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Kingdom of Priests

The Da Vinci Code author is finally coming out on September 15 with his new title, expected to go to press with an initial run of 5 million copies. I can’t wait, and I’m entirely serious about that. He’s a fabulous storyteller. Yet a note of warning to my fellow Jews who dismissed Catholic complaints about the earlier book, with its theme of conspiracy theories. It’s about a massive coverup by the Catholic Church of evidence that Jesus sired offspring.

The new novel, The Lost Symbol, was previously titled The Solomon Key. Now according to Biblical tradition, Solomon held the key to interpreting the language of animals and plants — whatever exactly that means. (Interestingly, the Quran too picks up this enigmatic bit of midrash, or Biblical interpolation.)
The basis of the tradition is a verse in 1 Kings, customarily translated:

And [Solomon] spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes.

Somehow I don’t think Dan Brown wrote a novel about that.

It seems predictable that the story involves conspiracy theories — as does, indeed, Brown’s other novel that I’ve read, Angels & Demons, the movie version of which appears on May 15. This is his bread and butter.
The problem with it is that a culture primed to see conspiracies — and our culture really is primed, and this is far from the only evidence — is never a good thing for Jews. Why? Because in conspiracy culture Jews traditionally have figured as the spider at the center of the web. Nothing at all about this implicates Brown himself. Repeat 10 times. But the phenomenon is still worrisome. 
The culture he powerfully encourages — he waters its garden — is nothing to celebrate, whether for Christians or Jews.
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