In case anyone
is interested in who on earth would bother putting this website together,
I'll give you a little information about myself. My name is Tim O'Neill
and I have had an interest in ancient and medieval history for about
30 years. I was born in New South Wales, Australia, and grew up in
the state of Tasmania. I was awarded a B.A. from the University of
Tasmania in 1989, writing my Honours dissertation on Sir Gawain
and the Green Knight. I went on to undertake a research Master
of Arts, with a thesis on John Gower's Confessio Amantis, and
was awarded that degree in 1993. I've lived in Sydney for the last
13 years, where I now run my own executive recruitment company specialising
in the banking and finance sectors.
my interest in the study of medieval history, medieval literature
and ancient history, with a particular interest in the origins of
Christianity, the formation of the Bible and the history of the early
Church. I am an atheist whose interest in religious history is purely
from a historian's perspective.
Like many people,
I first became aware of The Da Vinci Code when it became an
instant bestseller in 2003. On looking at it in a bookshop, I turned
to its 'FACT' page and saw it claimed the 'Priory of Sion' was 'a
real organization' and quickly dismissed it as something cashing in
on the old New Age Holy Blood Holy Grail theory from the 1980s.
It was only when people began asking my opinion on its historical
claims that I finally read the novel in late 2004.
As a regular contributor
to various online fora on history, I soon began to see the
impact this novel was having on peoples' perceptions of history. I
saw people making claims about the Gnostic gospels, early Christianity,
the Emperor Constantine, the Knights Templar and Jesus which were
not supported by the historical evidence but came directly from their
reading of this novel. Eventually I got tired of repeating myself
in countering these claims and decided that an online resource comparing
the assertions in the novel to the evidence could be a useful project.
In the year and
a half on which I worked on the text of this site, many books have
been published and even more online articles and sites have appeared
tackling much of the same material. Most of these, however, were written
from a Christian perspective and I felt a similar resource which looked
at the novel's claims with a purely non-Christian, historical eye
would still be a valid contribution. The release of the Ron Howard
film version of the book in May 2006, with its attendant condemnations
by various Christian figures, added to my feeling that the web needed
a non-Christian resource which could not be accused of religious bias.
This is not to
say that the contributions on the subject by Christians are invalid
or that there is anything wrong with their scholarship, but a perception
has arisen that these responses are not motivated by objectivity or
informed by scholarship, but are driven by a desire simply to defend
the Christian faith.
Most of those
resources and books also tackle the most contentious claims made by
the novel's supporters, whereas few of them give a comprehensive analysis
of all of the book's historical claims. I set out to do this and to
give a 'Chapter by Chapter' analysis as a guide for anyone reading
the novel, so they could check claims as they read.
Given the amount
of time this project has taken, it's inevitable that this site duplicates
some information which can be found elsewhere. I hope, however, that
I have been able to cover these topics with a level of detail not
found in other sources of information. The current version of this
site doesn't have the detailed Bibliography, reference notes or other
scholarly apparatus I would have liked. I hope future versions will
soon include detailed references, links and resource materials for
futher reading and research.
by saying that I have no problem with people who enjoyed The Da
Vinci Code purely as a thriller and a work of fiction. For those
that have also come to believe the 'historical' claims the novel makes,
on the other hand, I'd ask that they look at the evidence presented
here and elsewhere before they decide these claims are legitimate.
I welcome comments
on, additions to or corrections of any of the material published on
this site. Discussion of general issues and topics is best directed
to the Discussion
section of the site, however. Readers who wish to comment directly
to me can feel free to do so via the mail link below.
I would strongly
urge anyone using this mail link to read the introductory information
on the Home Page, particularly the long section
entitled 'Why bother comparing the historical
evidence to the claims of a fictional novel? It's FICTION!!'.
E-mails making this redundant point will be totally ignored.
corrections or suggestions can be sent via e-mail to The
Author. Please use this link with courtesy and discretion.
- May, 2006.