The vigorous debate provoked by the novel 'The Da Vinci Code' looks set to continue with a film adaptation of the book.

Since its publication in 2003 Dan Brown’s book ‘The Da Vinci Code’ has created controversy and
resulted in an unprecedented interest in the teachings of Christianity,

Marriage, bloodlines and murder in the Church have now become part of public debate.

Critics of the book condemn it for perpetrating anti-Christian lies. With the cinematic release of ‘The Da Vinci Code’ directed by Ron Howard, the debate looks set to continue.

Dr David Hutchinson Edgar Lecturer in Early Christianity and its Literature at Trinity College Dublin runs courses on ‘The Da Vinci Code’ to help students understand historical fact from fanciful fiction.

In the book Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and they had a child together. Mary Magdalene is one of the leaders of early Christianity but her contribution was erased from the Christian tradition by the male followers of Jesus.

Dr David Hutchinson Edgar says the Church acknowledges Mary Magdalene was not a prostitute in the way that she was traditionally represented. There is no evidence to show she was married to Jesus or that they had children.

She probably had a more prominent role than the gospels attribute to her, but there again that certainly doesn’t mean they were married.

He also says the claims the novel makes about Emperor Constantine are without substance.

The book gives an unflattering role to the lay Catholic organisation Opus Dei, portraying it as a sinister sect. Irish Opus Dei member Catherine McHenry takes issue with the character Silas in particular,

He doesn’t resemble anyone in Opus Dei, for starters there is nobody in Opus Dei who’s a murderer.

‘The Da Vinci Code’ descriptions of the Opus Dei practice of corporal mortification have been the focus of much public attention. In this practice pain is self inflicted for spiritual growth, self-sacrifice, or atonement of sins. Catherine McHenry considers self-sacrifice necessary as it is a means of uniting with the sacrifice of Christ, while also being a reminder that afterlife exists.

This episode of ‘Prime Time’ was broadcast on 9 May 2006. The reporter is Eithne O'Brien.