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The Bible and Pop Culture

In the past fifteen years, two literary phenomena stand out for their worldwide mass appeal, and for sparking debate about the Bible and religion. What are they?

The first is the Harry Potter series (1997–2007) by British author J. K. Rowling (1965–present). Ever since the first book in the series (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone or Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, depending on country of publication) was published, readers have pointed out similarities between it and the Bible. The most basic comparisons are that Harry can be seen as a Christ figure, Dumbledore as a God figure, and Voldemort as a Satan figure. In the series, the unforgiveable killing curse, Avada Kedavra, derives from the age-old Abracadabra. Abracadabra is an Aramaic word used to ward off evil and sickness (the Ancient Israelites believed in one God, but they were superstitious as well). For the word to have its desired effect, it had to be written over and over inside a triangle. On the other hand, some critics of the series charge that it is blatant in its anti-biblical content by its promotion of occultism.

The second series, written by American author Dan Brown, begins with the book Angels and Demons (2000). Although it was a best seller, it was the second book in the series, The Da Vinci Code (2003), that launched worldwide debate and discussion among those interested in history and religion. In this novel, symbologist Robert Langdon and cryptologist Sophie Neveu investigate a murder at the Louvre in Paris. In the process, they uncover long-buried secrets about the early days of Christianity, particularly Jesus’ relationship with Mary Magdalene, and the potentially holy lineage of French kings. The third and fourth books in the series are The Lost Symbol (2009) and Inferno (2013). The immense popularity of The Da Vinci Code spawned a new subset of related books, including Truth and Fiction in the Da Vinci Code (2004) by Bart Erhman, De-coding Da Vinci: The Facts Behind the Fiction of The Da Vinci Code (2004) by Amy Welborn, and The Divine Code of Da Vinci, Fibonacci, Einstein, and You (2009) by Matthew Cross, Robert Friedman, and others.


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