|Chapter 1:||The Da Vinci Code Controversy|
The hardcover book edition held the number one spot on The New York Times best-seller list for more than two years, and the paperback “flew off the shelves” according to MSNBC, commanding an initial print run of 6 million copies and selling 500,000 editions the first week (Associated Press, 2006a).
The movie version debuted in the United States to both cheers and jeers, taking in $224 million worldwide in its opening weekend, which placed it well within the top five movie openings of all time. Ticket sales in predominantly Catholic countries’such as Italy and Mexico—were described as similarly spectacular, and producer Sony Pictures pegged it as among the most popular movies ever to open internationally (LA Weekly, 2006).
This “historical thriller” about the life and divinity of Jesus Christ brought early praise when the book was released. It was lauded by book critics, including those at major news and entertainment publications, who described it as “enlightening,” “brain-teasing,” and a work of “blockbuster perfection.”2 At the outset, it was considered “oddly non-controversial,” according to Stone (2006), although theologians, historians, and members of church hierarchies soon came to realize a virulent outcropping of the Da Vinci message: Brown’s mystery fiction was being taken as fact by many constituents.
The story, if taken as fully accurate, can certainly be considered historical and biblical revisionism. It suggests that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and that she bore his children—also that Leonardo da Vinci’s famous portrait Last Supper shows not the Apostle John near Jesus’ right arm but Mary Magdalene.