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Lost Christianities: Christian Scriptures and the Battles over Authentication
by Professor Bart D. Ehrman.
Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas by Professor Elaine Pagels.
New books on Christianity and Spirituality by Pagels, Ehrman, et al.
Professor Bart D. Ehrman is an authority on the early Church and the life of Jesus. He knows, and shares with his readers, how to separate fact from fiction, and how to evaluate historical records. He not only shows you what is true, but how anyone that takes care will be able to assess themselves what is true. In this way you see how the flights of literary fancy so necessary to Dan Brown are not historical realities.
While Ehrman is generous in his praise for Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, and praises that book's having increased interest in the history of the early church, Ehrman is concerned that readers understand that Dan Brown's claims of historical accuracy can only be treated as fictional.
I refer you to Ehman's Truth and Fiction in the Da Vinci Code for the full truth.
Meanwhile, here is a subset of the numerous historical mistakes in The Da Vinci Code that Professor Bart D. Ehrman corrects:
|What Dan Brown claims in The Da Vinci Code||Historical fact reported by historian Professor Bart D. Ehrman in Truth and Fiction in the Da Vinci Code|
|The Dead Sea Scrolls were a collection of Christian documents.||The Dead Sea Scrolls were not Christian documents. They did not mention Jesus. They were Jewish.|
|The Nag Hamadi documents were scrolls.||The Nag Hamadi documents were not scrolls. They were books of papyrus written on both sides not one (as for a scroll) and sewn together.|
|The Dead Sea Scrolls portrayed Jesus as more human than in the canonical New Testament.||The Dead Sea Scrolls did not portray Jesus at all.|
|The Nag Hamadi documents portrayed Jesus as more human than in the canonical New Testament.||It is the reverse: the canonical New Testament tends to portray Jesus as more human than in the Nag Hamadi documents.|
|Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene.||Jesus was not married to Mary Magdalene. No known Christian records (including the Nag Hamadi documents) report that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene. Mary is never identified as the wife of Jesus to differentiate her from Mary his mother and Mary of Bethany. Instead she is identified by the village that she came from (in the 'Magdelene' part of her name).|
|Mary Magdalene had a child fathered by Jesus and born after Jesus was crucified||Mary Magdalene did not have a child fathered by Jesus. No known Christian records (including the Nag Hamadi documents) report that Mary Magdalene had a child.|
|Mary Magdalene is the real "Holy Grail" by holding the seed of Jesus.||Again, there is no evidence.|
|There is a line of descent from Jesus and Mary Magdalene, beginning with the birth of their daughter, that has continued for two millennia and exists today.||Again, there is no evidence.|
|Jesus kept a record of his teaching.||There is not record that this happened. And it was quite rare that people kept such a record.|
|People made records of Jesus' teaching while he was alive.||There is not record that this happened. Only 10-15% of the population was literate and very few of those were fishermen, artisans, and farmers. Most of the people that accompanied Jesus would be illiterate.|
|The elusive 'Q' document was written by Jesus.||It was not. This is a hypothetical document that was written (if at all) two decades after Jesus' death.|
|Accounts of Jesus were written at the time he was alive.||
There are no accounts
from a disciple, a Roman citizen, or an imperial authority written at the
time Jesus was alive.
In particular there is no record by the authorities of his trial.
The first known writings about Jesus by Christians appeared about 65-70 C.E. in the Gospel according to Mark, three decades after the death of Jesus. The first known writing about Jesus by non-Christians was in 112 C.E. (about eight decades after the death of Jesus).
|Emperor Constantine select for the New Testament (from 80 contending gospels) only the four gospels that stressed that Jesus was divine?||
(1) There were not 80 but far fewer gospels contending for inclusion in the canonical New Testament.
(2) The definition of the canon began before the time of the Emperor Constantine and continued through his time.
(3) The selected four gospels stressed that Jesus was more human (not less human) than do most of the contending gospels.
These are merely the iceberg's tip. For the joy of learning the best that we know about early Christian truth, see:
|Buy The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown|
The novel is a detective/thriller/conspiracy-theory fiction, claiming that the Catholic Church has a conspiracy to hide the "true" story of Jesus. While people like the historian Bart D. Ehrman have found is an enthralling "page turner". In fact, Ehrman says he has recommended it to others.
I, on the contrary, have not. The book is poorly written. The sloppiness of the plotting and the uninteresting writing make me suspect that the following claim made by Brown is also sloppy:
"All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate."
Bart D. Ehrman has identified the main errors with regards to documents.
Brown appears to have used Michael Baigent's discredited Holy Blood, Holy Grail as the basis for many of his claims, and failed to fact-check the erroneous claims that Brown proceeded to assert as true.
My 2003 blog on The Da Vinci Code reports:
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
A totally overrated book that seems to be stuck on the Best Sellers list.
I recommend the comments on this book by Geoffrey Pullum (Language Log):
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