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Overview of The Da Vinci Code,
A novel

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Sponsored link.

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Jeremy Pugh of Amazon.com bookstore writes:

"With The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown masterfully concocts an intelligent and lucid thriller that marries the gusto of an international murder mystery with a collection of fascinating esoteria culled from 2,000 years of Western history.

A murder in the silent after-hour halls of the Louvre museum reveals a sinister plot to uncover a secret that has been protected by a clandestine society since the days of Christ. The victim is a high-ranking agent of this ancient society who, in the moments before his death, manages to leave gruesome clues at the scene that only his granddaughter, noted cryptographer Sophie Neveu, and Robert Langdon, a famed symbologist, can untangle. The duo become both suspects and detectives searching for not only Neveu's grandfather's murderer but also the stunning secret of the ages he was charged to protect. Mere steps ahead of the authorities and the deadly competition, the mystery leads Neveu and Langdon on a breathless flight through France, England, and history itself. Brown (Angels and Demons) has created a page-turning thriller that also provides an amazing interpretation of Western history. Brown's hero and heroine embark on a lofty and intriguing exploration of some of Western culture's greatest mysteries--from the nature of the Mona Lisa's smile to the secret of the Holy Grail. Though some will quibble with the veracity of Brown's conjectures, therein lies the fun. The Da Vinci Code is an enthralling read that provides rich food for thought.

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The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown, is one remarkable novel!

It contains many sub-plots involving:

bulletThe sacred feminine in religion;
bulletJesus' marriage to Mary Magdalene who he selected to be the leader of the Church;
bulletMary's flight to Europe where she remarried.
bulletThe legend of the Holy Grail, which is often believed to be the search for the cup used by Jesus at the Last Supper is in reality the bloodline of Jesus and Mary;
bulletDescendents of Jesus Christ, some of whom are alive today;
bulletConstantine's role in creating and molding Christianity;
bulletThe invention of the deity of Jesus in the 4th century CE by the church
bulletSuppressed gospels;
bulletA secret group called the Priory of Sion who passed the truth about Jesus and Mary through the use of secret codes and symbols. Isaac Newton and Leonardo Da Vinci were members.
bulletLeonoardo Da Vinci's religious symbolism which he embedded in some of his paintings (e.g. The Last Supper, Virgin of the Rocks);
bulletThe role of Opus Dei within the Roman Catholic Church;
bulletThe number PHI and the Fibonacci sequence of numbers;
bulletThe murder of the curator of the Louvre in Paris, France, and the search for the killer.

It was released in 2003-MAR and has become phenomenally successful:

bulletOne year later it was still on the New York Times best seller book list of hardcover fiction.
bulletIt was still number 12 in popularity among the millions of books that Amazon.com stocks.
bulletIt is available in hardcover, large print, and special illustrated edition. You can buy it on audio cassette and CD in both abridged and unabridged versions. It can be obtained in Ebook and audio download formats.
bulletWithin a year and a half, it had sold over 7.5 million copies.
bulletBy the end of 2004, it had been translated into 42 different languages.
bulletA movie starring Tom Hanks will be released on 2006-MAY-19
bulletOver three thousand people have written reviews of the book on Amazon.com's web site.
bulletAmazon.com readers gave the book a 3.5 star rating (out of 5).
bulletIt has been banned in Lebanon because Catholic leaders found to be offensive the depiction of Jesus marrying Mary Magdalene and fathering a child. 2
bulletA search on www.google.com in 2005-MAR for the string "da vinci code" found about 493,000 hits. By mid 2006-APR, the number had grown to 1.45 million.

The book has spawned tours, referred to as the "Grail trail." As of 2005-FEB:

bulletOne company has over 50 tour guides "selected for their intellectual background, enthusiasm and personality" who conduct three and seven  hour tours around London England showing the sights featured in the novel. 3
bulletThe Chateau de Grimaldi in Aix-en-Provence, France offers a Mary Magdalene tour that traces her alleged 30-year residency in Provence –from Les Ste. Maries-de-la-Mer to Ste. Baume and Basilica de la Magdalene in Saint Maximin where some believe she was buried. 4
bulletThe Musée du Louvre in Paris, France, has a "Cracking 'The Da Vinci Code' at the Louvre" tour. 5
bulletA four-day tour starts in Dover, England, travels to may sites in France, and returns to England. 6
bulletThere is even a tour in Paris which systematically debunks The Da Vinci Code.

Perhaps the most impressive cottage industry created in response to the novel are a series of books which try to separate fact from fiction in The Da Vinci Code. One source counted over 30 books.

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The dark side.....

The most important words in the book are seen on the cover of the hardcover edition: "A Novel." The book is a work of imaginative fiction. To buy it, you normally have to go to the fiction section of Barnes & Noble, Borders, or Chapters. It is interesting to note that the mass market paperback edition deleted "A Novel" and added reference to the motion picture which is to be released on 2006-MAY-19,

The Da Vinci Code is a riveting murder mystery and a work of great imagination. However the book is tragically flawed. Its description of many historical religious events, documents, and personalities are simply untrue. The tragedy of this book is that it could have been edited to be much more accurate historically without adversely affecting its popularity.

The religious historian Bart Ehrman described the first time that he read the book: "I realized that Dan Brown's characters were actually making historical claims about Jesus, Mary and the Gospels. In other words, the fiction was being built on a historical foundation that the reader was to accept as factual, not fictitious. ...I immediately began to see problems with the historical claims made in the book. There were numerous mistakes, some of them howlers, which were not only obvious to an expert but also unnecessary to the plot. If the author had simply done a little bit more research, he would have been able to present the historical backdrop of his account accurately, without in any way compromising the story he had to tell." 7

Books and movies have great power -- for good and evil. They can mold the beliefs of the public in strange directions:

bulletMany viewers of The Passion of the Christ probably believe that Jesus' pre-execution flogging by the Roman Army and the details of his execution were accurately portrayed. Few realize that much of the screenplay was based on the visions of an anti-semitic nun.
bulletThe 1962 version of the The Manchurian Candidate movie had a profound effect on the public's belief in brainwashing -- currently a discredited phenomenon among mental health professionals.
bulletThe 1980 book Michelle Remembers triggered a 15 year belief in Satanic Ritual Abuse which is still present among a diminishing number of feminists and religious conservatives.

This book will leave many readers with a distorted view of the early Christian movement. A Canadian survey taken in 2005 found that 32% of the readers of the book believed the story line to be true. 8 Still, it will probably encourage many people to study the Christian religion in general and the history of primitive Christianity in particular. A Zogby International poll that taken in 2006 found that 44% of those who had read or heard about the book said that they were more likely to search for the truth by studying the Bible. 9

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Dan Brown, "The Da Vinci Code," Doubleday, (2003). Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
  2. "Da Vinci Code banned in Lebanon," BBC News, 2004-SEP-16, at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/
  3. "See the London Sights featured in The Da Vinci Code," at: http://www.offtolondon.com/
  4. "Chateau de Villette," FrenchVacation, at: http://www.frenchvacation.com/
  5. "Tours at the Musee du Louvre," at: http://www.parismuse.com/
  6. "The Paris of the Da Vinci Code," Travel55, at: http://www.travel55.co.uk/
  7. Bart D. Ehrman, "Truth and Fiction in the Da Vinci Code," Oxford University Press, (2004), Page xiii. Read reviews or order this book.
  8. "Canadian Readers Believe Da Vinci Code," The Ottawa Citizen, 2005-JUN-24.
  9. "Most Americans believe Bible over 'Da Vinci' Poll Shows," Baptist Press, 2006-MAR-08.

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More information:

bulletThe book has its own web site at:  http://www.TheDaVinciCode.com
bulletThe author has a web site at:  http://www.DanBrown.com

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Site navigation:

Home page > Religions > Christianity > History, beliefs...  > Da Vinci Code > here

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Copyright © 2005 & 2006 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2005-MAR-06
Latest update: 2006-MAY-14
Author: B.A. Robinson

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