[NOTE: This is a longer post than usual, featuring every occurrence of the word Bible/Bibles in The Lost Symbol.]
The Use of the Bible in Dan Brown’s “The Lost Symbol”
Disclaimer: This book is a novel and should be treated as such. Whether the author, Dan Brown, agrees or disagrees with the views of his characters is a completely different story. You can investigate Dan Brown and/or his works at danbrown.com.
This information is provided as a personal analysis of the times the word “Bible” is mentioned in The Lost Symbol. It is based on a keyword search of the e-book version after having read the entire book in its context. As such, it is certainly imperfect and clearly biased (I am personally an evangelical Christian seeking to understand the influence of this book on culture.).
However, it will be helpful to readers, pastors and otherwise, interested in what is said about the Bible in this The Lost Symbol.
[NOTE: I refer to chapters rather than page numbers due to the fact that the e-book version I used included different pagination and the future paperback version will as well.]
The word “Bible” in singular or plural form is mentioned a total of 52 times in The Lost Symbol. The chapters most focused on the Bible are, in descending order, chapters 131, 111, 133, and 49.
How is the Bible used?
A complete listing follows, but readers may find the following classifications helpful:
Bible used in reference to a physical book: 13 times.
Commentary or comments about the Bible: 24 times, or approximately half of the times the Bible is mentioned. Of these 24 times, all or nearly all would be considered negative or exaggerated from the perspective of evangelical or biblical theology (Again, this is a novel.).
Other various uses (passing references, etc.): 15 times.
Of the times the Bible itself is mentioned (not including commentary on specific books of the Bible, views of God, and other aspects of theology), the following are, in my view, the most concerning:
1. God and humans as co-equals: Chapter 49 notes a character named Bellamy, who reinterprets God’s reference that “God created man in his own image,” to mean we are co-equals with God rather than only being made in God’s image. Chapter 82 references Psalm 82:6 as “proof” of this point.
2. A call to search the Bible for hidden meanings and allegorical interpretations: Chapter 111: “The prophecy of the Apocalypse is just one of the Bible’s beautiful messages that has been distorted.” The context later discusses that the “real” meaning of the Bible is allegorical rather than literal, a so-called hidden knowledge that sounds very closely related to Second-Century Gnosticism.
3. The Bible as only one of many holy books: Chapter 131 discusses the Bible, specifically mentioning it as a holy book alongside the Bhagavad Gita and Koran. However, if the Bible is true, then other so-called holy books are only “true” when they agree with the statements of the Bible. In other words, from a biblical perspective, all holy books are not created equal.
4. An unnecessary skepticism regarding biblical miracles: In chapter 131, Langdon expresses his skepticism: “You can point to the alleged miracles of the Bible, or any other religious text, but they are nothing but old stories fabricated by man and then exaggerated over time.” The novel unfolds to point out that Langdon’s view is not taking all information into account, but later points to a human source of power for miracles rather than a perfect, all-powerful God.
5. All religions are created equal: A theme woven throughout the The Lost Symbol is that all religions are basically the same in their core beliefs. Those who seriously study world religions could offer a thousand reasons why this is not true. If one religion believes in one God, the next believes in two gods, and the third believes in thousands of gods, they cannot all be equally valid.
6. We are God? Though the novel launches with a rapid and intriguing pace, the last page ends with equating God with people (Humans=God?).
This fallacy, popularized by the teachings from books like A New Earth (Eckhart Tolle) and The Secret (Rhonda Byrne) simply repackage ancient religious teachings and so-called new age ideas to claim that God is all things (pantheism) and we are God (or gods or goddesses). Therefore, we do not sin, do not need a Savior, and the biblical idea of god is unnecessary for life. Such a worldview is certainly concerning for Christians who desire that all people would embrace Jesus as Savior of the world and acknowledge that all humans fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23).
[On a side note, The Lost Symbol includes much information on Freemasonry. Though beyond the scope of this article, there is much to investigate on this issue. See more in the Freemasonry section at www.johnankerberg.org.]
The Full List (52 occurrences of Bible or Bibles)
Chp. 24: A reference to an illuminated Bible manuscript chewed on by a dog.
Chp. 46: A reference to the Giant Bible of Mainz.
Chp. 46: A reference to the Gutenberg Bible.
Chp. 49: “Even the Bible concurs,” quotes a character named Bellamy, who reinterprets God’s reference that “God created man in his own image,” to mean we are co-equals with God rather than only made in God’s image.
Chp. 49: “Because most Christians want it both ways. They want to be able to proudly declare they are believers in the Bible and yet simply ignore those parts they find too difficult or too inconvenient to believe.” This comment, though used to further the character’s argument in the novel, is often all too true.
Chp. 49: A reference to a Latin mistranslation regarding Moses having a “horned face.”
Chp. 82: “Even the Holy Bible cried out in Pslams 82:6: Ye are gods!” The idea in this context is the message of man’s own divinity or humans as divine. Not a biblical concept, yet Langdon reflects on this verse a connecting point at this stage in his adventure.
Chp. 96: A reference to a televangelist quoting Bible verses about angels, demons, and spirits that ruled in heaven and hell.
Chp. 111: Peter Solomon encourages his students to “Study the Bible. …Especially the final pages.”
Chp. 111: “The last book of the Bible tells the identical story as countless other traditions.” A clear comment blending the end-times account of Revelation with other religious end-times traditions. Not exactly accurate, although it is true that similarities can be found.
Chp. 111: “The Book of Reveal-ation in the Bible predicts and unveiling of great truth and unimaginable wisdom.”
Chp. 111: “The prophecy of the Apocalypse is just one of the Bible’s beautiful messages that has been distorted.” The context later discusses that the “real” meaning of the Bible is allegorical rather than literal, a so-called hidden knowledge that sounds very closely related to Second-Century Gnosticism.
Chp. 130: The Bible referred to as the sacred book or “word” for Christians.
Chp. 130: “For America’s Masonic forefathers, the Word had been the Bible.”
Chp. 130: “…he placed his hands upon the Word—a well-worn copy of his own Masonic Bible.”
Chp. 130: “This treasured book, like all Masonic Bibles, contained the Old Testament, the New Testament, and a trove of Masonic philosophical writings.”
Chp. 131: Reference to a hidden Bible.
Chp. 131: An index finger pointed toward a large open Bible.
Chp. 131: “Why do you think the Bible has survived thousands of years of tumultuous history?” Christians are not going to like this character’s answer.
Chp. 131: “…Christian monks spend lifetimes attempting to decipher the Bible.”
Chp. 131: A cloaked figure pointing at a Bible.
Chp. 131: “If the Bible does not contain hidden meanings, then why do so many of history’s finest minds—including brilliant scientists at the Royal Society—become so obsessed with studying it?” I could think of some other reasons than the one given in this chapter.
Chp. 131: “…a 1704 manuscript that claimed he had extracted hidden scientific information from the Bible!”
Chp. 131: A reference to the making of the King James Bible.
Chp. 131: Sir Frances Bacon’s conviction that the Bible contained cryptic meanings.
Chp. 131: William Blake quote: “Both read the Bible day and night, but thou read black where I read white.”
Chp. 131: America’s forefathers allegedly warning of interpreting the Bible literally.
Chp. 131: “…Thomas Jefferson was so convinced the Bible’s true message was hidden that he literally cut up the pages and reedited the book.” Partly true, but is only part of Jefferson’s issue with the Bible.
Chp. 131: A reference to the Jeffersonian Bible.
Chp. 131: Another Jeffersonian Bible reference.
Chp. 131: “Robert, the Bible does not talk openly for the same reason the Ancient Mystery Schools were kept hidden. …This information is powerful, Robert.” Interesting take on why the character claims the Bible must be interpreted allegorically and sought for hidden meanings.
Chp. 131: “Peter, I’m talking about the Bible. Why are you talking about the Ancient Mysteries?”
Chp. 131: SIX times the Bible is mentioned here. I would comment, but that would spoil the surprise ending for you. (An interesting total of seven times on this one highly-controversial page.)
Chp. 131: The Bible mentioned as a holy book alongside the Bhagavad Gita and Koran.
Chp. 131: Langdon’s skepticism: “You can point to the alleged miracles of the Bible, or any other religious text, but they are nothing but old stories fabricated by man and then exaggerated over time.”
Chp. 131: Another physical Bible is referenced.
Chp. 131: A reference to the Bible talking about the power of the human mind.
Chp. 131: “Your brother tried to convince me that the Bible is encoded with scientific information.”
Chp. 131: TWO additional references to the Bible as a commentary on the study of the human mind.
Chp. 131: SPOILER ALERT: “When the Bible tells us to ‘go build our temple’…a temple that we must ‘build with no tools and making no noise,’ what temple do you think it’s talking about?”
Chp. 131: Langdon replies, “I’m no Bible scholar, but I’m pretty sure the Scriptures describe in detail a physical temple that needs to be built.”
Chp. 131: Katherine: “Pretty good recall for a Bible skeptic.”
Chp. 131: The Bible referenced regarding the story of manna from heaven.
Chp. 133: “The Bible, like many ancient texts, is a detailed exposition of the most sophisticated machine ever invented…the human mind.”
Chp. 133: “We’ve been reading the Bible too literally. We learn that God created us in his image, but it’s not our physical bodies that resemble god, it’s our minds.”
Chp. 133: (Last page of the book.) A Bible reference to God as a plural being. The conclusion? “God is plural,” Katherine whispered, “because the minds of man are plural.”
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