After months of research we completed our book "Da Vinci Code – Fact or Fiction" with a CONCLUSION. We believe we looked at the whole fiction / non-fiction discussion fairly.
The extent to which a novel attains (and sometimes maintains) cult status is a reflection of the extent to which it resonates in the minds of readers. This remains true whether we are talking about The Da Vinci Code, Miguel Cervantes’ ageless Don Quixote, or A Milne’s delightful tales of Christopher Robin and his animal friends.
It is interesting that many people – some devout Christians among them – seem to fear that the Christian Church will fragment if Jesus is finally proved to have been not of entirely divine nature but a great religious teacher who was fully human. But in fact many Christians, including dedicated priests and high officers of the church, question much established Church dogma, and many prominent religious thinkers have done so over the centuries.
Far from questioning or reducing the value of the teachings of Jesus, honest enquiry is more likely to strengthen rather than weaken the Church. Jesus wanted to free the Jewish people from both their own sectional dissensions and from unwelcome Roman influences. The Romans were far from displeased at Jewish lack of unity as it was the best possible assurance that no uprising against an occupying force would be successful. The failure of Jewish uprisings simply confirm this.
Fighting broke out between bands of Zealots and Romans in Caesarea in 66 AD before spreading to Jerusalem which the Zealots held for four years before the city fell to Flavius Titus, commander of an army sent from Rome. The abortive uprising culminated in the mass suicide in 74 AD of several hundred Jews who held out in the mountain fortress of Masada until they were entirely without the necessities of life.
At the end of the hostilities, Jews fled the Holy Land in their thousands to re-establish themselves mainly among their eastern neighbours. It was at this stage that most of the Dead Sea Scrolls appear to have been hidden, never to be retrieved by those who stored them in urns for protection and deposited them in caves in the cliffs of their arid environment.
Even stronger dissensions have grown over the centuries into major rifts within Christianity where Christians have persecuted Christians on no stronger grounds than differences in religious dogma. These illogical prejudices have persisted over two millennia and remain violently active in some parts of the world today.
Author Dan Brown uses fiction in order to explore ancient religio-historical mysteries that fascinate not only him but most of the Western world. Part of his intention as a writer is to encourage people to think for themselves and to question beliefs that have perhaps gone unquestioned for too long. Plato records that Socrates said that the unexamined life was not worth living. It remains one of the wisest comments ever made.
Setting a work of fiction against an historical background, more particularly a powerfully controversial one, enhances the novel and gives tremendous back-up to the story. Many readers are intrigued to the extent where they finish reading the book with so many questions tumbling through their minds that they set off on their own search for further information – for new ideas and tantalising possibilities that lurk behind the telling of the story.
In the case of The Da Vinci Code, this can be a thorny path because some readers whose belief systems are different feel a sense of outrage at a novel that they see as undermining the very substance of their most dearly held religious beliefs.
Inevitably, some commentaries reflect such views and focus on debunking The Da Vinci Code. But if it were Brown’s intention to proselytise, The Da Vinci Code would not be the international bestseller it is, because most of us have a built-in resistance to a novel that preaches. The prime intention of a novelist is to interest readers into continuing to turn the pages.
On the other hand, novels that make us think have a role beyond the telling of a story. If there is one thing that Dan Brown’s fascinating novel does, apart from entertain, it is to awaken a spirit of enquiry.
The author of a work of fiction is not presenting himself as the conveyor of ultimate truths. Dan Brown’s between-the-lines message is much closer to: ‘Do yourself a favour and at least think about these things. What is it that you are actually believing in? Could it be that many of us have lost sight of the real message and instead are slaves to the dogma?’
In the same vein, the varied ‘stories’ that make up the background of The Da Vinci Code demand enquiry. For readers interested in doing this, there is much enjoyment ahead.
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