Truth and Fiction in the Da Vinci Code: A Historian Reveals What We Really Know about Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Constantine

Overview


In his staggeringly popular work of fiction, Dan Brown states up front that the historical information in the The Da Vinci Code is all factually accurate. But is this claim true? As historian Bart D. Ehrman shows in this informative and witty book, The Da Vinci Code is filled with numerous historical mistakes.
Did the ancient church engage in a cover-up to make the man Jesus into a divine figure? Did Emperor Constantine select for the New Testament--from some 80 contending ...
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Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code: A Historian Reveals What We Really Know about Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Constantine

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Overview


In his staggeringly popular work of fiction, Dan Brown states up front that the historical information in the The Da Vinci Code is all factually accurate. But is this claim true? As historian Bart D. Ehrman shows in this informative and witty book, The Da Vinci Code is filled with numerous historical mistakes.
Did the ancient church engage in a cover-up to make the man Jesus into a divine figure? Did Emperor Constantine select for the New Testament--from some 80 contending Gospels--the only four Gospels that stressed that Jesus was divine? Was Jesus Christ married to Mary Magdalene? Did the Church suppress Gospels that told the secret of their marriage? Bart Ehrman thoroughly debunks all of these claims. But the book is not merely a laundry list of Brown's misreading of history. Throughout, Ehrman offers a wealth of fascinating background information--all historically accurate--on early Christianity. He describes, for instance, the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls ; outlines in simple terms how scholars of early Christianity determine which sources are most reliable; and explores the many other Gospels that have been found in the last half century. In his engaging book, Ehrman separates fact from fiction, the historical realities from the flights of literary fancy. Anyone who would like to know the truth about the beginnings of Christianity and the real truth behind The Da Vinci Code will find this book riveting.
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Editorial Reviews

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This book offers one a great match-up: A first-rate scholar writing about a mega-popular topic. Professor Ehrman doesn't dispute the credentials of The Da Vinci Code as a fast-paced thriller, but he does fault much of its historical accuracy. Writing in an accessible, unpedantic style, he debunks claims about Jesus, Mary Magdalene, the New Testament, the early Church, and the Dead Sea Scrolls.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195307139
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 5/18/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 7.90 (w) x 5.30 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Bart D. Ehrman chairs the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. One of the major public experts on early Christianity, Jesus, and the New Testament, he is very well known in his field and to a general audience through his books Lost Christianities, Lost Scriptures, and the forthcoming Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus in History and Legend. He has appeared on A&E, The History Channel, CNN, and other TV and radio shows, and has taped several highly popular lecture series for the "Teaching Company."

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2006

    Rational, scholarly, balanced

    While the author admits that he is only elaborating on an earlier sketchy overview, his approach here is methodical and scholarly. He addresses only the areas of Biblical history for which his credentials qualify him -- and that's a refreshing approach! His arguments are well supported with evidence. The depth of his research comes through more explicitly in his book LOST CHRISTIANITIES, but THIS book presents in simple language conclusions drawn from the BEST AVAILABLE REAL EVIDENCE.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2006

    Not what I was hoping for

    After reading, and thoroughly enjoying, The Da Vinci Code, I was excited to read Bart Ehrman's critique of it. I was disappointed, however. The book reads like it was quickly dashed off in an effort to jump on the Da Vinci Code bandwagon. While Mr. Ehrman is well-read and very knowledgeable of early Christian history, it was apparent that he did very little additional research for this book. In only one place does he ever mention the book 'Holy Blood, Holy Grail' from which many of the ideas in the Da Vinci Code were first proposed, yet the authors of that book spent over 10 years in research before publishing their work. Nowhere does Mr. Ehrman investigate or even cite any of the references from which the authors of 'Holy Blood, Holy Grail' reached their conclusions. He merely refers to the Bible and other well known histories to dismiss nearly all of the claims made in the Da Vinci Code, and never explains where such fantastic claims originated. For mainstream Christians, whose faith may have been challenged by the Da Vinci revelations, Ehrman's book is reassuring: 'Your faith is not in vain.' For others, however, that were hoping to examine the origins of some of the eye-opening theories found in The Da Vinci Code, it was a disappointment.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2005

    Jumping to conclusions - Ehrman style

    I enjoyed reading this book and it is obvious that Ehrman is well educated, but like the humanity in us all, he jumps to some of his own conclusions. Quoting from Acts 4:13 concerning the 'unlearned' condition of the Apostles, he draws from this that the apostles were illiterate-unable to read or write, which is unwarranted. Jewish synagogues were centers of education for boys, at least on the elementary or secondary level, unlike the rabinical types judging them. The Jews were under Hellenic rule for some years and then the Romans, who carried on with greek thought and literature, so many would be familiar with the greek language also. He qestions the authorship of the Gospels because the authors are not named, and at the same time questions the authorship of 2 Peter where the author identifies himself as Peter, an eyewitness to the transfiguration. Since we do not have the originals of the Gospels, he cannot say with certainty that the originals were not signed. If they were signed, copyists would naturally identify them by name. Assuming literacy, it stands to reason that the apostles would keep notes on what they learned. John Dominic Crossan, another able historian, in The Birth of Christianity, points out that Jesus in three years likely gave the same sermon or variants on numerous occasions which would account for many differences as opposed to the charge that the authors made up a lot of their gospels to 'jazz' up their stories. Also the Gospels and Acts say nothing of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. lending credance to their compilation prior to that date rather than the end of the 1st century or later by other authors. While many biblical sholars agree with Mr. Ehrman about 2 Peter, many do not, and point out that there is nothing in the epistle that requires a dating later than Peter's death. Peter states that Silas helped in the writing of 1 Peter (1 Peter 5:12), which would account for some style differences. Additionally, Jesus said clearly that neither he nor the angels in heaven knew when the end time would come, but only the Father. This book is an excellent read if one keeps in mind the foregoing caveats, plus a few others not mentioned.

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    Posted August 24, 2011

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    Posted March 25, 2011

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