Monday, June 12, 2006

“It has served us well, this myth of Christ”

With The Da Vince Code American author Dan Brown heralded a wave of modern grail novels. One of them, The Last Templar, was actually written by a Lebanese: Raymond Khoury. For some reason this was not mentioned anywhere in the Dutch edition of the book. That piece of information might have been left out for commercial reasons, as many regard Lebanon as a Middle Eastern rogue state. Yet given the subject-matter of the book, it should not have been omitted, if only because the crusades literally touched upon Lebanese soil.

But never mind that. The Last Templar seems to have escaped Rome’s attention. And that is probably just as well, for quite a few Christians, not in the least in Khoury’s native Lebanon, may feel offended by the subject-matter.

So far, most grail novels regarding the Knight templars centred around two themes:

  • Either they were guarding the bloodline of Jesus Christ, whereby the Holy Grail was in fact Mary Magdalene who carried Jesus’child.
  • Or they were guarding a secret having to do with the Philosopher’s Stone, whereby in its most rudimentary form lead was supposedly transformed into gold.

In Khoury’s book, however, the templars were guarding something else: the gospels of Jesus himself, Jesus as an ordinary man, not the son of God. So, here is this Lebanese Raymond Khoury, who judging by his name must have Christian roots. He writes a book that in fact supports the Islamic viewpoint that Jesus was not divine in the sense that he was the son of God. Khoury goes on by even quoting Pope Leo X: “It has served us well, this myth of Christ”.

Photo: Raymond Khoury

Insofar as I know, it is the first time an Arab novelist has tackled this genre. If this son of Lebanon ever decides to cross the channel so to further promote his book, his personal beliefs regarding the knight templars would make for an interesting topic of conversation.