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

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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A staggeringly popular work of fiction, Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code has stood atop The New York Times Bestseller List for well over a year, with millions of copies in print. But this fast-paced mystery is unusual in that the author states up front that the historical information in the book 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 (which are not Christian in content, contrary to The Da Vinci Code); 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.
Ehrman separates fact from fiction, the historical realities from the flights of literary fancy. Readers of The Da Vinci Code who would like to know the truth about the beginnings of Christianity and the life of Jesus will find this book riveting.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781419330889
Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC
Publication date: 02/03/2005

About the Author

Bart D. Ehrman chairs the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. An authority on the early Church and the life of Jesus, he has appeared on A&E, the History Channel, CNN, and other television and radio shows. He has taped several highly popular lecture series for the "Teaching Company" and is the author of Jesus, Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium (OUP, 1999), Lost Christianities (OUP, 2004) and Lost Scriptures (OUP, 2004).

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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 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
boyimadeit More than 1 year ago
Very honest and understandable, easy reading.
FluidMindOrg on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Having read a lot of ancient history, particularly early Christian history, most friends and family, after reading The Da Vinci Code, inevitably ask me how much of it is true. I always refer them to this book. Ehrman is eminently rational and respectful in his critique. He doesn't slam Dan Brown, he simply points out where his claims are historically accurate and where they are way off base.Not only is this an excellent assessment of the book, it is an amazingly accessible and interesting distillation of New Testament scholarship. Ehrman offers a brief history of Charlemagne and the Council of Nicea, discussions of many non-canonical gospels, and most importantly insight into how professional historians view and assess ancient texts as historical documents. This is the kind of information that EVERY member of the Christian religion should know, but most don't.
kakadoo202 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
interesting background info on the DA VINCI CODE, but too much repetition.
librisissimo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Substance: Ably confronts Brown's claims and debunks almost all of them. Brown is correct in only a few instances, mostly where non-specialist scholarship is irrelevant. Ehrman's point-by-point deconstruction (not quite a fisking) is illuminating. From a "practicing Christian" viewpoint, he falls into the camp of the symbologists rather than the literalists.Style: Not as straight-forward 1-2-3 as I prefer, but covers the territory.
stacyinthecity on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A really great answer to The DaVinci Code - not a religiously based answer, but one based on historical evidence. If the author is Christian or nonChristian, it is never revealed, but he does enlighten his readers on specifically the questions posed and the claimed "truths" in the popular fiction book. In short, I would take anything Dan Brown writes with a huge bag of salt, and despite his disclaimer that all the works of art, architechture, documents, etc are real and as he describes them, I would not trust one letter of it unless it was indpendantly verified. I would not believe his description of The Mona Lisa unless it jived with another independant source.The book also serves as a great introduction to early Christianity during Jesus's time through Constantine.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.