Sex in the Temple?

Dan Brown, in The Da Vinci Code, has Robert Langdon telling Sophie Neveu that early Judaism involved ritualistic sex performed in the temple.

“Early Jews believed that the Holy of Holies in Solomon’s Temple housed not only God but also His powerful female equal, Shekinah. Men seeking spiritual wholeness came to the Temple to visit priestesses – or hierodules – with whom they made love and experienced the divine through physical union. The Jewish tetragrammaton YHWH – the sacred name of God – in fact derived from Jehovah, an androgynous physical union between the masculine Jah and the pre-Hebraic name for Eve, Havah.”

Nice bit of fiction. Of course it doesn’t link with the evidence available to us.

1. The early days of Judaism began after the destruction of the temple. Up to that point the followers of YWHW were known as Israelites.
2. The idea of God having a female equal would never have caught on in the strongly monotheistic Judaism.
3. The practice of sex in the temple of YHWH is never described in the Hebrew scriptures.
4. The Hebrew word, שכן.transliterated as ‘Shekinah’, refers to settling, being present. While the word has feminine qualities, there is no sense of it being expressed in a feminine deity.
5. The word ‘Jehovah’ is a European translation of יהוה (YHWH), providing vowels where the Hebrew language did not. It was not used until the fifteenth century BCE.
6. YHWH is more likely to be associated with ‘YH’ (god) and a root referring to being.
7. The practice of visiting hierodules or temple prostitutes is associated with many ancient civilisations, including ancient Greece and Anatolia. It was likely to be common in Canaan and Babylon – a temptation faced by Hebrews living in those places. The prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 43:7-9) condemns the practice.

Da Vinci Code Movie Review

Warned by the critics not to expect too much, I turned up last night to watch the movie, The Da Vinci Code.

Positives

Almost full marks for use of paintings in the movie. Stand out scenes in this regard included the flight of Sauniere in the Louvre and the room used for the conference of clerics at Castel Gandolfo. I felt the use of visual effects in Teabing’s analysis of The Last Supper was overdone.

Introduction of Langdon as an alternative voice in Teabing’s analysis of the Holy Grail mysteries. Without Langdon’s protests, the dialogue would have come across as ill informed.

Negatives

The constant flashbacks became rather irksome. The references to the memories of the characters were fine. The historical references, however, gave the movie the feel of a badly done television documentary. Some scenes were laughable, such as the Council of Nicaea portraying perhaps a hundred ornately dressed clergy all speaking at the same time. Were these the imaginings of Teabing – speculative and unbalanced? Isaac Newton’s funeral came across as something out of The Sixth Sense.

Changes

To keep the plot moving, conversations were abbreviated or conflated. Langdon came across as the expert while Neveu as the helpless damsel in distress. Their dialogue would have been enhanced by introducing more of her skills as a cryptologist. The addition of a faith element for Langdon was fascinating. Was Ron Howard attempting to make the film more accessible to an American audience? Langdon’s exploration of the human/divine element put into words what I had been thinking through the movie.

Understandably, the red Smart Car was changed to a lighter colour to allow for filming in night scenes.

The ending is slightly different, providing a focus on the feminine side of the story and downplaying the male connection.

Audience Reaction

At the end of the movie one woman clapped and cheered and yelled, “Nice one. Well done Ron!”. And that was it.