[Goanet]Da Vinci Code - Fact or Fiction - from the horse's mouth
Cecil Pinto
2005-03-23 12:25:04 UTC
This FAQ is from the author's own website:


The Da Vinci Code is a novel and therefore a work of fiction. While the
book's characters and their actions are obviously not real, the artwork,
architecture, documents, and secret rituals depicted in this novel all
exist (for example, Leonardo Da Vinci's paintings, the Gnostic Gospels,
Hieros Gamos, etc.). These real elements are interpreted and debated by
fictional characters. While it is my belief that some of the theories
discussed by these characters may have merit, each individual reader must
explore these characters' viewpoints and come to his or her own
interpretations. My hope in writing this novel was that the story would
serve as a catalyst and a springboard for people to discuss the important
topics of faith, religion, and history.

If you read the "FACT" page, you will see it clearly states that the
documents, rituals, organization, artwork, and architecture in the novel
all exist. The "FACT" page makes no statement whatsoever about any of the
ancient theories discussed by fictional characters. Interpreting those
ideas is left to the reader.

No. This book is not anti-anything. It's a novel. I wrote this story in an
effort to explore certain aspects of Christian history that interest me.
The vast majority of devout Christians understand this fact and consider
The Da Vinci Code an entertaining story that promotes spiritual discussion
and debate. Even so, a small but vocal group of individuals has proclaimed
the story dangerous, heretical, and anti-Christian. While I regret having
offended those individuals, I should mention that priests, nuns, and clergy
contact me all the time to thank me for writing the novel. Many church
officials are celebrating The Da Vinci Code because it has sparked renewed
interest in important topics of faith and Christian history. It is
important to remember that a reader does not have to agree with every word
in the novel to use the book as a positive catalyst for introspection and
exploration of our faith.

The dialogue is wonderful. These authors and I obviously disagree, but the
debate that is being generated is a positive powerful force. The more
vigorously we debate these topics, the better our understanding of our own
spirituality. Controversy and dialogue are healthy for religion as a whole.
Religion has only one true enemy--apathy--and passionate debate is a superb

I worked very hard to create a fair and balanced depiction of Opus Dei.
Even so, there may be those who are offended by the portrayal. While Opus
Dei is a very positive force in the lives of many people, for others,
affiliation with Opus Dei has been a profoundly negative experience. Their
portrayal in the novel is based on more than a dozen books written about
Opus Dei as well as on my own personal interviews with current and former

Since the beginning of recorded time, history has been written by the
"winners" (those societies and belief systems that conquered and survived).
Despite an obvious bias in this accounting method, we still measure the
"historical accuracy" of a given concept by examining how well it concurs
with our existing historical record. Many historians now believe (as do I)
that in gauging the historical accuracy of a given concept, we should first
ask ourselves a far deeper question: How historically accurate is history

Yes. Interestingly, if you ask three people what it means to be Christian,
you will get three different answers. Some feel being baptized is
sufficient. Others feel you must accept the Bible as absolute historical
fact. Still others require a belief that all those who do not accept Christ
as their personal savior are doomed to hell. Faith is a continuum, and we
each fall on that line where we may. By attempting to rigidly classify
ethereal concepts like faith, we end up debating semantics to the point
where we entirely miss the obvious--that is, that we are all trying to
decipher life's big mysteries, and we're each following our own paths of
enlightenment. I consider myself a student of many religions. The more I
learn, the more questions I have. For me, the spiritual quest will be a
life-long work in progress.

I can't imagine why. The ideas in this novel have been around for
centuries; they are not my own. Admittedly, this may be the first time
these ideas have been written about within the context of a popular
thriller, but the information is anything but new. My hope for The Da Vinci
Code was, in addition to entertaining people, that it might serve as an
open door for readers to begin their own explorations and rekindle their
interest in topics of faith.

Yes, many people in organized religion have come out in support of this
novel, and, of course, many have come out in opposition as well. The
opposition generally comes from the strictest Christian thinkers who feel
the idea of a "married Jesus" serves to undermine His divinity. While I
don't agree with this interpretation, this is immaterial because the
dialogue itself is a deeply empowering and positive force for everyone
involved. Suddenly, enormous numbers of people are passionately debating
important philosophical topics, and regardless of the personal conclusions
that each of us draws, the debate can only help to strengthen our
understanding of our own faith. Much of the positive response I get from
within organized religion comes from nuns (who write to thank me for
pointing out that they have sacrificed their entire lives to the Church and
are still considered "unfit" to serve behind the altar). I have also heard
from hundreds of enthusiastic priests. While many of them disagree with
some of the ideas in the novel, they are thrilled that their parishioners
are eager to discuss religion. Father John Sewell of St. John's Episcopal
Church in Memphis stated it particularly eloquently in the press recently,
saying: "This [novel] is not a threat. This is an opportunity. We are
called to creatively engage the culture and this is what I want to do. I
think Dan Brown has done me a favor. He's letting me talk about things that

Stunned. I worked very hard on this novel, and I certainly expected people
would enjoy it, but I never imagined so many people would be enjoying it
this much. I wrote this book essentially as a group of fictional characters
exploring ideas that I found personally intriguing. These same themes
obviously resonate with a great many people.

Two thousand years ago, we lived in a world of Gods and Goddesses. Today,
we live in a world solely of Gods. Women in most cultures have been
stripped of their spiritual power. The novel touches on questions of how
and why this shift occurred...and on what lessons we might learn from it
regarding our future.

Revealing that secret would rob readers of all the fun, but I will say that
it relates to one of the most famous histories of all time...a legend
familiar to all of us. Rumors of this conspiracy have been whispered for
centuries in countless languages, including the languages of art, music,
and literature. Some of the most dramatic evidence can be found in the
paintings of Leonardo Da Vinci, which seem to overflow with mystifying
symbolism, anomalies, and codes. Art historians agree that Da Vinci's
paintings contain hidden levels of meaning that go well beneath the surface
of the paint. Many scholars believe his work intentionally provides clues
to a powerful secret...a secret that remains protected to this day by a
clandestine brotherhood of which Da Vinci was a member.

This particular story kept knocking on my door until I answered. I first
learned of the mysteries hidden in Da Vinci's paintings while I was
studying art history at the University of Seville in Spain. Years later,
while researching Angels & Demons and the Vatican Secret Archives, I
encountered the Da Vinci enigma yet again. I arranged a trip to the Louvre
Museum where I was fortunate enough to view the originals of some of Da
Vinci's most famous works as well as discuss them with an art historian who
helped me better understand the mystery behind their surprising anomalies.
From then on, I was captivated. I spent a year doing research before
writing The Da Vinci Code.

Most of the information is not as "inside" as it seems. The secret
described in the novel has been chronicled for centuries, so there are
thousands of sources to draw from. In addition, I was surprised how eager
historians were to share their expertise with me. One academic told me her
enthusiasm for The Da Vinci Code was based in part on her hope that "this
ancient mystery would be unveiled to a wider audience."

My interest in secret societies is the product of many experiences, some I
can discuss, others I cannot. Certainly my research of organizations like
NSA, the Vatican, NRO, and Opus Dei continues to fuel my intrigue. At a
more fundamental level, though, my interest sparks from growing up in New
England, surrounded by the clandestine clubs of Ivy League universities,
the Masonic lodges of our Founding Fathers, and the hidden hallways of
early government power. New England has a long tradition of elite private
clubs, fraternities, and secrecy. On that theme, the next Robert Langdon
novel (already in progress) is set deep within the oldest fraternity in
history...the enigmatic brotherhood of the Masons.

Hardly. In fact, I'm quite the opposite--more of a skeptic. I see no truth
whatsoever in stories of extraterrestrial visitors, crop circles, the
Bermuda Triangle, or many of the other "mysteries" that permeate pop
culture. However, the secret behind The Da Vinci Code was too well
documented and significant for me to dismiss.

Sure. A renowned Harvard symbologist is summoned to the Louvre Museum to
examine a series of cryptic symbols relating to Da Vinci's artwork. In
decrypting the code, he uncovers the key to one of the greatest mysteries
of all time...and he becomes a hunted man.

jose colaco
2005-03-23 16:30:40 UTC
From: Cecil Pinto <cpinto at sancharnet.in>

This FAQ is from the author's own website:

The Da Vinci Code is a novel and therefore a work of fiction...etc


Dear Cecil Pinto and cecilc at vsnl.net,

There is a normal font size disclaimer in the book - AS one opens
it.....that "all characters and events in this book are fictitious etc"

However - as the author's own website (and the reviews it carries) reveal,
this is NOT true. Dan Brown has cleverly mixed some Fact with a lot of

This is what politicians and scandal sheets do. They mix part fact with
fiction, and leave it there for the gullible to believe, and yet be
protected from liability. Mario surely has seen this technique being used in
the book "What Me Discovered".

That is also what Film makers do.

NO intelligent individual should be swayed by false "information". Certainly
NO practising Catholic's faith should be swayed by it. After all, well read
Catholics KNOW that much wrong has been perpetrated in the name of ALL
religions - i.e. Christianity, Hinduism, Islam etc.

That does not make Christianity, Hinduism, Islam etc bad religions; only the
people who misuse them.

I am quite amused but not surprised that ostensibly Intelligent Catholics
would come up with nonsense like BAN this film etc.

It would have been an altogether different matter IF this film/book was
presented as HISTORY and enforced upon the schools and universities.

That, I submit, would have crossed the line like a certain Hindi VideoCD
made IN Goa BY the Goa saffronistas & paid for BY Goa - but possibly for
Gujerat and MP.

just my view


ps: quite intrigued with Mario's view on "how the checks and balances are
supposed to work in a free society"

According to Mario, "It is entirely appropriate for the Church or its
members to have the right to freely criticize or praise these books and
movies, write articles and books of criticism, make speeches, etc. WITHOUT
being criticized for doing so"

Bravo Mario! for that Gem

The "balance" in the above statement from you is similar to the "balance" in
the Mapuca market. Watch the tilt.(;-)

Is your PC infected? Get a FREE online computer virus scan from McAfee?
Security. http://clinic.mcafee.com/clinic/ibuy/campaign.asp?cid=3963
2005-03-23 17:51:32 UTC

Cracking The Da Vinci Code
Copyright ? 2004 Catholic Answers, Inc. All rights reserved.

1. The Da Vinci Code: Fact or Fiction?
What is The Da Vinci Code?

The Da Vinci Code is a novel. Its publisher, Doubleday, released it with
much fanfare in March 2003 and heavily promoted it. As a result, it debuted
at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list and has remained on it since,
selling millions of copies. The publisher claims that it is "the bestselling
adult novel of all time within a one-year period."

So popular has The Da Vinci Code become that it has created a marketing boom
for books related to the novel, and it has become the subject of a major
motion picture scheduled to be released in 2005.

What is The Da Vinci Code About?

It is a thriller story involving secret societies, conspiracies, the
Catholic Church, and the fictional "truth" about Jesus Christ. Here is the
author's own summary:

A renowned Harvard symbologist is summoned to the Louvre Museum to examine a
series of cryptic symbols relating to Da Vinci's artwork. In decrypting the
code, he uncovers the key to one of the greatest mysteries of all time . . .
and he becomes a hunted man.1
During the course of the novel it is alleged that the Catholic Church is
perpetuating a major, centuries-long conspiracy to hide the "truth" about
Jesus Christ from the public, and it or its agents are willing to stop at
nothing, including murder, to do so.

What does Leonardo da Vinci have to do with the story?

Da Vinci is portrayed as a former head of the conspiracy guarding the
"truth" about Jesus Christ. In the novel he is said to have planted various
codes and secret symbols in his work, particularly in his painting of the
Last Supper. According to the novel, this painting depicts Jesus' alleged
wife, Mary Magdalene, next to him as a symbol of her prominence in his true
teaching. In reality, the figure that Dan Brown identifies as Mary Magdalene
is John the Evangelist, who traditionally has been regarded as the youngest
of the apostles and so is often pictured in medieval art without a beard.

Why should a Catholic be concerned about the novel?

Although a work of fiction, the book claims to be meticulously researched,
and it goes to great lengths to convey the impression that it is based on
fact. It even has a "fact" page at the front of the book underscoring the
claim of factuality for particular ideas within the book. As a result, many
readers-both Catholic and non-Catholic-are taking the book's ideas

The problem is that many of the ideas that the book promotes are anything
but fact, and they go directly to the heart of the Catholic faith. For
example, the book promotes these ideas:

Jesus is not God; he was only a man.
Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene.
She is to be worshiped as a goddess.
Jesus got her pregnant, and the two had a daughter.
That daughter gave rise to a prominent family line that is still present in
Europe today.
The Bible was put together by a pagan Roman emperor.
Jesus was viewed as a man and not as God until the fourth century, when he
was deified by the emperor Constantine.
The Gospels have been edited to support the claims of later Christians.
In the original Gospels, Mary Magdalene rather than Peter was directed to
establish the Church.
There is a secret society known as the Priory of Sion that still worships
Mary Magdalene as a goddess and is trying to keep the truth alive.
The Catholic Church is aware of all this and has been fighting for centuries
to keep it suppressed. It often has committed murder to do so.
The Catholic Church is willing to and often has assassinated the descendents
of Christ to keep his bloodline from growing.
Catholics should be concerned about the book because it not only
misrepresents their Church as a murderous institution but also implies that
the Christian faith itself is utterly false.

Should other Christians be concerned about the book?

Definitely. Only some of the offensive claims of The Da Vinci Code pertain
directly to the Catholic Church. The remainder strike at the Christian faith
itself. If the book's claims were true, then all forms of Christianity would
be false (except perhaps for Gnostic/feminist versions focusing on Mary
Magdalene instead of Jesus).

Who is the author of the book?

The author is Dan Brown. He is a former English teacher who has authored
three previous books. The first two, Digital Fortress and Deception Point,
were techno-thrillers. With his third novel, Angels & Demons, he turned to
writing thrillers involving religion and the Vatican. The Da Vinci Code
continues in that vein, and it was popular enough to revive sales of the
previous books (which had lackluster performance) and pull them onto the
bestseller list.

Brown plans to use The Da Vinci Code as the springboard for a new series of
similar books using its hero, Robert Langdon, and which will be "set in
Paris, London, and Washington D.C."2 In the next novel, slated for release
in summer 2005, "Langdon will find himself embroiled in a mystery on U.S.
soil. This new novel explores the hidden history of our nation's capital."3

What is the author's religious background?

He claims to be a Christian-of a sort. A "Frequently Asked Questions" page
on his web site contains the following exchange:

I am, although perhaps not in the most traditional sense of the word. If you
ask three people what it means to be Christian, you will get three different
answers. Some feel being baptized is sufficient. Others feel you must accept
the Bible as immutable historical fact. Still others require a belief that
all those who do not accept Christ as their personal savior are doomed to
hell. Faith is a continuum, and we each fall on that line where we may. By
attempting to rigidly classify ethereal concepts like faith, we end up
debating semantics to the point where we entirely miss the obvious-that is,
that we are all trying to decipher life's big mysteries, and we're each foll
owing our own paths of enlightenment. I consider myself a student of many
religions. The more I learn, the more questions I have. For me, the
spiritual quest will be a life-long work in progress.4
What is a "symbologist"?

According to Webster's Dictionary, a symbologist is "one who practices, or
who is versed in, symbology," the latter being defined as "the art of
expressing by symbols." Needless to say, this is not a common term. Brown
uses the term not just to refer to a person who has studied symbolism but as
the name of a pseudo-academic discipline. In fact, Harvard University has no
department of symbology, and thus the idea of making the hero of the novel
"a renowned Harvard symbologist" is simply fanciful.

What claims does the book make about the research that was done for it?

On the acknowledgements page of the novel, Brown issues extensive thanks
designed to convey the impression that he has done thorough research:

For their generous assistance in the research of this book, I would like to
acknowledge the Louvre Museum, the French Ministry of Culture, Project
Gutenberg, Biblioth?que Nationale, the Gnostic Society Library, the
Department of Paintings Study and Documentation Service at the Lourvre,
Catholic World News, Royal Observatory Greenwich, London Record Society, the
Muniment Collection at Westminster Abbey, John Pike and the Federation of
American Scientists, and the five members of Opus Dei (three active, two
former) who recounted their stories, both positive and negative, regarding
their experiences inside Opus Dei.
He also thanks a bookstore for "tracking down so many of my research books"
as well as a long list of specific individuals.

It is not clear how many of these acknowledgements represent Brown padding
the list to make it sound more impressive and enhance his credibility. For
example, Project Gutenberg is an online library of public domain texts, and
Brown's "acknowledgement" may signify no more than that he looked at a text
on one of the Project Gutenberg web sites. The same may well be true of
others included in the list. The acknowledgements of museums, libraries, and
similar institutions may mean no more than that he used their facilities and
that they did nothing special to assist his research.

This, in fact, appears to be the case regarding his acknowledgement of
Catholic World News. When contacted by Catholic Answers, the editor of
Catholic World News, Phil Lawler, stated:
We were surprised and bemused to learn that Catholic World News had been
listed in the acknowledgments of this book.

We cannot recall any contact whatsoever with Dan Brown. He is not listed
among our past or present subscribers.

Since many of our stories are free and available to anyone who visits our
web site, it is possible that he received some information from Catholic
World News-just as anyone can receive information from any public news
service. Certainly we never did any research for him or answered any
questions from him.
What are the major sources inspiring the book?

The author's web page (www.danbrown.com) lists a partial bibliography for
the book, including titles such as:

Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln
The Messianic Legacy by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln
The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception by Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh
The Goddess in the Gospels: Reclaiming the Sacred Feminine by Margaret
The Woman with the Alabaster Jar: Mary Magdalene and the Holy Grail by
Margaret Starbird
The Templar Revelation: Secret Guardians of the True Identity of Christ by
Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince
Jesus and the Lost Goddess: The Secret Teachings of the Original Christians
by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy
When God Was a Woman by Merlin Stone
The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future by Riane Eisler
These titles represent works of New Age speculation that run counter to
established history, focus on alleged secret societies and conspiracy
theories, attempt to reinterpret the Christian faith, and are imbued with
radical feminist agendas. Historians and religious scholars do not take
these works seriously.

The author of The Da Vinci Code does take them seriously. As the list
reveals, he is particularly dependent on the works by Margaret Starbird and
the trio of authors Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln. An
additional, particularly important source for Brown is the book The Templar

Who is Margaret Starbird?

Her web site describes her as a "Roman Catholic scholar" whose researchers
alerted her to "an underground stream of esoteric devotees of the 'sacred
feminine' incarnate in Mary Magdalene." Afterwards, while still purporting
to be Catholic, she began publishing books extolling "the 'Sacred Union' of
Jesus and Mary Magdalene." According to her web site:

"Starbird's research traces the origin and extent of the heresy of the Holy
Grail, whose medieval adherents believed that Jesus was married and that his
wife and child emigrated to Gaul, fleeing persecutions of the infant
Christian community in Jerusalem."
"Starbird's new book explodes the myth of the celibate Jesus, revealing
truths encoded in symbolic numbers in the Gospels themselves by the authors
of the Greek New Testament. This book demonstrates unequivocally that the
'Sacred Union' of Jesus and his Lost Bride was the true cornerstone of early
"Starbird's latest book explains how the painful situation in the Roman
Catholic priesthood has roots in systematic denial of the 'Bride' as partner
and in the insistence on a celibate Jesus, encouraging worship of the
ascendant masculine principle stripped of its feminine partner."
"Early Christianity was fundamentally egalitarian but later influences
conspired to curtail the role of women in the Church. This text seeks to
reclaim the gender-balanced Christianity implicit in the Gospels."
"Her inevitable conclusion is that 'sacred union' was originally at the very
heart of the Christian Gospels.5
Who are Baigent, Leigh, and Lincoln?

They are the authors of the book Holy Blood, Holy Grail, which in 1982
popularized in the English-speaking world the idea that Jesus was married to
Mary Magdalene and that his bloodline survives in Europe today under the
protectorship of an organization known as the Prieure d'Sion ("the Priory of
Sion" in The Da Vinci Code). Authors Carl Olson and Sandra Miesel note:

So fundamental is this book to The Da Vinci Code that Dan Brown borrowed two
of the authors' names for his character Leigh Teabing (whose surname is an
anagram of Baigent). Both Baigent and Lincoln are Masonic historians while
Leigh is a fiction writer. . . .

Brown borrows the Holy Blood, Holy Grail theses with both hands. His
fictional Priory likewise guards the "Grail Secret" of the Holy Blood-with
documents to prove it-as well as the precious bones of the Magdalen.6
After the success of Holy Blood, Holy Grail, the trio went on to author the
book Messianic Legacy, which continued the themes of their prior work but
with modifications. Subsequently the authors have produced a number of other
books related to The Da Vinci Code and its themes.

What is The Templar Revelation?

This is yet another iconoclastic New Age book. In the words of one reviewer,
L. D. Meagher, the book attempts to convince you that:

Everything you know about Christianity is wrong. The Nativity is a myth, the
ministry of Jesus has been misrepresented, and the Crucifixion may have been
a publicity stunt that went awry. The truth has been purposely suppressed<