In a postmodern culture that often relativizes religious truth, it becomes harder to tell the different between fact and fiction. In the introduction to The Truth Behind the Da Vinci Code, Richard Abanes notes that, "too many readers of The Da Vinci Code have already responded to the novel by trustingly embracing it as historically accurate." (9) Abanes' response is to compare the historical inaccuracies of the novel with the facts.
Richard Abanes groups his analysis into five main categories, each comprising a chapter of his book. These are roughly historical revisionism, the canon of scripture, the Christian view of women, the history of the Priory of Sion, and Leonardo Da Vinci. Each chapter has a very structured order- an introduction, a series of claims by the novel countered with the facts, and a conclusion.
Some will note that the last two chapters aren't so much a defense of Christianity as they are correctives of general history. There's an explanation in Abanes' conclusion. "This is not even a `Christian' issue. The issue is fact versus fiction. Truth verses lies. Accuracy versus inaccuracy. In other words, The Da Vinci Code would still be just as offensive if its misrepresentation of historical facts were used to attack Buddhism, Islam, or any other world religion instead of Christianity." (77)
The great strength of this book, as with other books by Richard Abanes, is the depth of research. Historical research is a skill that Abanes has refined well, in this case to the point of providing facts that many critics haven't uncovered. He's also very straightforward with his arguments. For instance, in discussing Dan Brown's confusion of male and female symbols with Egyptian ones, Abanes asks, "But why would Magdalene be associated with an Egyptian cow?" (47)
Though the book covers many issues, it fails to offer a helpful response to Gnosticism or understanding of the "sacred feminine." It also does not provide any resources for further study of the issues.
The Truth Behind the Da Vinci Codeshows Richard Abanes' strength as a historical fact-checker. Some will find a few of his points irrelevant to defending the Christian faith, and others will find it lacking in some crucial areas, but on the whole he offers an effective response to Dan Brown's novel.