The Purple Pinup Guru Platform

When purple things are pulsating on your mind, I'm the one whose clock you want to clean. Aiding is Sparky, the Astral Plane Zen Pup Dog from his mountain stronghold on the Northernmost Island of the Happy Ninja Island chain, this blog will also act as a journal to my wacky antics at an entertainment company and the progress of my self published comic book, The Deposit Man which only appears when I damn well feel like it. Real Soon Now.

Friday, August 26, 2005

SPARKY: Ho Hum — It's Another Anti-Xtian Tirade
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Sparky watched Disney's ABC TV Discovery Channel 2 hour special debunking the popular Dan Brown novel. And it contained nothing that Doug Moench had not already covered better in the old Parodox Press “Big Book of Conspiracies” now The Big Book of Conspiracies (Factoid Books) ... basically it's all pap for the Papists and other Xtians. So start below and continue:

Wired: Michelle Delio: Da Vinci: Father of Cryptography?
“ Dan Brown's latest novel, The Da Vinci Code, cites Leonardo da Vinci as an unheralded privacy advocate and encryption pioneer. ... Ever looked at the Mona Lisa and wondered why he's got such a goofy grin? ... Yes, we do mean he. ... Evidently, Mona isn't quite the woman art historians thought she was. But only those who know the secret code can look at Leonardo da Vinci's famous portrait and see the happy hermaphrodite that lurks within. ... Dan Brown's latest novel, The Da Vinci Code, published by Doubleday Books, is about the famous Renaissance artist and the oblique references to the occult contained in his equally famous paintings. It's also about ancient secret societies, modern forensics, science and engineering, and the history of religion. ... Most of all The Da Vinci Code is about the history of encryption -- the many methods developed over time to keep private information from prying eyes. ... The novel begins with Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon receiving an urgent late-night phone call: The elderly curator of the Louvre has been murdered inside the museum. ... (complete in link)”

Wikipedia: The Da Vinci Code

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The Da Vinci Code book cover

The Da Vinci Code is a novel written by American author Dan Brown and published in 2003 by Doubleday Fiction (ISBN 0385504209). It is a worldwide bestseller with 36 million copies in print (as of August 2005) and has been translated into 44 languages. Combining the detective, thriller, and conspiracy theory genres, the novel has helped spur widespread popular interest in certain theories concerning the legend of the Holy Grail and the role of Mary Magdalene in the history of Christianity—theories that Christians typically consider to be heretical. It is a sequel to Brown's 2000 novel Angels and Demons, again featuring character Robert Langdon. In November 2004, Random House published a "Special Illustrated Edition", with 160 illustrations interspersed with the text.

The book claims that the Roman Catholic Church has been involved in a conspiracy to cover up the true story of Jesus. Because the novel claims to contain elements of historical truth within its fictional framework, it has attracted a large amount of criticism for its historical claims, as well as for its clichéd style and improbable storyline. At least ten books debunking its claims have been written.


Vitruvian Man, by Leonardo da Vinci. Renowned curator Jacques
Saunière is found murdered in the spread-eagle position on the
floor of the Louvre museum, a cryptic message written in black-light
pen next to his naked torso, which has had a pentacle drawn on it in blood.

The book concerns the attempts of the protagonist, Robert Langdon, Professor of Religious Symbology at Harvard University, to solve the murder of renowned curator Jacques Saunière (see Bérenger Saunière) of the Louvre Museum in Paris. The title of the novel refers, among other things, to the fact that Saunière's body is found inside the Louvre naked and posed like Leonardo da Vinci's famous drawing, the Vitruvian Man, with a cryptic message written beside his body and a Pentacle drawn on his stomach in his own blood. The interpretation of hidden messages inside Da Vinci's famous works, including the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, figure prominently in the solution to the mystery.

The main conflict in the novel revolves around the solution to two mysteries:

  • What secret was Saunière protecting that led to his murder?
  • Who is the mastermind behind his murder?

The novel has several concurrent storylines that follow different characters. Eventually all the storylines are brought together and resolved at the end of the book

The unraveling of the mystery requires the solution to a series of brain-teasers, including anagrams and number puzzles. The solution itself is found to be intimately connected with the possible location of the Holy Grail and to a mysterious society called the Priory of Sion, as well as to the Knights Templar. The Catholic organization Opus Dei also figures prominently in the plot.

The novel is the second book by Brown in which Robert Langdon is the main character. The previous book, Angels and Demons, took place in Rome and concerned the Illuminati.


These are the principal characters that drive the plot of the story. It seems to be Dan Brown's style that many have names that are puns, anagrams or hidden clues:

  • Robert Langdon – A well-respected professor of Religious Symbology at Harvard University. At the beginning of the story, he is in Paris to give a lecture on his work. Despite his post, and the fact that his work largely centers around access to the Vatican Library, Langdon is described by the author as lacking even rudimentary Italian language skills. Having made an appointment to meet Jacques Saunière, the curator of the Louvre, he is startled to find the French police at his hotel room door. They inform him that Saunière has been murdered and they would like his immediate assistance at the Louvre to help them solve the crime. Unbeknownst to Langdon, he is in fact the prime suspect in the murder and has been summoned to the scene of the crime in order that the police may extract a confession from him.
  • Jacques Saunière – the curator of the Louvre, secret head of the Priory of Sion, and grandfather of Sophie Neveu. Before being murdered by Silas (an albino monk) in the museum, he reveals false information to Silas about the Priory's keystone, which contains information about the true location of the Holy Grail. After being shot in the stomach, he uses the last minutes of his life to arrange a series of clues for his estranged granddaughter Sophie to unravel the mystery of his death and preserve the secret kept by the Priory of Sion. Saunière's name may be based on Bérenger Saunière, a real person who was extensively mentioned in Holy Blood, Holy Grail.
  • Sophie Neveu – the granddaughter of Jacques Saunière. She is a French government cryptographer, who studied at the elite Royal Holloway, University of London Information Security Group. She was raised by her grandfather after her parents were killed in an automobile accident when she was a girl. Her grandfather used to call her "Princesse Sophie" (French for Princess Sophie) and trained her to solve complicated word puzzles. As a girl, she accidentally discovered a strange key in her grandfather's room inscribed with the initials "P.S.". Later, as a college student, she made a surprise visit to her grandfather's house in Normandy and observed him participating in a sex ritual. The incident led to her estrangement with her grandfather until the night of his murder.
  • Bezu Fache – a captain in the DPJF, the French criminal investigation police. Tough, canny, persistent, he is in charge of the investigation of Saunière's murder. From the message left by the dying curator, he is convinced the murderer is Robert Langdon, whom he summons to the Louvre in order to extract a confession. He is thwarted in his early attempt by Sophie Neveu, who knows Langdon to be innocent and surreptitiously notifies Langdon that he is in fact the prime suspect. He pursues Langdon doggedly throughout the book in the belief that letting him get away would be career suicide. "Bezu" is not a common French personal name, but "le Bezu" is the name of a castle in Rennes-le-Château with Cathar associations. When we first encounter Fache, he is compared to an ox; note that "Bezu" is an anagram (and the spoonerism) of zebu (zébu in French), a type of ox. On a related note, fâché is French for "angry", but "Fache" is also a reasonably common French surname.
  • Silas – an albino devotee of Opus Dei who practices severe corporal mortification. He was orphaned in Marseille as a young man, fell into a life of crime, and was imprisoned in the Pyrenees until accidentally freed by an earthquake. He finds refuge with a young Spanish priest named Aringarosa, who gives him the name Silas and who eventually becomes the head of Opus Dei. Before the beginning of the events in the novel, Aringarosa puts him in contact with the Teacher and tells him that the mission he will be given is of utmost importance in saving the true Word of God. Under the orders of the Teacher, he murders Jacques Saunière and the other three leaders of the Priory of Sion in order to extract the location of the Priory's "keystone". Discovering later that he has been duped with false information, he chases Langdon and Neveu in order to obtain the actual keystone. He does not know the true identity of the Teacher. He is reluctant to commit murder, knowing that it is a sin, and does so only because he is assured his actions will save the Catholic Church.
  • Bishop Manuel Aringarosa – the worldwide head of Opus Dei and the patron of the albino monk Silas. Five months before the start of the narrative, he is summoned by the Vatican to a meeting at an astronomical observatory in the Italian Alps and told, to his great surprise, that in six months the Pope will withdraw his support of Opus Dei. Since he believes that Opus Dei is the force keeping the Church from disintegrating into what he sees as the corruption of the modern era, he believes his faith demands that he take action to save Opus Dei. Shortly after the meeting with the Vatican officials, he is contacted by a shadowy figure calling himself "The Teacher", who has learned somehow of the secret meeting. The Teacher informs him that he can deliver an artifact to Aringarosa so valuable to the Church that it will give Opus Dei extreme leverage over the Vatican. The name "Aringarosa" seems to be the (approximate) literal Italian translation of "red herring" ("aringa rossa"; "aringa rosa" means, literally, "pink herring"), although this is not the expression used in Italian for "red herring" in its figurative sense.
  • The Teacher – a shadowy figure who drives the plot of the story. He has learned not only about the plight of Opus Dei, but also the identities of the four leaders of the Priory of Sion, who in turn know the location of the keystone. He contacts Aringarosa and agrees to supply him with a fantastic artifact that will give Opus Dei great power, namely documents that, if released, would destroy the Church. Aringarosa, acting out of self interest and piety, agrees to his offer in order to save both Opus Dei and the Church. The Teacher uses Silas, Aringarosa's protectee, to carry out his plans.
  • André Vernet – president of the Paris branch of the Depository Bank of Zurich. He is surprised when Neveu and Langdon arrive at the bank and inform him that Jacques Saunière, a longtime account holder at the bank, has died and that Neveu now possesses the depository key to the account. His suspicions are aroused when Neveu and Langdon, after accessing the bank with the key, do not know the account number, indicating that they have no legitimate business being in the bank. When he sees a news report that Neveu and Langdon are fugitives suspected in Saunière's murder, he returns to where he left them, but he finds that they have indeed entered the correct account number and retrieved a rosewood box from Saunière's safety deposit. Realizing they are legitimate clients according to the strict rules of the bank, he feels duty-bound to help them escape. Acting as a bank driver, he bluffs his way past the police in one of the bank's trucks with Langdon and Neveu concealed in the back of the truck. He later changes his mind and attempts to turn them in, but is thwarted by Langdon, who steals the truck and escapes with Neveu to the nearby château of his friend, Sir Leigh Teabing.
  • Sir Leigh Teabing – British Royal Historian, a Knight of the Realm, Grail scholar, and friend of Robert Langdon. Independently wealthy, he lives outside Paris in a château, where Langdon and Neveu take refuge after escaping from the Depository Bank of Zurich with the rosewood box containing the keystone. He reveals the "real" interpretation of the Grail to Neveu (see below). After they are discovered at his home simultaneously by Silas and the French police, the three of them flee with his chauffeur Rémy, flying to England in his private jet. They take Silas with them bound and gagged. After Neveu solves the combination lock of the keystone, he interprets the enclosed riddle as meaning they should go to the Temple Church in London to find the next hidden clue that will let them unlock the second combination lock of the keystone. Note that Sir Leigh's name is an anagram of the surnames of Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh — authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail, a book which espouses very similar beliefs to Sir Leigh's. Teabing is revealed at the end of the story to be the Teacher.
  • Rémy Legaludec – chauffeur to Leigh Teabing. After flying with Teabing, Langdon, and Neveu to England, he drives them to the Temple Church in London. Unbeknownst to the others, he is in fact working for the Teacher. While they are inside the Temple Church, he rescues Silas, who was tied up by the other three. Armed with a pistol, he enters the church before the others can locate and solve the riddle supposedly hidden there. He takes Teabing hostage and demands the keystone from Langdon. When Langdon gives him the keystone, he and Silas flee in his car with Teabing as hostage. Rémy Martin is a famous brand of cognac, and cognac plays a role in Rémy's fate.
  • The docent at Rosslyn Chapel – he is giving a guided tour of Rosslyn Chapel to Langdon and Neveu when he sees the rosewood box they are carrying and realizes that it seems to be an exact duplicate of a box owned by his grandmother, who is the head of the trust that oversees the chapel. He is revealed to be Sophie's brother.
  • Guardian of the Rosslyn Trust – she is, in fact, the wife of Jacques Saunière and Sophie Neveu's grandmother. The docent is Sophie's brother. Believing that they had been targeted for assassination by the Church for knowing the powerful secret of the Priory of Sion, she and Saunière agreed that she and Sophie's brother should live secretly in Scotland. Only Sophie's parents were in the car at the time even though the whole family was supposed to be there. Saunière told the authorities that Sophie's grandmother and her brother were in the car. She tells Neveu and Langdon that although the Holy Grail and the secret documents were once buried in the vault of Rosslyn Chapel, they were removed to France by the Priory of Sion only several years ago. Reading the parchment inside the second keystone, she realizes where the Grail is now hidden, but refuses to tell Langdon, saying he will figure it out eventually on his own. According to her, the Priory of Sion never intended to reveal the secret of the Grail according to any set timetable. She believes that such a revelation is unnecessary anyway, since the true nature and spiritual power of the Grail is emerging into the world without the location of the actual artifact being revealed. She also informs Sophie Neveu of her true identity through her bloodline.

Summary of spoilers

  • Jacques Saunière was the head of the Priory of Sion and therefore possessed the knowledge of the "keystone", which in turn reveals the location of the Holy Grail, as well as documents which would shake the foundation of Christianity and the Church. He was killed in order to extract this information from him and eliminate the members of the Priory of Sion.
  • The reason that Sophie Neveu disassociated herself from her grandfather is that she witnessed him participating in a pagan sex ritual (Hieros Gamos) at his home in Normandy, when she made a surprise visit there during a break from college.
  • The message Saunière wrote with a black-light pen on the floor before dying contained the extra line "P.S. Find Robert Langdon". This was the reason Bezu Fache suspected Langdon of being the murderer. Fache had erased this line before Langdon arrived so that Langdon would not be aware that the police suspected him. Sophie Neveu saw the entire text of the message by accident when it was faxed to her office by the police. Sophie realized immediately that the message was meant for her, since her grandfather used to call her "Princesse Sophie" (i.e. "P.S.") when she was a girl. From this she also knew Langdon to be innocent. She informs him of this secretly when they are in the Louvre by telling him to call her personal voicemail box and listen to the message that she had left there for him.
  • The other three lines of Saunière's blood message are anagrams. The first line are the digits of the Fibonacci sequence out of order. The second and third lines ("O, draconian devil!" and "Oh, lame saint!") are anagrams respectively for "Leonardo da Vinci" and "The Mona Lisa" (in English). These clues were meant to lead to a second set of clues. On the glass over the Mona Lisa, Saunière wrote the message "So dark the con of Man" with a curator's pen that can only be read in black light. The second clue is an anagram for Madonna of the Rocks, another Da Vinci painting hanging nearby. Behind this painting, Saunière hid a key. On the key, written with the curator's pen, is an address.
  • The key opens a safe deposit box at the Paris branch of the Depository Bank of Zurich. Saunière's account number at the bank is the Fibonacci sequence digits, arranged in the correct order.
  • The instructions that Saunière revealed to Silas at gunpoint are actually a well-rehearsed lie, namely that the keystone is buried in the Church of Saint-Sulpice beneath an obelisk that lies exactly along the ancient "Rose Line" (the former Prime Meridian which passed through Paris before it was redefined to pass through Greenwich). In reality, the message beneath the obelisk simply contains a reference to a passage in the Book of Job which reads "Hitherto shalt thou go and no further". When Silas reads this, he realizes he has been duped.
  • The keystone is actually a cryptex, a cylindrical device invented by Leonardo Da Vinci for transporting secure messages. In order to open it, the combination of rotating components must be arranged in the correct order. If forced open, an enclosed vial of vinegar will rupture and dissolve the message, which was written on papyrus. The rosewood box containing the cryptex contains clues to the combination of the cryptex, written in backwards script in the same manner as Leonardo's journals. While fleeing to England aboard Teabing's plane, Langdon solves the riddle and finds the combination to be "S-O-F-I-A", the ancient Greek form of Sophie's name, also meaning wisdom.
  • The keystone cryptex actually contains a second smaller cryptex with a second riddle that reveals its combination. The riddle, which says to seek the orb above a tomb of "a knight a pope interred", refers not to a medieval knight, but rather to the tomb of Sir Isaac Newton, who was buried in Westminster Abbey, and was eulogized by Alexander Pope (A. Pope). The orb refers to the apple observed by Newton which led to his discovery of the Law of universal gravitation, and thus the combination to the second cryptex is "A-P-P-L-E".
  • The Teacher is actually Sir Leigh Teabing. He learned of the identities of the leaders of the Priory of Sion and bugged their offices. Rémy is his collaborator. It is Teabing who contacts Bishop Aringarosa using a phony French accent to hide his identity and dupes him into financing the plan to find the Grail. He never intended to hand the Grail over to Aringarosa but was simply taking advantage of Opus Dei's resolve to find it. Instead he believed that the Priory of Sion intended to renege on its vow to reveal the secret of the Grail to the world at the appointed time, and thus he was planning to steal the Grail documents and reveal them to the world himself. It is he who informed Silas that Langdon and Sophie Neveu were at his chateau. He did not seize the keystone from them himself because he did not want to reveal his identity to them. His plan to have Silas break into his house and seize the keystone was thwarted when the police raided the house, having followed the GPS device in the truck Langdon had stolen and having heard Silas' gunshot. Teabing leads Neveu and Langdon to the Temple Church in London knowing full well that it was a blind alley. Rather he wanted to stage the hostage scene with Rémy in order to obtain the keystone without revealing his real plot to Langdon and Neveu. The call Silas receives while riding in the limousine with Rémy is in fact Teabing, surreptitiously calling from the back of the limousine.
  • In order to erase all knowledge of his work, Teabing kills Rémy by giving him cognac laced with peanut powder, knowing Rémy has a deadly allergy to peanuts. Teabing also anonymously tells the police that Silas is hiding in the London headquarters of Opus Dei.
  • In Westminster Abbey, in the showdown with Teabing, Langdon secretly opens the second cryptex and removes its contents before destroying it in front of Teabing. Teabing is arrested and led away while fruitlessly begging Langdon to tell him the contents of the second cryptex and the secret location of the Grail.
  • Bishop Aringarosa and Silas believed they were saving the Church, not destroying it.
  • Bezu Fache figures out that Neveu and Langdon are innocent after discovering the bugging equipment in Teabing's barn.
  • Silas accidentally shoots Aringarosa outside the London headquarters of Opus Dei while fleeing from the police. Having realized his terrible error and that he has been duped, Aringarosa tells Bezu Fache to give the bearer bonds in his brief case to the families of the murdered leaders of the Priory of Sion. Silas dies of fatal wounds.
  • The final message inside the second keystone actually does not refer to Rosslyn Chapel, although the Grail was indeed once buried there, below the Star of David on the floor (the two interlocking triangles are the "blade" and "chalice", i.e., male and female symbols).
  • The docent in Rosslyn Chapel is Sophie's long-lost brother.
  • The guardian of Rosslyn Chapel, Marie Chauvel, is Sophie's long-lost grandmother, and the wife of Jacques Saunière.
  • Even though all four of the leaders of the Priory of Sion were killed, the secret is not lost, since there is still a contingency plan (never revealed) which will keep the organization and its secret alive.
  • The real meaning of the last message is that the Grail is buried beneath the small pyramid (i.e., the "blade", a male symbol) directly below the inverted glass pyramid of the Louvre (i.e., the "chalice", a female symbol, which Langdon and Sophie ironically almost crash into while making their original escape from Bezu Fache). See La Pyramide Inversée for further discussion.
  • At the end of the book, Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu fall in love, with implications of them having sex. They arrange to meet in Florence.

Narrative paradox: The novel continually portrays characters reacting with total amazement and disbelief when told the "true" story of the Grail and of Mary Magdalene, while also presenting this "truth" as so well-known that there is no serious dispute amongst academics about it. It also implies that the "secret" is so widely shared that it has been conveyed in numerous publicly available books and art works throughout history, while still remaining unknown to the general public.

Continuity question: at the conclusion of Angels & Demons (which precedes The Da Vinci Code) Robert Langdon sleeps with Vittoria Vetra. Where Sophie is Saunière's granddaugher, Vittoria is the daughter of Leonardo Vetra, whose murder launches Angels & Demons. Like Sophie, Vittoria is a stranger who, along with Langdon, resolves the various mysteries posed in the story.

Secret of the Holy Grail

<>Detail of the The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. As explained by
Leigh Teabing to Sophie Neveu, the figure at the right hand of Jesus
is supposedly not the apostle John, but Mary Magdalene, who was
his wife and pregnant with his child. The absence of a chalice in the
painting indicates that Da Vinci knew that Mary Magdalene was
actually the Holy Grail (the bearer of Jesus' blood). This is reinforced
by the letter "M" that is created with the bodily positions of Jesus,
Mary, and the male apostle (Saint Peter) upon who she is leaning.
(Based on a scan by Mark Harden).

According to the novel, the secrets of the Holy Grail, as kept by the Priory of Sion, are as follows:

  • The Holy Grail is not a physical chalice, but a woman, namely Mary Magdalene, who carried the bloodline of Christ.
  • The Old French expression for the Holy Grail, San gréal, actually is a play on Sang réal, which literally means "royal blood" in Old French.
  • The Grail relics consist of the documents that testify to the bloodline, as well as the actual bones of Mary Magdalene.
  • The Grail relics of Mary Magdalene were hidden by the Priory of Sion in a secret crypt beneath Rosslyn Chapel.
  • The Church has suppressed the truth about Mary Magdalene and Jesus' bloodline for 2000 years. This is principally because they fear the power of the sacred feminine, which they have demonized as Satanic.
  • Mary Magdalene was of royal descent (through the Jewish House of Benjamin) and was the wife of Jesus, of the House of David. That she was a prostitute was a slander invented by the Church to obscure their true relationship. At the time of the Crucifixion, she was pregnant. After the Crucifixion, she fled to Gaul, where she was sheltered by the Jews of Marseille. She gave birth to a daughter, named Sarah. The bloodline of Jesus and Mary Magdalene became the Merovingian dynasty of France.
  • Sophie Neveu and her brother are descendants of the original bloodline of Jesus and Mary Magdalene (their last name was changed to Neveu, "nephew," to hide their ancestry).
  • The existence of the bloodline was the secret that was contained in the documents discovered by the Crusaders after they conquered Jerusalem in 1099 (see Kingdom of Jerusalem). The Priory of Sion and the Knights Templar were organized to keep the secret.

The secrets of the Grail are connected to Leonardo Da Vinci's work as follows:

  • Da Vinci was a member of the Priory of Sion and knew the secret of the Grail. The secret is in fact revealed in The Last Supper, in which no actual chalice is present at the table. The figure seated next to Christ is not a man, but a woman, his wife Mary Magdalene. Most reproductions of the work are from a later alteration that obscured her obvious female characteristics.
  • The Mona Lisa is actually a self-portrait by Leonardo as a woman. The androgyny reflects the sacred union of male and female which is implied in the holy union of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Such parity between the cosmic forces of masculine and feminine has long been a deep threat to the established power of the Church. The name Mona Lisa is actually an anagram for "Amon L'Isa", referring to the father and mother gods of Ancient Egypt (namely Amon and Isis). (However, a closer look at Egyptian mythology shows that Isis was never the spouse of Amon, but of Osiris (god of the underworld), and Amon's spouse was Mut. Dan Brown also incorrectly claims that Amon was the god of masculine fertility.)

The mystery within the mystery

Part of the advertising campaign for the novel was that the book itself held four codes, and that the reader who solved them would be given a prize. Several thousand people actually solved the codes, and one name was randomly chosen to be the winner. The prize was a trip to Paris.

The solution to the mystery involved discovering that the book jacket conceals latitude and longitude coordinates, written in reverse. Adding one degree to the latitude coordinates gives the coordinates of the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency in northern Virginia, which is the location of a mysterious statue called Kryptos, which will supposedly figure prominently in Dan Brown's next novel.

Inspiration and influences

The novel is part of the late twentieth-century revival of interest in Gnosticism. Its emphasis on the role of Mary Magdalene in early Christianity comes straight from Gnostic scriptures, as does much of its portrayal of fertility rites and mystery cults in the practices of the ancient church. The later ecclesiastical history described in Langdon and Teabing's lengthy soliloquies is largely adapted from modern interpretations of the relationship between Gnosticism and Christianity; the most influential of these is probably 1982 pseudo-documentary book Holy Blood, Holy Grail (which is explicitly named, among several others, on page 253). It has been claimed that The Da Vinci Code is a romanised version of this work, which was itself based on a series of short films that ran on the BBC in the late 1970s. Similarities include Mary Magdalene as the living Holy Grail, the divine origin of the French royal dynasty, occultism, ancient Egyptian wisdom, papal conspiracy, and the use of steganography. In the book, the French painter Poussin with his "Et in Arcadia ego" canvas plays the same role that Brown later assigned to Leonardo da Vinci (years later one of the authors openly admitted to the press that the entire story had been invented). In reference to Baigent, Brown named the villain of his story "Teabing".

Some also claim Brown has reworked themes from his own earlier Robert Langdon novel, Angels and Demons (see that article for a more thorough discussion).

Umberto Eco's earlier Foucault's Pendulum also deals with conspiracies, including the Holy Blood theme and the Temple.


Because of the book's opening claim:

"Fact: (...) All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate."

many have viewed The Da Vinci Code as a genuine exposé of orthodox Christianity's past. As a result, the book has attracted a generally negative response from the Catholic and other Christian communities, as well as from historians who believe that Brown has distorted – and in some cases fabricated – history, and from art historians and other readers complaining of sloppy research. Others, including the author[1], note that the "fact" statement does not claim that the theories presented by the characters in The Da Vinci Code regarding Mary Magdalene, Jesus of Nazareth, and Christianity's past are accurate.

Criticisms include:

  • The claim that, prior to AD 325, Christ was considered no more than a "mortal prophet" by his followers, and that it was only as a consequence of Emperor Constantine's politicking and a close vote at the First Council of Nicaea that Christianity came to view him as divine: This has been debunked by various authors with extensive reference to the Bible and Church Fathers, sources that pre-date the First Council of Nicaea. (See this example, or Olson and Meisel (2004), who refer to The Church in Crisis: A History of the General Councils, 325–1870 (1964) by Philip Hughes.) At the Council, the central question was whether Christ and God were one, or whether instead Christ was the first created being, inferior to the Father, but still superior to all other beings (see Arianism). The central issue of the book, the female deity and unity of male and female, is one of the main preoccupations of modern New Age Wiccan Paganism, but was never an issue in early Christianity. Brown does not quote scriptural support for his thesis, whether canonical or apocryphal. While it can be argued that the role of Mary Magdalene was generally underestimated in history, and this argument has scriptural support, the assertion that she was romantically involved with Jesus is pure conjecture; even gnostic apocrypha do not go that far).
  • The claim that Mary Magdalene was of the tribe of Benjamin (Chapter 58): This is not supported by any historical evidence. The fact that Magdala was located in northern Israel, whereas the tribe of Benjamin resided in the south, weighs against it. Furthermore, Paul was a Benjamite but makes no mention of this supposed marriage.
  • The idea that the purported marriage of Jesus and Mary Magdalene would create a "potent political union with the potential of making a legitimate claim to the throne" (Chapter 58): The worldly connotations of Jesus' kingdom being in or beyond the world have long been a subject of debate in scholarly communities. For those who believe in the story of the gospels, his death and departure after resurrection would exclude him from being an earthly king. However, the connection of the Christian church with actual earthly governments cannot be denied.
  • The assertion that "the sacred feminine" has been suppressed by Christianity: In Roman Catholicism, for example, Mary (of Nazareth), the mother of Jesus, is specially venerated as the "Mother of God," the "Queen of Heaven," the spiritual mother of all mankind, and is believed to be free of sin. However it is also of merit to note that in the gospels Jesus did not accord her any privileges, and treated her with a seeming indifference. This claim, however, can be countered by arguing he tells one of his apostles, The Beloved Apostle, to watch over and care for her as he would his own mother.
  • The claim that Rosslyn Chapel was built by the Knights Templar. It was actually founded by Sir William St Clair, third Earl of Orkney and Lord of Rosslyn.
  • The allegation that "the Church burned at the stake five million women" as witches has been a problem for many critics because data do not exist to permit an estimate. Reports have ranged from between the extremely high figures of 9 million and extremely low figures of mere hundreds, both of which have been vigorously challenged. More considered estimates range between 40,000 and 60,000, mostly carried out by secular Christian courts, and not by the Church. Witch burnings were also much more prevalent in some Protestant denominations, although the Da Vinci Code claims that they were a purely Catholic event.(Jenny Gibbons, Brian Levack, WIlliam Manchester, Norman Cantor)
  • The assertion that the original Olympics were held "as a tribute to the magic of Venus" (Chapter 6), i. e. apparently Aphrodite: Although the origins of the Olympic festivals remain in obscurity, it has been well documented that they were religious festivals in honor of Zeus and Pelops, not Venus [Aphrodite].
  • The theory that Gothic architecture was designed by the Templars to record the secret of the sacred feminine: historians note that Templars were not involved with European cathedrals of the time, which were generally commissioned by their own bishops.
  • The depiction of the Templars as builders, guild-founders and secret-bearers: Templar historians point to abundant evidence that Templars did not themselves engage in building projects or found guilds for masons, and that they were largely illiterate men unlikely to know "sacred geometry," purportedly handed down from the pyramids' builders. However they did build large fortresses. And the Masonic order, founded in the eighteenth century, did seek to rewrite the history of the Templars in this respect.
  • The portrayal of the Priory of Sion as an ancient organization: While the Priory is a genuine organization claiming to have been the Templars' driving force, most historians suspect that the present Priory of Sion originated in the aftermath of World War II, on the grounds that it was registered with the French government in 1956, and only became widely-known in 1962 (see Pierre Plantard). However, the present Priory claims to be continuous with the mediaeval Priory of Sion, a small community of Augustinian canons founded between 1090 and 1112 to serve a church on the supposed site of the Last Supper, and eventually suppressed by Louis XIII in 1619.
  • The suggestion that all churches used by the Templars were built round, and that roundness was considered an insult by the Church: Some churches used by the Templars were not round, and those that were round were so in tribute to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Moreover, there are quite a number of round churches, including Bramante's Tempietto, built for Pope Julius II on the site of St. Peter's crucifixion. The circle was thought to be holy and perfect by many Christian thinkers.
  • The contention that the Mona Lisa was painted by Leonardo da Vinci as a self-portrait and that its title refers to the Egyptian gods Amon and Isis: It is uncertain who was the historical Mona Lisa; but there have been persuasive sources pointing to her being Lisa Gherardini or, less probably, Isabella of Aragon. However, other researchers have concluded, using "morphing" techniques, that the resemblance to Leonardo is striking (Lillian Schwartz of Bell Labs and Digby Quested of the Maudsley Hospital in London). The title was not chosen by Leonardo, and it was not applied to the painting until the nineteenth century. "Mona" is a contraction of "madonna" (meaning 'lady' or 'madam'). Lisa is the name of the most likely subject of the painting. In any case, it is more commonly known as "La Gioconda" in Italian (Lisa Gherardini's married surname).
  • The book matter-of-factly states that Leonardo Da Vinci was a homosexual. While there are clues about Da Vinci's personal life that may form a basis for this argument, it is not conclusively known to be a fact, nor do scholars agree upon this.
  • The depiction of Opus Dei as a monastic order which is the Pope's "personal prelature". In fact, there are no monks in Opus Dei, which has primarily lay membership. The term personal prelature does not refer to a special relationship to the Pope. It means an institution in which the jurisdiction of the prelate is not linked to a territory but over persons, wherever they be. However, members of Opus Dei do practice mortification of the flesh, as has been a Christian tradition since at least St Anthony in the second century AD.
  • The contention that the first version of Leonardo's The Virgin of the Rocks was rejected by the church because of its heretical content. There is no evidence for this claim. There is, however, evidence for a lengthy legal dispute over payments and expenses.
  • Mary Magdalene is said to have been labelled a whore by the Church (Chapters 58 and 60). This derives from a common linkage initiated by Pope Gregory I between figures mentioned in the Gospel of Luke, chapters 7 and 8, one of whom is Mary Magdalene, described as a victim of demonic possession: "Mary who is called Magdalen, out of whom seven devils were gone forth" (Luke 8:2). Gregory equated her with Mary of Bethany and an unnamed female "sinner". Later, Mary was also equated with the "woman taken in adultery" in the Gospel of John, increasingly connecting Mary with sexual sins. It is true that Catholic tradition has tended to defend these integrations in contrast to other Christian traditions (see the Catholic Encyclopedia [2]), However the "promotion" of adultery into prostitution arises from Mary's role as patron saint of repentant sinful women. [3] The euphemistic term "magdalen" has been used to refer to repentant prostitutes because of this (see Magdalen Asylum), becoming attached to Mary herself.
  • The suggestion that the Tetragrammaton is "an androgynous physical union between the masculine Jah and the pre-Hebraic name of Eve, Havah" (Chapter 74). It is generally believed that the four Hebrew letters that form the Tetragrammaton (Yud, Hay, Vav, Hay) literally translate to 'To be, to become" which are believed to represent the name of the God of Israel.
  • Venus is depicted as visible in the east shortly after sunset (Chapter 105), which is an astronomical impossibility. This was corrected to "west" in some later editions, like 28th printing of British paperback, ISBN 0552149519 and apparently current printings of the US hardback. [4].
  • Brown characterized the cycle of Venus as "trac[ing] a perfect pentacle across the ecliptic sky every four years", and from there claimed this as the basis for the four-year Olympic period (Chapter 6). The fact is, Venus completes five cycles in eight years.[5] [6], a fact well known to the ancient Greeks and Mayans. This eight-year cycle is one of the factors in predicting the transit of Venus. This was changed to "eight years" in some later editions such as the British paperback and at least the April 2003 printing of the US hardback - [7].
  • The assertion that "left" is associated with terms such as "sinister" and other negative overtones because of "the Church's defamation"; as a matter of fact, such associations are older than Christianity and also exist in other cultures, such as Hinduism (for instance, "left hand tantra"). Also, the claim that "left brain" colloquially means irrational, emotional mind is false; the left hemisphere of the brain is associated with rational, male functioning.
  • The claim that the early Israelites worshipped the goddess Shekinah as the equal to Yahweh. In fact the term Shekinah (derived from Hebrew for "dwelling") does not appear in early Judaism at all, but was used in later Talmudic Judaism to refer to the "dwelling", or presence of God among his people. It also came to be interpreted as the more "homely" or feminine aspects of God.
  • One of the cryptex clues claims that the Knights Templar worshipped a pre-Christian fertility god (a horned god) named Baphomet. However, this name is only known from records of the Templars' trial on charges of witchcraft, and is most probably a corruption of the name Mohammed.

The popularity of the book, and widespread acceptance of it as being factually correct, has created controversy in Christian communities, which has resulted in the publication of various books on the subject. Among others, this includes Steve Kellmeyer's Fact and Fiction in the Da Vinci Code and The Da Vinci Hoax by Carl Olson and Sandra Miesel.

Much of the problem of the book is its readiness to assert as fact opinions on debates that have not been resolved by scholars. And for many, because of its claim to fact, the line where 'fact' ends and fiction begins (as the novel is certainly fiction) is blurred. This, combined with the controversial religious opinions that combat or offend the communities discussed, has caused a great deal of debate and partisan material to erupt.

There have been widespread criticisms of the book as reflecting antiquated Protestant calumnies against Catholicism (eg on the BBC's Sunday programme on 24 July 2005), or more general anticlerical traditions. On March 15, 2005, Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, Archbishop of Genoa and former second-in-command of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, castigated the book and those who sell it on grounds of anti-Catholic bias. "This seems like a throwback to the old anti-clerical pamphlets of the 1800s," he said. It was a "gross and absurd" distortion of history, full of "cheap lies." The Archbishop also made a strong defense of Opus Dei, the Catholic organization which is a major target of the book.

Regarding the style of this book and others, Brown has also been criticised. In The Da Vinci Code there are many characters that evidently reflect US stereotypes of Europeans, leading Europeans in particular to attack Brown's offhand clichés and 'tired stereotypes'.

Facts and mythology behind the book

Motion picture adaptation

Sony's Columbia Pictures is adapting the novel to film. More information is found at the separate The Da Vinci Code film article. And the likely reason Disney ABC was so intent on debunking the book.

Further reading

External links


The one thing I despise is the assumption we all believe in “Jesus” - or that we don't know how bi Leonardo was ... ala CHIAROSCURO: PRIVATE LIVES OF DA VINCI
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Go get this at Mile High Comics - Sparky

PS - I know I'm a windbag - but we do want your comments!


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