Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Davila on The Da Vinci Code

Jim Davila gives The Da Vinci Code a fairly good review. He's easier to please than most critics (on which see here), and far easier to please than someone like me. (I know I'll hate this film with a passion when I finally get around to seeing it on DVD.)

Two points of interest in Jim's review. First:

"The movie not only corrected some errors by omission (e.g., that the Dead Sea Scrolls were Christian documents), it also seemed to go out of its way to correct a few (by no means all!!) of the historical errors in the book. Langdon challenges Teabing's reference to the Priory of Sion and says that it's been discredited. (Teabing, of course, says ha ha that's what they want you to think.) And when Teabing spouts the nonsense about the idea of a divine Jesus only arising in Constantine's time, Langdon vigorously and correctly asserts that it had been around for a long time before that, and Teabing does not disagree. All in all, that awful bogus infodump in the middle of the book is made more bearable in the movie, mainly because it's shorter."

So the deluge of rebuttals to Brown's "historical facts" has evidently made an impression on people.

Jim also notes that "the up side [to The Da Vinci Code's popularity] is that millions of people are now enthusiastically debating historical and theological issues that they were not even aware of a few years ago." As much as it galls and chafes me to admit it, Dan Brown has done the world a service by fueling a massive interest in Christian origins. Scholarly books by Ed Sanders, Dale Allison, Bart Ehrman, etc. have been getting more circulation at my library -- even if not as much as Baigent's Holy Blood, Holy Grail -- ever since Brown's novel became a blockbuster.

The evangelical Mike Gunn puts the matter this way (I finished reading his new book):

Dan Brown gives us a gift much like the gift that Arius gave the Church in the fourth century. Arius opposed the truth with an alternate story that made the Church stand up and take notice, that made the Church clear the dross and cobwebs from its beliefs and crystallize the truths that it knew to be true. (The Da Vinci Code Adventure, p 234)

I'd put it in more secular terms, but yes: Brown has forced certain issues out in the open by engaging the interest of everyone. The down side is that a sadly high number of people will follow cranks like Baigent anyway.


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