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Cracking The Da Vinci Code 31 October, 2004

Posted by monopod in Books, Reviews, Writing.
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Da Vinci Code Book Cover
Title:
The Da Vinci Code
Author:
Dan Brown
ISBN:
0552149519
Rating:
2 out of 5 stars

I recently read both Dan Brown’s “The DaVinci Code” as well as two authors’ response to it: “Cracking DaVinci’s Code”. Here are a few thoughts.

I don’t know if Brown ever made the straightforward claim that the ideas presented in The DaVinci Code were based on fact, though he certainly suggests as much in a short ‘factsheet’ before his prologue (“All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents and secret rituals in this novel are accurate.”) Either way he doesn’t seem to have done enough research, because The DaVinci Code is peppered liberally with flawed reasoning and historical inaccuracies, which Cracking DaVinci’s Code (James L. Garlow and Peter Jones) makes a valiant attempt at addressing.

Just two of the numerous inaccuracies Garlow and Jones point out:

1) The Priory of Sion:
Brown apparently relied on the 1982 publication Holy Blood, Holy Grail for his information on the Priory of Sion, the authors of whom in turn relied on documents provided to them by Pierre Plantard. I won’t go into the detail here (if you’re interested, read pages 113 and 114 of Garlow and Jones’ book) but the short of it is that in 1993 Plantard testified under oath to having made up the whole Priory scheme. Alternatively, there are some interesting links to explore on this website.

2) What really happened at the Council of Nicaea:
The DaVinci Code asserts that Jesus was narrowly ‘voted’ into divinity in A.D.325 at the Council of Nicaea, due to Constantine’s political manipulation. In reality Jesus’ divinity had been asserted by many of the early Church leaders, e.g. Ignatius (A.D.105): “God Himself was manifested in human form”; Tertullian (A.D.200): “Christ our God”; Cyprian (A.D.250): “Jesus Christ, our Lord and God”. The Council of Nicaea was actually called to reaffirm the belief of the original Church in response to false teachings that were being spread by Arius in A.D.318, in an attempt to re-establish unity and peace within the Christian church, and it was from this Council that the Nicene Creed had its origin (which only two people are recorded as having voted against).

Other issues Cracking DaVinci’s Code deals with include the construction of the Bible, Gnosticism, the ‘sacred feminine’ and the Church’s stance on sex.

On the final issue Garlow and Jones put it eloquently (page 35): “The DaVinci Code is ultimately – when pressed to its not-so-logical conclusion – an appeal for free sex, separate from the parameters established by God…Brown’s Hieros Gamos is no sacred union. It is simply free sex disguised by using Neo-Pagan quasi-religious language.” And again (page 37): “The DaVinci Code profoundly cheapens true love when it states that the “Rose…is also an anagram of Eros, the Greek god of sexual love (254). According to Brown, “The Rose has always been the premiere symbol of female sexuality…[T]he blossoming flower resembles the female genitalia, the sublime blossom from which all mankind enters the world” (255). (A correction is needed. All mankind did not enter the world that way. Adam and Eve were created by God. This is not a slip on Brown’s part. it is significant in that it denies the role of the Creator, a major part of understanding the “code”.)”

Nor is Brown’s view of the Church and the Bible as anti-sex warranted. It is perhaps the case that early Church teaching placed undue emphasis on asceticism and celibacy in reaction to ‘gross unrestrained sexual chaos’ (Cracking DaVinci’s Code, page 42), but Christianity today celebrates not just the sacredness but the joy and pleasure of the sexual union within the context of marriage.

The relationship between the Church and the ‘sacred feminine’, a major part of Brown’s story, is similarly misrepresented. This is perhaps most clearly seen in the Catholic Christian tradition’s honouring of the Virgin Mary, and beyond that, in its recognition of the Bible’s holy women such as Ruth and Esther. Paul’s writings (in particular Ephesians 5:21–24) are so often attacked for their perceived feminism, in spite of the fact that Ephesians 5:25 goes on to say “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave his life for it”, while Galatians 3:28 clearly states that males and females are all one in union with Christ Jesus.

There’s a lot more to say, but this is becoming a tome and I can’t possibly write something to do the topic justice in a blog post anyway. So I’ll end this off by saying this:

The DaVinci Code certainly works as a story (and admittedly a fast-paced, very absorbing one). But perhaps that’s where the problem lies: in Brown’s presenting to the masses what he purports to be fact but is in fact inelegant fiction, in a very readable and accessible form. Do yourself justice and read beyond Brown.

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