The Da Vinci Code: Chapter 77

Summary: Using the Atbash Cipher, a “reflective substitution cipher,” Langdon, Sophie and Teabing render the name “Baphomet” as (ultimately) S-O-F-I-A—apparently the “ancient word of wisdom” called for by Saunière’s verse. Sophie is awestruck that her grandfather encoded the cryptex with her name.

Analysis: As realization dawns in this chapter via the Atbash Cipher, the darkness-and-light symbolism of the previous chapter is appropriately reversed: “Langdon’s heart pounded… The sun was pouring through the windows now” (p. 346). While the Atbash Cipher does the substitution of “Sheshach” for Babylon in the book of Jeremiah, other “substitutions” in both the Old and New Testaments tend to be more theological statements than cryptological puzzles: for example, John of Patmos substitutes “Babylon” for the Roman Empire when writing to first-century persecuted Christians in the book of Revelation, to emphasize the Empire’s moral depravity and its coming judgment at God’s hands.