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Thursday, May 18th, 2006

Time Event
11:04a
The DaVinci Code--probably not--.
Probably not going to bother, except maybe when it gets to the budget cinemas. I was initially interested by the cast: I like Ian McKellen, Audrey Tatou, and what I saw of Paul Bettany in "Master and Commander," don't care about Tom Hanks. However, initial reviews are pretty disappointing.

I read the book, and franky wasn't that wild about it. Frankly, there was nothing new in it, even for fiction. I often wonder if Katherine Kurtz, who dealt with similar material in one of her "Adept" books back in the '90s gnashes her teeth that her book was exiled to the genre shelves--.

Also, Brown isn't that good a writer in my opinion. In particular, there is a major "cheat" in "DaVinci Code" in which he does not play fairly with the reader in order to maintain the mystery. In general, "DaVinci Code" and "Angels and Demons" share a problem in common with John Grisham's "The Firm," to-wit, a character with supposedly no background in law enforcement, espionage, or special operations suddenly becomes James Bond.

As for the Biblical controversies--come on, people, it's a novel. The Catholic Church may not be used to being the bad guys, but what's allegged that they did is surely no worse than the manifold evil conspiracies attributed to governments in thrillers in the last decades.

Do I think the Church hasn't come clean with us about Jesus' real life? No exactly. I think they've magnified "absence of evidence" about a lot of things into "evidence of absence." There were good dynastic and political reasons for the early Church to insist on celibacy for clergy, but they have used the fact that Jesus' wife is never mentioned as such in Scripture to mean that he never had one, which seems rather unlikely. An unmarried 33 year old man of a good family with a good trade would have been really unusual for that place and time. Some of my Jewish acquintances agree that Jesus could have had very little credibility as a rabbi and teacher if her were not married. I don't necessarily think that the Gospel writers maliciously wrote her out. Think about some of the revolutionary movements we've seen in modern times. I can easily picture Jesus' disciples--younger, unattached men caught up in the unutterable coolness of their leader's charasimatic presence--to whom Jesus' wife was just irrelevant, if not an actual drag on the fun.

Do I think Jesus survived the Crucifixion and ran away to France? Not at all. I think that adding Jesus into the lineage of the Kings of France in order to butress divine right to rule was one of the greatest acts of public relations (not to mention chutzpah) in history. On the other hand, we do seem to have references to James, the putative brother of Jesus, who might well have decided the Holy Land was a bit too hot--. (And then there's the question of where'd HE come from, if, as the Catholic Church in particular maintians, Mary remained virginal all her life?) The fact is, a lot of it is mystery and always will be, and thus fair game for the author.

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