Thursday, April 20, 2006

Getting Ready for Da Vinci

My wife and I are preparing to watch The Davinci Code.

She bought the book and has read it. Now it's my turn to read the book. We like reading a book before watching a movie. We have discussed some of the history mentioned in the book as she graduated with a Bachelor's in History from UTPA. Some of the classes she took involved the bible. One thing that bothers her is that people are making a big deal about the book as if it were some authoritative book on the life of Jesus Christ. It's a work of fiction that borrows some historical evidence and twists it. Nobody got upset when Indiana Jones actually found the Holy Grail or when Constantine unearthed the Spear of Destiny. They didn't deserve any protest because they are works of fiction. Similarly, Dan Brown's book is a work of fiction.

Some of the facts that he does borrow is that historians do seem to think that Mary Magdalen was the wife of Jesus. The reason for this is that she was his "companion", which can mean both a friend or a wife. It is unlikely that she would have been another apostle. Why bother if society would not have taken her seriously. Women also didn't have the leisure to go around following a prophet. And, finally, people of the time kind of just hooked up and stayed together. Common Law marriage is nothing new to society.

At this point, without a marriage certificate or some other document showing Jesus and Mary M. as husband and wife, it's speculation. Things point that way, but nobody knows for certain. It's still and interesting story. I used to read comic books as a teen. On occasion, Marvel Comics would print a What If? issue where they would explore an alternate universe if a hero had made a different decision in life or had lost a battle. The Davinci Code seems to me like a What If? story. What if Jesus was married and had a family?

You can take any history and twist it into a tale. Take Moses, for example. We know that he grew up as an Egyptian Prince before his exile. The Egyptians dealt with their Hebrew immigration problem by turning them into slaves. They were Red Sea mojados. So, what if Moses hatched a plan to rid the Pharaoh of his undesireables and to form his own kingdom? Moses would have been an educated man. He would have maintained some level of a relationship with his brother, the Pharaoh. Given the facts, you could probably say the he spoke to his brother and asked him to "Let my people go". Every visit would basically be a strategy session to develp a plan to fool the Hebrews into thinking that God was punishing the Egyptians for the Pharaoh's stubborness.

What about the plagues? Moses wrote the Old Testament. He could have taken some artistic license when he wrote it. You know, some exaggerations. Being educated, he wrote Jewish Law and appointed the families who would take care of the temple and other jobs. Remember it took him forever to come down from the mountain with the Ten Commandments so that the people started building a golden calf? Chiseling stone tablets is no easy feat, it takes time.

Finally, recall that the generation that fled Egypt did not make it to the promised land. They all died off in the desert. So, how would the new generation know if Moses did or did not part the Red Sea? How would they know about his staff turning into a snake? How would they know about the Angel of Death killing the first-born males in Egypt? Their parents told them and Moses wrote it down. The family running the temple had a vested interest in keeping up the story because the were set for life. The other families with assigned duties also had an interest in keeping up the deception.

I'm not saying all this about Moses is true. My point is, you can take a true story, and add some fiction. Suddenly, you have a whole different story. This is how conspiracy theories are built. The most shameful being the theory that some people knew about the attacks on Sept. 11 in advance and let them happen for political gain. Lies and fiction are more believable when you mix them with facts.

So, we are going to watch the movie when it comes out to see how it differs from the book. I will be reading the book to see how well the tale is woven into the truth. It's funny when family members try to disprove the Davinci Code. It's fiction!

1 comment:

denise said...

I'm looking forward to seeing the movie as well, though I think I might wait to get it on Netflix.

I don't get the "controversy" aspect of the book, though. It's FICTION, and people will find it in its respective section in their local bookstores. It's not even shelved under INSPIRATIONAL FICTION like those ridiculous Tim LaHaye books.

The Vatican wants to put some sort of disclaimer on the books now. The whole thing has been completely overdone. People need to concentrate their energies on poverty, racism, domestic abuse, et. al....instead of wasting their time deciding works of fiction are blasphemous.

As for the actual book, I read it last year, in defiance of my ex-bookseller sensibilities. (I'm not ashamed to say that I'm a book snob.) Dan Brown's books have been reprinted en masse and sold in thousands of supermarkets for a reason: they're easy to read, and the plot is somewhat predictable.

You should read 'Angels and Demons,' also by Dan Brown once you're done with the D-Code. It's very much in the same vein of religio-conspiratorial stuff he presented in the D-Code.


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