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3.5 out of 5 stars
The Da Vinci Code: Special Illustrated Edition
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on April 24, 2004
I read his other book "Angels And Demons" and thought it was okay so I thought I would check this one out. The library didn't have the book in so I checked the tapes out. The book probably would have held my interest more than the tapes did. As it was, I don't know how many times I stopped the tape because it didn't hold my interest and because I would find myself thinking about something else. It is natural for that to happen once in a while but it was continuous. Then when I got to the part of Mary Magdelene supposedly carrying Jesus's child, etc., I almost gave up listening to it completely, but I had to remind myself that it was just fiction. After that it did get a little more interesting (although I still had to stop the tape and rewind it because I missed something). During the last part of the last tape I fell asleep and gave up. The book just was not realistic or believable enough for me to enjoy. I am not sure why it has been so popular. If you are someone who enjoys farout whacko theories then you will probably enjoy it.
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on April 24, 2004
The Da Vinci Code is like a gleaming used car whose odometer has been altered and its documents falsified-a nice-looking lemon. Buyer beware.
The Da Vinci Code is too crowded with errors to begin to cover all of them.
Is The Da Vinci Code thesis supported, as it claims, by well-accepted historical and art authorities?
Just the opposite. Brown, not a scholar or historian, cites no accepted historians or New Testament scholars to back him up. But a long line of scholars - Christian and non-Christian, conservative and liberal - has dismissed the book's allegations.
Further, The Da Vinci Code bungles elementary facts, raising serious doubts about its overall reliability:
· The famous Dead Sea Scrolls are said to have been discovered in the 1950s. They weren't.
. Ottawa the capital of Canada just had the scrolls on exibition for all the world to see with the right dates.
· Brown says the Dead Sea Scrolls contained outlawed gospels that have shed new light on "the truth" about Jesus. In fact, it is well-known that the Scrolls contain no material about Jesus. Most date to about 200 years before Jesus lived, and their main significance is that they include Old Testament documents.
· Brown claims the vote on Christ's deity at the Council of Nicea was "relatively close." The actual count was 298-2!
Although this book is fiction, the fact that Mr. Brown states so many "facts" that are not true, It is a book a person should be very careful of.
Read the Bible.......
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on April 12, 2004
I have found that in religious discussions, people tend to believe what they want to believe. Having once been one who looked at Bible-believing Christians with amused contempt, I know that was true for me. I am grateful I took coursework on the history of Christianity at a time in life when I had an open-mind. It actually stimulated my faith, partly because I was able to approach the subject without the blinders of hatred for Christians or anti-intellectual religious doctrine.
That said, Dan Brown's book is a perfect example of how to take advantage of widespread biblical and historical illiteracy in our society. It is an Oliver Stone approach to biblical history.
So much of this book shows a general ignorance of core Christian texts and of the history of Christianity. Brown's characterization of conspiracies within the early church
could only be believed by someone with no knowledge of how the early church started, or its theology, or the persecutions it faced in the first 300 years. Brown even gets basic chronologies wrong.
This is a work that will play well to nominal catholics who resented their upbringing and never truly chose nor understood the Bible or its teachings. Those are the types who feel the need to respond to a mythical early church as if it were filled with conspiracies and overpowering hierarchy. But those who have read a little history and a little Bible will find this to be a work as laughable as Howard Dean's assertion that his favorite book of the New Testament is "Job." When you acquaint yourself with the humility, the purity, the conviction and the spiritual maturity of the earlier Christians, you'll be embarassed you ever fell for this garbage, and you may look at the apostles and the latter-day descendants of that movement (ie. evangelical Christians) in a whole new light.
If you want a real book on this time period, get the multi-volumed set on the "Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire." You'll be acquainted with historical facts, not sophomoric tripe. It is still the seminal work on the history of Rome and of the rise of the Christian movement. You'll learn historical fact, rather than filling your head with irrational prejudice and conspiratorial thinking from a third-rate author like Dan Brown.
Ben in Derwood
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on April 12, 2004
My sister, an avid reader as I am, said, "You've GOT to read this book!" She failed to see it as fiction, and thought it was based on real secret research. (And she is an intelligent reader and great lover of thrillers.) This book ranks with The Red Tent in seriously disappointing books. The story is based on an old, old heresy the Catholic school kids used to share on the back of the school bus--that Jesus had an affair with Mary Magdalene. It takes the story a bit further than the nuns did (who may have shared that story just to make Jesus more 'human' and appealing to their students), suggesting that a daughter born of that liason inherited Jesus's Genes or something like that. It's not clear.
Brown may have intended to appeal to feminists with the premise that the early Christian church was headed by Mary Magdalene, after Christ ascended, and that some young woman of her line still exists as a secret leader of the underground Christian church, but this idea is so fuzzily presented as to look like a ploy to appeal to women readers. I found it insulting.
Like the much - touted Red Tent book, this is presented in a great cloud of detail, some of which adds to the fiction, most of which drags it down. It is hard to keep focused on the point of the story. It gets hard to even identify the point of the story. And, as with The Red Tent, it was a passable story until about mid-way, then it falls flat -- just too stupid to merit the hype. I did finish the book. I wanted to see whether it got better later. It didn't. It was lame at best, and a waste of time. One star is really too high a score for this tale.
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on April 11, 2004
This has all the makings of a bestseller (mystery, conspiracy, murder, romance), but the quality of the writing handicaps this book.
Although Brown obviously scoured books and other sources to piece together his plot, he ought to have put the same effort into studying the general layout of Paris and the psychology of her people. Although it might look great in a movie, it's not physically possible to drive into the Tuileries Gardens from the direction the hero, Langdon, did in Chapter 4 (It's ringed by a twelve-foot wall on that side; there are switchback steps of course, but....).
I am also unsure of why the DCPJ officer who drove Langdon from the Ritz to the Louvre left the hotel (located in Place Vendome) drove past Opera Garnier and then back through Vendome before actually heading toward the Louvre. And during Langdon's and Sophie's escape from the Louvre in Chapters 32 and 33, they might have saved an awful lot of time and actually made it to the Embassy before the DCPJ officers if they had just driven straight down rue de Rivoli (which becomes avenue Gabriel at the same exact place where the Embassy is located)...and when Sophie "cuts sharply past the luxurious Hotel de Crillon," had she looked to her left, she might have seen the Embassy just on the other side of the (very small) street, a whole lot closer than "less than a mile away." (Brown is also not quite up with the times; it took several references to a "rotary" before I realized he was talking about a "roundabout" and the heroine's "SmartCar" is generally referred to as a "Smart.") There are many symbols of France, and to a symbologist, perhaps, the Eiffel Tower would reign supreme, but not in the opinion of the general Frenchman-in-the-street.
As far as Brown's general writing, I kept forgetting that Sophie was French, because her dialogue was written in American vernacular, and I had trouble imagining that Langdon felt anything more than brotherly toward her (her patronized her, he protected her, he educated her...hmmm, strange chauvanistic behaviour for a believer in the sacred goddess...but he never seemed to truly be attracted to her.)The protaganist, Robert Langdon, "senses" things at least twenty times in the first 100 pages when Brown should have been more precise, allowing his character to see, hear, guess, assume, deduct or even *know* those very same things.
As other people have mentioned, the (non)religious aspects of this book are rehashed, centuries-old heresies and conspiracies, but I wouldn't have minded so much if I hadn't wasted my time reading such a poorly edited book. I wonder how many unpublished authors with outstanding manuscripts were turned down so that Doubleday could pour money into marketing "The Da Vinci Code"?
Skip this book.
If you're interested in the Holy Grail, the sacred goddess, or any of the other fringe religion aspects of this book, you could find the information much more quickly by doing a search on the internet...and it would probably be a better read.
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We can debate the religious subtext of "The Da Vinci Code" ad nauseum (and I'll admit that's what got me interested in reading the book to begin with), but it doesn't change the fact that this book is simply not very good. The characters are thinly drawn and the events and coincidences that bring them together are ridiculously contrived. I could never accept that a man dying from a bullet wound would have the physical ability and presence of mind to set up an elaborate series of clues to reveal a centuries-old conspiracy. Dan Brown asks readers to take many plot-oriented leaps of faith in "The Da Vinci Code". I couldn't do it.
One other plot question: Since so many "experts" seemed to know the true nature of the Holy Grail, why was locating it such a big deal? How can there be a "conspiracy" to protect an ancient secret if everybody's already in on it?
I found "The Da Vinci Code" to be a literary "Blair Witch Project". The backstory was interesting enough, but the plot woven around it fell flat.
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on April 10, 2004
A conspiracy/mystery story written in simplistic, episodic fiction. It's touted to be (according to the back cover) "an exhilarating brainy thriller." In fact, this book is simply horrible. The writing is as bland as anything I've ever read. The characters are as deep as a puddle of mud.
What's most disturbing are the factual inaccuracies, and this book is filled with them. It begins with the word "FACT," and then seems to imply that everything in the story is somehow based on fact. But it's not, and Brown gets even simple things like dates wrong. For example, the Dead Sea scrolls were found in 1947, not in "the 1950's" as one of Brown's character's claims. Another example: One of Brown's characters says that in the non-canonical Gospel of Philip, Jesus refers to Mary Magdalene as his "companion," which in the Aramaic language is synonymous with "wife." The problem, though, is that the Gospel of Philip was not written in Aramaic but in Greek. The same character, Teabing, says the vote at the Council of Nicea was "relatively close." Sure: 300 to 3.
An in-depth view of all the factual mistakes in this piece of trash can be found here: [...] with another good resource here [...]
The DaVinci Code is, in short, a waste of time. There is nothing good about the writing, and as far as the "facts" of the book go, about the only thing I would say is correct is the page numbering.
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on April 8, 2004
The Knights Templar, the Rosicrucians, and many masons have kept alive among their secret beliefs that the Merovingian line of Frankish kings from the early Middle Ages were descended directly from Jesus. To justify this outlandish claim, they must profess that Jesus did not die on the cross but survived it, and went on to live a much longer life, married Mary Magdalene and had children with her, from whom the Merovingians supposedly descend. There isn't any historic evidence for this. (The Merovingians were replaced on the Frankish throne in the 8th century AD by the Carolingians, chief among them Charlemagne.)
In this novel a proponent of that nonsense has created a popular vehicle with which to attempt to deceive the public into thinking that this thesis is true. Yet it flies in the face of all historic context. From the report about Jesus contained in the writings of Flavius Josephus to the bald fact of hundreds of people who knew Jesus and witnessed his death, resurrection or ascension, and who gave their lives for Him, the contemporaries of Jesus who were familiar with the facts bear tacit testament contrary to this slander of Him. Nor does it square with early Frankish history.
There are quite a few writings about Jesus that never made it into the canon of Scripture. When you have read enough of them, then you realize that they are mostly a lot of fantasies about Jesus or those connected to Him. There are reasons they are not in the Bible. They have more in common with second party spinoffs of Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice, for example, written by people who loved the original so much that they wrote their own fantasy continuations of the story.
This scurrilous novel defames Jesus in every possible fashion. In a back handed way, it contends that He lied when He said that He would be killed and then would rise from the dead. It purports that all of His disciples lied in their representations of Him. It says that the crucifixion was a lie, that Easter was a lie, that His ascension was a lie, and thus that His promise to return is a lie. Either everything essential to His coming into the world was a lie or what this book proposes is a lie, couched in novel form.
Something else Jesus said is that Satan is the Father of Lies (John 8). Open your eyes and don't be duped by this well crafted lie.
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on April 8, 2004
Welcome to the world of cardboard villains. Brown's idea of giving dimension to a character seems to be either having them switch allegiances without warning, or else giving them some sort of disabling condition, like albinism or walking on crutches. (Improbably, Brown's albino character seems to suffer none of the usual loss of visual acuity that accompanies that condition.)
Our Junior Batmen are chasing after the Holy Grail, which in Brown's universe, shaped as it is by popular conspiracy-theory speculations rather than certified scholarship, is not the cup of Christ, but a "royal bloodline" composed of descendants of Jesus Christ and (who else?) Mary Magdalene. This theory has been promoted without success before, most notably in the 1983 book Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Michael Baigent, Henry Lincoln, and Richard Leigh (New York: Dell). That book has been soundly critiqued.
Within Mary's tomb, our heroes are told, are all manner of secret documents whose contents will wreck Christianity as we know it. These recovered "truths" will pave the way for us to return to a more enlightened spirituality whose centerpiece is the feminized divine known from goddess worship. The idea that religion was originally matriarchal, or dominated by goddess worship, and later (under the Judeo-Christian dominance) changed to patriarchal monotheism (male dominated) is a myth. It is not true. There is no evidence that any significant religious movement had dominant female deities - they were always linked to their male counterparts, and usually in a subservient role. [See, for example, Tikva Frymer-Kensky's In the Wake of the Goddesses (New York: Ballantine Books, 1993) and Craig Hawkins' Goddess Worship, Witchcraft, and Neo-Paganism (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998).] The book is mostly spent in chasing after the location of this tomb, but in the end - too bad! - the book closes with the lead character finding the tomb and disclosing nothing, so we will never know whether Mary Magdalene's crypt contained a secret new Gospel or Judas Iscariot's grocery list.
One the first things a reader of The DaVinci Code will see, in prefatory material and under a heading in bolded, capital letters, reading "FACT", is this statement:
"All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate."
In terms of documents and rituals, however - and even artwork and architecture -- The DaVinci Code contains few "facts" and what few it does contain require serious qualification. All of this might be excused, except that Brown baptizes such aspects of the book with the brand of FACT, and that he also puts many of these "facts" into the mouth of a character named Teabing who is described as a reputable historian. I rather think if any genuine, academic historian made certain statements attributed to Teabing, he would be promptly demoted to janitorial duties and remanded for training in History 101. Sadly, Brown's sleight-of-hand under the cloak of fact has tricked others, including the Book Review Editor of the New York Daily News, who commented naively that "his research is impeccable."
I found a very thorough examination of the bogus items presented as "facts" in this book here:
[...]
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on April 5, 2004
As an English teacher, people always want to tell me what they've been reading as of late. Many, MANY people offered up that "The Da Vinci Code" is sheer brilliance, and could not be put down. Several, in fact, testified that they haven't read a book cover-to-cover in decades, until this novel entered their lives. Is that something to brag about?
This novel was written for somebody who does not enjoy reading anything with substance. It is the literary equivalent of a poorly written action TV show. Hence, it keeps the attention of preteens and dullards, while ignoring character development. All three of the 'major' characters in this novel are simply named different things. They all act basically the same, and nowhere does the protagonist Robert Langdon say or do anything befitting a 'renowned Harvard symbologist."
This novel is just such claptrap. It's depressing, because there was a time that Americans could follow something that had a little depth to it. Should I be glad that Americans are reading at all? To tell the truth, not if it's this filth. A poorly told story cannot be compensated because it is flashy or has shocking ideas about religion.
It's true that I could not put this book down...for at least the two hours it took to read. How can a 500 page book take so little time to read unless it has absolutely no serious content. Stick it in the children's literature section. Just don't tell most adults that they have the equivalent intelligences of American children fifty years ago.
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