Imago Dei

“And the Logos (Word) became flesh, and dwelt amongst us.” (John 1: 14).

There is a mystery of the human soul which, by itself, implicates the platonic world of Ideas. In other words, it is as if we were rediscovering the pre-historical times, or, more precisely, the mythological experience of what we are as a creation of God. In this fashion, we must remind ourselves of the numb condition of Narcissus when he saw his own reflection in the waters and fell in love with it, or even the Myth of Eros who, according to Plato’s Socratic dialogue, the Symposium, was conceived by Poros («Resource») and Penia («Poverty») during the divine birth celebration of Aphrodite, the goddess of love.

So, the numb condition of Narcissus can be understood as the fall of the astral or ether substance of the soul into material darkness. This fall is also present in the Myth of Eros, namely when Poros, just before his sexual union with Penia, fell asleep due to being enraptured by the nectar of the gods. Besides, this is probably the reason why a Portuguese occultist, universally known as Fernando Pessoa, said that whoever had invented the mirror had also poisoned the human soul. Therefore, according to the impenitent Heterodox, every man remains naturally powerless to face himself, even when he is symbolically capable of taking a bent posture to contemplate his own reflection in rivers and lakes.

Nevertheless, it is through the “Image of God”, often appearing in Latin as Imago Dei, that we should more properly embrace the sacred mystery of God’s creation. The cornerstone of such a mystery can be found in Genesis (1: 26. 27), where Revelation took place in the following terms: God created Adam in His image and likeness, that is to say, God created him, male and female. Therefore, the Fall of Adam and Eve can be seen as the mythical process separation of the “androgynous”, which, in Biblical terms, corresponds to a rejecting process of their spiritual likeness to God.

But, meanwhile, a miracle occurred in the entire universe: Christ, who is the image of the invisible God, was born among us in order to redeem us and forgive us our sins. So, glorious light shone out of darkness as the glory of God in the holy face of Jesus Christ. In other words, the ancient and sacred Mysteries were no longer a supreme legacy reserved to initiates, because once, through Jesus Christ, God’s spiritual love could finally be revealed to all mankind.

By no means is this loving and cosmic phenomenon compatible with pseudo historical theories about the life and death of our Lord Jesus Christ. Many of those theories can be found, for instance, in Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln, the authors of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail (1982), as also in The Messianic Legacy (1986), or even in Lyn Picknett & Clive Prince’s Templar Revelation (1997)[1], not to speak, of course, of Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code (2003).

Here are, generally speaking, some aspects of such false and irreligious theories:

1.The divine nature of Jesus Christ has no substantiality, because he was, on the contrary, a revolutionary nationalist whose purpose was to free Israel from the Roman domain. Besides, he was, in this very context, a royal descendent of the House of David, who had also married with a royal descendent of the Jewish House of Benjamin: Mary of Magdalene.

2.The Holy Grail was not a chalice, but more precisely Mary of Magdalene, who carried the bloodline of Christ to France, where she was sheltered by the Jews of Marseille. Meanwhile, the bloodline of Christ became the Merovingian Dynasty of France, which was the secret discovered by the Crusaders after they conquered Jerusalem in 1099. That secret was kept till our days by the mythical Priory of Sion, a secret society founded by Godfrey of Bouillon on Mount Zion in the Kingdom of Jerusalem (1099).

3.The Church has suppressed this secret about Jesus’ bloodline for 2000 years in order to establish the primacy of Saint Peter over the sacred feminine represented by Mary of Magdalene. From there the reason appears why the wife of Jesus was a prostitute invented by the Church to obscure their true relationship.

4.This secret is also revealed in Leonardo Da Vinci´s work, “The Last Supper”. So, the figure next to Christ is not the Apostle John, but “the Disciple Jesus loved”, or, in other words, the code for Mary Magdalene. Moreover, the same idea can be found in the letter “V” that is formed by the bodily positions of Jesus and Mary, as “V” is the symbol for the sacred feminine. On the whole, the parity between the cosmic and archetypal forces of masculine and feminine has long been a serious threat to the established and concentrated power of the Church.

In the midst of these controversial theories, we should note that, in March 2006, Baigent and Leigh filed a lawsuit in a British court against Brown’s publisher, Random House, claiming copyright infringement. This claim was rejected by the High Court judge Peter Smith on 7 April 2007 whereby Dan Brown won the court case. But why, in the meantime, was not Lincoln involved in the proceedings in Dan Brown’s lawsuit? Because, as he stated in the Channel Five documentary, Revealed… The Man behind the Da Vinci Code, the ideas brought forth in Holy Blood were not even original themselves.

So, this “revelation” is by itself a very interesting and crucial fact, especially when we carefully observe the bibliographical elements included in books such as The Holy Blood and The Messianic Legacy. However, there is a French author who is strangely not quoted among the former ones, namely Robert Ambelain, who became, in 1953, the founder of l’Église Gnostique Apostolique (The Gnostic Apostolic Church), as well as, in 1960, the Patriarch of l’Église Gnostique Universelle (The Gnostic Universal Church) under the name of Tau Jean III. Besides that, he was also a Freemason[2], becoming inclusively the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Memphis-Misraim. But for what reason is not Robert Ambelain – as a specialist on esoteric issues -, quoted or bibliographically considered by the co-authors of The Holy Blood and The Messianic Legacy? We do not know for certainty. Nevertheless, it is perfectly evident that many aspects presented in Ambelain’s books, such as La Vie Secrète de Saint Paul (The Secret Life of Saint Paul, 1972) or Les Lourds Secrets du Golgotha (The Dark Secrets of the Golgotha, 1974), are directly related with an extreme desacralization of the life, passion, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Just to give an example of such misconception, in order to degrade the Bible, Ministry and Sacred Tradition of the Roman Catholic Church, here are some proving points extracted from another Ambelain’s book, entitled Jesus ou Le Mortel Secret des Templiers (Jesus or The Mortal Secret of the Templars”, 1970):

1.Jesus had a mysterious brother called Thomas – who according to the Gospel of John (XI, 16; XX, 24) was also called Didymos, a Greek expression which means twin. On the other hand, Thomas comes from the Hebrew taoma or toama, which again means twin. From this philological point of view, Ambelain’s conclusion is that we are before a nonsensical expression: «Thomas called Didymos», that is to say «Twin called Twin»[3].

2.Based on the “Acts of Thomas”, an apocryphal that still exists in Latin, Greek and Syrian versions, Ambelain states that, regarding the true name of Thomas, the former one was Judas.

3.The Gospel of John was especially designed in such a way that Thomas could be presented as the doubting disciple of Jesus Christ, when, in reality, he was an accomplice of an extraordinary deceit: the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ to heaven.

4.According to Ambelain’s misconstruction, Thomas, “the second Christ”, had to use a mask to not be publicly recognized by the Roman legionaries. Consequently, the author refers to some Biblical passages to barely sustain this materialistic point of view, such as: a) after the resurrection of Christ, Mary of Magdalene didn’t recognize Jesus, for whom she took as the gardener (John: XX, 15); b) in front of Jesus’ appearance in the Road to Emmaus, two disciples didn’t recognize him either (Luke: XXIV, 13-32); c) two more disciples of Jesus saw him «in another form» (Mark: XVI, 12); d) Jesus’ appearances indicate traces of usual materiality, due to the fact that he could eat and absorb food, which is by itself very strange in a disunited spirit (Luke: XXIV, 38-43).

5.Between 200 and 300 A.D., the existence of a Jesus’ twin brother was not a scandal. So, it was much later that the miraculous conception was forged about Christ’s Incarnation, or, more precisely, the fundamental theological teaching of orthodox Christianity which affirms the belief that a non-created second hypostasis of the triune God joined but did not mix in a human body and nature and became both man and God. Therefore, this is why Jesus’ twin brother had practically disappeared in the New Testament, or simply been obscured by the Mother of God (Theotokos), who, as we know by the Roman Catholic Tradition, conceived her son miraculously through the Holy Spirit.

As we see it, there is not a simple coincidence on how this sort of «campaign» against the Roman Catholic Church continues nowadays. In The Templar Revelation: Secret Guardians of the True Identity of Christ, Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince proposes a superficial hypothesis regarding the relationship between Jesus, John the Baptist and Mary Magdalene. In other words, they upheld that Jesus was a disciple initiated in the inner circle of John the Baptist[4], whose teachings were basically that of the Egyptian mystery religion of Isis-Osiris-Horus. Briefly speaking, Jesus was not only an astute and aggressive political competitor against John, but also an initiate in the ritualized and sexual sacred mysteries of Mary Magdalene, who, afterwards, had an equal relationship with Jesus. In short, he was simply one god in the line of many dying-and-rising gods, who just share similar or common traits.

Despite all those imagery elements, it is a fact that the co-agetsemani-versao-castelo (2)uthors[5] of The Templar Revelation have also teamed up on several similar works, such as the following ones: Stargate Conspiracy: The Truth about Extraterrestrial Life and the Mysteries of Ancient Egypt; The Sion Revelation (2006); The Masks of Christ: Behind the Lies and Cover-ups About the Man Believed to be God (2008); Turin Shroud: in Whose Image? the Truth Behind the Centuries-Long Conspiracy of Silence (1994).

In the last mentioned book, it was proposed that Leonardo da Vinci had faked the Shroud by using a real corpse treated with chemicals and then exposed to be reproduced by an early form of camera obscura (pinhole camera) to obtain the image. Due to his secret alchemist experiences, Leonardo also used his own face for the model of Jesus, thereby creating a double photographic exposure. So, according to the authors, the Shroud seems to be the oldest known surviving photograph, notwithstanding that John Jackson, in the quality of director of the Turin Shroud of Colorado, had meanwhile dismissed the possibility of it.

There is no doubt that the image on the Shroud is much clearer in black-and-white negative than in its natural sepia color. This fact was first observed in 1898 by Secondo Pia, an Italian photographer who was allowed to photograph the Shroud while it was being exhibited in the Turin Cathedral. He was finally startled by the visible image on the reverse photographic plate in his darkroom, as if the Shroud image was itself effectively a negative of some kind.

But, even optically speaking, the Shroud image is far beyond being a negative image. And the main reason is based on this axial fact: the Shroud image has properties that, when submitted to a digital image processing, yields a 3-dimensional image[6]. Consequently, this is not a process that occurs in photography, which, as we know, is strictly confined to a bi-dimensional structure.

Otherwise, there is also the controversial radiocarbon dating test performed in a small sample of the Shroud in 1988. The laboratories at the University of Oxford, the University of Arizona and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology dated the Shroud material from the Middle Ages, between 1260 and 1390. In the meantime, criticisms have been raised regarding the choice of the sample taken for testing, because it may have not been representative of the whole Shroud, or it could even be a medieval repair fragment rather than the image-bearing cloth.

In 1983 the Shroud was given to the Holy See by the House of Savoy. The Roman Catholic Church made no pronouncements claiming whether the Shroud is authentic or not. But one thing we can be certain of: being or not being Jesus Christ’s burial cloth, the death and resurrection of the Son of God remains an objective belief to most Christians in the world.

But who better than the Philosopher Pope John Paul II to testify the mystery of the Incarnation, according to some words of his Holiness’s address in Sunday, 24 May 1988:

«The Shroud is a challenge to our intelligence. It first of all requires of every person, particularly the researcher, that he humbly grasp the profound message it sends to his reason and his life. The mysterious fascination of the Shroud forces questions to be raised about the sacred Linen and the historical life of Jesus. Since it is not a matter of faith, the Church has no specific competence to pronounce on these questions. She entrusts to scientists the task of continuing to investigate, so that satisfactory answers may be found to the questions connected with this Sheet, which, according to tradition, wrapped the body of our Redeemer after he had been taken down from the cross. The Church urges that the Shroud be studied without pre-established positions that take for granted results that are not such; she invites them to act with interior freedom and attentive respect for both scientific methodology and the sensibilities of believers.

(…) The Shroud is also an image of powerlessness: the powerlessness of death, in which the ultimate consequence of the mystery of the Incarnation is revealed. The burial cloth spurs us to measure ourselves against the most troubling aspect of the mystery of the Incarnation, which is also the one that shows with how much truth God truly became man, taking on our condition in all things, except sin. Everyone is shaken by the thought that not even the Son of God withstood the power of death, but we are all moved at the thought that he so shared our human condition as willingly to subject himself to the total powerlessness of the moment when life is spent. It is the experience of Holy Saturday, an important stage on Jesus’ path to Glory, from which a ray of light shines on the sorrow and death of every person. By reminding us of Christ’s victory, faith gives us the certainty that the grave is not the ultimate goal of existence. God calls us to resurrection and immortal life».


[1] Picknett and Prince’s book was certainly inspired by The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. It has also become central to the best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.

[2] Furthermore, it is also publically known that Michael Baigent is a Freemason and a Grand Officer of the United Grand Lodge of England.

[3] These philological relations are practically repeated in The Messianic Legacy, without any reference to Ambelain’s analysis of the subject.

Imago Dei[4] The pointing gesture of St. John the Baptist, painted by Leonardo da Vinci, is also seized, in this particular context, as a possible sign of unorthodox Christian thinking. In fact, and beyond all this heterodox assumption, the same pointing gesture can be found in The School of Athens, the most famous frescoes made by the Italian Renaissance artist Raphael between 1510 and 1511. In the centre of the fresco are the two indisputable philosophers of all times: Plato and Aristotle. And that is precisely Plato, to which Leonardo’s portrait was used as the iconic image of the Greek philosopher, who personifies the pointing gesture into the beautiful vault above, while Aristotle initiates a horizontal and powerful flow of spiritual energy toward viewers. On the whole, we are in front of a theoretical or speculative conception, and not before a “thread of heresy” that reaches back over 2000 years.

[5] Regarding the Works of Lynn Picknett, there are at least two of which stand out in our context research: Mary Magdalene: Christianity’s Hidden Goddess and The Secret History of Lucifer. Lynn Picknett is, on the other hand, a member of The Ghost Club, a paranormal investigating and research organization that was founded in London in 1862. Notable members since its foundation includes Charles Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, Sir William Crookes, Arthur Koestler, W. B. Yeats, Peter Cushing, Nandor Fondor, psychologist and a former associate of Sigmund Freud, Maurice Gross, famous for his investigation of the Enfield Poltergeist.

[6] This image analysis was firstly made by John Jackson and Eric Jumper in Colorado Springs in 1976. For this purpose, an analog computer was used, the VP8 Image Analyzer, produced by Peter Schumacher. As we know, no researcher was capable to replicate the 3-dimentional effect, even when they have already attempted to transfer similar images using techniques of block print, engravings, a hot statue or a bas-relief. At that rate, this same process converges, in a certain sense, with a detailed examination that it was carried out by a team of American scientists called STURP, in 1978. In other words, they did not find any reliable evidence of forgery, while, at the same time, were incapable to explain the question of how the image was formed. So, according to them, it remained “a mystery”.

19Miguel Bruno Duarte is a Fellow in Philosophy and Political Science at the Inter-American Institute for Philosophy, Government, and Social Thought.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute. Translated from the Portuguese by Alessandro Cota.

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