Another book targets the deceptions of 'The Da Vinci Code'
DE CODING DA VINCI
by Amy Welborn
(Our Sunday Visitor, 2004, 124pp, $19.95. Available from AD Books)
In 2003 Dan Brown released his novel entitled The Da Vinci Code.
The book has become a best-seller, not only in the United States but also in Australia. Now there is a film directed by Ron Howard based on the novel being released very soon.
Dan Brown's novel resurrects old tired unproven assertions about Jesus.
According to Brown, Jesus lived and preached a message of peace, love and human dignity and to embody this message he took Mary Magdalene as his wife to whom he entrusted the leadership of this movement.
She was pregnant when Jesus was crucified and fled to France (of all places) as Peter, envious of Mary's role, tried to replace Jesus' movement with his own.
Meanwhile, Mary and her offspring became the root of the Merovingian royal line in France and "she and the sacred feminists are the real Holy Grail."
According to Amy Welborn in her book Decoding Da Vinci "much of the foundation for the Da Vinci Code's plot isn't new at all. Quite simply, what Brown has done here is weave a number of different strands of speculation, esoteric lore and pseudo- history published in other books, cramming them all on to the pages of his novel." As Welborn remarks: "If you're at all familiar with these other books, it's actually rather shocking how much in the novel is simply lifted from them."
The Da Vinci Code is sold as a work of fiction, but this is also deceptive. Brown is rather candid about his intentions. He is hoping in his novel to share with his readers the "lost history" and in so doing teach an alternative to what is presented in the Gospels. Welborn writes:
"So no, it's not just a novel. The Da Vinci Code purports to teach history within the framework of fiction."
Thankfully, against such a well-organised and highly-budgeted marketing plan that has made The Da Vinci Code a success, there are smaller publishers trying to address the deception by publishing books that counter the arguments. One such book is Decoding Da Vinci.
Amy Welborn's approach is engaging: taking Brown's sources, she presents the evidence and lays the groundwork for the reader to engage in a personal search for the truth found in historical accounts of the Gospels and early Church Fathers.
This is what makes this book unique. We all know people who do not go within kilometres of a Bible or a church. Through Dan Brown's book and through Welborn's response, we now have an excuse to engage with these people and motivate them to have a good look for themselves: "If you have read Dan Brown, now read Welborn."
Welborn will then send the inquiring reader to ask many questions that lead to taking a closer look at the Scriptures.
Let's take Chapter three as an example: the reader is told in Dan Brown's book that "Christianity as we know it today is the work, not of Jesus and his disciples, but of the Emperor Constantine. Is this true?"
The next eight pages give an historical account of what is known according to Christian tradition. Then there is homework called "Questions for Review":
1. What are some passages from Scripture that reveal what the first Christians believed about Jesus?
2. What was the problem addressed by the Council of Nicea?
This is followed by "questions for discussion":
1. What was at stake in the Arian controversy?
2. What do you think about Constantine's role in religious matters?
Quite clearly, Wellborn sees the Da Vinci Code as an opportunity to evangelise and she has written her book to serve that purpose. It is a book for friends, foes and anyone who has read The Da Vinci Code.
Amy Welborn's very readable book would also be an ideal resource for use in secondary school RE classes.