Upon its 2003 release, Dan Brown’s ecclesiastical mystery novel The Da Vinci Code created a huge controversy in the literary and religious worlds, becoming an international best-seller, and then became the successful Tom Hanks/Audrey Tautou film three years later. Based largely on radical religious suppositions put forth in Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince’s 1997 novel, The Templar Revelation, both Dan Brown’s novel and the film whisk symbologist Robert Langdon on a religio-historical scavenger hunt across Europe in the belief that he’s near to finding the Holy Grail. Of course, Langdon eventually deciphers that the long-sought Grail is not some bejeweled chalice of yore, but rather Mary Magdalene, the flesh-and-blood vessel of Jesus’s offspring.
As Langdon discovers, the defining clue is Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper, which, the novel and film insist, portrays Mary Magdalene — not John the Apostle — sitting immediately to Jesus’s right, the space between their bodies forming a V, which symbolizes the “sacred feminine”, i.e., denoting Mary Magdalene as the carrier of Jesus’s bloodline.
Yet for all of the myriad clues and twists that propel Langdon and Sophie Neveu on an odyssey through time, place, and scripture, one glaringly obvious symbol is overlooked — a symbol that confirms even more than Da Vinci’s abstruse V-positioning of Jesus and Mary used to indicate that the two were lovers and begat a child: All of the participants in Da Vinci’s iconic The Last Supper sit on the same side of the table. Focusing on Mary sitting next to Jesus on the same side of the tablewe can see that, according to the irrefutable secular equivalent of biblical scripture — the omnipresent applicability and quotability of Seinfeld — such positioning at a table/booth is telltale of overly affectionate couples who shamelessly display their love in public.
Thus, The Last Supper really is saying that Jesus and Mary are deeply in love, perhaps, as George Costanza sermonized — and his apostolic counterpart, Thomas the Doubter, seems to echo with his finger raised contemptuously to Jesus — “making me and every one of your friends sick with all that kissing and the [schmoopy talk].” Clearly established in Episode 116, “The Soup Nazi”, sitting on the same side of the table and leaving the other side empty is the dead giveaway of a couple in the repugnant honeymoon phase of a relationship. In this light, it’s not hard to picture Jesus and Mary trading saccharine schmoopies as the Apostles look on, no doubt nauseated.
As George preached to Jerry about schmoopy talk: “People who do that should be arrested!” And soon after the Last Supper, of course, Jesus was… Seinfeld even goes so far as obliquely referencing the Apostle Peter’s denial of Jesus when Jerry, in a desperate attempt to avert angering the Soup Nazi and the “No soup for you!” damnation, placates the surly chef by denying knowledge of his offending girlfriend.
“The Soup Nazi” premiered in 1995 — long before Dan Brown’s novel went to press — so it’s surprising that such a well-established and popular precept of modern society is not even obliquely mentioned in the novel or the film. (Frankly, a schmoopy clue seems just the type of wacky reference a Tom Hanks character would make…) Whether its absence from The Da Vinci Code constitutes gross oversight or deliberate disregard, Brown’s novel feels like a Johnny-the-Baptist-come-lately of preexisting Seinfeld scripture.
It may be too much to posit that because the very next Seinfeld episode, No. 117, “The Secret Code”, is devoted to everyone around George trying to learn his zealously guarded ATM code — including a climactic moment in which Kramer presages Brown’s Robert Langdon by nearly cracking George’s code within seconds — these two episodes essentially covered all of the ground that The Da Vinci Code trod a decade later. Then again, this episode also contains an awkward dinner between George and J. Peterman — a dinner surely just as awkward as the actual Last Supper, considering Jesus’s predictions of betrayal and the air of impending doom — so I might have hit even closer to the mark about Seinfeld scripture beating Dan Brown and Hollywood to the punch than I’m allowing.
And let’s not forget that George’s very code bears the name of a revered Catholic saint. Likely arcane to even hardcore Seinfeld aficionados, George’s dark master is the namesake of St. John Bosco, a 19th-century Torinese priest who devoted much of his clerical life to improving the fortunes of disadvantaged and impoverished children. Don Bosco, as he was affectionately known, founded the Salesian Society, among other orders, to aid Italian youths suffering in the harsh realities of the Industrial Revolution. For this and his working philosophy that children are educated best through love and acceptance rather than punishment, Bosco came to be formally titled upon his canonization as “Father and Teacher of Youth”.
It seems too coincidental that George Costanza — the son of an Italian Knight of Columbus — would just happen to cherish a foodstuff whose brand bears the name of a Catholic saint, especially a saint who hailed from a region of Italy not far from his own Tuscan roots and thus might well have been known to his father who, being a Korean War veteran, was a wee lad when Don Bosco was canonized in 1934. That George confesses his code of “Bosco” to J. Peterman’s stricken mother — albeit on her deathbed — who then tantalizingly blurts it repeatedly as her dying word appears the final shred of confirmation in this biblically laced episode.
Thus, it is clear to me that, along with whatever Da Vinci Code–like clues remain undiscovered in the healing power of a Junior Mint, or a decade-old Frogger score, or some kind of “Rose Line” that runs through the intersection of 1st and 1st, the schmoopy and Bosco plots are undeniable proof that Larry David and the stable of Seinfeld writers not only antecede The Da Vinci Code and its aforementioned source material but, in their chronicling of everyday truths that comprise the human condition, make a far stronger case for Jesus and Mary Magdalene’s coupling than the wildly popular, yet factually dubious, novel and film.
Like Jerry with his prostitute-maid, Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene must have had a relationship that was somewhat sophisticated — even if they never had to go out for gum, thanks to His stash of myrrh…