts on “Holy Blood, Holy Crap: The Da Vinci Code Lawsuit and Michael Baigent’s The Jesus Papers

  1. The link in “BTW, if you’re interested in messages concealed in artwork, check out my post” is just a general link to “The Devil Appears” not to an article about any documentary, could you provide a link to the article please?

  2. My father, who is a real historian, felt insulted when the news person on the radio called Leigh and Baigent historians. I remember it as if it were only yesterday, the sound of a distinguished academic shouting "they're not historians, they're fabulists!" at the radio.

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