Judge Asks Sharp Questions at Close of 'Da Vinci Code' Case

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The lawyer for the two men who say Dan Brown stole from their book for his novel "The Da Vinci Code" faced sharp and relentless questioning from the judge in the case during closing arguments in the High Court here on Monday.

The judge, Peter Jones, will not issue a decision for several weeks, and it is impossible to know how he will rule. But his tough questions appeared to reflect skepticism, even exasperation, toward some of the arguments put forward by the lawyer for the plaintiffs, Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, two of the three authors of "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail." (The book's other author, Henry Lincoln, is not taking part in the lawsuit.) They claim that Mr. Brown lifted the central "architecture" for his megaselling "Da Vinci Code" from their nonfiction book, published in 1982.

For instance, when the lawyer, Jonathan Rayner James, argued that Mr. Brown had "been hiding the truth" about when he and his wife, Blythe Brown, who does much of his research, had first consulted "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail," Justice Jones stopped him short. If that were true, the judge asked, why had Mr. Brown left out "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail" from the bibliography he submitted to the publisher, along with a synopsis of "The Da Vinci Code" in January 2001 — only to include a pointed reference to the book in the finished novel a year later?

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Jim Williams - 3/22/2006

Indeed, the book is poorly written, even as a run-of-th-mill detective story. Ots only real attraction is the pseudo-historical framework for the book. Yet Brown takes evidence out of context, invents evidence, uses evidence anachronistically....
The Gnostic writings upon which Brown relies for his comments about Jesus include nothing to support the thesis of a marriage and children and only a couple of passages which can be construed to support a "romantic relationship." The Gospel of Philip, source of one of these passages, portrays Jesus as fundamentally divine, not human. So does the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, although it does claim that Jesus loved Mary more than the male apostles.

Maia Cowan - 3/22/2006

The "pointed reference" is the name of one of the characters, Sir Leigh Teabing -- Leigh for Richard Leigh and "Teabing" an anagram (with which the book is rife) of [Michael] Baigent. Sir Leigh explicitly mentions "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" in one scene. [I read The Da Vinci Code out of morbid curiosity. I exonerate Brown on the charge of plagiarism, because one cannot plagiarize ideas, only specific text; he is, however, guilty of very bad writing.]

Richard Landes - 3/22/2006

to cover their backsides?
i'm not really up on this (altho i did read HBJHG at the prompting of a student (who was in Society for Creative Anachronism) way back when, and have not read Da Vinci Code (despite urging from many students)... but Jesus becoming the founder of the Merovingian dynasty strikes me as not the kind of hypothesis that one stumbles on twice.
the judge's question strikes me as very strange. can someone clarify?
what is the "pointed reference"?