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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Big Gaps in the Premise, December 5, 2003
This review is from: The Da Vinci Code (Hardcover)
I would have enjoyed "DaVinci" a lot more if the basic premise had a leg to stand on. It was disappointing, especially since I really liked "Angels and Demons".
Brown's protagonist, Robert Langdon, takes it as historic fact that Constantine the Great invented Christianity as we know it. According to Langdon and his friend, Sir Leigh Teabing, Constantine decreed that Christianity would become the official religion of the Roman Empire at the Council of Nicea, and he decided which of the gospels would become canon and which were to be destroyed. The marriage of Jesus to Mary Magdalene, and the existence of their child, was to be suppressed--by force, if necessary.
However, as any thirty-second search on the web will tell you, Constantine only *legalized* Christianity. It was *Theodosius* who made Christianity the official religion of the empire about 65 years later. In between them came Constantine's nephew, Julian the Apostate, who tried to dismantle Christianity during his brief reign. Julian was convinced that it was his destiny to restore paganism to primacy. Would he not have used Jesus' marriage to Mary Magdalene as part of his campaign to discredit the "myth" of the chaste, holy Jesus?
In addition, the bishops of Rome did not exert primacy over western Christendom until more than one hundred years after Constantine's death. The Eastern patriarchs *never* accepted the authority of the bishops in Rome. A monolithic Roman church, able to squash all dissent, simply didn't exist until maybe the time of Charlemagne, around A.D. 800.
In short, there were too many people, too many places, and too many years that the "secret" of Jesus' marriage to Mary Magdalene could have been preserved and spread for Brown's theory to work. Suspension of disbelief requires throwing out basic facts of Western history that any intelligent person should have learned in high school.
I realize that Brown didn't set out to write a history, but the book would have been more enjoyable if Brown had done some basic research. Even if he'd just made Theodosius the originator of the conspiracy, instead of Constantine, the plot would have been more plausible!
Finally, Brown's attacks on Christianity in general, and the Roman Catholic church in particular, go beyond what's required to advance the plot. The book comes off as a thinly-veiled device to present pagan goddess worship as more spiritually pure and historically accurate than what's been preserved in the Bible and other first century sources.
But maybe that's why it's selling so well.
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