Dagobert's Revenge Bookstore
Book Review:

The Da Vinci Code

by, Dan Brown

Review by Dr. Wesley Tracy

At last, what is esoterica to the culture at large, but common knowledge to the readers of Dagobert’s Revenge, has made it to the top of the New York Times best seller list. Dan Brown’s (must be his real name—who would choose such a bland pseudonym) The Da Vinci Code dramatizes the lore of Crusaders, Templars, Da Vinci, Masons, the Priory of Sion, Mary Magdalene as wife of Jesus, the “sacred feminine,” and the Holy Grail. Even Dagobert’s mortal stab wound in the eye is mentioned.

Brown clothes all this in the garb of a suspense or thriller novel. Though Catholic conspiracy, the stuff of art, architecture, pentacles, blade and chalice, and sacred geometry sometimes bog down the plot development, the book is a fascinating “page-turner.” Some readers will be frustrated with the frequent shifts among “point-of-view” characters. The book’s 454 pages are divided into 102 chapters, and often a change of chapter is a change in view-point character. Some of the characters have long lecture-like speeches that wear the reader down. Still, the plot is skillfully woven with plenty of surprising twists - only some of which are predictable.

The main characters are Robert Langdon, Harvard symbologist, - nothing like a Harvard man to give credence to one’s theories - and Sophie Neveu, a 32-year-old cop-cryptographer in Paris who turns out to be a descendant of you know who.

As a fairly well informed Christian, I was offended at a couple of points in the book - not just because of my faith, but because of a couple of premises that offended logic and history. If it were proved that Jesus was married, the faith of Christians would not necessarily be scuttled. After all, they believe that Jesus was both fully human and divine. But one premise in the novel that requires more “suspension of belief” than is plausible is the notion that the Catholic Church smashed massive matriarchal societies to remake society and history as patriarchal. Hmm? Long before the Roman Empire and the Holy Roman Empire, most cultures on earth were patriarchal, oppressively so. Even the fertility cults that Brown cites as evidence of “goddess worship” were as much about male sexuality as female - the ubiquitous symbol of the bull being one evidence of same. The Catholics did plenty to reinforce patriarchy, but they didn’t invent it or establish it in the world.

The other premise that was rashly implausible was Brown’s assertion that Jesus was not considered divine, but merely mortal, even by His followers until Constantine shoved the Council of Nicea into voting Jesus divine for political reasons in A. D. 327. Though Brown puts such assertions in the mouths of a couple of “scholar” characters, the premise is flawed. There are many, many pre-Constantine documents that assert the divinity of Christ. The partial copy of the Gospel of John dated A. D. 125 now resting in the Rylands Library, Manchester, England is just one of many such evidences. Even the Gnostic gospels (two are quoted by Brown regarding the Apostle’s jealousy of Magdalene as evidence of Jesus’ mere humanity) teach that Jesus was in fact not human at all, but a deity who had “magically” taken on human form. To the Gnostics, human flesh was corrupt, and the Gnostic Christians taught that Jesus only appeared to be human, for to make him human would be to make Him corrupt.

The Da Vinci Code, unless the Catholics get it banned, will likely become a movie - perhaps starring Harrison Ford as Robert Langdon, Harvard Symbologist. I don’t have a nomination for the role of Sophie (Plantard-Chauvel) Neveu. Do you?

Dr. Wesley Tracy holds five degrees, four in religious studies, including two doctorates from San Francisco Theological Seminary. The author or co-author of 25 books and 1,000 published articles on theological themes, Tracy has participated in adult education projects in 10 countries. He now lives near Phoenix, AZ.

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