The Da Vinci Code is only one of several “new traditions” that are currently circulating about Jesus and finding large followings among spiritual seekers. In a paper presented at the conference of the Center for the Study of New Religions (known as CESNUR) in San Diego in July, Reender Kranenborg of the Free University of Amsterdam finds several new kinds of traditions or teachings about Jesus in the spiritual marketplace, including:
01: The infancy gospels, circulating since the 2nd century, intend to fill in the “missing years” of Jesus’ childhood, and usually gather a small but devoted following around a teacher claiming to channel Jesus for such knowledge.
02: The tradition of Jesus and Mary Magdalene is among the most popular, including the Da Vinci Code as well as other works claiming the centrality of the role of Mary Magdalene and the journey of Jesus to France.
03: The esoteric tradition is based on the view that Jesus was a Gnostic master or teacher of secret wisdom, a view closely associated with Dan Brown and the Da Vinci Code, though Brown‘s linkage of Gnosticism with the principle of the “sacred feminine“ has little to do with the historic Gnostic tradition.
04: The tradition of Jesus journeying to India to give esoteric teachings has also been around for a century, but it has gained new currency with the publication of recent books on the topic.
05: The Tradition of Jesus as a Precursor to Muhammad is actually from a late-dated (17th century) Book of Barnabas, but many Muslims cite it as a true gospel to counter Christian claims. Most of the above traditions have been found to contain more historical inaccuracies than the traditional Christian gospels. But Kranenborg writes that they are popular today because they stress spiritual experience and personal enlightenment over adherence to traditional Christian dogma, and they give greater prominence to the place to the position of women in early Christianity.