Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Da Vinci Code character appears in flesh and blood
How would you feel if the author of a fiction book that's sold more than 40 million copies included you in it as a character, using your real name and job description, but never told you about it?

That's what happened to Maurizio Seracini, the only non-fictional character appearing in The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown's runaway bestseller about a fictional conspiracy to hide the "truth" about Jesus -- that he was married to Mary Magdalene and had a child.

In the book, clues about this conspiracy, which is supposedly perpetrated by the Catholic Church, emerge through the art of Leonardo da Vinci. The movie version of Brown's story premiers this week at the Cannes Film Festival.

When I met with Seracini in his breathtaking office just across from the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, I thought he was joking at first. "You never met, spoke or e-mailed Dan Brown?" I asked. "Never had the pleasure," he replied.

In The Da Vinci Code, Brown describes Seracini as an "art diagnostician." With a title like that, I thought, you can't be a real person, or in any case that's not a real job. But Seracini's work not only exists, it's actually very important.

His office looks like a state-of-the-art laboratory, with machines you would normally find in a hospital. He uses them to study the origins of works of art, analysing the composition of the materials -- e.g. the wood, the paint, the wax, the canvass -- to establish how old they are and to advise curators and art galleries on how best to preserve them.

Seracini can certify scientifically whether a certain work of art was actually produced by Leonardo da Vinci or an impostor.

"How do you do that?" I asked. "It's simple," he replied with a broad smile. "I look for his fingerprints."

No wonder Dan Brown chose him as one of his characters. (By the way, if you have the book on hand, you can find Seracini in chapter 40).
Posted By Alessio Vinci, CNN Correspondent: 5:12 PM ET
I'm going to see the movie this weekend and I can't wait. I don't understand the kerfuffle over the book or movie as they are just STORIES people. Dare I say it....the Bible is just a story book also, written by educated men to explain what was unexplainable at the time.
Posted By Anonymous E, Toronto, Canada : 5:34 PM ET
As long as the inclusion in the book is honest and does not disparage the person, I don't think it's any big deal, but Dan Brown should have informed Maurizio Seracini before publication and asked for permission to include him as a character in his book.
Posted By Anonymous Joseph Kowalski, North Huntingdon, PA : 5:40 PM ET
I would be flattered if I were mentioned in a book of such infamy. However, I doubt any author has a need to mention a run-of-the-mill graphic designer.

Seracini's work sounds absolutely facinating and I'm certain he never tires of going to work. Would he like an apprentice by any chance?
Posted By Anonymous Kevin Stramer, Minneapolis, Minnesota : 5:45 PM ET
This is a book of fiction and with all the hype going on in religious circles, it is bound to take an ordinary movie and turn it into a blockbuster in box office sales, just for the curiosity!
Posted By Anonymous Mikki, DM, IA : 6:01 PM ET
As in every action of this magnitude in history, time will expose error. I would sure hate being in the shoes of those who support this book and especially the author of this fictional story. When He whom is most injured comes to judge the world there will be hell to pay. Had he only studied Bible prophecy for accuracy there would be no cause to question the life of Jesus. Christians know who the fake really is and we shall not stoop to discuss ideas on this level except with those people who are desiring to know what is truth.
Posted By Anonymous Jon Dallas, Tx : 6:21 PM ET
What an honor it must be to be included in a book that has sold so many copies. I feel he should have been informed, however If it were me, I would be very honored to be apart of such a riviting tale.
Posted By Anonymous Nicole, Chicago IL : 6:25 PM ET
If Maurizio Seracini does not mind being portrayed in The Da Vinci Code, why should anyone else mind? I really think the flap over this book borders on insanity. Why are religions so afraid of this non-fictional story? The Bible is just another story book written exclusively by men, there is no proof that the Bible is non-fiction, or fiction. Come on people..get a grip and stop feeling so threatened. I have read the book and now, with all the undue hype about the movie, I will be among the viewers..just for the sake of seeing what all the talk of banning is about. I certainly did not see a reason to ban the book itself.
Posted By Anonymous Moe, Liverpool NY : 6:26 PM ET
Cute article. Even cuter picture!

Can't wait for the movie. Should be a blast!

As for me, I loved the book -- stayed up all night reading it on my honeymoon in France while my wife suffered from Alpine flower allergies. The themes are fascinating. At the very least, many people will be inspired to learn more about how the Christian Bible was written and, I hope, discuss the notion that the winners are the ones who write history ...
Posted By Anonymous Paul Ward, Washington DC : 6:54 PM ET
To the one who posted from Canada; The Bible is a book of stories, but the events which occur in the Bible happened. As for the "facts" in the Da Vinci book are fiction. It is simple a book to entertain. I am Christian and I am going to see the movie, why? Because I love movies and books that are entertaining.
These people who are boycotting the movie are probably the same ones who think Harry Potter and Hogwarts are part of a satanic cult. I would like it if everyone would relax a few ions so the rest of us can enjoy some interesting entertainment.
These examples are better then any of the reality TV that's on, that is for sure.
Thank You
Posted By Anonymous Jack Keller Tempe, AZ : 7:04 PM ET
the book`s a good work of fiction.It may actually cause more people to examine the roots of religion, it`s history, how it was written,and whom wrote it...the New Testament , as H.L.Mencken pointed out, is full of contradicting "evidence"... And certainly ,at the councils of Nicea and Trent, some books were pitched out that attempted to explain the human side of Jesus the Christ.
Afterall, hard to recruit more converts if there`s no Big Payout at the journey`s end...
Posted By Anonymous tim abbott,austin,texas : 7:15 PM ET
It's not libel on Brown's part because from what I read there aren't defamatory statements made about the man. But Bill Clinton or Madonna are fair game to be played with as fictional characters because they are public figures. This man isn't.

But if Brown wants a probation officer as a character in his next novel he's free to use my identity as long as Brad Pitt plays me in the movie.
Posted By Anonymous Paul, Bryan, Texas : 7:23 PM ET
Its a test of faith for all catholics, you can watch the movie it may be factual but for me it is fiction and nothing more. M. Seracini is a great man according to what he said and he may be delighted because of the books infamy but Dan Brown should atleast inform the man out of respect if he knows it.
Posted By Anonymous pheckz ramos, tanay, rizal, philippines. : 7:27 PM ET
What a great book-I hope the movie is as good as the book. "Angels and Demons" by Dan Brown is in my opinion a better book. Just curious as to why there is such controversy surrounding the "Da Vinci Code" when it is a work of fiction? It is very thought-provoking, but I did not read anything else in it other than sheer enjoyment.
Posted By Anonymous Angie, St.Louis, MO : 7:35 PM ET
WHO CARES! Its not even a true story! This is just Dan Browns perverted,exotic fanatsy about Jesus having sex and bearing a child.
Posted By Anonymous Father Mike, Virginia Beach,VA : 7:36 PM ET
Didn't read "The DaVinci Code" until recently, but remembered sites I'd visited in 1981 with amazing detail as I was drawn into the story. As a Methodist and Literary Analyst, I found the story to be fascinating in subject and scope, offensive in no way while engrossing. As happened with the nay-sayers who proclaimed "Harry Potter" a heretic, "Code" will bring more people to discuss history and examine their own beliefs and ideals. In a world quickly losing the literacy battle, it's nice to have authors who continue to challenge us with stories that span generations, religions and socio-economic strata, and the lively debate that results. Will I see the movie? Of course. Will I take it as a work of non-fiction? No, but neither will I term it entirely fiction...just as I view the Bible. For those "Christians" who can see only their very narrow, self-righteous view and not be willing to discuss anything but that with others, please know I'll be praying for you to open your hearts to all people - and your minds, as well. Jesus accepted all, talked to all, listened to all, loved all. We should endeavor to do the same.
Posted By Anonymous Caroline Katy TX : 7:42 PM ET
The book was great and the movie looks like it will not disappoint - I think Ron Howard is one of our best directors
Posted By Anonymous R. Dasani, Phoenix AZ : 7:43 PM ET
The problem is that the book is a disparaging view of Jesus Christ. In the eyes of Christians He is God. This book is heretical. If this book spewed the same lies about mohammed, the islamic world would be up in arms, literally. The world would kowtow to appease them.
Posted By Anonymous Jonathan, Plattsburgh, NY : 8:45 PM ET
The book was great and the film is sure to be entertaining. I am a Catholic, myself, and I have never believed in a God who judged so quickly as to condemn anyone with an open mind and/or simply an interest in some new entertainment.

Kudos to those brave enough to point out that the Bible is also a work of fiction. It is a book of fictional events surrounding real people; whereas The DaVinci Code is a book of fictional people dealing with fictional events and (some) historical fact. I don't understand what the "devout" Catholics and the Church are so afraid of. Be confident in your own faith, "judge not lest ye be judged", and take or leave Dan Brown's story for what it is: a now infamous work of historical fiction.

And as for Mr. Seracini, I would never have known what his work was about before reading the book, but it sounds interesting!
Posted By Anonymous KR, Jackson NJ : 9:06 PM ET
I think the reaction to this book indicates how dangerous and warped christian conservatives have become. This is a ridiculous debate which smacks of 'thou protesteth too much'. The plot of 'The Da Vinci Code' is not new. It is a theory that has been around for many years. Suppose for a moment that Jesus was married. As a (Jewish) Rabbi, for instance, he had to be. So what? I mean, I know that it would foul up the Catholic Church's view on sex, but Jesus being married does nothing to affect his supposed divinity. I can see the difficulty for christians if it can be proved that Jesus did not die on the cross (and therefore no reserrection), but that, also, is not a new theory. I don't really understand people who criticise those of use who do not believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead. After all, which insane asylum would a person be put into if they made such a claim today? It's worth noting that, should Jesus return today in the same region of the world with the same message of bringing down the legal government with a radical brand of religious fundamentalism (as 'christianity' was at the time), would the outcome be any different? I would say that the western powers would treat jesus the same way the Romans did - as a terrorist attempting to destroy the authority and culture of Rome or, today, the US. Why is it impossible to believe that, rather than rising from the dead, Jesus escaped death and fled to exile. That is absolutely plausible, far more so that the theory that Jesus died in about a third of the normal time, was accorded preferential treatment after his death (the bodies of those crucified for rebellion were generally left to rot as a warning to others) and rose from the dead to conveniently disappear to heaven a couple of day later. The bible is not a difinitive historical document. There are very, very few contemporary documents that support the claims made in the bible. There is a clear and complete difference between faith and fact. The bible is a book of faith and even many christian theologians accept that many aspects of the bible should not be taken literally. There is plenty of evidence that many of the claims made in the bible did not occur. The Exodus, for instance. Nothing in any archoeological discoveries or any documentary evidence suggests that this event occurred, except for the bible. Indeed, regarding Jesus' own life (and I believe he, or a religious/rebel leader like him did exist), there is virtually no other documents describing his Ministry or life. Pliny mentions the execution in the terms of describing Pilate's tenure as Governer but does not, interestingly, mention the offer Pilate is alleged to have made to the crowd - an offer unprecedented in ancient Rome at the time, or before, or since. Note that Pilate was withdrawn by the Emporer Tiberius from Judea on the grounds he was a vicious sadist - and that's saying something for ancient Rome. The bible was concieved and written by people for a specific purpose - to expand their religion. It is a book designed as propaganda in a time of scientific ignorance and superstition and should be seen as such. To suggest it is an accurate historic document is wrong. The evidence which supports the theory 'fictionalised' by Dan Brown is just as strong, or weak, as the evidence to support Jesus' divinity. It is a book, no more, no less. It's interesting to note that, as far as I know, not one person has lost their life because of 'The Da Vinci Code'. Can the same be said about the bible?
Billions of people have died for either believing the bible literally, or disbelieving the bible completely, and people continue to die to this day. The same can be said for all of the world's religions. There must, for the sake of mankind, in my view, come a time when humanity comes to the realisation that mankind itself is responsible for its existence. Only mankind can save its existence and there is no divine aspect or being that is looking out for the best interests of, apparently, the chosen few. That is the only salvation for our species. Mind you, I'd laugh myself stupid if I die and find out that the Greek's were, in fact, right all along and Zeus is not a happy fellow.
Posted By Anonymous Stuart Davy, Canberra, Australia. : 9:28 PM ET
I don't mind the movie. The problem is in the messege the movie sends out, denying the Deity (sp) of The Christ, and thus reducing Him to just another mere mortal that married and had a kid. The reality is that this book/movie is a ficticious account written by one with a finite mind like the rest of us. Those who choose to believe it's messege can choose to do so, of course. But if, or rather when, at time's end the Holy Bible and it's "stories," as some of you called them, still stands while all else passes away as is declared within it's pages, what shall you say then? Instead of making a mockery out of the bible, please put away all presumptions and prejudices and consider what's within. Then you can make your stand.
Posted By Anonymous Tim, Columbia VA : 9:33 PM ET
Having read the Da Vinci Code, I cannot help but walk away from the novel with questions concerning the true motives of the Church in their early beginnings. I approached the novel as such, a fictional story. However, I walked away with legitimate questions that the book raised. The religious conservatives crying foul are wrong for doing so because by calling for boycotts and other such nonsense, they are showing their intolerance towards something that should be taken the least serious; Entertainment.
Posted By Anonymous PJ, Bronx New York : 11:53 PM ET
The Da Vinci code is a heck of a book, but just that, a book that may, or may not raise some questions about the life of Christ. It has certainly led me to look a bit closer at the roots of the Bible, the precepts of Christian churches, those churches being the ones having ALL the answers, so they believe. I for one do not attempt to know the mind, or ways of God, but I sure would like to be able to get into those secret archives at the Vatican and be able to read what I find there. Another dream.

Thanks Dan Brown for making all of us questioning your book that there is more in heaven and on earth.......
Posted By Anonymous Elaine Suhre Alhambra IL : 4:14 AM ET
You can't buy publicity like that! I'm
sure the hotter the controversy, the
higher the ticket sales. Hanks and Howard are probably saying, "bring it on!"
Posted By Anonymous JJ, Dayton, Ohio : 4:36 AM ET
I don't know whether "The Da Vinci Code" is worth making a film or not but I know one thing for sure that Mr. Brown is worth to be saved because when Jesus shed His blood on Cross, it was shed also for Mr. Brown and for all those who oppose Christ in what so ever manner. Jesus Loves Mr. Brown like He loves each one of us. On the cross too He prayed for those who crucified Him.

As a Christian I firmly believe that the second coming of Jesus Christ is very near and as per the word of God, The Bible, all these are signs that will mark the beginning of end times.
Bible Says in 1John 2:27 "But as for you, Christ has poured out his Spirit on you. As long as his Spirit remains in you, you do not need anyone to teach you. For his Spirit teaches you about everything, and what he teaches is true, not false. Obey the Spirit's teaching, then, and remain in union with Christ."
A true Christian don't need an external teacher as long as he/she has true teacher the "Spirit of God" with them. Things like Da vinci code will not shake a true Christian from his faith.

I sincerely pray that a day in Mr. Brown's life should come when he himself should taste this wonderful Jesus in his own life and regret everything that he has been doing.

May God Almighty Forgive Mr. Brown and show him the Way to the real truth (Jesus Said in John 14:6 "I am the Way, The Truth and The Life; no one goes to the Father except by me").

Brother in Christ,
Santosh Thankachan
Posted By Anonymous Santosh Thankachan, Mohali, Punjab, India : 4:46 AM ET
I'm not religious, but I don't think it would really be so bad if Jesus had had a kid. I mean, most people today have children. Would it really be some kind of terrible sin if he had? (Not that I believe anything in the book, because I don't.)

Also, if anyone has seen the things about the albinos who have been protesting the movie, I think they have a right to be angry. Why would the maker of the movie hire a non-albino to play an albino's part?
Posted By Anonymous Devon, Newark, Delaware : 8:30 AM ET
While I'm far from an expert on religion or the Bible, I do have great faith in both. As far as Christ being "married" to Mary Magdelene or anyone else those wishing to take the time can "check this out" St. Luke, Ch.4, verse 5-12, refers to Christ being tempted in "all ways." That would certainly take in pleasures of the flesh, wouldn't it? The Revelation of St. John the Baptist, Ch. 21, 9-11 tells of Christ's bride which is Jerusalem.
You may believe that I am of the Catholic religion, under the circumatances, however, I happen to be an "old time religion" gal whose Uncle was a fire and brimstone preacher in the backwoods.
Posted By Anonymous Maggie , Grain Valley, Mo. : 1:38 PM ET
In response to Jonathan's (Plattsburg N.Y.) posting stating that if Muhammad was negatively portrayed the "Islamic world would be up in arms. . . the world would kowtow to appease them". Jesus is a major figure in Islam. He is a Prophet sent from God. Jesus is highly respected. Muslims recognize his virgin birth. The many negative depictions of Jesus in the media in the past several decades are not applauded by Muslims and they find such portrayals as offensive. e.g. Last Temptation of Christ, Jesus as a hippie in Jesus Christ Superstar etc etc. No one is kowtowing.
Posted By Anonymous Miriam, Toronto, Ontario : 2:33 PM ET
Good to know that not only are Jesus' descendants alive but so are descendants of the Spanish Inquisition.

I enjoyed the book although maybe not quite so much as others. However, I loved the premise despite the lunatic ravings of the Inquisitors and ignoring that key ingredients have lately pointedly been disproved.

But lastly, I'm disppointed that Dan Brown disrespected Mr. Seracini by not at least informing him and in a way that goes hand in hand with my review of a previous Brown novel - Deception Point. (It is extremely poorly written.)
Posted By Anonymous John Lubeck Livermore, CA : 4:54 PM ET
Yes, The DaVinci Code is fiction.

So is The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Think about it.
Posted By Anonymous Jeff, Olathe, Kansas : 9:02 PM ET
I am going and I don't see the big thing. Mel Gibson had his controversial views expressed in his movie. Most churches I stay away from now because I see a lot of violence coming from religions with all the wars taking place Many hypocrites attend churches today and make the case than many religions are based out of fear and know self responsibility is taken for peoples actions that attend these churches. It is similar to what I term fraud and anybody supporting many of these organizations are taken for a ride. Many people I see attending these churches could be termed evil and use the church as crutch to justify their evil actions.
Posted By Anonymous Joe, Sugar Land, Texas : 10:34 PM ET
Did God create human beings through sex? Can God have sex with human beings?

Jesus was a bachelor all the way.

Jesus is Son of God, not a normal human being with flesh, blood, and sexual urge to procreate.
Posted By Anonymous Willie,Short Hills, NJ : 11:29 PM ET
Good grief. What is the big hairy deal about the idea of Jesus being married and reproducing? That's normal, moral behavior.
Posted By Anonymous Suze, Biloxi MS : 11:38 PM ET
It's fiction people!!!!
Get a life.
Posted By Anonymous Sylvia, Maryville TN : 3:31 PM ET
To Stuart Davey, Austrailia... Amen, brother.
Posted By Anonymous Cynthia, Las Vegas, Nevada : 3:42 PM ET
In religion the "truth" is a sacred mystery, what I call your "personal truth." So many people want to secularize the world, but this book and movie do not factor into your life if you already have a strong foundation of faith and "personal truth."
Posted By Anonymous Tina - Chicago IL : 3:59 PM ET
By the way, this book and movie disparage Jesus. It's allowed to be in the public eye, even though it may deeply offend some people. Yet, American media would not publish the disparaging Mohammed depictions. I think that's hypocritical.
Posted By Anonymous Tina - Chicago IL : 4:17 PM ET
I have enjoyed Dan Brown's book, as well as several of his others, and I will be seeing the film though I am disappointed to hear early reviews aren't great. More disturbing to me than the ideas creating the outcry against the Da Vinci Code,is the fact that so many of your responders dismiss the Bible as fiction and suggest that Jesus' crucifiction never took place - the main tenet of Christianity - because of which we are SAVED and can enter heaven! Though, as a woman, I struggle with the Lutheran church's teaching that the Bible is the inerrant, inspired word of God, modern scientific method and archeology have made recently made great strides in proving the historicity of Biblical persons and events. For further evidence of that I refer you to the writing and teachings of Dr. Paul Maier.
Do I think Jesus married? No. I don't think he would have concerned himself with mere physical urges. Furthmore, he was about nothing if not turning convention on its ear! He was the new covenant. He was never what people expected him to be. Was Mary Magdalene more than just a camp follower and possibly an disciple and apostle who was a victim of a smear campaign by her jealous male rivals? - quite possibly. We may never know.
Posted By Anonymous C. Wutzke, Pittsburgh. PA : 4:22 PM ET
I've read books that were based on this premise before but nothing as exciting and put together as this. However the church won't have to worry about women rising up to take their rightful place because they're to stupid or maybe just afraid.
Posted By Anonymous evbrown, balto, md. : 5:02 PM ET
Why do these people get any press?
Seriously. Muslims cause a riot when there's a cartoon of Mohammad and Christians get a week of religous propaganda. Now, when Hollywood pokes holes into smaller religions like Buddhism, Hinduism, Paganism, Wicca, or other faiths, those followers have to shut up, because no one is listening. I could give you a list of severely offensive films and books about Wiccans, and not one of them will be openly challenged in this country, because smaller religions just don't matter here.
It's about time Christians got a taste of their own medicine. Don't like being ridiculed? Neither do we. Karma just sucks, doesn't it?
Posted By Anonymous Bekah, Miami, Fl : 5:45 PM ET
Good point "Bekah". Its been very interesting reading over these posts - especially the religious fanatics (ie Brother in Christ,Santosh Thankachan). Why is it that those who complain and protest the most are the same ones who proclaim to be the most devouted? If you're so faithful, then why so insecure in your religion?? My version of faithful is staying true to what you believe and not be offended or blow out of proportion what has only been offered as entertainment. Even if the whole story seems as plausible as what has been preached up until now. :)
Posted By Anonymous Rick, Chicago, IL : 6:22 PM ET
I don't care either way about this film. I've heard that it's not that good, so I probably won't see until it gets to cable.

I'm just glad it's not about Mohammad, otherwise, we'd have another round of uncivilized killings, threats, and total disregard for life.

I'm glad I live in a country where people can express their dislike of something, with words, protests, boycotts, and other non-violent actions, while violence isn't a tolerated form of expression.
Posted By Anonymous Jon, Northern Virginia : 6:23 PM ET
To Stuart Davy's comment from Canberra, Australia: BRILLIANT. I would like to
borrow some parts of your blog in my
own comments (with due reference).

Sergio Domini
Posted By Anonymous Cincinnati, Ohio : 2:28 PM ET
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