The Truth About the Da Vinci Code
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The Truth about the Da Vinci Code
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown was on the New York Times bestselling list for more then two years, recently returning to the top of the list due to the release of the paperback version in March of 2006. Released by Doubleday in March of 2003, it was an instant hit. The book is a very well written piece of fictional literature that combines the use of historical facts and artifacts with a completely fictional adventure. Browns use of history has created a certain amount of believability to his story. When it comes to writing authors enjoy the use of creative freedom. So if they choose to use historical fact in a fictional book does that make it a non-fiction book? The use of historical facts, events, artifacts, and so on, in a fictional writing does cannot change that fiction into non-fiction. A fictional book is a fictional book regardless of the amount of fact used to enhance a storyline.
The Da Vinci Code is the story of the thrilling adventure of Robert Langdon. He becomes involved in the hunt for the truth behind the beginnings of Christianity and the Holy Grail. The main plot line of the book is based off the idea that the Holy Grail is Mary Magdalena herself, the supposed wife of Christ, and that she had a female child, thus the bloodline of Christ continues after his death. This truth of Christs bloodline is of course the largest secret of the church and could destroy the church if it was ever found out by the public. Therefore this truth has been kept secret and protected by a number of secret religious societies. (Brown)
Dan Brown has claimed that all of the historical information in his book is accurate. On the Today Show he stated, “Obviously, there are–Robert Langdon is fictional, but all of the art, architecture, secret rituals, secret societies, all of that is historical fact.”(Today). This is restated this on the bottom of one of the first pages of his book, along with a brief description of The Priory of Sion and Opus Dei, the two main secret societies in the book. However along with this mention of historical accuracy come the statement in on the copyright page of the book “In this work of fiction, the characters, places and events are either the product of the authors imagination or they are used entirely fictitiously.” (Brown). Given this statement of fictitiousness how can the book or any of the uses of historical fact be construed as the truth?
Clearly the plot line of the story is not original. It has been used in many other books. Holy Blood Holy Grail by Richard Leigh and Michael Baigent for one example is a book about the actual theory of Christ and Mary Magdalene. The difference between this book and The Da Vinci Code is simply that The Da Vinci Code claims itself to be fictional and simply uses historical information to enhance the storyline.
Here are some of examples of the facts used fictitiously throughout the book. Constantine is said to have invented the deity of Christ to consolidate his empire under his power. That while doing this he eliminated gospels from the bible that did not fit his political aspects. While Constantine did convert to Christianity it was because his empire was being torn apart by religious differences. He converted to unify his empire as one not for his own gain. As for the gospels the Council of Nicaea, a gathering of bishops to “settle disputes about Christology” (Lutzer 6).
Jesus is not divinized until the Council of Nicaea and is portrayed as a mortal man before then. The truth is that Jesus is referred to as God and Lord (in the divine sense) a number of times throughout the New Testament. The texts from the New Testament post-date the Council of Nicaea which took place in the fourth century. The Council simply clarified the fact that Jesus was a deity (Worthington 59).
The largest mistake in the book of course is the theory that Jesus was married to Marry Magdalene. This theory is supported mainly through the use of the Gnostic Gospels. These gospels are thirteen papyrus books found in 1945 in Egypt (Lutzer 25-32). They are not considered to be historically accurate and therefore are not supported by the religious community to be part of true bible.
One of the most interesting uses of history I find in the book is the use of the painting The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci. Brown uses the painting to expand on the unity of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Brown proposes that the person sitting to the left of Jesus as you look at the picture is none other then Mary Magdalene herself. He supports this by explaining that the “V” shape between Jesus and Mary signifies the unity of male and female. Of course the use of this artifact is purely up to the way that a person may perceive the painting itself. After reading the book I could not help myself and I took a look at the painting. While I could see the resemblance of a female in the person on the left of Jesus, this is apparently supposed to be the apostle John, I am have no official knowledge of how a person may look during that point in time. It is plausible that the person could just be a very feminine looking male. It could also be Mary.
The problem with the historical facts in The Da Vinci Code is that they are not entirely accurate as claimed to be by Brown himself. Though some of them are in fact actual events or true artifacts, a number of them are explained incorrectly and therefore give the wrong information to the reader. Also the book is so well written that it is hard to determine where the fact ends and the fiction begins, providing you have any religious background before reading the book. The use of actual street names and real buildings such as the Louvre, the Vatican, even Harvard University as the location of Langdons employment make the book a bit more believable.
The rest of the historical facts are not the most common knowledge information to the average person. I personally did not know much about any of the