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Thinking in PHI, for the moment

I've been reading The DaVinci Code. If you read it, I'd like to hear your thoughts on the book and all it contains. I'll give my thoughts when I finish it, but I'm really interested in knowing what you all think.


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» The Saturday Quiz from The LLama Butchers
Michele is reading The Da Vinci Code and is soliciting comments from readers on the oevre of Dan Brown. My question is: what would the Da Vinci Code movie look like if it were directed by Micheal Bay? Discuss amongst... [Read More]

» The Da Vinci Code from Say Anything
If you haven't read this book, you should. If you know people who have not read it, buy it for them for Christmas. Its probably one of the most interesting books I've read in a long, long time. The reason... [Read More]


Spoiler Warning

I read this and learned, for the first time that there were more gospels written than are included in the Bible. Started to make me think about organized faith in general to the point where I'm still not sure who, if anybody, has got it "right".

As for the book itself, a neat little action book just begging to be turned into a movie with a very bookish fellow, preferably with glasses, playing the male lead and some buxom pretty face playing the female lead.

As a student of comparative religion (including alternative Christianity), I was more surprised by all the hype surrounding the book than I was by anything in the book itself. There were churches having discussion groups about the book's contents - as if none of them knew about the other books (like Kevin, above) or about the teachings of the Gnostics.

I liked the book - it was a fun read, brain candy that got me by on a long trip - but it didn't tell me anything new.

Aaaach! Wymyn!

Ya gots this lovely lovely list o songs yet unfinished, lass, and yer off tiwiddle dee dee readin a boook now are ya.

</scottish accent>

Fun book - although I think Digital Fortress is better.

It was an expert blend of history, fantasy and mythos.

Very entertaining.

It's kind of like a novel-length Infocom game.


It's a fun read. I read it this summer (I was taking law classes abroad), and was able to travel to all of the key areas in the book (the Louvre, the temples, etc...), except for the one key part at the end (I won't spill it for you now).

Angels and Demons is also a good read, although, as Dan Brown frequently does with his novels, it's a little too similar to The DaVinci Code (similar plot, same/similar characters).

I found DaVinci Code, Angels and Demons both entertaining. Not so much with Digital Fortress.

Never finished it. Thought it was boring. Maybe I should have read past the first 3 or 4 chapters?

Why? I haven't finished reading Tacitus yet.

Great read. The best of Browns novels in my opinion.

I listened to it on audio cassettes while working. I liked it as a novel, but I still believe in the Bible's version of what Christ actually did while on earth.

Read it; didn't like it that much, or at least, not nearly enough to justify the hype. Angels and demons was worse.... the constant references to Illuminatti: New World as a computer game (it's a card game) just drove me.

I though the similar 80s books by David Morrell (authour, amongst other things, of First Blood) were notably better, and that Foucault's Pendulum was an order of magnitude better as a onspiracy book.

I read The DaVinci Code and was quite entertained...it's high-quality action fare with a convincing edge to it. I wasn't able to put it down, really; defines a page-turner.

HOWEVER....I was dismayed at how it portrays Catholicism; that is, not about how the book itself portrays it but about how others take it. Regardless of how you feel about organized religion, it should be clear that this is a NOVEL first and formost and not a factual text, no matter what the author claims in the preface. Of course, I AM catholic, and thus suspect on the eyes of the book...but I cannot say that I put much faith into the assertions of novelists.

I don't like Dan Brown's political or religious leanings one bit; but his writing? Top-notch excitement that pulls you in - just don't get too caught up in the "facts."

I just finished "Angels and Demons," his first with Langdon. Very cool stuff...he really sucks you in.

I recommend you pick up Bart Ehrman's "Da Vinci Code: Fact and Fiction" after you're done with that one. Anything by Ehrman's pretty top-notch, by the way (he's not some Jesus Seminar type in case you were wondering).

I've done Biblical research in my day (Troy Maclure voice - "you might remember me from, 'The Gospel of Matthias'") and I like to think I'm familiar with the extra gospels, such as Thomas and Secret Mark. That stuff about Hellenistic gnosticism having anything to do with Jeebus "I'll tear this Temple down in three days!" H. Christ just makes me LOL.

I'd be more interested in a "Dome of the Rock Code" book that showed a hidden message that the Koran wasn't finished as of 690 AD. But, you know, that kind of thing might get an author hurt.

Much of the info in the book was learned in undergrad art history. I thought the ending was very weak and rather far-fetched; otherwise mildy entertaining.

What annoyed me most about The DaVinci Code (aside from the cardboard-cutout characters and wafer-thin plot) was the fact that the main characters were supposedly these experts in their field, and yet a self-taught novice like meself solved every dernded riddle at least two chapters before they did (esp. the one where they're puzzled by this 'unknown' language that anyone who's ever read anything about Leonardo would recognize on sight...)

I think of the Dan Brown books the same way I think of the Harry Potter books. Fun, easy reads that pull you through the pages. Dan Brown will more likely send you scurrying to look things up on your friendly local internet than Potter but both authors are great at making you want to know 'what happens next?'.

Synopsis? Easy, light, enjoyable page turners.

(Yeah, you probably wanted more about the whole religion thing, huh? Sorry.)

I thought it was a fun book to read and enjoyed it thoroughly. Brown can definitely keep you hooked. Between this and the other Robert Langdon novel, Angels and Demons, I prefer A&D: it seems to me that Brown dumbed down The DaVinci Code. But that's just me.

As far as the whole religion thing goes, well, there has been a bit of a dispute in my family about this. My sister-in-law, an Evangelical Christian, has been warning people off the book for over a year now, because her pastor---in her words, a history buff---did a series of lectures at their church proclaiming how there are historical/Bibilical fallacies in it. He even turned these lectures into CD-Rom's, for all his church members to send off to their families, lest they be interested in reading the book. The sister-in-law sent these to her father, a sensible man, who in turn sent them to us, looking for help in driving some sense into his daughter's head. I watched them and they're completely reactionary: the pastor, in his attempt to keep people from thinking about their faith, kept forgetting the book is fiction. It's two, hour-long, lectures of the pastor quoting from scripture and assorted historical texts, in essence, pointing out everywhere Brown---as a writer of fiction---had played with what the Pastor saw was the absolute truth. I'm sorry, but quoting from the Bible---because we all know how accurate that book is---to disprove a work of fiction struck me as the height of absurdity.

The CD-Rom's aside, I had it out with the sister-in-law over her attempt to keep people from reading a book she hadn't even read. Book banning drives me nuts, and her behavior drove me past the point of rational thought, I'm afraid to say: it made me angry. I demanded she read the book, handed it off to her, and nine months later she has yet to pick it up and just read the stupid thing. I'm pretty sure she's afraid of it: she doesn't believe that anything that challenges her faith could possibly make it stronger. That this argument is over The DaVinci Code just makes me angrier: it's a thriller, for crying out loud. This isn't great literature.

Most people would have the sense to know that his book was fiction, but I think it was more of the "what if?" business that got people to thinking about faith, and subsequently caused all the brouhaha. They liked the ideas Brown raised. After all, the idea of Jesus being married, having a wife, having children, makes him more human than Godlike. They can relate to that: it's hard to relate to a martyr.

Ah, well, that's my 2cents.

While I am not religious, my interest in Old English and Middle English means I've read a lot of relatively early religious writings (as early as 900AD).
Just from my layman's knowledge of the subject, I found so many errors (?) and distortions in the book I was almost irritated enough to quit reading it, but I finished the volume. I strongly dislike fiction--especially fiction with an agenda--slyly presented as fact (viz. the films of Oliver Stone) as it distorts people's understanding of history, the only true guide we have for what people are really like and for what works and what doesn't.
So in the end I have to give the book a thumb's down despite the fact that it's undeniably a compelling read.

I agree with Craig---if you like DVC, you should definitely try Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum which is a much better version of this type of theological conspiracy theory stuff. If you are wondering at all about the arguments about Gnosticism and theology, the various books by Elaine Pagels (notably The Gnostic Gospels) are a good read. Personally, though, I'm happy National Treasure is going to drop a big fat stink bomb on the entire genre....

I think the book should be taken very lightly. It is fiction, has some facts intermingled and truthfully I found it unbelieveable. Not the facts part but the thriller part. Just too many fanciful escapades and death dealing escapes. I made myself read the whole thing but was shaking my head all the way. AND as a genealogist I find it truly stretching to think you could do a line that far back. I've seen a lot of people do it, but I don't believe them. I once downloaded a database on one of my husband's lines and got a big laugh when they actually had it to Gog and Magog. Ridiculous. I am not Catholic but I do have a good grasp of history having lived a lot of it, I was born in 1936 and remember a lot of history as that is a real interest of mine.

I think a lot of the controversy around the book is because the author keeps saying that it's based on fact. If he just said, "yeah, it's fiction" then there wouldn't be a problem and it could be taken for what it is, a decent novel. But he doesn't, which then causes all the hubub because his facts... well... aren't.

Hmm... Hard to recall, I may have to re-read it. I happened upon it last year sometime, it must have JUST come out.
I found it a bit of an easy read. Literally sailed through it, but it was fun and I must confess I enjoyed reading it. Taken with a grain of salt, of course. Having just seen 'National Treasure' the other day, I've been asked to compare that movie with this book by several people who have yet to read it. As far as clue gathering goes, they are not dissimilar, though Dan's writing is, I feel, superior to that of the movies.
Both stories take liberal views (liberal as in the wide ranging aspect, not the political aspect) on history and religion. They're fun to contemplate, but not to be taken seriously. I wouldn't give my children an education by sitting them down in front of a T.V. to watch pop culture movies any more than I would consider going to the movies or reading fiction to learn about the world. It's entertainment. Take it for what it's worth. A bit of fun, slightly heretical I'm thinking, but it does a good job of piquing interest in subjects I otherwise might not have come across. In that respect, I quite recommend the book.

I enjoyed the book as a good intriguing read. I also liked Angels and Demons, and Digital Fortress (even though DF made me want to scream a couple times).

Dan Brown's writing is kind of formulaic, and if you've read a couple of his books you can guess the twist at the end... but it's still a fun read.

As to the "controversy", any thing that makes one think about religion is, to me, a good thing. Yes, you can read one or all of the books that point out what's wrong with The DaVinci Code, but you can also look into it yourself. A book that causes thinking outside of the couple of hours spent reading it is a successful book.

For me, I think there are some interesting and relevant points in the book; but he's also way off my view in a lot of it. (I already own the "extra gospels", so that wasn't much of a revelation) I do think he's got a bit of a grudge against the religious establishment, but I don't see him as being anti-religion. I'd recommend the book, if only to spur conversation and introspection.

The best I can say about Brown's books (all of them) is that they are "entertaining". Just about perfect for a long-haul flight.

He's certainly got most of his facts right, but spins them well beyond what their historical reality can support. But that's what a writer does, I guess. His books fall awkwardly in between "Thriller" and "Science Fiction/Fantasy".

I don't think a whole lot of his writing style. As others have mentioned, if you read one, you've pretty much read them all, except that he changes which strange parts of history he'll riff.

It is entertaining, light fiction. I'm amazed at people who seem to think it is full of scientific fact.

A third rate writer with second rate ideas about first rate subject matter.

I hope you enjoy the book; it is a fast, interesting read but the ideas on the origin and early growth of Christianity are old hat. But if you want more scholarly info on the "unofficial" gospels (the Gnostic gospels--there were several), Elaine Pagels is an excellent researcher and writer. Umberto Eco travels the same territory as "Da Vinci Code" in fictional form in "Foucault's Pendulum" that you might like.

Just read it a week or two ago, after my mother foisted it on me.
Not much new to add here: fun read, lots of cliches, best to take it at fiction.

Some of the early Church stuff was known to me, as a bit of a history buff. The dramatic bits about Opus Dei were new though, and I don't know how much salt to take with it.
The ending felt very artificial though. The novel is a good pageturner until then.

Good entertainment. Certainly not anything to be taken seriously. I'm Catholic and was not offended. The ideas were clever, although the plot breaks down here and there. All in all, a good, fun novel, but I don't know what all the fuss is about.

For a better nover, I echo the suggestion above: "Foucault's Pendulum" by Umberto Eco. Now that is a towering work of historical fiction. Eco also deftly combines fact with fiction while never suggesting that the latter is the former. Brilliant.

It was a fun read but... annoyed me to no end.

The writing was mediocre at best (characters should be more than half an inch deep) and the facts are not facts...

In particular the ending made me actually throw the book across the room. As someone who has taken several college courses on Arthurian legend and Grail mythology I literally could not believe that he would do what he did in the end... what hubris.

Then - my non Catholic friends started to read the book and think that it was an accurate representation of my church. arrrgghh. Sure it is - like "The West Wing" is an accurate representation of the Clinton White House.