Monday, February 8, 2016

Stories in Focus: "The Da Vinci Code" by Dan Brown

Dan Brown's very controversial mystery thriller novel "The Da Vinci Code" is one which at points in my life I refused to read.  Having watched the movie version, I had a general idea of what it was about, and felt no need to read the book itself to decide whether it had any merit or not.  Essentially, the story follows the action of protaganist Robert Langdon, a symbologist who studies religious symbols and their meanings, as he is framed for the murder of the curator at the Louvre museum in France, where many famous works of art, including the "Mona Lise" of Leonardo da Vinci, are on display.  The murdered man leaves clues as to who the murderer is, and his granddaughter, a very intelligent cryptographer and code breaker, is brought in to assist in solving the mystery.

The story turns into a search for the missing Holy Grail, which has supposedly been kept hidden by the Catholic Church, for fear it would overturn all that the Church teaches as true.  The secret is supposedly that instead of having been crucified a bachelor, Jesus Christ had actually married Mary Magdalene, and had children, leaving a bloodline that lives on to this day.  The Church, it is claimed, has slandered Magdalene as a prostitute, and has done everything it can to hide this secret that she was really the wife of Jesus and mother to His children.  There is a lot of dialogue regarding this, and talk of the Gnostic gospels and other literature proposed for the Bible but rejected by the Church as having been inauthentic and essentially not written by the authors they are claimed to be written by.  There is also the claim that it wasn't until the 3rd or 4th century, I believe around the time of the rule of Constantine and the Nicene Council (I might have this wrong), that Jesus was only believed to be divine many centuries after His death, and before then, all His followers believed He was merely a mortal man, and not an immortal incarnation of God.  There are also claims by the characters that the Bible had been altered, mistranslated, and ultimately tampered with over time to obscure and falsify the "truth" about Jesus, and especially about His relationship to Mary Magdalene.

While these ideas are interesting and make for an intriguing story, I find them unconvincing, and having studied the Bible and Church teaching, can assert that the author has not really studied Catholic theology very much.  He is trying to promote an idea of "the sacred feminine" and claims the Church regards females and sexuality as dirty and inferior.  He tries to turn Jesus into a mere mortal man, and Mary Magdalene into a divine God.  He does not pay attention to the reverence given to women by the uplifting of Mary as Mother of God.  The book talks about Eve bringing humanity into its downfall but not of the ascension brought to humanity through the Blessed Virgin Mary and her cooperation with the salvific plan of God.  Having studied a lot of the issues that are touched on in "The Da Vinci Code", the alternate theory of Jesus and His supposed descendants, the novel did nothing to alter my beliefs in the orthodox teachings of Christianity.  The release of this book spurned a huge reaction from Christians of all denominations, leading to all kind of books debunking the claims made in Brown's novel, such as "The Da Vinci Hoax", "Debunking the Da Vinci Code", "The Da Vinci Fraud", etc.  I think the dialogue is a good one, and I will suggest that you do take the time to read Dan Brown's novel, you also look into some of the opposing claims made in books that criticize and argue against the main premise of the Code.

At the very least, reading books like this can demonstrate how wild alternate versions of history can be concocted and developed, and can convince lots of people of something that just isn't true or never happened.  Brown says Jesus was married to Magdalene and had children.  I say someone made it up.  Even in the study of history, it is important to know that lies or fabrications can be made up, either to tear down ideas one does not like, or to promote and build up ideas that one wants to become fact.

Although you can probably find a used copy at almost any thrift store, "The Da Vinci Code"  can be purchased at Amazon here:


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