Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Da Vinci Probe: What did Da Vinci really know about the Last Supper?

What makes everyone think Leonardo Da Vinci uncovered some big Christian secret?

Author Dan Brown's blockbuster 2003 book, The Da Vinci Code, followed by the movie and all its sequels and franchises, seems to have ignited this particular firestorm.

Speculation began circulating in both secular and theological circles, all the way to the Vatican:
-Did Leonardo Da Vinci write an encrypted code on his famous Vitruvian Man?
-Was Mary Magdalene married to Jesus?
-Is there really a Holy Grail?

Seven years later, even Christian magazines are still asking questions like, “Why weren’t there women in Da Vinci’s Last Supper painting?” (Light & Life Magazine, March/April 2010, pp. 10-11).

I’d like some answers from you, Mr. Da Vinci…may I call you Leo?

How is it that you lived from 1452 to 1519—over 14 centuries after Jesus—yet you have all the secrets of his ministry that not even his contemporaries revealed, and the prophets weren't inspired by God to write?

Surely, a Renaissance man like yourself was able to construct a Time Machine. Did you travel back and do the portrait of Jesus at the Last Supper, hiding at least one woman in the background, as some say?

What about those who claim you purposefully left women out of the picture?

Before we ask why DaVinci left women out of his painting, we could ask why they were left out of the Bible's Last Supper accounts, when women are mentioned in many other New Testament scriptures.

All four disciples who wrote the gospels stated that women were the first to see Jesus’ empty tomb (Matthew 28:8-10; Mark 16:9-10; Luke 24:8-11; John 20:10-18). John speaks of the Samaritan woman at the well to whom Jesus offers “living water” (John 4:7-42), and the woman whom Jesus saved from punishment for adultery (John 8:3-11).

Matthew 14:21 mentions women as being present, outside of the 5,000-man count at the five loaves and fish miracle. Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, are mentioned in Luke 10:38-41 and John 11:1-40.

Throughout the book of Acts and his later writings, the apostle Paul mentions by name many women who helped spread the gospel. In 2 Timothy 1:5, he credits Timothy’s mother and grandmother for raising the young disciple.

So why, then, would women be left out of the Last Supper? And why would Da Vinci leave them out of his painting?

Simple answers to these questions:
A Boston Museum of Science website  devoted to Da Vinci’s works quotes the artist:
         The most praiseworthy form of painting is the one that most
         resembles what it imitates.

I doubt Da Vinci, having said this, would have put brush to canvas for The Last Supper without first reading Biblical accounts of its occurrence. Therefore, he imitated what he saw in scripture.

He didn’t add women for one simple reason…they weren’t there. And I'd venture to say, he wouldn't think Jesus was ever married, either.

Christians believe that what’s in the Bible was divinely inspired by God through the hands of man, and God knew what books would be canonized.

The New Testament’s writers knew their stories would seem unbelievable and questionable. Luke 1:1-2 states:
Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been  fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses.

And 2 Peter 1:16 says:
    We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

Why should Christians stick with what the Bible says?
As Christians, we learn to trust the Lord with all our heart rather than leaning on our own human understanding (Proverbs 3:5). Our faith grows through hearing and reading the Word of God (Romans 10:17).

In other words, the greatest faith in knowing that Jesus was who He said He was, and that things went down exactly as they appear in the Bible, comes from believing the book itself...not through the speculations of man.

The people who write these modern-day things can't prove what they're saying; neither have they yet proven the Bible is false.

This article originally appeared here at The Underground Online Magazine, by the author of this 20-20 blog, Sheryl Young.

Photo: Da Vinci's The Last Supper, grid reproduction, Wikimedia Commons, Public domain.


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