Reviews of historical accuracy by secular organizations:
• a review of The Da Vinci Code by Salon (a secular website) begins by observing that "Recent history offers many examples of Americans' inability to tell fact from fiction, but none more tangled than the story of Dan Brown's ‘Da Vinci Code’."
• About The Da Vinci Code (whose goal is "to provide free, reliable information — just the facts") describes one reason for the confusion observed by Salon — "The opening page of the book reads: ‘FACT: The Priory of Sion – a European secret society founded in 1099 – is a real organization... The Vatican prelature known as Opus Dei is a deeply devout Catholic sect that has been the topic of recent controversy... All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate.’ This opening, along with the intellectual and academic air of the book and its characters, make the reader inclined to trust the information on art, history, and religion presented as a backdrop to the fictional narrative. However, many scholars in those fields have noted a considerable amount of inaccuracy in these factual claims." This web-page summarizes the many historical inaccuracies in this book, and provides links to "What Experts Are Saying" about the book and its historical accuracy, and it continues with sections devoted to Jesus' Marital Status, Gnostic Gospels, and Opus Dei.
and from Christian authors and organizations:
• The Da Vinci Code: Fiction Presented as Fact (which is Part 4 of a 9-part series by Apologetics Index) summarizes the problem — "Though it is a fictional story, Brown claims – both in the book and in interviews – that it is based on fact." — and quotes authors writing in Commonweal, Crisis, and Lake Magazine.
• Deconstructing The Da Vinci Code by Chris Lang, writing for Xenos Christian Fellowship, says "it’s a fast-paced, page turner that tantalizes the reader with fascinating digressions into the history of... It is also an unrelenting attack on the Catholic Church in specific, and Christianity in general." He compares The Da Vinci Code (by author Dan Brown) and The Gnostic Gospels (by scholar Elaine Pagels), noting the many similarities in their views; he also examines The Da Vinci Code and compares its fallacies (of fictional history) with facts (of actual history).
and from Glenn McDonald:
• Da Vinci Turns Two: The Fiction of Historical Accuracy examines the books "claimer" (in contrast with a "disclaimer") which declares that "All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents and secret rituals in this novel are accurate." He says, "This one simple sentence has proven to be incredibly effective at coloring the experience of reading the book that follows. Many if not most of Da Vinci's readers seem to have interpreted the preface to mean a lot more than it actually does." Even though there is historical accuracy about some historical elements (artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals) "the story that surrounds them, however, is conjecture; a puzzle assembled from historical jigsaw pieces that have been rearranged to present another picture. It's a neat trick. ... Brown naturally uses quite a bit of selective editing and convenient rearranging to power the revisionist histories he describes, and his characters come to conclusions that are wildly inventive, from a rigorous scholarly standpoint. In fact, it's clear that Brown takes creative license throughout the book, in regard to what's fact, what's fiction, and whatever's in between." McDonald then describes the lack of critical thinking by gullible readers: "Brown suggests a massive cultural conspiracy that is historically actual. The more scholarly response books are falling over each other to tell you otherwise. The savviest critics are not actually responding to historical discrepancies in the fictional The Da Vinci Code, but to a readership that is taking the story literally."
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