By Wolverton, Joe, II
The New American , Vol. 21, No. 6
Not since the debut of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone has a work of fiction had an impact akin to that of Dan Brown's 2003 blockbuster novel The Da Vinci Code. The book has spent an astounding 96 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List, most of that time in the Number One or Number Two slot. What's more, The Da Vinci Code has sold over 12 million copies worldwide despite not yet having been released in paperback. The book has been translated into 30 languages, and its unrivaled popularity has made author Dan Brown a very rich man, with sales estimated at over $210 million and another $75 million anticipated in paperback sales. Recently, Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard bought the rights to make a film version of the book, starring Oscar winner Tom Hanks in the leading role.
The American media have been stricken with Da Vinci fever. For example, the National Geographic Channel's "Da Vinci Code: The Full Story" was the only program in the channel's five-year history to attract over a million viewers (2.8 million to be precise). ABC broadcast an entire primetime special about the phenomenon. Both Time and Newsweek have devoted cover stories to the book and the controversy surrounding it, while U.S. News & World Report published an 88-page special issue entitled "Secrets of the Da Vinci Code: The Unauthorized Guide to the Bestselling Novel."
Just as extraordinary is the enormous industry that has grown up around The Da Vinci Code. USA Today estimates that there are over 90 books in print related to The Da Vinci Code itself, and a search on bookseller Amazon.com's website lists over 30 books on the topic.
In most bookstores, The Da Vinci Code is prominently displayed with other popular works of fiction. But The Da Vinci Code is not just another thrilling example of romance or mystery. It is a carelessly assembled hodgepodge of anti-Christian (particularly anti-Catholic) attacks deceptively ensconced within a framework of mystery, romance, and historical fiction. The three principal claims against Christianity made by Dan Brown's novel are, first, that--despite what Christians believe--Christ is not divine and the early Church did not claim He was divine until the fourth century; second, that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and had children who were the ancestors of a royal family of early France known as the Merovingians; and finally, that the Catholic Church, knowing Christianity to be built on lies, has created and/or encouraged numerous secret societies dedicated to concealing these damaging "truths" from gullible Christian believers.
The main theme of The Da Vinci Code is that Christianity is a massive hoax perpetrated and perpetuated by the founders and leaders of Christianity, particularly the Vatican. In the words of Dan Brown's website, "the greatest conspiracy of the past 2000 years is about to unravel."
According to Brown, one of the conspiratorial societies concealing the fraudulent origins of Christianity is the Priory of Sion. This ancient fraternity, Brown claims, is protecting the truth about the enigma of the "Holy Grail" until such time as they deem it appropriate to reveal their hidden knowledge to the world, to the detriment of Christianity. In The Da Vinci Code we read, despite what the world has been led to believe, that the Holy Grail is not the chalice from which Jesus drank at the Last Supper, but the code name for Mary Magdalene, the mother of a royal bloodline allegedly descended from Jesus of Nazareth. This notion is not original to Dan Brown; it was set forth in the "nonfiction" book Holy Blood, Holy Grail, a self-proclaimed "historical detective story" first published in 1982 by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln. The earlier book describes the Priory of Sion and its alleged relationship with anti-Christian heresies and secret societies, from the early Gnostics to the Medieval Cathars and Knights Templar. …