The point I'd like to make is that the reason some people are upset with the book is it is being presented as a historical novel.
It has been said that in a novel of this sort one expects the main story to be fiction and the background information to be true/accurate. This story appears to be a bit tricky in that it is the background material that is the real story and the main story line is just a vehicle to advance the claims that Brown makes in the background material.
I guess the real problem with it (besides Brown stating in his book and in interviews that all his claims are based on fact) is those people who read the book or watch the movie hoping to learn something about history will be misinformed and misled. I've read many reader reviews and blogs that are supportive of the book and the claims in it saying things like "wow! I never knew that about XXXX" when the truth is XXXX is
fabricated or distorted by Brown.
I find the actual history more interesting than Brown's story and I had fun looking into the claims that he makes and have consolidated these claims with the facts side by side on the attached spreadsheet (pdf). This is not meant to be an attack on The Da Vinci Code (or fans of it), just a means of helping people understand which of Browns claims in the "background" material are fiction.
Enjoy (or not). After this I am off my Da Vinci Code soapbox. My intent was not to address everything Dan Brown got wrong in his book but is an intended as an overview of the history and art that Dan Brown not only got wrong but defends. It is hopefully an entertaining look at the topics Brown covered from a real historical perspective. Click here for Walking Through The Da Vinci Code.
Also read from the En-Gedi Resource Center:
Has DaVinci Painted Our Picture of Jesus?
Repainting Davinci, Again
Here's a fictional account going around the Internet: Leonardo Di Vinci Accidentally Used The Same Model for Both Christ and Judas in "The Last Supper."
This email claims that Leonardo Da Vinci spent seven years painting "The Last Supper" in Milan, Italy. He interviewed hundreds of models to get just the right ones to use for each disciple, choosing the one to portray Christ first. Six years later, he looked for someone to be the model for Judas and found a convicted murderer in Rome who fit the part. When he finished the painting, the man revealed that he was the same person Leonardo has used years earlier to be the model for Christ but had degenerated because of his sin and crime.
This story is fiction! See the facts at http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/l/lastsupper.htm
Remember, Leonardo got much in the paining wrong! The Last Supper was a Passover meal held in the evening, not daylight, with unleavened not leavened break and they would have been reclining not sitting on chairs at a table.