The recent release of Ron Howard’s movie "The Davinci Code" has provoked a renaissance in the controversy that surrounded the publication of Dan Brown’s best-selling novel. It is tempting to be dismissive of all the handwringing. Dan Brown’s claims are really just a knock-off of parts of the seemingly perpetual parade of novel theories about the life of Christ that make their debut each Christmas and Easter on the covers of Time and Newsweek. One might be surprised that Christians are so easily scandalized by unorthodox claims about the object of their faith when similar claims are such standard fare. And, after all, it’s just a novel. On the other hand, in a historically and biblically illiterate culture, Brown’s claims do have purchase on the hearts and minds of believers and non-believers alike. To boot, Brown has refused to let his book be dismissed as mere fiction, insisting instead that, "all of the art, architecture, secret rituals, secret societies — all of that is historical fact". Brown’s novel wouldn’t be the first to leave an indellible imprint on the course of history. So, I, for one, welcome the cottage industry of critical analysis that has accompanied the release of the film. As usual, LeaderU.com is featuring a roundup of essays and interviews including Ron Rhodes’ "Crash the Da Vinci Code", Ben Witherington III’s "Mary, Mary, Extraordinary", and Sandra Miesel’s merciless "Dismantling the Da Vinci Code." Envoy Magazine offers Carl E. Olsen’s critique from a Catholic perspective. The New Age Center reprints an article from the New York Times by Bruce Boucher quibbling with Brown’s art history, ending with this fabulous quote from Voltaire: "If it’s too silly to be said, it can always be sung." There are many more for the Googling. Additionally, Amazon.com is hawking a multitude of books piggy-backing on the success of the Davinci Code. Here are some critical ones.
In our clippings we make a point of referring to both sides of an issue, but, in this case, it’s rather difficult to find credible voices on behalf of taking The Davinci Code seriously. But, just for fun, you’re welcome to read The UFO Digest’s, “In Defense of the Davinci Code” by Dirk Vander Ploeg. In the news, Patrick Kampert of the Chicago Tribune reports on the Christian reaction to The Davinci Code.
As many have noted, at the end of the day, the silver lining beneath Brown’s questionable scholarship may be that he has been a provocateur for many, leading them to study what can be known about the historical Jesus of Nazareth. And, as one who listened to the audio version of The Da Vinci Code on a fourteen hour road trip, it remains a great read (or listen).