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~ I Broke The Da Vinci Code ~
There is it, above this text, one of the central sources of Leonardo's code. With all undue respect to Dan Brown, I believe my code cracking has superior merits to his. See if you agree with me.
Firstly, notice that Christ is the center of this dramatic moment, thus the center of all creation and all drama on earth and in heaven, as represented by the twelve apostles to whom He revealed all things. Next, observe how Christ's posture presents a perfect triangle, head at the apex and elbows on the table. This is an obvious representation of the trinity, three Persons in One. It gets better.
That apostle to Jesus' left, behind Judas, is Thomas, who will later challenge the resurrection of Christ. He points two fingers towards the heavens, indicating his present faith in the resurrection and Christ's divinity. After Christ's resurrection, his logic overcomes his faith and he has doubts. Upon His appearance to the same assembly depicted in this painting (minus Judas), Christ calls Thomas to use those same fingers to examine His wounds. Recall that Thomas did not accept Jesus' invitation, but fell to his knees crying, "My Lord and my God." Upon Christ's invitation to use his fingers to verify His resurrection, Thomas probably took a quick look at them and remembered how he raised them in faith at the Last Supper, thus falling back into verified and strengthened faith in the presence of Jesus. Thomas didn't need to touch Jesus physically to acknowledge His presence.
The apostle John, misinterpreted as Mary Magdalene, is obviously the most (actually the only) calm person in the scene (except for Judas, whom we'll look at later.) If that was Jesus' wife, she would have been all over Him in devotion and comfort. After all, this scene depicts the moment Jesus announces, "One of you will betray me" which puts everyone at the table into a frenzy, except John. If that person was Jesus' wife, where was John? Any way, in this dramatic moment, when everyone is passionately engaged in dialog, John is the exception, leaning away from Jesus, eyes closed, listening to his internal dialog. John is the mystic, the one who is attuned to the Holy Spirit's voice, the only one of those at the table with the fearless presence of mind and soul to follow Jesus to the foot of His cross, resting there until His death. Thus Leonardo is obviously putting John apart for special roles, one of which is to be designated as His mother Mary's son, and she his mother, fulfilling His obligation to make provisions for the care of His mother. The second major assigned duty to John was to record the great vision called the Revelation of Jesus Christ, which finalized the biblical canon.
While the apostles are obviously agitated, except for John, one must note the man seated just to the left of Jesus, with his right hand touching His shoulder and his left wrist resting on the table. This one is depicting a somewhat painful expression mixed with a smile, as if to pronounce Judas' lame question, "Is it me who will betray you?" This man is obviously Judas, with one hand over the altar table and the other on Jesus. With the same somatic language and expression, he will betray Jesus with the sign of a kiss. Leonardo is very clever.
Note that only one person's feet is showing under the table, the apostle to the extreme left of the painting. That man is off his chair (which, by the way, the Middle Eastern people did not use), ready to run. Obviously, this is Peter, who denied knowing Christ later that night. One of his feet is actually off the floor while the other is taking on John's weight. This is an obvious code for duality, the human struggle between devotion to the heavenly realm versus allegiance to the world of flesh and bones. Leonardo is brilliantly reminding us we must all engage in this struggle.
Back to Leonardo's use of chairs and legged tables when he knew better about Middle Eastern dining customs, when people would recline on the floor at a "table" just inches off the floor...This Renaissance genius was trying to tell us that Jesus and the early church fathers knew a time was coming when no Christian should be reclining, but up off the ground, ready to stand in the face of the persecution of the Roman Empire for the next three hundred years. Of course, they already knew this as we know from the biblical literature. But it was good of Leonardo to remind us, through code, that they did indeed know this.
The remarkable seating of the persons is another obvious broken code. It means that there is ample room for another thirteen persons, implying a multiplication factor. Leonardo was obviously stating that the founders of the Christian Church would continue to be succeeded by apostolic succession. Regarding the four sets of table legs, all formed in an upside-down V pointing to heaven, Leonardo certainly was making reference to Christ's proclamation that His elect will be gathered from the four corners of the universe and taken into the heavens. Though Leonardo didn't make it clear whether this would be before or after the "Great Tribulation". I guess this means I have to break the codes hidden in his other paintings and writings to find out.
John S. Hilkevich, Ph.D.
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