Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Da Vinci Code: Help from Unexpected Source

This week, the most recent edition of U.S. News & World Report, no true friend to Christianity, has come out exposing the mistakes in Dan Brown's book, The Da Vinci Code, and the upcoming movie of the same name (which opens Friday, May 19).

The magazine spends a lot of time debunking the "historical facts" of the book and movie. This is amazing. I hope this magazine remembers this article this Christmas and next Easter when the next round of articles from the "Jesus Seminar" start making their annual appearances to question the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection. For some reason, I don't think USN&WR will be so kind to my faith at that time. But this edition is a nice start.

The article quotes Ron Howard, the director of the movie, who refused, along with Sony, to put up a disclaimer at the beginning of the movie claiming it is fiction:
Why all the fuss over a movie and a novel? "This is a work of fiction," Ron Howard, the movie's Academy Award-winning director, told the Los Angeles Times. "It's not theology. It's not history ... Spy thrillers don't start off with disclaimers." Brown, the book's reclusive author, has sent mixed messages regarding the proportions of history and make-believe in his book. Although he declines interviews now, he told National Public Radio during a 2003 publicity tour that the book's characters and action are fictional but that "the ancient history, the secret documents, the rituals, all of this is factual. "He also told CNN at that time that "the background is all true."
The article goes on to dispel historical "facts" and statements about the origin of the New Testament and other statements denying Jesus' alleged marriage and Jesus' deity. Regarding the latter, the article says this:
In Brown's version of history, the early Christians thought of Jesus as "a great and powerful man but a man nonetheless"--a mere mortal. It was the Roman Emperor Constantine, according to Brown's fictional scholars, who imposed the doctrine of Christ's divinity on the church at the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325. And the emperor did so largely for political purposes: He wanted to unify the empire around the Christian faith, which he recently had come to embrace.

But as Catholic writers Carl Olson and Sandra Miesel point out in their book The Da Vinci Hoax, "any historian, whether Christian or not, knows that the early Christians most definitely believed that Jesus of Nazareth was somehow divine." The central issue at the Council of Nicaea, they note, "was not whether Jesus was merely human or something more but how exactly his divinity ... was to be understood."

Finally, regarding basic facts of history, the article has this to say:

The debunkers have gone after other "howlers" in the book's historical representations. On the opening page, for example, Brown declares as "fact" that the Priory of Sion, depicted in the book as a European secret society founded in 1099 and the prime keeper of the Da Vinci Code secrets, "is a real organization" and that "parchments known as Les Dossiers Secrets" and listing its members were discovered in Paris's Bibliotheque Nationale in 1975. Among the Priory of Sion's members: Isaac Newton, Victor Hugo, and Leonardo da Vinci. In fact, the Priory of Sion's documents were conclusively proven in the 1990s to have been part of an elaborate hoax. The society itself, as Brown described it, never existed.
The website then posts a page that offers the following:
Just how much of this is true? Just in time for the movie, U.S. News separates fact from fantasy on a range of Code-related questions, from the inner workings of Opus Dei to the truth about Mary Magdalene. Answers are based on a U.S. News Special Edition, Secrets of the Da Vinci Code, and on the book on which the special edition is based, Secrets of the Code: The Unauthorized Guide to the Mysteries of the Da Vinci Code, edited by Dan Burstein. Think you know the answers already? Click on the links to the right and test your knowledge of the world of the Code.

However, in the link to the "Truth" about the Church (of course, they're talking about the Roman Catholic Church), the writers made this statement:
The historical Jesus was essentially a Jewish rabbi, teacher, or spiritual leader. This statement is unlikely to sit well with Jews or Christians. But for a long time after Jesus's death, his followers were not necessarily perceived as believers in a religion that was fundamentally different from Judaism.
Hence my despair for the annual Christmas and Easter articles!


Sam Goins said...

Hello Jeff,
Fancy meeting you here. Saw your blog on US News. Great job. e-mail me at

Sam Goins

impossibleape said...

Jesus was and is nothing if not Radical

so any attempt to domesticate him
(jewishly, christianly, secularly) is doomed to failure

It is a funny project that many take on when they try to emasculate Jesus' life and ministry

impossibleape said...

although no one can emasculate him I do believe he never indulged (just in case anyone was wondering where I am coming from)