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The Da Vinci Code
(Dan Brown)

The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown

Since its publishing in 2003, this book has been popular all around the world and is even going to be made into a movie due out in 2006. It has also sparked theological and historical debate, for thinly veiled beneath the plotline is the author?s opinion on the Christian faith and Church history. Many might be wondering what exactly all the commotion is about. Why do so many people praise Dan Brown for shedding new light on religious history and doctrine? On the other hand, why are Christians so upset and angered by this book?

First off, Brown tells a thrilling detective story that keeps the reader constantly on his toes. It is actually a sequel to an earlier book, Angels and Demons, and has the same main character, Harvard symbology professor Robert Langdon. The story begins in the Louvre (the famous art museum in Paris), where the curator Jacques Sauniere is murdered. The state of the old man?s body is placed in a peculiar position, sending a cryptic message to Langdon and a young detective named Sophie Neveu, who try to solve this case. Inevitably, they are caught in a whirlwind search for some hidden truth behind Leonardo Da Vinci?s works of art, all the while being chased by law enforcement officials and being hunted by Silas, the man who murdered Sauniere.

Langdon and Neveu find that Sauniere was guarding a secret so precious that the Catholic Church?s Opus Dei network will do anything to keep it from getting out to the public. On the other side, there is a secret society called the Priory of Sion that has guarded this secret throughout the ages, since the beginning of Church history.

Through solving puzzles and riddles, the protagonists go on a thrilling chase around the world. Langdon and Neveu discover at last what the precious secret is: Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and had a child, and their descendants became the Merovingian dynasty of France. This truth has been suppressed by the power-hungry Church for two thousand years, and only the Priory of Sion keeps the knowledge alive. By the end of the book, Langdon and Neveu find the long-sought-after Holy Grail, which is actually the remains of Mary Magdalene and old documents that attest to the bloodline of Jesus.

Immediately after its publishing, many were shocked at this new revelation about Church history, wondering if it were actually true. It was met with welcome by the liberal-minded and critics of the Church, but it received a fiery reaction from Catholics and Protestants alike. Several books were written soon afterwards that pointed out the historical errors of The Da Vinci Code; many of these books defended Christianity and the traditional Crucifixion/Resurrection story, labeling Dan Brown?s story as a fantasized conspiracy theory.

Style-wise, this is a conventional thriller filled with fast-paced action and plenty of perplexing puzzles. It is an entertaining read regardless of one?s personal beliefs, although one may find it a bit shallow on the character development side. It seems Dan Brown?s way of rounding out believable characters is through assigning them a handicap (i.e. Silas is a brooding, albino giant; Teabing is a rich old British man with polio). The romance between Langdon and Neveu is shoddy at best, but this book is definitely not centered around romance anyway.

All in all, to anyone who reads this book, be prepared to do your own research and read other historical sources if you are curious as to the truth or falsehood of Dan Brown?s claims. A well-informed reader can enjoy a book even while disagreeing with the theories it presents.

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