The Da Vinci Code

From Academic Kids

The Da Vinci Code book cover
The Da Vinci Code book cover

The Da Vinci Code is a novel written by American author Dan Brown and published in 2003 by Doubleday Fiction (ISBN 0385504209). It is a worldwide bestseller with millions of copies sold (no accurate source exists—some sources cite between 18 and 25 million copies sold as of April 2005) and has been translated into 44 languages. Combining the detective thriller and conspiracy theory genres, the novel has helped spur widespread popular interest in certain theories concerning the legend of the Holy Grail and the role of Mary Magdalene in the history of Christianity—theories that Christians typically consider to be heretical. It is a sequel to Brown's 2000 novel Angels and Demons, again featuring character Robert Langdon.

While the novel claims to contain elements of historical truth within its fictional framework, the book has attracted a large amount of criticism, including at least ten other books written to debunk its various claims.

Random House republished the novel as a "Special Illustrated Edition" in November 2004. The new edition contains over 160 illustrative images interspersed with the text.



, by . Renowned curator Jacques Saunière is found murdered in the spread-eagle position on the floor of the , a cryptic message written in black-light pen next to his naked torso, which has had a pentacle drawn on it in blood.
Vitruvian Man, by Leonardo da Vinci. Renowned curator Jacques Saunière is found murdered in the spread-eagle position on the floor of the Louvre museum, a cryptic message written in black-light pen next to his naked torso, which has had a pentacle drawn on it in blood.

The book concerns the attempts of the protagonist, Robert Langdon, Professor of Religious Symbology at Harvard University, to solve the murder of renowned curator Jacques Saunière (see Bérenger Saunière) of the Louvre Museum in Paris. The title of the novel refers, among other things, to the fact that Saunière's body is found inside the Louvre naked and posed like Leonardo da Vinci's famous drawing, the Vitruvian Man, with a cryptic message written beside his body and a Pentacle drawn on his stomach in his own blood. The interpretation of hidden messages inside Da Vinci's famous works, including the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, figure prominently in the solution to the mystery.

The main conflict in the novel revolves around the solution to two mysteries:

  • What secret was Saunière protecting that led to his murder?
  • Who is the mastermind behind his murder?

The novel has several concurrent storylines that follow different characters. Eventually all the storylines are brought together and resolved at the end of the book.

The unraveling of the mystery requires the solution to a series of brain-teasers, including anagrams and number puzzles. The solution itself is found to be intimately connected with the possible location of the Holy Grail and to a mysterious society called the Priory of Sion, as well as to the Knights Templar. The Catholic organization Opus Dei also figures prominently in the plot.

The novel is the second book by Brown in which Robert Langdon is the main character. The previous book, Angels and Demons, took place in Rome and concerned the Illuminati.


These are the principal characters that drive the plot of the story. It seems to be Dan Brown's style that many have names that are puns, anagrams or hidden clues:

  • Robert Langdon – A well-respected professor of Religious Symbology at Harvard University. At the beginning of the story, he is in Paris to give a lecture on his work. Having made an appointment to meet Jacques Saunière, the curator of the Louvre, he is startled to find the French police at his hotel room door. They inform him that Saunière has been murdered and they would like his immediate assistance at the Louvre to help them solve the crime. Unbeknownst to Langdon, he is in fact the prime suspect in the murder and has been summoned to the scene of the crime in order that the police may extract a confession from him.
  • Jacques Saunière – the curator of the Louvre, secret head of the Priory of Sion, and grandfather of Sophie Neveu. Before being murdered by Silas ("an albino monk") in the museum, he reveals false information to Silas about the Priory's keystone, which supposedly contains information about the true location of the Holy Grail. After being shot in the stomach, he uses the last minutes of his life to arrange a series of clues for his estranged granddaughter Sophie to unravel the mystery of his death and preserve the secret kept by the Priory of Sion. Saunière's name may be based on Bérenger Saunière, a real person who was extensively mentioned in Holy Blood, Holy Grail.
  • Sophie Neveu – the granddaughter of Jacques Saunière. She is a French government cryptographer, who studied at the elite Royal Holloway, University of London Information Security Group. She was raised by her grandfather after her parents were killed in an automobile accident when she was a girl. Her grandfather used to call her "Princesse Sophie" (French for Princess Sophie) and trained her to solve complicated word puzzles. As a girl, she accidentally discovered a strange key in her grandfather's room inscribed with the initials "P.S.". Later, as a college student, she made a surprise visit to her grandfather's house in Normandy and observed him participating in an occult sex ritual. The incident led to her estrangement with her grandfather until the night of his murder.
  • Bezu Fache – a captain in the DPJF, the French criminal investigation police. Tough, canny, persistent, he is in charge of the investigation of Saunière's murder. From the message left by the dying curator, he is convinced the murderer is Robert Langdon, whom he summons to the Louvre in order to extract a confession. He is thwarted in his early attempt by Sophie Neveu, who knows Langdon to be innocent and surreptitiously notifies Langdon that he is in fact the prime suspect. He pursues Langdon doggedly throughout the book in the belief that letting him get away would be career suicide. "Bezu" is not a common French personal name, but "le Bezu" is the name of a castle in Rennes-le-Château with Cathar associations. When we first encounter Fache, he is compared to an ox; note that "Bezu" is an anagram (and the spoonerism) of zebu (zébu in French), a type of ox. On a related note, fâché is French for "angry", but "Fache" is also a reasonably common French surname.
  • Silas – an albino devotee of Opus Dei who practices severe corporal mortification. He was orphaned in Marseille as a young man, fell into a life of crime, and was imprisoned in the Pyrenees until accidentally freed by an earthquake. He finds refuge with a young Spanish priest named Aringarosa, who gives him the name Silas and who eventually becomes the head of Opus Dei. Before the beginning of the events in the novel, Aringarosa puts him in contact with the Teacher and tells him that the mission he will be given is of utmost importance in saving the true Word of God. Under the orders of the Teacher, he murders Jacques Saunière and the other three leaders of the Priory of Sion in order to extract the location of the Priory's "keystone". Discovering later that he has been duped with false information, he chases Langdon and Neveu in order to obtain the actual keystone. He does not know the true identity of the Teacher. He is reluctant to commit murder, knowing that it is a sin, and does so only because he is assured his actions will save the Church.
  • Bishop Manuel Aringarosa – the worldwide head of Opus Dei and the patron of the albino monk Silas. Five months before the start of the narrative, he is summoned by the Vatican to a meeting at an astronomical observatory in the Italian Alps and told, to his great surprise, that in six months the Pope will withdraw his support of Opus Dei. Since he believes that Opus Dei is the force keeping the Church from disintegrating into the corruption of the modern era, he believes his faith demands that he take action to save Opus Dei. Shortly after the meeting with the Vatican officials, he is contacted by a shadowy figure calling himself "The Teacher", who has learned somehow of the secret meeting. The Teacher informs him that he can deliver an artifact to Aringarosa so valuable to the Church that it will give Opus Dei extreme leverage over the Vatican. The name "Aringarosa" seems to be the (approximate) literal Italian translation of "red herring" ("aringa rossa"; "aringa rosa" means, literally, "pink herring"), although this is not the expression used in Italian for "red herring" in its figurative sense.
  • The Teacher – a shadowy figure who drives the plot of the story. He has learned not only about the plight of Opus Dei, but also the identities of the four leaders of the Priory of Sion, who in turn know the location of the keystone. He contacts Aringarosa and agrees to supply him with a fantastic artifact that will give Opus Dei great power, namely documents that, if released, would destroy the Church. Aringarosa, acting out of self interest and piety, agrees to his offer in order to save both Opus Dei and the Church. The Teacher uses Silas, Aringarosa's protectee, to carry out his plans.
  • André Vernet – president of the Paris branch of the Depository Bank of Zurich. He is surprised when Neveu and Langdon arrive at the bank and inform him that Jacques Saunière, a longtime account holder at the bank, has died and that Neveu now possesses the depository key to the account. His suspicions are aroused when Neveu and Langdon, after accessing the bank with the key, do not know the account number, indicating that they have no legitimate business being in the bank. When he sees a news report that Neveu and Langdon are fugitives suspected in Saunière's murder, he returns to where he left them, but he finds that they have indeed entered the correct account number and retrieved a rosewood box from Saunière's safety deposit. Realizing they are legitimate clients according to the strict rules of the bank, he feels duty-bound to help them escape. Acting as a bank driver, he bluffs his way past the police in one of the bank's trucks with Langdon and Neveu concealed in the back of the truck. He later changes his mind and attempts to turn them in, but is thwarted by Langdon, who steals the truck and escapes with Neveu to the nearby château of his friend, Sir Leigh Teabing.
  • Sir Leigh Teabing – British Royal Historian, a Knight of the Realm, Grail scholar, and friend of Robert Langdon. Independently wealthy, he lives outside Paris in a château, where Langdon and Neveu take refuge after escaping from the Depository Bank of Zurich with the rosewood box containing the keystone. He reveals the "real" interpretation of the Grail to Neveu (see below). After they are discovered at his home simultaneously by Silas and the French police, the three of them flee with his chauffeur Rémy, flying to England in his private jet. After Neveu solves the combination lock of the keystone, he interprets the enclosed riddle as meaning they should go to the Temple Church in London to find the next hidden clue that will let them unlock the second combination lock of the keystone. Note that Sir Leigh's name appears to be an anagram of the names of Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh — authors of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, a book which espouses very similar beliefs to Sir Leigh's.
  • Rémy Legaludec – chauffeur to Leigh Teabing. After flying with Teabing, Langdon, and Neveu to England, he drives them to the Temple Church in London. Unbeknownst to the others, he is in fact working for the Teacher. While they are inside the Temple Church, he meets with Silas, who was tipped off by the Teacher to meet Rémy there. Armed with a pistol, he enters the church before the others can locate and solve the riddle supposedly hidden there. He takes Teabing hostage and demands the keystone from Langdon. When Langdon gives him the keystone, he and Silas flee in his car with Teabing as hostage. Rémy Martin is a famous brand of cognac, and cognac plays a role in Rémy's fate.
  • The docent at Rosslyn Chapel – he is giving a guided tour of Rosslyn Chapel to Langdon and Neveu when he sees the rosewood box they are carrying and realizes that it seems to be an exact duplicate of a box owned by his grandmother, who is the head of the trust that oversees the chapel.
  • Guardian of the Rosslyn Trust – she is, in fact, the wife of Jacques Saunière and Sophie Neveu's grandmother. The docent is Sophie's brother. Believing that they had been targeted for assassination by the Church for knowing the powerful secret of the Priory of Sion, she and Saunière agreed that she and Sophie's brother should live secretly in Scotland. Only Sophie's parents were in the car at the time even though the whole family was supposed to be there. Saunière told the authorities that Sophie's grandmother and her brother were in the car. She tells Neveu and Langdon that although the Holy Grail and the secret documents were once buried in the vault of Rosslyn Chapel, they were removed to France by the Priory of Sion only several years ago. Reading the parchment inside the second keystone, she realizes where the Grail is now hidden, but refuses to tell Langdon, saying he will figure it out eventually on his own. According to her, the Priory of Sion never intended to reveal the secret of the Grail according to any set timetable. She believes that such a revelation is unnecessary anyway, since the true nature and spiritual power of the Grail is emerging into the world without the location of the actual artifact being revealed. She also informs Sophie Neveu of her true identity through her bloodline.

Summary of spoilers

  • Jacques Saunière was the head of the Priory of Sion and therefore possessed the knowledge of the "keystone", which in turn reveals the location of the Holy Grail, as well as documents which would shake the foundation of Christianity and the Church. He was killed in order to extract this information from him and eliminate the members of the Priory of Sion.
  • The reason that Sophie Neveu disassociated herself from her grandfather is that she witnessed him participating in a pagan sex ritual (Hieros Gamos) at his home in Normandy, when she made a surprise visit there during a break from college.
  • The message Saunière wrote with a black-light pen on the floor before dying contained the extra line "P.S. Find Robert Langdon". This was the reason Bezu Fache suspected Langdon of being the murderer. Fache had erased this line before Langdon arrived so that Langdon would not be aware that the police suspected him. Sophie Neveu saw the entire text of the message by accident when it was faxed to her office by the police. Sophie realized immediately that the message was meant for her, since her grandfather used to call her "Princesse Sophie" (i.e. "P.S.") when she was a girl. From this she also knew Langdon to be innocent. She informs him of this secretly when they are in the Louvre by telling him to call her personal voicemail box and listen to the message that she had left there for him.
  • The other three lines of Saunière's blood message are anagrams. The first line are the digits of the Fibonacci sequence out of order. The second and third lines ("O, draconian devil!" and "Oh, lame saint!") are anagrams respectively for "Leonardo da Vinci" and "The Mona Lisa" (in English). These clues were meant to lead to a second set of clues. On the glass over the Mona Lisa, Saunière wrote the message "So dark the con of Man" with a curator's pen that can only be read in black light. The second clue is an anagram for Madonna of the Rocks, another Da Vinci painting hanging nearby. Behind this painting, Saunière hid a key. On the key, written with the curator's pen, is an address.
  • The key opens a safe deposit box at the Paris branch of the Depository Bank of Zurich. Saunière's account number at the bank is the Fibonacci sequence digits, arranged in the correct order.
  • The instructions that Saunière revealed to Silas at gunpoint are actually a well-rehearsed lie, namely that the keystone is buried in the Church of Saint-Sulpice beneath an obelisk that lies exactly along the ancient "Rose Line" (the former Prime Meridian which passed through Paris before it was redefined to pass through Greenwich). In reality, the message beneath the obelisk simply contains a reference to a passage in the Book of Job which reads "Hitherto shalt thou go and no further". When Silas reads this, he realizes he has been duped.
  • The keystone is actually a cryptex, a cylindrical device invented by Leonardo Da Vinci for transporting secure messages. In order to open it, the combination of rotating components must be arranged in the correct order. If forced open, an enclosed vial of vinegar will rupture and dissolve the message, which was written on papyrus. The rosewood box containing the cryptex contains clues to the combination of the cryptex, written in backwards script in the same manner as Leonardo's journals. While fleeing to England aboard Teabing's plane, Langdon solves the riddle and finds the combination to be "S-O-F-I-A", the ancient Greek form of Sophie's name, also meaning wisdom.
  • The keystone cryptex actually contains a second smaller cryptex with a second riddle that reveals its combination. The riddle, which says to seek the orb above a tomb of "a knight a pope interred", refers not to a medieval knight, but rather to the tomb of Sir Isaac Newton, who was buried in Westminster Abbey, and was eulogized by Alexander Pope (A. Pope). The orb refers to the apple observed by Newton which led to his discovery of the Law of universal gravitation, and thus the combination to the second cryptex is "A-P-P-L-E".
  • The Teacher is actually Sir Leigh Teabing. He learned of the identities of the leaders of the Priory of Sion and bugged their offices. Rémy is his collaborator. It is Teabing who contacts Bishop Aringarosa using a phony French accent to hide his identity and dupes him into financing the plan to find the Grail. He never intended to hand the Grail over to Aringarosa but was simply taking advantage of Opus Dei's resolve to find it. Instead he believed that the Priory of Sion intended to renege on its vow to reveal the secret of the Grail to the world at the appointed time, and thus he was planning to steal the Grail documents and reveal them to the world himself. It is he who informed Silas that Langdon and Sophie Neveu were at his chateau. He did not seize the keystone from them himself because he did not want to reveal his identity to them. His plan to have Silas break into his house and seize the keystone was thwarted when the police raided the house, having followed the GPS device in the truck Langdon had stolen and having heard Silas' gunshot. Teabing leads Neveu and Langdon to the Temple Church in London knowing full well that it was a blind alley. Rather he wanted to stage the hostage scene with Rémy in order to obtain the keystone without revealing his real plot to Langdon and Neveu. The call Silas receives while riding in the limousine with Rémy is in fact Teabing, surreptitiously calling from the back of the limousine.
  • In order to erase all knowledge of his work, Teabing kills Rémy by giving him cognac laced with peanut powder, knowing Rémy has a deadly allergy to peanuts. Teabing also anonymously tells the police that Silas is hiding in the London headquarters of Opus Dei.
  • In Westminster Abbey, in the showdown with Teabing, Langdon secretly opens the second cryptex and removes its contents before destroying it in front of Teabing. Teabing is arrested and led away while fruitlessly begging Langdon to tell him the contents of the second cryptex and the secret location of the Grail.
  • Bishop Aringarosa and Silas believed they were saving the Church, not destroying it.
  • Bezu Fache figures out that Neveu and Langdon are innocent after discovering the bugging equipment in Teabing's barn.
  • Silas accidentally shoots Aringarosa outside the London headquarters of Opus Dei while fleeing from the police. Having realized his terrible error and that he has been duped, Aringarosa tells Bezu Fache to give the bearer bonds in his brief case to the families of the murdered leaders of the Priory of Sion. Silas dies of fatal wounds.
  • The final message inside the second keystone actually does not refer to Rosslyn Chapel, although the Grail was indeed once buried there, below the Star of David on the floor (the two interlocking triangles are the "blade" and "chalice", i.e., male and female symbols).
  • The docent in Rosslyn Chapel is Sophie's long-lost brother.
  • The guardian of Rosslyn Chapel is Sophie's long-lost grandmother, and the wife of Jacques Saunière.
  • Even though all four of the leaders of the Priory of Sion were killed, the secret is not lost, since there is still a contingency plan (never revealed) which will keep the organization and its secret alive.
  • The real meaning of the last message is that the Grail is buried beneath the small pyramid (i.e., the "blade", a male symbol) directly below the inverted glass pyramid of the Louvre (i.e., the "chalice", a female symbol, which Langdon and Sophie ironically almost crash into while making their original escape from Bezu Fache). See La Pyramide Inversée for further discussion.
  • At the end of the book, Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu fall in love, with implications of them having sex. They arrange to meet in Florence.

Continuity question: at the conclusion of Angels & Demons (which precedes The Da Vinci Code) Robert Langdon sleeps with Vittoria Vetra. Where Sophie is Saunière's granddaugher, Vittoria is the daughter of Leonardo Vetra, whose murder launches Angels & Demons. Like Sophie, Vittoria is a stranger who, along with Landon, resolves the various mysteries posed in the story.

Secret of the Holy Grail

Detail of  by . As explained by Leigh Teabing to Sophie Neveu, the figure at the right hand of  is supposedly not the , but , who was (according to the book) his wife and pregnant with his child. The absence of a chalice in the painting indicates that Da Vinci knew that Mary Magdalene was actually the  (the bearer of Jesus' blood). This is reinforced by the letter "M" that is created with the bodily positions of Jesus, Mary, and the male apostle () upon whom she is leaning. This interpretation would mean that the work was missing an important apostle.
Detail of The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. As explained by Leigh Teabing to Sophie Neveu, the figure at the right hand of Jesus is supposedly not the apostle John, but Mary Magdalene, who was (according to the book) his wife and pregnant with his child. The absence of a chalice in the painting indicates that Da Vinci knew that Mary Magdalene was actually the Holy Grail (the bearer of Jesus' blood). This is reinforced by the letter "M" that is created with the bodily positions of Jesus, Mary, and the male apostle (Saint Peter) upon whom she is leaning. This interpretation would mean that the work was missing an important apostle.

According to the novel, the secrets of the Holy Grail, as kept by the Priory of Sion, are as follows:

  • The Holy Grail is not a physical chalice, but a woman, namely Mary Magdalene, who carried the bloodline of Christ.
  • The Old French expression for the Holy Grail, San gréal, actually is a play on Sang réal, which literally means "royal blood" in Old French.
  • The Grail relics consist of the documents that testify to the bloodline, as well as the actual bones of Mary Magdalene.
  • The Church has suppressed the truth about Mary Magdalene and Jesus' bloodline for 2000 years. This is principally because they fear the power of the sacred feminine, which they have demonized as Satanic.
  • Mary Magdalene was of royal descent (through the Jewish House of Benjamin) and was the wife of Jesus, of the House of David. That she was a prostitute was a slander invented by the Church to obscure their true relationship. At the time of the Crucifixion, she was pregnant. After the Crucifixion, she fled to Gaul, where she was sheltered by the Jews of Marseilles. She gave birth to a daughter, named Sarah. The bloodline of Jesus and Mary Magdalene became the Merovingian dynasty of France.
  • Sophie Neveu and her brother are descendants of the original bloodline of Jesus and Mary Magdalene (their last name was changed to Neveu, "nephew," to hide their ancestry).
  • The existence of the bloodline was the secret that was contained in the documents discovered by the Crusaders after they conquered Jerusalem in 1099 (see Kingdom of Jerusalem). The Priory of Sion and the Knights Templar were organized to keep the secret.

The secrets of the Grail are connected to Leonardo Da Vinci's work as follows:

  • Da Vinci was a member of the Priory of Sion and knew the secret of the Grail. The secret is in fact revealed in The Last Supper, in which no actual chalice is present at the table. The figure seated next to Christ is not a man, but a woman, his wife Mary Magdalene. Most reproductions of the work are from a later alteration that obscured her obvious female characteristics.
  • The Mona Lisa is actually a self-portrait by Leonardo as a woman. The androgyny reflects the sacred union of male and female which is implied in the holy union of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Such parity between the cosmic forces of masculine and feminine has long been a deep threat to the established power of the Church. The name Mona Lisa is actually an anagram for "Amon L'Isa", referring to the father and mother gods of Ancient Egypt (namely Amon and Isis). (However, a closer look at Egyptian mythology shows that Isis was never the spouse of Amon, but of Osiris (god of the underworld), and Amon's spouse was Mut. Dan Brown also incorrectly claims that Amon was the god of masculine fertility.)

The mystery within the mystery

Part of the advertising campaign for the novel was that the book itself held four codes, and that the reader who solved them would be given a prize. Several thousand people actually solved the codes, and one name was randomly chosen to be the winner. The prize was a trip to Paris.

The solution to the mystery involved discovering that the book jacket conceals latitude and longitude coordinates, written in reverse. Adding one degree to the latitude coordinates gives the coordinates of the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency in northern Virginia, which is the location of a mysterious statue called Kryptos, which will supposedly figure prominently in Dan Brown's next novel.

Inspiration and influences

The novel is part of the late twentieth-century revival of interest in Gnosticism. Its emphasis on the role of Mary Magdalene in early Christianity comes straight from Gnostic scriptures, as does much of its portrayal of fertility rites and mystery cults in the practices of the ancient church. The later ecclesiastical history described in Langdon and Teabing's lengthy soliloquies is largely adapted from modern interpretations of the relationship between Gnosticism and Christianity; the most influential of these is probably 1982 pseudo-documentary book Holy Blood, Holy Grail (which is explicitly named, among several others, on page 253). It has been claimed that The Da Vinci Code is a romanised version of this work, which was itself based on a series of short films that ran on the BBC in the late 1970s. Similarities include Mary Magdalene as the living Holy Grail, the divine origin of the French royal dynasty, occultism, ancient Egyptian wisdom, papal conspiracy, and the use of steganography. In the book, the French painter Poussin with his "Et in Arcadia ego" canvas plays the same role that Brown later assigned to Leonardo da Vinci. (Years later one of the authors openly admitted to the press that the entire story had been invented.) In reference to Baigent, Brown named the villain of his story "Teabing".

Lewis Perdue has sued Dan Brown, claiming that The Da Vinci Code was largely based on plagiarism of his own earlier book, The Da Vinci Legacy. Mr. Perdue has set up a webpage listing some of the alleged similarities between the two works ( Some also claim Brown plageriarized his own earlier Robert Langdon novel, Angels and Demons. Please see that article for a more thorough discussion.

Umberto Eco's earlier Foucault's Pendulum also deals with conspiracies, including the Holy Blood theme and the Temple.


Because of the book's opening claim:

"Fact: (...) All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate."

many have viewed The Da Vinci Code as a genuine exposé of orthodox Christianity's past. As a result, the book has attracted a generally negative response from the Christian and Catholic communities, as well as from Christian historians who believe that Brown has distorted – and in some cases fabricated – history, and other readers complaining of sloppy research.

Criticisms include:

  • The claim that, prior to AD 325, Christ was considered no more than a "mortal prophet" by his followers, and that it was only as a consequence of Emperor Constantine's politicking and a close vote at the First Council of Nicaea that Christianity came to view him as divine: This has been debunked with extensive reference by various authors to the Bible and Church Fathers, sources that pre-date the First Council of Nicea. (See this example (, or Olson and Meisel (2004), who refer to The Church in Crisis: A History of the General Councils, 325–1870 (1964) by Philip Hughes.) At the Council, the central question was if Christ and God were one, or whether instead Christ was the first created being, inferior to the Father, but still superior to all other creatures (see Arianism).
  • The claim that Mary Magdalene was of the tribe of Benjamin (Chapter 58): This is not supported by any historical evidence. The fact that Magdala was located in northern Israel, whereas the tribe of Benjamin resided in the south, weighs against it.
  • The idea that the purported marriage of Jesus and Mary Magdalene would create a "potent political union with the potential of making a legitimate claim to the throne" (Chapter 58 ( The worldly connotations of Jesus' kingdom being in or beyond it have long been a subject of debate in scholarly communtities. For those who believe in the story of the gospels, his death and departure after resurrection would exclude him from being the make of ascension to an earthly king. However, the Christian connection with earthly governments cannot be denied.
  • The assertion that "the sacred feminine" has been suppressed by Christianity: In Roman Catholicism, for example, Mary (of Nazareth), the mother of Jesus, is specially venerated as the "Mother of God," the "Queen of Heaven," the spiritual mother of all mankind, and is believed to be free of sin. However it is also of merit to note that in the gospels Jesus did not accord her any privleges, and treated her with a seeming indifference.
  • The allegation that "the Church burned at the stake five million women" as witches has been difficult to take in for many critics due to the inability to properly estimate the exacting figures throughout the duration of the phenomena. Reports have ranged from between the extremely high figures of 9 million and extremely low figures of mere hundreds, both of which have been heavily refuted. The figures are said to actually range between 60,000 and 200,000 which are mostly believed to have been carried out by secular Christian courts, and not by the Church at a 1:3 ratio.(Jenny Gibbons, Brian Levack, WIlliam Manchester, Norman Cantor)
  • The assertion that the original Olympics were held "as a tribute to the magic of Venus" (Chapter 6), i. e. apparently Aphrodite: Although the origins of the Olympic festivals remain in obscurity, is has been well documented that they were religious festivals in honor of Zeus and Pelops. However it is true that a Christian rome did have the games outlawed.
  • The theory that Gothic architecture was designed by the Templars to record the secret of the sacred feminine: historians note that Templars were not involved with cathedrals of the time, which were generally commissioned by European bishops.
  • The depiction of the Templars as builders, guild-founders and secret-bearers: Templar historians point to abundant evidence that Templars did not themselves engage in building projects or founded guilds for masons, and that they were largely illiterate men unlikely to know "sacred geometry," purportedly handed down from the pyramids' builders. However they are known to have built large fortresses.
  • The portrayal of the Priory of Sion as an ancient organization: While the Priory is a genuine organization claiming to have been the Templars' driving force, most historians suspect it originated in the aftermath of World War II, on the grounds that it was registered with the French government in 1956, and only became widely-known in 1962 (see Pierre Plantard). However, according to claims made by the Priory, it was founded in 1090.
  • The suggestion that all churches used by the Templars were built round, and that roundness was considered an insult by the Church: Some churches used by the Templars were not round, and those that were round were so in tribute to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Moreover, there are quite a number of round churches, and the circle was thought to be Holy and perfect in the Christian church.
  • The contention that the Mona Lisa was painted by Leonardo da Vinci as a self-portrait: It is uncertain who exactly the woman is to history, however there have been major sources pointing to it being Lisa Gherardini or Isabella of Aragon among others. However, other researchers have concluded, using "morphing" techniques, that the resemblance to Leonardo is striking (Lillian Swartz of the Bell Labs and Digby Quested of the Maudsley Hospital in London).
  • The depiction of Opus Dei as a monastic order. In fact, it is a personal prelature with primarily lay membership. There are no monks in Opus Dei, (although members of Opus Dei do practice mortification of the flesh).
  • Mary Magdalene is said to have been labelled a whore by the Church (Chapters 58 and 60 (; in fact, there is no Biblical correlation whatsoever between the whore that Christ saves from being stoned to death and Magdalene . This common misunderstanding was initiated by Pope Gregory I, who proclamed this, based on a false analysis of Luke 7 and 8. He "integrated" three different women into one. (See Pericope Adulteræ.)
  • The suggestion that the Tetragrammaton is "an androgynous physical union between the masculine Jah and the pre-Hebraic name of Eve, Havah" (Chapter 74 ( It is generally believed that the four Hebrew letters that form the Tetragrammaton (Yud, Hay, Vav, Hay) literally translate to 'To be, to become" which are believed to represent the name of the God of Israel.
  • Venus is depicted as visible in the east shortly after sunset (Chapter 105) which is an astronomical impossibility. This was corrected to "west" in some later editions, like 28th printing of British paperback, ISBN 0552149519 and apparently current printings of the US hardback. [1] (
  • Brown characterized the cycle of Venus as "trac[ing] a perfect pentacle across the ecliptic sky every four years", and from there claimed this as the basis for four-year Olympic period (Chapter 6). The fact is, Venus completes five cycles in eight years.[2] ( [3] (, a fact well known to the ancient Greeks and Mayans. This eight-year cycle is one of the factors in predicting the transit of Venus. This was changed to "eight years" in some later editions such as the British paperback and at least the April 2003 printing of the US hardback - [4] (

In view of its popularity and widespread acceptance as being factually correct, there has been an atmosphere of controversy in Christian communities which has resulted in the publication of various books on the subject. Among others, this includes Carl Olson and Sandra Miesel's The Da Vinci Hoax.

The good portion of the the problem with the facticity of the book has to deal with the liberties it takes to explain events that have not been resolved by scholars. And for many, due to it's claim to fact, the line where 'fact' ends and fiction begins (as the novel is certainly fiction). This combined with the controversial religious portrayals that combat or offend the communities discussed, has cause a great deal of debate, and partisan material to erupt.

On March 15, 2005, Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, Archbishop of Genoa and former second-in-command of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (and then seen by many as a potential successor to Pope John Paul II), castigated the book and those who sell it because of his claims of anti-Catholic bias. "This seems like a throwback to the old anti-clerical pamphlets of the 1800s," he said. It is a "gross and absurd" distortion of history full of "cheap lies." He also made a strong defense of Opus Dei, the Catholic organization which is a major antagonist of the book.

Facts and mythology behind the book

Motion picture adaptation

Sony's Columbia Pictures is adapting the novel to film. The film rights had been purchased for USD 6 million. Filming had been scheduled to start in May 2005 with theatrical release scheduled for summer 2006. However some delays have caused filming to begin on June 30 2005.

Permission to film on the premises has been granted to the film by the Louvre, while Westminster Abbey has denied it use of its premises. Lincoln Cathedral, however, has agreed to act as a substitute for Westminster Abbey, and has reportedly received £100,000 in exchange for the right to film there. Filming at Lincoln Cathedral is expected to take place over an approximate two week period during summer 2005. An organization of albinos has expressed concern about Silas' character giving albinos a bad name. It is not yet known whether the producers will decide to change Silas' character or remain true to the book.

Further reading

External links

es:Código Da Vinci fr:Da Vinci Code it:Il codice da Vinci he:צופן דה וינצ'י nl:De Da Vinci Code no:Da Vinci-koden pt:O Código da Vinci ru:Код Да Винчи sl:Da Vincijeva šifra fi:Da Vinci -koodi sv:Da Vincikoden


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