The Da Vinci Code:
Resources for Discovering The Facts Behind the Fiction
The Da Vinci Code has sold tens of millions of copies worldwide, and the movies' coming soon.
Yeah, it's a novel (and please don't write me letters helpfully pointing that out!), but the truth is, anyone who's out here in the trenches of education of any type, anyone who actually interacts with other human beings from a variety of backgrounds who have read this novel knows that for a surprising number of readers, the book raises questions.
- Did Leonardo Da Vinci really use his art to communicate secret knowledge about the Holy Grail?
- Is it true that the Gospels don’t tell the true story of Jesus?
- Were Jesus and Mary Magdalene married?
- Did Jesus really designate Mary Magdalene as the leader of his movement, not Peter?
What seems to intrigue readers is that the characters in The Da Vinci Code have answers to these questions, and they are expressed in the book as factually based, supported by the work and opinions of historians and other researchers. Brown even cites real books as sources within the novel. Readers are naturally wondering why they’ve not heard these ideas before. They’re also wondering, if what Brown says is true, what the implications for their faith could be. After all, if the Gospels are false accounts, isn’t all of Christianity as we know it a lie?
This book is intended to help you unpack all of this and to explore the truth behind The Da Vinci Code. We’ll look at Dan Brown’s sources, and see if they’re really trustworthy witnesses to history. We’ll ask if his characterization of early Christian writings, teaching and disputes – events that are widely documented and have been studied for hundreds of years by intelligent, open-minded people – are accurate. We’ll look at Jesus and Mary Magdalene – the people at the center of this novel – and see if anything at all The Da Vinci Code has to say about them is based on the historical record. And along the way, we’ll find a startling number of blatant, glaring errors on matters great and small that should send up big red flags to anyone reading the novel as a source of facts, rather than just pure fiction.
Table of Contents
- "Only a Novel?"
- Secrets and Lies
- Who picked the Gospels?
- Divine Election
- Toppled Kings?
- Mary, Called Magdalene
- The Age of the Goddess?
- Stolen Gods? Christianity and the Mystery Religions
- Surely, He Got Leonardo Da Vinci Right?
- The Grail, the Priory and the Knights Templar
- The Catholic Code
The Da Vinci Code phenomenon continues to amaze. Its central allegations percolated for years in the pages of quack-history books, attracting little attention. Along came author Dan Brown, who slapped the label "fiction" on them and — presto! — millions of readers started asking, "Wow, is this true?" The short answer is, of course not. In her excellent new book De-coding Da Vinci: The Facts Behind the Fiction of The Da Vinci Code (Our Sunday Visitor, 124 pp., $9.95), Amy Welborn gives a sprightly, detailed, and highly satisfying account of the truth behind the pseudo-history.
Welborn is a renowned Catholic blogger with a knack for explaining complex issues clearly. The reader of this book will come away with a lucid account of Christian origins, and a strong sense that, even after 2,000 years, the New Testament remains the most accurate and reliable source for the thought and work of Christianity's founder. Other, later writings from heretical sects — and fanciful conspiracy theories about how they were "suppressed" — make for the stuff of entertaining thrillers; but if you want "the Real Story," writes Welborn, it's "as close as a book on your shelf. . . . Pick up that Bible."
- Mike Potemra, National Review
Enter Amy Welborn, author of De-Coding Da Vinci, who fillets Brown's novel with the enthusiasm of a sushi chef on her first day of work at a waterfront restaurant.
As a former high school teacher and a lay Catholic theologian with several books to her credit, Welborn is admirably suited for the task she undertakes, which is to make epistemology accessible to the general public by exposing the termite-ridden foundations of Dan Brown's unwitting Gnosticism. Keenly aware of the critics who say, "relax, it's only a novel," Welborn explains that culture matters, and that "in The Da Vinci Code, imaginative detail and false historical assertions are presented as facts and the fruit of serious historical research, which they simply are not." Every chapter in De-Coding Da Vinci ends with suggestions for further reading and lists of questions for review and discussion.
Publication Date: April 1, 2004
- Autographed copies available for purchase here.
- Barnes and Noble Order Page
- Amazon link to order De-Coding Da Vinci
- Publisher's information for De-Coding Da Vinci
- ZENIT interview
- Beliefnet article
- Spectator Online article
- My original review of the novel The Da Vinci Code
De-Coding Da Vinci goes global!
Are you interested in an objective examination of the life and lore of Mary Magdalene, a narrative that isn't agenda-driven or saturated with ideology?
Do you just want to learn more about Mary Magedalene's identity and role in Christian spirituality, literature and art?
I wrote this book for you.
There's a great deal of material out there on Mary Magdalene, it's true. Some of the scholarly material is really fine, but too many of the books for popular audiences are informed by one ideology or another, or fall completely into fantasy.
In De-coding Mary Magdalene I stick to the facts - what we know about Mary Magdalene from the Gospels, and then how Christian tradition in both East and West continued to meditate on the figure of Mary Magdalene, seeing in her the model disciple - and weaving all kinds of fascinating legends around her as well.
Here's the bottom line: The Da Vinci Code propogates the lie that Christianity through the ages marginalized and demonized Mary Magdalene as a "whore" in order to minimize her impact.
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
Mary Magdalene was the second most popular saint of the Middle Ages. And do catch that word - saint - Honoring someone as a saint (feastday July 22) is a truly odd way of "demonizing" a person. Don't you think?
So - come meet Mary Magdalene - as she comes to us in the Gospels, as Christians imagined her through the ages as they contemplated her fidelity and discipleship, and how some contemporary interpreters get her so completely wrong.
Table of Contents
- Mary of Magdala
- "Why Are You Weeping?
- The Real Mary?
- Apostle to the Apostles
- Which Mary?
- The Golden Legend
- Touching the Magdalene
- To the East
- The Penitent
- Mary and the Mystics
- The Magdalene in Art
The Da Vinci Code Mysteries is a short, 100-item question-and-answer booklet that focuses on issues of fact that made the transition from novel to film. It's designed especially for distribution to large groups like classes and churches.
It's available in packs of 10 here.
A pamphlet more your style? Need bunches of them so your parish or group can get some basics? Take a look at this pamphlet published by OSV, available in packs of 50.
What not to write me: a brief list
Over the past two years, I have written and spoken extensively on The Da Vinci Code. On an almost daily basis, I receive emails very helpfully and snidely alerting me to some points of which the letter-writer thinks I must be unaware. If you're tempted to write me to make any of these points...dont' bother. It's been said. Usually in long letters consisting of a single paragraphs with many words typed ALL IN UPPERCASE.
"It's only a novel, my dear. Why waste your time refuting a novel?
I dearly wish that DVC had been absorbed as "only a novel" by every person who read it. I can tell you, though - it hasn't been.
My work isn't prompted by the simple existence of DVC. I may have thought it was a badly-written, idiotic book, but that alone didn't prompt me to write my own books. There are plenty of silly books out there, plenty that say interesting things about Christianity. Doesn't bother me. Writers have the right to write what they please.
No, the problem is that many people are buying the historical assertions within DVC as sound, as accurate, as probable. They're not. You may not care about truth, but I do. My books have come out of the questions I've been asked.
Look. Think of it this way:
What I've been doing over these past two years isn't a response to The Da Vinci Code - it's an attempt to answer questions people have, indeed, asked me about the novel.
"Your faith has been threatened. You're trying to convince people to believe in Christianity."
No, I'm not, and the proof is in the books themselves. My background is in history, and I'm committed to tell the truth - what we can know about it - as honestly and objectively as possible. My books aren't a plea for faith, nor do they come out of some "threatened" faith. They come out of a concern for truth. Because the fact is, not even the most secular scholar in the world is going to agree with Dan Brown that Constantine invented the notion of the Divinity of Christ. Are they all part of the conspiracy too?
"I doubt you've even read The Da Vinci Code
Er...yes. Three times. Hours of my life I will never get back, unfortunately.
"Instead of spending your time criticizing, why don't you spend your time writing about original stuff?"
Take a look at the titles of the many other books I've written, as well as the articles. I do far more than DVC, and am, in fact, hoping to turn most of my own energies to writing fiction once this whole thing winds down. Stay tuned.
My author blog at Amazon
Amy Welborn,widely read religion weblogger, holds an MA in Church History from Vanderbilt University. She has taught theology in Catholic high schools, and served as a parish Director of Religious Education.
Her writings have appeared in many periodicals, including First Things, Commonweal,Writer's Digest, Liguorian, Catholic Digest and Catholic Parent. She has written regular columns for the Florida Catholic newspaper, Catholic News Service, and currently for Our Sunday Visitor national Catholic weekly newspaper.
She is the author of several books.