November 5th 2005

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: CANBERRA OBSERVED: 'A dangerous moment for our democracy ...'

EDITORIAL: 'Simpler, fairer' labour laws? You've got to be kidding!

SCHOOLS: Mathematics at mercy of trendy educators

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS: Oil for food - or was it for a Mercedes?

INTERNATIONAL TRADE: WTO negotiations falter on trade liberalisation

VICTORIA: Water bill spells disaster for farmers

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Too many bulls in the China shop? / Anti-corruption conference / Logging onto other people's forests / Report from (another) conference / Little social protection

ABORTION: Cutting Australia's abortion rate

EMBRYO EXPERIMENTATION: Government push to use super funds for embryo research

WESTERN CIVILISATION: What conservatives should champion

CINEMA: In Her Shoes: Is Hollywood finally tiring of sleaze?

Maternity payment could make difference (letter)

How democracies perish (letter)

Justice for the worker (letter)

BOOKS: THE DEATH OF RIGHT AND WRONG: Exposing the Left's Assault on Our Culture and Values


Books promotion page


by John Ballantyne

News Weekly, November 5, 2005
A harmless bit of fun?

by Frank Mobbs
Melbourne: Freedom Publishing Co.
Paperback RRP: $9.95

"A lie," wrote Mark Twain, "can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes."

Tens of millions of readers around the world have devoured Dan Brown's runaway bestseller, The Da Vinci Code.

If they just enjoyed it as the fictional thriller that it is, it would be no more than a harmless bit of fun. But Brown's book is more than a novel.

Entwined in the story's labyrinthine plot are a series of breathtakingly audacious claims, which seek to overturn two millennia of Christian teaching and which Brown evidently likes to pass off as historical "facts".

In the course of their adventures, the story's characters, for instance, discover that:

  • Jesus of Nazareth had a child by his wife Mary Magdalen, and that their descendants included the Merovingian kings of France.

  • Christ's male apostles and the early Fathers of the Church deliberately covered up the truth about Jesus' relationship with Magdalen.

  • The gospels of the Gnostics and others, which supposedly give Magdalen her prominence, were expunged from the New Testament by order of the Roman Emperor Constantine. Since then, the Catholic Church has falsely demonised her as a prostitute.

Dr Frank Mobbs, an Australian author and lecturer on history, philosophy and theology, whose books have been widely published overseas, is well qualified to tackle the inaccurate historical claims undergirding Dan Brown's novel.

And claims they are. For in the novel's preface, under the headline "Facts", Brown boldly asserts: "All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate."

Mobbs does not try to answer every one of Brown's hundreds of points. Instead, he focuses on the novel's three most controversial claims.

He says: "My aim is to show that his arguments are so silly that to accept them would be to expose oneself to the charge of being irrational."

For instance, take Brown's treatment of the Marriage Feast at Cana, which he argues was to celebrate the marriage of Jesus and Magdalen.

The evidence he relies on? Mary, Jesus' mother, gives orders to the servants, thereby showing by her behaviour that she must somehow be in charge (and, by inference, must therefore be the groom's mother).

Mobbs, by contrast, invites us to examine the original Gospel source, which says:

"On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the marriage, with his disciples [Mobbs's emphasis]."

Mobs wryly observes: "Bridegrooms were not invited to their own weddings in those days any more than they are now. Jesus is not the bridegroom."

The enthusiasm for The Da Vinci Code shows no sign of abating. A film version of Dan Brown's book is due to be released in the middle of next year.

It is disturbing, however, that, in our information-rich age, so many of the public can be so gullible as to swallow a tale like this and seriously believe that it is based on historical fact.

Frank Mobbs's factual and succinct 53-page book, however, equips readers with a powerful antidote to the inaccuracies of The Da Vinci Code.

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