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On the Road with Dean Attridge Dean Attridge in Allentown

As the popularity has risen of Dan Brown's best-selling novel of religious and artistic intrigue, The Da Vinci Code, so has the public profile of Dean Harry Attridge.  Since the beginning of the year, the dean has given talks debunking the novel to gatherings in Connecticut, New York and Pennsylvania, in addition to taping an interview with CNN for a national television audience. Reprinted below is an article that ran in the New Britain Herald describing the dean's talk at the First Church UCC in Farmington, CT.  He has also spoken on The Da Vinci Code at the Yale Club of New York City and at the Allentown (PA) Art Museum.  In February, Attridge spoke at the Wellesley (MA) Congregational Church on another subject, "Can We Trust the Bible?"


Yale man debunks ‘The Da Vinci Code'
Reprinted with permission of the New Britain Herald, New Britain , CT

By ERIC REED, Staff Writer

FARMINGTON -- Dan Brown's novel "The Da Vinci Code" tells a story of religious conspiracy and secrets entombed for millennia.

The book has sold over 7 million copies worldwide, inspired a movie currently in production and, Sunday afternoon, filled the Porter Memorial on Main Street with an eager, curious audience.

On Sunday the Village Lecture Series Committee, a part of the First Church of Christ in Farmington , brought Dean Harold Attridge of Yale Divinity School to speak on the facts and fiction behind Brown's bestselling novel.

Richard Stockwell, chairman of the committee, says he chose to invite Attridge to speak out of a desire to address the controversial questions raised by the book.

"I had read "The Da Vinci Code" and saw in the New York Times an article following a talk that he had given on "The Da Vinci Code,"" Stockwell said, referring to Attridge. "We knew it would be a controversial topic. "The Da Vinci Code" has raised many questions among its readers, particularly readers who come from conservative roots and are devout."

According to Stockwell, Attridge's ability to address the novel from a factual and historical standpoint was a strong reason for inviting him to speak on the topic.

"We are privileged to hear a man of this caliber," Stockwell said. "We have the opportunity to listen and quiz an important church historian."

The speaker demonstrated his numerous academic credentials, delivering a speech which addressed the novel through the use of historical documentary and archeological evidence.

"That's my take on ‘The Da Vinci Code,'" Attridge said at one point to sum up his lecture, "three key facts spun out of context...I think it's a fine piece of airplane fiction or beach fiction; I don't think it's a threat to the Christian Church."

Attridge did not discuss the novel through emotional or impassioned appeals to his audience, but delivered the lecture of an academic. The book, he said, must be taken with a huge grain of salt, and proceeded to demonstrate where he felt it failed to provide an accurate historical setting for its narrative.

"Brown's readings of the paintings are not highly regarded by scholars of Da Vinci," Attridge said during his lecture, discussing the novel's central theme of art and symbolism. "One of the things that Brown does is take the painting out of the context of its time."

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