Professor James Beverley of Tyndale University in Toronto, Canada has written and lectured extensively on the issues surrounding the Da Vinci Code. The following open letter is printed in his book, Counterfeit Code, which is available from http://jamesbeverley.com
March 7, 2005
We have never met, though, as mentioned in my book, we both knew Martyn Percy, the Anglican Scholar. I was going to write a conclusion that stated that no number of replies to The Da Vinci Code will do much to stop millions from believing its radical and misleading theories about Jesus, Mary Magdalene, the Gnostic Gospels, Constantine and the Bible, the Priori Sion, and so on. I then realized that statement was not true. In fact, you could correct the serious mistakes you have made in your book. These errors have hurt people both spiritually and intellectually.
So, that is why I am sending this open letter to you. I defend your freedom to believe and write what you want. I admire your discipline as a writer. I also noted earlier in this book that you seem like a really nice guy, based on what I have seen of you in documentaries and in television interviews. I know that you had no idea that The Da Vinci Code would become one of the best-selling books of all time. I'm sure that you never imagined that you would become one of the most influential spiritual writers of our new century.
With this powerful platform and influence comes a solemn responsibility. Dan, I urge you to reconsider many of the views that you have advanced in both The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons. You claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ. You also claim that you believe in doing careful and exhaustive research. Given both of these claims, I believe you owe it to your readers and to Christ to reconsider your theories.
I am not questioning your motives or judging your heart. Rather, I am trying to get you to see that many of the ideas in your two novels are inconsistent with what it means to be a Christian and what it means to do careful research and thinking. So far, you have simply avoided answering your critics. You seem largely content to rest on your popularity. In your occasional public comments you rely on your very superficial arguments to defend views and ideas that are false, irrational, unhistorical, and anti-Christian.
At one point you mention that "history has been written by the winners." You use this line to promote your radical theories about early Christianity, about Jesus and Mary Magdalene, about Constantine, and about the Priory of Sion. Dan, no Gnostic writers (the so-called losers in history) believed your views about Jesus or about sex rituals. There are no early documents about Christians protecting the bones of Mary. No scholars of Roman history share your views on Constantine. Dan, the real Priory of Sion is an invention of that notorious fraud Pierre Plantard in this very century. Art historians uniformly dismiss your unique theories about Leonardo da Vinci. Have you asked yourself why that is so?
I am concerned that you have never admitted you have made a single mistake. Let me raise just two specific examples. You novel states that there are 666 panes of glass in the pyramid entrance to the Louvre and that former French President Francois Mitterrand requested this number. Dan, a spokesperson for the architect who designed the entrance states that both claims are totally false. Will you now admit this error? James Robinson, one of the great scholars of Gnosticism, has said that your views on Gnostic literature are unreliable. Are you open to his correction?
More seriously, do you truly believe that Jesus did not claim to be the Son of God? Why does the entire New Testament teach this? It is historically verifiable that the classical Christian Gospels were written long before the Gnostic literature. Why would you trust later material done by Gnostics who did not even know Jesus? Dan, if Jesus and Mary were actually married and had a child named Sarah, why is it that no one has mentioned this until our day? You have used neither primary historical material nor new evidence to support your claims. You need to admit your radical views about Jesus and Mary and the alleged French lineage are completely unhistorical, whether history is written by winners or losers.
You have also defended a totally bogus view of sex rituals as it relates to Judaism, Jesus and the early Church. Dan, the Old Testament clearly does not advocate sex in the temple. It emphatically condemns it! Likewise, early Christians were never encouraged to have sacred orgies in church. You have been completely fooled by crackpots on this topic. You are absolutely correct that sex is a beautiful creation of God. Given this, you need to rethink the novel's defense of sex ritual in worship. If not, are you going to be consistent and join some radical witchcraft group that engages in the practice?
Dan, Christians from all over the world are finding that your novel is being used to attack the basic claims of the gospel. I am not talking here about your proper appreciation of sex and the beauty of the feminine. Rather, people now use The Da Vinci Code to prove that the Bible is not accurate and that Jesus is not the Son of God, performed no miracles, and was really a pagan. Are these your views? If not, you need to speak out clearly as a Christian about your unity with the clear teachings of the gospel and with fellow Christians.
I am sure it is distressful to have books like mine challenging and attacking your views. However, these responses to you rise directly from your statement on page one of The Da Vinci Code claiming your references to art, architecture, and ritual are accurate. I believe that the case against the accuracy of your intellectual and spiritual arguments is overwhelming. Dan, you have been fooled by conspiracy buffs like Plantard and have been misled by faulty research, especially from the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail.
For the sake of truth, I urge you to reconsider your errant views and warn your readers all over the world that your novel should simply be treated as nothing more than a novel. Your fame now gives you an incredible platform, an opportunity, and a duty to revise your views and respond carefully to the implications of your Christian commitment.
With best wishes,
James A. Beverley
Institute for the Study of American Religion
Santa Barbara, California