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browned off

By Diogenes (articles ) | May 11, 2006

Mark Steyn scores some good hits on the DVC ...

Novelist Dan Brown staggered through the formulaic splendour of his opening sentence. I've discussed his anarthrous kickoff with a couple of novelists and they say things like, "It doesn't sound like a novel," and I usually reply that that's the point. If The Da Vinci Code were just a novel, it would just be crummy writing. But insofar as it evokes one of those interminable Newsweek background pieces reconstructing the John Kerry presidential campaign or some such, it bolsters the sleight of hand of the book: it rhythmically supports the impression that this is not a work of fiction, but a documentary unlocking of a two-millennia-old secret. ...

This premise has made anarthrous novelist Dan Brown the bestselling anarthrous novelist in the world. Even in a largely post-Christian West, Jesus is still a hit brand but, like other long-running franchises, he's been reinvented. It's like one of those bizarro Superman/alternate universe specials the comic books like to do.

... and on the puffery accorded the Gospel of Judas:

The latest Bizarro Christ bestseller is the so-called Gospel of Judas, lost for 1,600 years but apparently rediscovered 20 minutes ago, edited by various scholars and now published by the National Geographic Society in Washington. ... Renowned betrayer Judas Iscariot, you'll recall, was the disciple who sold out Jesus. Only it turns out he didn't! He was in on the plot! The betrayal was all part of the plan! For, as the Gospel of Judas exclusively reveals, Christ came to him and said, "Rudolph, with your nose so bright . . ." No, wait, that's a later codex. Christ said to Judas that he "will exceed all" the other disciples because it had fallen to him to "sacrifice the man that clothes me." ...

As Dr. Simon Gathercole of the University of Aberdeen told my old pal Dalya Alberge in the London Times, the alleged Gospel of Judas "contains a number of religious themes which are completely alien to the first-century world of Jesus and Judas, but which did become popular later, in the second century AD. An analogy would be finding a speech claiming to be written by Queen Victoria, in which she talked about The Lord Of The Rings and her CD collection."

The whole piece is worth a read, though it pains me to say that Steyn fails to show the deference due those nimble scholars of antiquity tucking five-spots in their garters as they dance to the National Geographic's lounge band.

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  • Posted by: Pete133 - May. 11, 2006 11:51 PM ET USA

    I really do dislike sounding so callous, but I've got a lot better things to do than waste my time reading the "Da (Duh) Vinci Code" and the "Gospel of Judas". Why do we even spend time acknowledging this trash? I suppose a good denial or defense is necessary for those rubes who may be susceptible to such inventions. The first clue should be the beginning acknowledging the work as "fiction". Learn from what the author writes. It's fiction--treat it as such!

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