I don't think I have anything of interest to contribute to the discussion of Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code. I have not read the book and have absolutely no intention of doing so; it's just so far down my list of fiction that I'd like to read that I can't imagine ever being in the position to find the time to read it. On occasions like this, I tend to be quite grateful when a film comes out because then I only need to waste a couple of hours on something that someone with a better imagination than me has read and converted into a film for me. And I just love the cinema. My guess is that on this occasion I won't get round to going to see the film, though, because the reviews are not positive and a certain perverse desire to miss the big event kicks in. It was nice to be able to say to one of the dads at my kids' school this morning that I was not planning to go and see it.
I am not particularly proud of that perverse desire to stand outside of the big cultural event (if you can call it that), though, because I think it's fantastic that so many of my colleagues in the guild have taken the time not only to read the book but to engage the historical claims made in it. In other words, I am really grateful to those like Bart Ehrman who have provided an interested public with some proper history, not least because it is always so important that we take seriously our task to communicate the methods, results and conclusions of our scholarship to a wide public.
This is the biggest pop cultural event relating to early Christian history since the release of The Passion of the Christ just over two years ago. It has been interesting on this occasion to be on completely the other side of the fence. On that occasion, I couldn't get enough of it, the film, the media buzz, the scholarly reaction and over-reaction, as this blog testified. Goodness, I even went out of my way to sneak into a vicars-only preview screening. My interest at the time eventually let to an article on it, and I have another one in preparation. The difference for me was that I have always been fascinated by Jesus films, and the prospect of a new one was very exciting; I was the same about The Miracle Maker in 1999 and will be the same about future ones, good, bad and ugly. So getting stuck in, blogging about it, writing about it, etc., was never difficult. This makes me all the more impressed with those of my colleagues who have engaged the Da Vinci Code since few, if any, have any kind of love for the genre or for this specific piece. So this is a public thank you from a representative of those who did not have the energy to engage this book.