In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, almost anything that we see once they enter the temple would have to be made up (the three traps, the very old grail knight, the great seal, and so on), but how much of the rest of what is told in relation to the Holy Grail is true and how much is made up just for the movie?

For instance, is everything Indy reads on the tablet, before he starts out on the quest, true, or is that made up? Is anything based on actual grail lore?


2 Answers 2


The legend of the Grail is exactly that. The Bible says nothing about Jesus' blood being caught in a cup. The only mention of a cup is during the Last Supper, which is the only true statement about the "grail" in IJ:LC. The look of the cup in the movie is consistent in design; the gold glaze on the inside (which was either just incidental or meant to be an effect of Jesus' blood) would have been unlikely.

It is extremely unlikely that the cup used at the Last Supper would have been anywhere near Golgotha. It belonged to the man who owned the house in which the Last Supper took place, which the Disciples were led to by an unnamed water-carrier whom Jesus told them to look for upon entering Jerusalem. For the next two and a half centuries after the Crucifixion, until the Edict of Milan in 313, the Romans did everything they could to stomp out any mention of any other Son of God besides Caesar. The cup used in the Last Supper, if ever identified as such, was likely destroyed, and in any case virtually all scholars agree it has been lost to time.

The majority of "Actual Grail Lore" is in Celtic and English myth, and states that Joseph of Arimathea took the cup to the British Isles, where it remains to this day in the care of faithful guardians (the Knights Templar). So, the path beginning in Iskenderun (Alexandretta) is wildly inconsistent with Grail lore (it's on the complete opposite side of the old Roman Empire from where the Arthur legends and older works say it should be). That would mean pretty much everything else is completely inaccurate; the knights trying to get back to Rome would have gone through Genoa instead (Venice is on the opposite side of northern Italy), The first marker being in the Middle East, the path of the Grail leading to present-day Jordan, etc etc, all total hogwash both from Biblical and Arthurian sources.

  • There isn't exactly a "grail legend". The Holy Grail mostly appears in medieval romances which are works of fiction. It is probably based on earlier Celtic stories that might be classified, as legends or myths or fiction or whatever. We don't know how to classify those earlier Celtic stories because very few surviving Celtic stories have elements similar to the holy grail and the Celtic stories that the Holy Grail is based on probably haven't survived. Mar 16, 2018 at 1:58

Your first mistake in the title is to imply that "Actual Grail Lore" is something definitive or even vaguely consistent. The truth is that there is a wealth of legendary material relating to the Grail, and a whole range of related mythology around the Rosecrucians, the Templars, and pretty much anything else you can throw in that cannot be proven either way. TBH, the mythology around the Templars themselves is enough to twist most peoples credulity.

This is why Dan Brown (sorry) can take a random collection of these stories, and build his own around them. And why Umberto Eco can do the same only 10 times better. And the writers of myth-based-fantasy can play fast and loose with them without is actually seeming to make any difference.

All of which means that some of the material used may well be part of grail legend, it matters not on any level. I would be reasonably sure that all of the words used in the inscriptions appeared in grail legends, and that someone could use a bible-code-style process to extract them.

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