Criticisms of The Da Vinci Code

Criticisms of The Da Vinci Code

"The Da Vinci Code", a popular suspense novel by Dan Brown, generated a great deal of criticism and controversy after its publication in 2003. Many of the complaints centered on the book's speculations and alleged misrepresentations of core aspects of Christianity and the history of the Roman Catholic Church. Additional criticisms were directed towards the book's inaccurate descriptions of European art, history, architecture, and geography. Charges of plagiarism were also leveled by the authors of the 1982 "Holy Blood, Holy Grail", though Brown was cleared of these charges in a 2006 trial.

It is difficult to assess how many of the book's errors resulted from poorly executed research or editing, or whether they were merely a product of artistic license.

Fact or fiction

Although the book is readily identifiable as a thriller—a work of fiction—and not as a historical tome, Brown does preface his novel with a page he calls "Facts" and has published a page at his website [ [ "Bizarre True Facts from "The Da Vinci Code","] ] which repeats some disputed claims. Although Brown's website makes use of words such as "alleged," "rumored," and "seem to be," some critics consider the qualifiers misleading.

Much of the controversy caused by the book stems from the fact that the novel, as a work of fiction, asserts opinions on debates that have not been resolved as facts. To the typical layperson, the book's claims cause considerable confusion as to where the truth lies.] Critics charge Brown of greatly sensationalizing the practice of such mortifications and exaggerating the extent of their practice. It is impossible to gain the kind of wounds Silas is described as having from a normal cilice.Fact|date=October 2007

The book depicts the society as misogynistic, a claim which its defenders say has no basis in reality, because half of the leadership positions in Opus Dei are held by women. [See books on Opus Dei by John Allen, Jr. and Vittorio Messori.]

Defenders also say that the novel's allegations of dealings between John Paul II and the society concerning the Vatican Bank also have no basis in reality. Allegedly due to these dealings, Opus Dei's founder was declared a Saint just 20 years after his death. In real life, Josemaría Escrivá was canonized 27 years after his death; admittedly faster than some others—but this is attributed to streamlining of the whole process and John Paul II's decision to make Escriva's sanctity and message known.

In the novel, the head of Opus Dei travels alone and makes momentous decisions on his own. In real life, the head of Opus Dei is usually accompanied by two other priests called "custodes" or guardians. Decision-making in Opus Dei is "collegial": "i.e.," the head has only one vote.

A part of the book's acknowledgments page is dedicated to five sources within Opus Dei itself, three active members and two former members. The Opus Dei Information Office though has asserted that Dan Brown never interviewed any active member of Opus Dei. [ [] ,Zenit News Agency] Also, the [ "Opus Dei Awareness Network"'s website] is brought up within the narrative. This may indicate their web pages have been used as research source for the novels.

Historical disputes

"The reality of Dan Brown's research is that it is superficial... Mr Brown knew very little about how the historical background was researched." Mr Justice Smith, April 2006

Leonardo da Vinci

The contention that the "Mona Lisa" was painted by Leonardo as a self-portrait has been officially dismissed, as Mona Lisa's historical identity has recently been discovered to be Lisa del Giocondocite web|title=Mona Lisa – Heidelberger Fund klärt Identität (English: Mona Lisa – Heidelberger find clarifies identity)|language= German|url=|publisher=University Library Heidelberg|accessdate=2008-01-15 and cite news|author=Reuters|title=German experts crack the ID of ‘Mona Lisa’|url=|publisher=Microsoft (|date=January 14, 2008|accessdate=2008-01-15 and cite news|author=Associated Press|title=Researchers Identify Model for Mona Lisa|url=|publisher=The New York Times Company|accessdate=2008-01-15] (however, this was unknown to be a certainty prior to The Da Vinci Code's publishing) despite Lillian Schwartz of Bell Labs, and Digby Quested of the Maudsley Hospital in London having used "morphing" techniques to argue that the resemblance to Leonardo's alleged self-portrait is striking. As for the claim that the title "Mona Lisa" is a coded reference to the Egyptian gods Amon and Isis, this title was not applied to the painting until the nineteenth century. "Mona" is a contraction of "" (meaning 'my lady' or 'madam'); "Lisa" is proven to be derived from Lisa del Giocondo.

The Last Supper was a commission and was the wall of a dining room in the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy. [ [ Art History: The Last Supper] ] The notion of the Last Supper showing Mary Magdalene instead of John on the right of Jesus, and the connected claim of the absence of the chalice from the painting, are disputed for a few reasons, which have already been covered above.

There is no evidence for the contention that the first version of Leonardo's "The Virgin of the Rocks" was rejected by the church because of its heretical content. There is, however, evidence for a lengthy legal dispute over payments and expenses.

The book matter-of-factly states that Leonardo da Vinci was a "flamboyant homosexual." While there are clues about Leonardo's personal life that strongly suggest that he was homosexual, it is not conclusively known to be a fact, nor do scholars agree upon this. If Leonardo was homosexual, he must have been rather discreet and certainly not flamboyant.

The Knights Templar

The claim that the Order of the Knights Templar was formed by the Priory of Sion is false. It is generally accepted that the Priory of Sion was a hoax which was started in France in 1956 by Pierre Plantard. The Templars were founded in the early 12th century by Hugh of Payens, a French nobleman who was a veteran of the First Crusade.

The suggestion that all churches used by the Knights Templar were built round, and that roundness was considered an insult by the Church is false. Some churches used by the Templars were not round, and those that were round were so in tribute to the architecture already in place where the Templars had their headquarters in Jerusalem, such as the Dome of the Rock and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. In fact, there are quite a number of round churches, including the famous Round Church in Cambridge and the Peterskirche in Vienna. The city of Rome itself boasts a good number of round churches, among them Sant'Andrea al Quirinale and San Bernardo alle Terme, Sant'Anna dei Palafrenieri, and Bramante's Tempietto, built on the supposed site of the Apostle Peter's crucifixion at the church of San Pietro in Montorio.

The statement that the Templars' initial headquarters was "a stable under the ruins" is false. King Baldwin II of Jerusalem gave them quarters in a wing of the royal palace on the southeastern portion of the Temple Mount platform, in the Al Aqsa Mosque.

One of the cryptex clues claims that the Knights Templar worshiped a pre-Christian fertility god (a "Horned God") named Baphomet. However, this is from a list of trumped-up charges that were generated during the Templars' trial by Inquisitors. Most of the 100-odd charges were complete fabrications generated by King Philip IV of France, in his effort to disband the Templars over a financial dispute in the early 1300s. It was King Philip IV of France, and not the Pope as stated in the novel, who ordered the arrests of the knights in 1307. The only Templars who "confessed" did so under torture, and then tended to recant once the torture ceased. The word Baphomet that appeared in Templar inquisition documents was probably a misspelling of the name "Mahomet", an Old French form of "Mohammed". The image of the "horned god" did not become associated with the name Baphomet until the 19th century, when the name began to be associated with Satanism.

The allegation that the legend of Friday the 13th started with the arrest of the Templars in France on October 13, 1307 is false. Though it is true that the arrests occurred on a Friday that was the 13th, there is no credible evidence for the existence of a superstition about Friday the 13th existing before the early 1900s.

The claim that Rosslyn Chapel was built by the Knights Templar is false. It was actually founded by Sir William St Clair, third Earl of Orkney and Lord of Rosslyn. Furthermore, its construction began in 1470, long after the Knights were suppressed. The Templar Order was dissolved in 1312, with the majority of its assets being transferred to another Order at the time, the Knights Hospitaller.

The theory that Gothic architecture was designed by the Templars to record the secret of the sacred feminine is false. Historians note that Templars were not involved with European cathedrals of the time, which were generally commissioned by local bishops. The Templars were actually very misogynistic, and their "Rule" forbade them to touch women, even those in their own family. "The company of women is a dangerous thing, for by it the old devil has led many from the straight path to Paradise". [Piers Paul Read, "The Templars", 1999, p. 102]

There are some who claim that the Templars were related to the Freemasons, or who depict the Templars as builders, guild-founders, and secret-bearers. However, this is demonstrably incorrect. The Templars were a warrior order, and did not themselves engage in building projects—except for castles—or found guilds for masons. The claim has been made that the Templars were largely illiterate men unlikely to know "sacred geometry," purportedly handed down from the pyramids' builders. Helen Nicholson points to membership information of the Templars and other documentary evidence that shows beyond all question that the purpose of the Templars was to defend the Holy Land, protect pilgrims visiting Jerusalem or other holy sites, defend Christendom against the Muslims, and to raise money for the paying and manning of castles in those war-torn regions in order to have bases from which to carry out sorties against the Saracens, to provide centres of authority and protection in regions where there was no central authority, and to provide a place of safety for Christians travelling far from home. [Nicholson, Helen. "The Knights Templar: A New History". Sutton Publishing Limited, Gloucestershire, p.2]

The allegation that Pope Clement V burned the ashes of the Templars and threw them into the Tiber River in Rome is false. The last leaders of the Knights Templar were killed in "France" in 1314 by King Philip IV of France, being burned at the stake on a small island in the Seine. Pope Clement's administration was not even in Rome—he had moved the papal headquarters to Avignon.

The claim that the Templars gained power because of something they excavated in Jerusalem is false. They gained power because they had the firm support of the leading churchman of the time, Saint Bernard de Clairvaux, who was also a nephew of one of the original nine knights. He wrote a powerful treatise called "In Praise of the New Knighthood", and spoke on their behalf at the Council of Troyes in 1129 (nine years after the Order's founding). It was at that council that the Order was officially recognized and confirmed. With this formal approval, the Order became a favored charity across Europe and received large donations from families who were eager to help with the fight in the Holy Land. The Templars were able to send money long distances, using negotiable instruments, without hauling or guarding large chests of gold.

The Priory of Sion

The portrayal of the Priory of Sion as an ancient organization connected to goddess-worship is incorrect: The actual "Priory of Sion" was founded in 1956 by Pierre Plantard, Andre Bonhomme and others, not in 1099 as claimed in the book, and it was named after a mountain in France, not the biblical Mount Zion. "Les Dossiers Secrets" was a forgery created by Philippe de Cherisey for Plantard. Plantard, under oath, eventually admitted that the whole thing was fabricated. [Le Point, no. 1112, (dated 8-14 January 1994)] [Philippe Laprévôte, "Note sur l’actualité du Prieuré de Sion", in: Politica Hermetica Nr. 10 (1996), p. 140-151] There is evidence of a Templar-era monastic order by the name Abbey of Sion (not Priory), but there are no records of its continued existence beyond the 12th century, at which time the monks from the destroyed church belonging to the Abbey moved to Sicily. In 1617, those remaining monks became absorbed into the Jesuit Order. Some confusion may also be due to the use of the moniker to describe the Rosicrucian brotherhood, who may have been the focus of earlier ideas about a secretive, long-lasting secret society.

The Holy Grail and The Holy Blood

The legend of the Holy Grail alleged that a sacred relic (in many versions, either the cup used at the Last Supper, or the cup said to have been used by Joseph of Arimathea to collect blood of Christ - or both) existed, which would bring untold blessings to any pure knight who found it. The story appeared around the time of the Crusades and is featured in Thomas Malory's "Le Morte d'Arthur". In Old French, the Holy Grail was written as "San Graal". However "The Da Vinci Code", taking cues from "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail", interprets this as "Sang Real" and translated this as "royal blood". However the true French form of "royal blood" is "le sang royal". In early Grail romances, "graal" in fact denotes a large dish for fish, itself a Christian religious symbol, but clearly removed from the traditional cup. The idea of a cup seems to have developed quickly during the late 12th and early 13th centuries, influenced both by apocryphal religious stories, such as that of Joseph of Arimathea, and pagan stories involving magic containers that, for example, produced endless food (itself a useful parallel to the Christian belief of the 'Bread of Life' produced at the Last Supper). The cup therefore presented a convenient fusion, like many of the stories we now associate with the Quest for the Holy Grail and King Arthur, of (albeit apocryphal) Christian teachings, and pagan traditions. There is no evidence that the Knights Templar found any such thing under the Temple.


The Last Temptation of Christ

Teabing claims that the French government banned the film version of "The Last Temptation of Christ".In fact, only the shooting of the film was banned. The film was shot entirely in Morocco, which is reasonable, because most of it takes place in the desert and in ancient Jerusalem, a desert city.


Several claims about the Church of Saint-Sulpice in Paris are disputed. While there is a brass line running north-south through the church, it is not a part of the Paris Meridian, which passes about 100 metres east of it. The line is instead more of a gnomon or sundial/calendar, meant to mark the solstice and equinoxes. Further, there is no evidence that there was ever a temple of Isis on the site. This note has been on display in the church:

Contrary to fanciful allegations in a recent best-selling novel, this [the line in the floor] is not a vestige of a pagan temple. No such temple ever existed in this place. It was never called a Rose-Line. It does not coincide with the meridian traced through the middle of the Paris Observatory which serves as a reference for maps where longitudes are measured in degrees East or West of Paris. Please also note that the letters P and S in the small round windows at both ends of the transept refer to Peter and Sulpice, the patron saints of the church, and not an imaginary Priory of Sion. [" [ Tony Robinson's The Real Da Vinci Code] ", first broadcast 3 Feb 2005]

The reference to Paris having been founded by the Merovingians (Chapter 55) is false; in fact, the city was settled by Gauls by the 3rd Century BC. The Romans, who knew it as Lutetia, captured it in 52 BC under Julius Caesar, and left substantial ruins in the city, including an amphitheater and public baths. The Merovingians did not rule in France until the 6th century AD, by which time Paris was at least 800 years old.

The book states that at the explicit demand of French President François Mitterrand, the Louvre Pyramid in Paris was constructed with 666 panes of glass. According to [ GlassWeb] , the pyramid contains 603 diamond-shaped and 70 triangular panes of glass, totalling 673.

The novel claims that the top of the Centre Pompidou can be seen from the Arc du Carrousel (chapter 3). This is incorrect.

The book erroneously places Versailles to the north-west of Paris, when actually it is approximately 25 kilometres west-south-west of Paris city centre.

Similarly Dan Brown takes great liberties in his geography during Sophie and Robert's escape route from the Louvre to the American Embassy. In reality, the American Embassy is barely a mile from the Louvre, straight up the rue de Rivoli off the Place de la Concorde ("wide rotary") and directly across the Hôtel de Crillon. [ map] But the author has them whizz straight past the Embassy and proceed up the Champs Elysées (where he has erroneously placed the Hôtel de Crillon) and where they turn off, noting that "The embassy was less than a mile away now". So at this point he has them essentially circle back to where they had already been. A few pages later he contradicts himself further, saying "What had begun as a "one-mile" dash to the U.S. Embassy ..."

In the Epilogue of the book, the author refers to walking from Sacré-Coeur "north" across the Seine. In order to get to the Seine from Sacré-Coeur you need to walk south.

Jacques Saunière is sporadically described as "the curator of the Louvre." Actually the Louvre has eight departments, each with a chief curator ("conservateur en chef") and several subordinate curators. They are all civil servants ("fonctionnaires"), so that they cannot work, as Saunière is described as doing, at the post-retirement age of seventy-six.


In Chapter 48, Langdon, who doesn't know French, asks Sophie Neveu if her grandfather had ever spoken to her of something called "la clef de voûte", to which she replies "The key to the vault?" Langdon then tries to explain to her about the architectural meaning. But "clef de voûte" is very commonly used in French, both in the literal, architectural sense of keystone (and keystones are readily visible all over France in arched doorways and other arches, such as the Arc de Triomphe and the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, both of which figure in the book) and in the figurative sense of the central point of a theory or system. Moreover, "clef de voûte" cannot possibly mean "key to the vault" since "voûte" is not the French term for a bank vault. Although, Langdon could have mispronounced "voûte", leading Sophie to think he is saying "clef de vault".


The banker André Vernet is described as a graduate of a prep school and the Sorbonne, probably in an attempt to indicate his elite education.

However, this is not how the French educational system actually works. It is twofold, composed mainly of "Grandes Ecoles" ("Great Schools") and universities.

Elites stem out of the "Grandes Ecoles", in which the studies last on average three years. Prior to those, French students have to take nationwide examinations: top-graded students can enter the best schools, others (in decreasing order of ranking to the examination) have to take what remains available.To be specifically prepared to those examinations, French students study in the "classes préparatoires" for on average two to three years. The term can roughly be translated as "prep school". One does not graduate from classes préparatoires: if one fails to enter a school (or a school one thinks is good enough for oneself), one doesn't get any degree. Graduation comes at the end of the Grande Ecole.

The Sorbonne, despite its historical fame, is in French terms "merely" a university (actually, three Paris universities share the name—Paris I, III and IV). Although universities can be very good in specific fields, "mainstream" education (business, engineering, etc.) is better in the "grandes écoles".

André Vernet's education, as described in the novel would mean that he failed the "grandes écoles" exams at the end of prep school and afterwards attended the Sorbonne. This is not considered an elite education. This may not even be possible.

European geography

The book's storyline that the "Albino Monk" was arrested in France, jailed in Andorra, and escaped to Spain, is geographically flawed. It is improbable that someone arrested along the French coast would be jailed in another country (in this case Andorra, which is a sovereign state and several hundred kilometers away, up in the Pyrenean mountains).

Later in the book, Silas escapes from the prison due to a strong earthquake (although Andorra is not a particularly seismically active region), takes a train and travels for 3 days until he reaches "a village" in which a missionary-bishop (Aringarosa) gives him refuge. The village turns out to be Oviedo, in which Silas lives for a few years and helps Aringarosa to build a new church. This is inaccurate, because the actual Oviedo is a relatively rich city of around 200,000 inhabitants, and one of the economic, industrial, and cultural centers of Asturias, in northern Spain. It is impossible to arrive there by train from Andorra, as Andorra has no train line. Moreover, it is hard to believe that the bishop of Oviedo (actually an archbishop) lives in an unfinished church, rather than the city's 16th century Archbishop's Palace.

In chapters 35–41, Brown places the fictional Depository Bank of Zurich at 24 Rue Haxo, in Paris, and describes a long drive from the Gare St Lazarre to the Stade Roland Garros, in the 16th Arrondissement, at the southern edge of the Bois de Boulogne. Not all maps of Paris show the Rue Haxo; those that do (such as Michael Middleditch's "Paris Mapguide." Penguin, 2008, and Google Maps) show it at the opposite end of Paris—between the Avenue Gambetta and the Rue de Belleville, in the 19th Arrondissement. It is not clear exactly how the substitution of a long westward drive for a long southeastward drive would affect the timeline of our two fugitives. It would affect some movie locations: the colorful denizens of the Bois could be omitted.

In chapter 93, a police officer telephones the Opus Dei Centre in London. "This is the London police," he says. This body of officers does not exist and is never referred to as such. Law and order in the capital is the business of the Metropolitan police and the City of London Police. (The latter has jurisdiction only in the relatively small City of London, the banking district of London.)

After the scene in the Temple Church, London, the heroes of the story take the tube from Temple Station to King's College London. In fact, King's is only one block farther from the Temple Church than Temple Station, and any tube journey would have carried them further away from the College.

The Chapter House at Westminster Abbey is described as overlooking College Gardens. This appears to be true from a guide-book plan, but in fact the windows of the Chapter House are above head height and made of stained glass, which is translucent but not transparent. What one sees in a stained-glass window is the scene painted on it, not the city beyond it.

At the start of chapter 104, (Rosslyn Chapel), Brown states "The chapel's geographic coordinates fall precisely on the north-south meridian that runs through Glastonbury". This statement is incorrect: Rosslyn Chapel lies on longitude 3:07:13 west and Glastonbury Tor 2:42:05 west. Brown appears to have confused geographic north with magnetic north. Much significance has been placed on a statement that lodestones placed at each location will point at each other. Rosslyn Chapel currently lies within 1 degree of magnetic north of Glastonbury (the magnetic pole moves over time). However, with this level of accuracy, Rosslyn Chapel could lie anywhere between Glasgow and Edinburgh, which are 74 km (46 miles) apart, and the statement would still hold.

Dan Brown writes that there is a flight above Portugal, approximately 500 miles away from Paris. This is barely possible: the northern edge of Portugal is approximately 500 mi from Paris.

cientific disputes


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, such as the 28th printing of the British paperback, ISBN 0-552-14951-9 and apparently current printings of the US hardback. [ [] ]

Brown characterized the cycle of Venus as "trac [ing] a perfect pentacle across the ecliptic sky every four years", but Venus completes five cycles in "eight" years, [ [] ; [ Freemasonry information] ] a fact well-known to the ancient Greeks and Mayans. 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. [ [] ]

Technology and engineering

The Beechcraft Baron 58 is referred to as a turboprop. In fact, this aircraft is powered by two 300 hp Continental "piston" engines.

A GPS tracking device cannot work inside a heavily walled building. A GPS antenna needs a clear view of at least a portion of the sky for satellite signal reception. The wavelength of the carrier wave (about 20 cm) would make the button-size receiver (antenna) impractical (very inefficient). The GPS receiver described in the book is, however, also a transmitter. If so, then the tracking could have been done using the transmitted signal alone, without the GPS circuitry. Traditionally, radio transmitters are located by triangulation between two receivers with directional antennas. One points each directional antenna in the direction with the strongest signal, then plots them on a

A plane flying from New York to Rome would not fly over Portugal. Planes don't fly along straight lines on a Mercator map (which would intersect Portugal). Instead, planes fly (and ships sail) along great circles, which (over such long east-west distances) take them much further north. [ [ Plane flight paths] ]

Although mobile phones are used on board of planes several times in the novel, cell phones would not have worked inside a plane at cruise altitude (typically above 35,000 ft at such a late stage of the flight) at the time of the story. This has changed afterwards [Using mobile phones on airplanes] .

When the taxi driver pulls over in the Bois de Boulogne, he is said to put the car "in park." Minutes later, when Langdon climbs into the front seat, he struggles with the clutch and stickshift. Manual transmission cars do not have a "park" gear. Automatic-transmission cars do not have a clutch. It is possible that Brown meant to say that the driver engaged the parking brake, which could have caused a similar problem for Langdon.


The notion that any particular person living today could be descended from a small number of ancestors, such as Jesus and Mary, who lived millennia ago is statistically flawed. As Steve Olson, author of "Mapping Human History: Genes, Race, and Our Common Origins", explained in an article in "Nature", from a statistical perspective, " [i] f anyone living today is descended from Jesus, so are most of us on the planet." [ [ Why we're all Jesus' children. - By Steve Olson - Slate Magazine ] ]


The allegation that "the Church burned at the stake five "million" women" as witches has been a problem for many critics because data does not exist to permit an estimate. Reports have ranged from between the extremely high figures of 9 million and extremely low figures of mere hundreds, both of which have been vigorously challenged. More considered estimates range between 40,000 and 60,000 (of which 20 percent were men). Death sentences were mostly imposed by secular courts, while religious courts usually gave out non-lethal penalties like excommunication (and pardoned those who confessed and repented). One of the most virulent witch-hunter books, the "Malleus Maleficarum", was actually rejected by clerical scholars and its authors censured by the Inquisition. The German Jesuit Friedrich von Spee wrote the "Cautio Criminalis", a book that condemned the witch trials and torture in general. [ [ Recent Developments in the Study of The Great European Witch Hunt by Jenny Gibbons] ]

The association of "left" with terms such as "sinister" and other negative overtones is older than Christianity. The pre-Christian Latin word for left was "sinister", with negative implications, and the word for right was "dexter" (a root-word for the word "dexterity", for example), with positive implications. The distinction also exists in other cultures, such as Hinduism (for instance, "left hand tantra"). While the claim that "left brain" colloquially means irrational, emotional mind is true, the theory from which this popular notion arose has long been discredited - the left hemisphere of the brain is associated with analysis and detailed thought and control of the right side of the body. In addition, its inclusion seems to suggest that the church was able to control the functioning of all human brains in order to propagate bias against women. The book's insinuation that liberal parties' delegation to the left wing of legislatures is derived from early Christian slander against the left is also false, as the term originates from the French Revolution, when liberal deputies from the Third Estate generally sat to the left of the president's chair, while the more conservative nobility, members of the Second Estate, generally sat to the right, a habit which began in the Estates General of 1789 and not at the beginning of Christianity.

Brown's hero, Robert Langdon, is a world-renowned professor of "religious symbology" at Harvard University. In real life, there is no such formal discipline as "religious symbology." It is more properly defined as an approach or model of study within the anthropology of religion or symbolic anthropology. Related to symbology is "semiotics" or "semiology", which "is" a formal discipline and the field of such people as Ferdinand de Saussure and Umberto Eco. Also, Harvard does not offer a course in semiotics, religion-related or not.

Albinos typically have very poor vision; in fact, many are legally blind. It is therefore highly unlikely that the albino Silas could ever become an expert marksman, or even that he could drive.

It is stated that the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in "the 1950s," when in fact the initial discovery was made in 1947, with additional documents being located up to 1956.

In his lecture on the Divine Proportion, Langdon states that the proportion of male to female bees in a hive is always in this ratio. This is false, as the ratio can vary widely and is nonetheless usually greater than the Divine Proportion. Some other claims regarding the occurrence of this ratio in nature, such as the spirals in the shell of a Nautilus, are either false or dubious.

In the novel, Brown says the gnostic gospels found in Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in 1945, were "scrolls." They were actually codices- individual pages bound together as books.

Brown claims that the modern word "horny" is derived from the horns belonging to the god Amon, the supposed Egyptian god of fertility (see further up the page). This term is often attributed to the proverbial "horns of the cuckold," which is used in Boccaccio, Chaucer, and Ben Jonson. It is alternatively from the 19th century phrase "to have the horn", where the "horn" in question is a euphemism for the penis. [ [ Etymology of "horny"] ]

Brown claims that "minstrel" shares an etymological root with "minister" because minstrels were ministers of the Church of Mary Magdalene. The link is actually that the word used to apply to jesters, whose jobs were considered a court position, and therefore ministerial. There is no religious connection, and the job of jester/minstrel in this context was considered entertainment, and doesn't apply to the use of song to convey religious ideas as Brown suggests. The definition changed in the 16th century to include storytellers, but the word minstrel is three centuries older than that. [ [ Etymology of "minstrel"] ]

Since the name Isis was changed to L'Isa (meaning 'the Isis'), Amon should have read L'Amon since both names begin with a vowel.

In a sequence in chapter 61 Brown suggested that many Disney films were a means of spreading the "Grail story". Dan Brown claimed that Ariel from Disney's The Little Mermaid was Walt Disney's personal hint of knowing the Holy Grail/Sacred Feminine conspiracy; he cited Ariel's possession of a Da Vinci painting and her red hair. Walt Disney had been dead for several years before the Disney Studio even planned to make the Little Mermaid. Brown also claims that the word SEX appears in a scene in The Lion King: though whether the effect is real or deliberate is disputed. [ [] Example of one of many web sites trying to demonstrate the "urban legend" of SEX and the Lion King]

The verse from Job 38:11 that is "only seven words" long actually has 17 words in the King James version; the vulgate has 15 words and the Hebrew text has ten. The full verse in English reads: "And said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed?".

The text suggests that English was attractive to the Priory because it was uniquely "pure," not descended from the Latin associated with the Papacy. In fact, most European languages, including all Germanic and Slavic languages, are not derived from Latin. On the other hand, English has borrowed a lot of Latin-derived vocabulary. Furthermore, English was not a significant language in medieval times.

The main character leaves the driving to the female protagonist in one scene, being unable to drive stick-shift. However, later on, he drives in a high-speed chase on a frozen Swiss highway. The vehicle he drives is a massive cargo truck.

Also, the contention that the stripes worn on the sleeves of modern military uniforms are a derivation of an ancient symbol for the phallus is quite parochial and has to be qualified. Most uniforms worn around the world wear stripes or more correctly; chevrons - pointing down rather than up. This is because the majority of armed forces owe their heritage to the British convention of wearing these non-commissioned badges of rank that way. This is particularly true of Commonwealth troops such as Indian, Australian, Canadian, Pakistani, South African, New Zealand, the British themselves and many others, who as whole would vastly exceed the number of American troops that wear the chevron pointing up. Commissioned officer badges of rank derived from the British system are worn on shoulder boards and use 'pips' which in the case of the British Army are that miniature versions of the Order of the Bath, not of the "demonic" stars described in the novel - another chiefly American convention.

Literary criticism

The novel has also attracted criticism in literary circles for its supposed lack of artistic or literary merit and its allegedly stereotyped portrayal of British and French characters.

Stephen Fry has referred to Brown's writings as "complete loose stool-water" and "arse gravy of the worst kind." In a live chat on 14 June 2006, he clarified, "I just loathe all those book [s] about the Holy Grail and Masons and Catholic conspiracies and all that botty-dribble. I mean, there's so much more that's interesting and exciting in art and in history. It plays to the worst and laziest in humanity, the desire to think the worst of the past and the desire to feel superior to it in some fatuous way." [ [ Douglas Adams viewtopic] ]

In his 2005 University of Maine Commencement Address, best-selling author Stephen King put Dan Brown's work and "Jokes for the John" on the same level, calling such literature the "intellectual equivalent of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese." [ [ Stephen King address, University of Maine] ] The New York Times, while reviewing the movie based on the book, called the book "Dan Brown's best-selling primer on how not to write an English sentence". [ [ New York Times review] ] "The New Yorker" reviewer Anthony Lane refers to it as "unmitigated junk" and decries "the crumbling coarseness of the style." [ [ New Yorker review] ] Linguist Geoffrey Pullum and others posted several entries critical of Dan Brown's writing, at Language Log, calling Brown one of the "worst prose stylists in the history of literature" and saying Brown's "writing is not just bad; it is staggeringly, clumsily, thoughtlessly, almost ingeniously bad." [Language Log, The Dan Brown code] (also follow other links at the bottom of that page)] Roger Ebert described it as "potboiler written with little grace and style," although he did say it did "supply an intriguing plot." [ [ Roger Ebert's review] ]

Allegations of plagiarism

Two lawsuits have been brought alleging plagiarism in "The Da Vinci Code". [ [ Report in "The Scotsman"] ] —both were unsuccessful.

On April 11 2005, novelist Lewis Perdue sued Brown and his publisher Random House for plagiarizing his novels "The Da Vinci Legacy" (1983) and "Daughter of God" (2000), claiming "there are far too many parallels between my books and "The Da Vinci Code" for it to be an accident." fn|2 On 4 August 2005, District Judge George B. Daniels granted a motion for summary judgment and dismissed the suit, ruling that "a reasonable average lay observer would not conclude that "The Da Vinci Code" is substantially similar to "Daughter of God." Any slightly similar elements are on the level of generalized or otherwise unprotectable ideas." He affirmed that "The Da Vinci Code" does not infringe upon copyrights held by Perdue (see [ [ full ruling] , PDF] ).

In February 2006, Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, two of the three authors of "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail", took the UK publisher of "The Da Vinci Code" to court for breach of copyright, alleging plagiarism. [ Maev Kennedy, [,,1719776,00.html. In a packed high court, a new twist in The Da Vinci Code begins to unfold] , The Guardian, 28 February 2006] Some sources suggested the lawsuit was a publicity stunt [ [ Expanding on a theory isn't plagiarism] , Collegiate Times, 14 March 2006] intended to boost sales of "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail" (a boost which did in fact occur). However, the projected court costs of over 1 million pounds outweigh or at least substantially reduce the financial benefit of the lawsuit. [ [ Publish and be damned if you don't sell more] , The Birmingham Post, 10 March 2006]

Dan Brown repeatedly said in his defence that history cannot be plagiarised and therefore the accusations of the two authors were false. Leigh stated, "It's not that Dan Brown has lifted certain ideas because a number of people have done that before. It's rather that he's lifted the whole architecture - the whole jigsaw puzzle - and hung it on to the peg of a fictional thriller". [ [,,1718177,00.html Da Vinci trial pits history against art] , The Observer, 26 February 2006] Dan Brown has admitted some of the ideas taken from Baigent and Leigh's work were indispensable to the book but stated that there were many other sources also behind it. However, he admitted that neither he nor his wife had read Baigent and Leigh's book when he produced his original "synopsis" of the novel. [ [ The key to "The Da Vinci Code?" Dan Brown's wife] , Reuters/Yahoo! News, 16 March 2006 ] Many readers have noticed, however, that Sir Leigh Teabing's surname happens to be an anagram of "Baigent", and his first name happens to be "Leigh."

On 7 April, 2006, High Court judge Peter Smith rejected the copyright-infringement claim by Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, and Dan Brown won the court case. [ [ Court rejects Da Vinci copy claim] , BBC News, 7 April 2006] However, in the published extracts of his judgement [ [ The Da Vinci Code case judgement] , BBC News, 7 April 2006] the judge criticised the non-appearance of Blythe Brown and the vagueness of Dan Brown's evidence saying "He has presented himself as being a deep and thorough researcher...evidence in this case demonstrates that as regards DVC ["The Da Vinci Code"] that is simply not correct with respect to historical lectures". [ [ Full text] ]

The judge, Peter Smith, also included a code in his judgment. Throughout the judgment, apparently random letters are italicised and these form the message. The letters in the first paragraphs spell "smithy code" and the rest appear as follows "jaeiextostgpsacgreamqwfkadpmqzv". This was subsequently decoded to read "Smithy Code Jackie Fisher who are you Dreadnought", [. cite web| url =| title = Judge's own Da Vinci code cracked| format = HTML
publisher = BBC News | accessdate = 2006-04-28
] referring to the British admiral whom Judge Smith admires. As with the book, this secret message made use of Fibonacci numbers for its encoding.

In general, copyright law does not protect ideas or facts; only the way they are worded or portrayed. A book can be paraphrased without violating a copyright, at the cost of losing felicities of wording, and still portray the same ideas or facts. A verbatim quote is allowed in a review, if sufficiently short and properly attributed. Successful copyright cases usually involve verbatim repetition of entire chapters of a published book, passed off as the supposed author's own work with no mention of the actual source. Normally, such cases are easy to prove.

Christian response

US Catholic bishops launched a [ website] rebutting the key claims in the novel. The bishops are concerned about what they perceive as errors and serious mis-statements in "The Da Vinci Code".

The Catholic personal prelature Opus Dei worked with American and British TV networks on independent documentaries about the organisation to be broadcast around the movie's release. Reporters were invited to tour the headquarters in the US, which is a residence for Opus Dei members and a centre for community activities.

Christian organizations also planned to meet moviegoers with protests and prayers outside theaters nationwide, termed "Rejecting The Da Vinci Code Protests" by the Catholic "American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP)". After collecting more than 60,000 signatures in protest of the "blasphemous film", the Catholic organization set out for a one-thousand theater protest with tens of thousands of people around the country.

At a conference on April 28 2006 Archbishop Angelo Amato, the secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a Vatican curial department, specifically called for a boycott of the film version of The Da Vinci Code; he said the movie is "full of calumnies, offenses, and historical and theological errors." [ [ ANSA] [ Christian Post] [ Catholic World News] ]

In contrast, some Catholic groups did not urge protests or boycotts but sought to use interest in this book and film as a means to educate Catholics and non-Catholics on what the Catholic Church teaches regarding Jesus Christ and the history of the Church. [ [] ] [ [] ]

Also, many other Christians have looked to use the film as a tool for evangelism. [ [] ] For instance, in Australia, the Anglican Church set up a website called "Challenging Da Vinci", [ [ Challenging Da Vinci] ] and sought to have trailers before the movie inviting patrons to visit the site. Numerous Anglican churches simultaneously held events discussing the claims of the book and film.

In India, home to 18 million Catholics (1.8% of the population), the Central Board of Film Certification gave the film an adult rating on condition that disclaimers saying it was a work of fiction were inserted at the beginning and end of the film. [ [] ]

In Pakistan the small Christian minority, which constitutes around 3% of the population, successfully lobbied against the release of the film. As such the film adaptation is officially banned in Pakistan.

In fact, the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property ended up insipring well over two thousand theater protests against the film nationwide.



* Amy Welborn, "De-coding da Vinci: The Facts Behind the Fiction of the Da Vinci Code" (Our Sunday Visitor, 2004). ISBN 1-59276-101-1
* Richard Abanes, "The Truth Behind the Da Vinci Code" (Harvest House Publishers, 2004). ISBN 0-7369-1439-0
* Darrel Bock, "Breaking The Da Vinci Code: Answers to the Questions Everybody's Asking" (Nelson Books, 2004). ISBN 0-7852-6046-3
* Dan Burstein (ed), "Secrets of the Code" (CDS Books, 2004). ISBN 1-59315-022-9
* Bart D. Ehrman, "Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code" (Oxford University Press, 2004). ISBN 0-19-518140-9
* Nicky Gumbel, "The Da Vinci Code: a response" (Alpha International). ISBN 1-904074-81-2
* Hank Hanegraaff and Paul Maier, "Da Vinci Code: Fact or Fiction?" (Tyndale House Publishers, 2004). ISBN 1-4143-0279-7
* Steve Kellmeyer, "Fact and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code" (Bridegroom Press, 2004). ISBN 0-9718128-6-1
* Martin Lunn, "Da Vinci Code Decoded" (The Disinformation Company, 2004). ISBN 0-9729529-7-7
* Carl Olson, Sandra Miesel, "The Da Vinci Hoax" (Ignatius Press, 2004). ISBN 1-58617-034-1
* [ Essak, Shelley, "The Florentine School and the Portrayal of Male Youth". Accessed at]
* [ Esaak, Shelley, "Leonardo da Vinci - The Last Supper". Accessed at]

External links

* [ - provided by the Catholic Communication Campaign, an activity of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops]
* [ Da Vinci Code Correlations with Gulliver's Travels - Items on Alexander Pope and Isaac Newton]
* [ History vs The Da Vinci Code] Analysis of the historical claims made in the novel compared to the evidence, from a non-religious perspective.
* [ The Da Vinci Code] (Theopedia - has multimedia resources)
* [ The Key to The Da Vinci Code] (Crombie Jardine Publishing, 2005)
* [ The Biblical Resource Database] Links and Resources
* [ "The Da Vinci Code", the Catholic Church and Opus Dei] Official Opus Dei response - Compares assertions from the Da Vinci Code to the existing Opus Dei
* [ The Da Vinci Code] A critique by a priest of the Opus Dei prelature in Sydney.
* [ The Da Vinci Codex] Metaphor As "Code"
* [ Decoding Da Vinci] An Article comparing history to the novel
* [ The Da Vinci Code - the book, the movie, the deception]
* [ article refuting claims that paganism influenced Christianity]
* [ Howstuffworks:How The Da Vinci Code Doesn't Work]
* [ Why Is The Da Vinci Code So Popular?]
* [ "Debunking the "Da Vinci Code" Debunkers and the Jesus Myth"] (Article by Geoff Price)

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