Fact and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code

Most people who read The DaVinci Code have no way of separating historical fact from literary fiction.

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  • As for da Vinci slipping Mary into The Last Supper, most art historians agree that the Renaissance master simply painted a feminine John to distinguish him as the youngest disciple. "Leonardo's preliminary sketches very clearly identify the figure as John," argues Diane Apostolos-Cappandona, a cultural historian at Georgetown University. What about Teabing's assertion that the apostle has breasts? "Just the way the garment folds," she says.

    To many scholars, focusing on a Mary-Jesus marriage, however titillating, is a wasted opportunity. "There's a genuine religious impulse to understand a feminine figure like Mary Magdalene and how she understood Jesus's mind," says Chilton, "but there's no need to sexualize her.... To see her simply as a potential vessel for his seed is missing the point." The bottom line, says Apostolos-Cappandona, "is she's an independent woman. She's not the daughter of anyone, the wife of anyone, the sister of anyone, and that's enough. Sometimes, I just want to stand up and scream, 'Why do we have to make her Jesus's wife?'"