The Da Vinci Code
Two Book Reviews
The Truth About Jesus: Not the Da Vinci Code
by Fr. John Redford
Cracking The Da Vinci Code
by Jimmy Akin
Both Published by the Catholic Truth Society
It is, we may say, a rule governing all reflection and pronouncements by Christians on the life
and work of the Christian Church, that they must ever be focused on its formative event: the crucifixion and resurrection
of Jesus. There can be no Christian theology that centres solely on the Church as an institution or on its individual
members, at the expense of the proclamation of the Christian gospel, as summed up in the life and teaching of Jesus.
This is borne out in the Churchís earliest account of its history: the Acts of the Apostles. In it, the author,
Luke, emphasises that the sole aim of the first followers of Jesus is to assert his centrality in their lives,
and that all that they teach and do is designed to be an extension of his claims about himself and his mission
(see, e.g. Acts 4: 8-12, 2:5-3:18, 1 Corinthians 9:16).
Despite the above imperative, it is perhaps not surprising that, in the light of manís natural tendencies to speculation,
self-promotion and romantic musings, many should end up being fascinated more by the doings of the institutional
Church and its individual members than by their primary duty. In consequence, we see the growth of Gnostic religious
and philosophical influences that affect the minds of some Christians and their writings, and an unwillingness,
among some, to be satisfied with what they feel to be the overly simple character of the accounts of Jesus and
his disciples in the apostolic gospels. Hence the emergence of a few supplementary gospels that purport to inform
the reader of deliberately excluded, and perhaps more intriguing, information relating to the life of Jesus and
his followers, and later still, spurious and romanticised writings concerning Jesus and some of his inner circle
The Da Vinci Code, which has created so much interest, and even excitement, in recent years, is, therefore, just
one of a long history of speculative and romantic musings on the persons of Jesus and some of his followers, as
well as on the various structures and bodies which have arisen over the centuries as vehicles of Christian devotional
life and as channels for the propagation of the Christian gospel. It unblushingly ignores the purpose for which
the Church exists in favour of focusing on figments of the authorís imagination and fictional creations, no doubt
to heighten the readerís feelings of morbid excitement over what is claimed to be revealed. The danger of the novel
for the ordinary reader is that he or she is almost led to believe that the unfolding purely fictional story is
history, and that he or she can, in consequence, be led into a distorted view of the truth of things.
Fortunately, scholars working within the mainstream of Christian history and theological reflection are increasingly
aware of the adverse effect the Da Vinci Code is having on the ordinary reader who, though he or she may be aware
of the fact that it is primarily a work of fiction, are made to feel that its background is factually reliable.
As part of the strategy to rectify this tendency, The Catholic Truth Society is to be commended for having published
two booklets entitled The Truth About Jesus by Fr. John Redford and Cracking The Da Vinci Code by Jimmy Akin. As
the title of the first suggests, Fr. Redford has sought to deal with the distorted image of Jesus evoked in the
novel through its reliance on discredited views advanced by individuals over the centuries; views which have sought
to undermine the reliability of the authentic sources of Christian life and thought in the early life of the Church.
In the second booklet, Jimmy Akin has dealt with the uncertainty some readers may have as to whether the Da Vinci
Code is fact or fiction. He has analysed the questionable claims of the novel; and finally seeks to respond to
the attitudes of what he terms Ďfans of The Da Vinci Code.í
Although these booklets are designed to provide reliable information for the non-expert reader, it is essential
that every care be taken by the publishers to present that reader with a flawless text. Future editions, therefore,
of Fr. Redfordís contribution, for example should make every effort to avoid such faults as that on page 5 of his
booklet, where it is stated that the first Gospel by Mark was compiled at about 64 B.C. In the view of this reviewer,
the last paragraph on page 27 and its following paragraph on page 28 could profitably be reworked to provide greater
clarity of what is asserted.
Version: 31st March 2006