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The Gospel Code: Novel Claims About Jesus, Mary Magdalene and Da Vinci Paperback – June 4, 2004

3.9 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The popularity of Dan Brown's novel The Da Vinci Code has caused Christian apologists to address what they consider to be its heresies and historical errors. Witherington, a New Testament scholar at Asbury Theological Seminary, intends in this volume to add his voice to the growing criticism of Brown's novel. Each chapter treats an issue—the formation of the canon, the "married Jesus" theory, etc.—and then offers a wealth of background material to support an evangelical Christian viewpoint. Drawing on his background in Christian theology and church history, Witherington explains his position in a lucid and sometimes whimsical style. He is particularly strong when exploring and explaining the processes of textual criticism and redaction, and in helping readers understand the flow of Christian history and the development of doctrine. The influence of Gnosticism, ancient and modern, likewise receives extensive treatment. The book closes with an appeal for a more rational, and less speculative, consideration of the Jesus story. Quite apart from its treatment of Brown's novel, this book is a fine exposition of mainstream evangelical teaching and merits wide readership.
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Review

Witherington's The Gospel Code is a welcome response to this runaway phenomenon. Witherington shows time and again why Brown's "novel claims" find so little support in sober scholarship. Here are superb introductions to the New Testament data and to the Gnostic and other post-Biblcal literature. Witherington does an excellent job of clarifying the truth with strong historical and textual support. (Tony Tremblett for The Christian Librarian, volume 49.1, 2006)

"Other publishers have already offered Da Vinci responses. Still, this more extensive, reasoned treatment may have the staying power that other instant books lack." (Publishers Weekly)

"Here's a much-needed antidote to the history-twisting misinformation that, unfortunately, has seeped into popular culture in recent years. Thanks, Ben, for setting the record straight!" (Lee Strobel, author of The Case for Christ and The Case for Faith)

"Ben Witherington won't stop at refuting the historical errors of The Da Vinci Code. He will not rest until he refutes the novel's spiritual error as well. Witherington names the narcissism at the heart of the Gnostic revival and offers the New Testament's God-centered good news in its place." (David Neff, Editor, Christianity Today)

"Unlike so many critiques that carefully mince words, Ben Witherington explains exactly why currently popular attempts to treat the historical Jesus in a revisionist manner are so wide of the mark. Beginning with a bang by noting 'seven deadly errors' right on through the conclusion, Witherington pulls no punches while showcasing his wonderful sense of humor. Here the reader is treated to an excellent evaluation, making points that many of us wish were made far more frequently. This book is simply a delightful read." (Gary R. Habermas, Distinguished Professor of Apologetics and Philosophy, Liberty University)

"In these few pages, an eminent New Testament scholar not only explodes the follies of The Da Vinci Code but also dissects the claims of certain scholars to find in the Gnostic Gospels a historically authentic Jesus and an alternative Christianity. Timely and compelling!" (William Lane Craig, coauthor of Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Books; PRINT-ON-DEMAND edition (June 4, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 083083267X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830832675
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,028,513 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In a culture that is swarmed with media it becoming increasingly hard for people to discern fact from fiction. A couple decades ago the War of the Worlds aired over the radio. This little flick was an hour long narrative of aliens conquering the world. Soon enough people all over the US tuned in to the story after the "this is a fiction" disclaimer. Hundreds of 911 calls were made during the War of the Worlds broadcast because many civilians actually thought that aliens were taking over the world. Although, it is not always to this extreme, fact and fiction are becoming meshed together into one big boiling pot of mass media. The Da Vinci Code written by Dan Brown is a historical fiction for the current popular audience. As expected there are many people that ignored the "historical fiction" disclaimer and began to believe all of the parts of the novel. Ben Witherington III composed The Gospel Code in response to the Da Vinci Code.

An entire History Channel special was dedicated to proving the facts behind the Da Vinci Code. During this broadcast the only source and reference used was Browns book. Browns book gained believers just like any other top selling story with media coverage. Witherington responds to Browns novel with a scientific but dummed down examination of Brown's "truths." Witherington targets the same audience as Brown with an aggressive style. Brown alludes to Timothy 4:3-4 when he says that people are believing things when they are "beyond belief." On page 12 he clearly states the book's agenda as "a wake up call to those who have not been noticing the sign of the times." He is extremely credible and informative as he reasons his way through the fallacies in Brown's novel.
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Format: Paperback
Of the countless rebuttals of the Da Vinci Code, this is by far the best one for a Christian audience. (For medievalists and later, Sharan Newman's is the best, but unlike this book, her grasp of theology is a little shaky...) It is written in a measured tone - no wild denunciations here - and shows conclusively that Brown's understanding of the early Christian church, and of theology, are pure rubbish. But as well as telling us the truth about Gnosticism, Mary Magdalene and other key things, Witherington shows us the deep theological agenda behind not just the Da Vinci Code itself, but all the other works in that genre. It is therefore a challenging book for any Christian to read, one that makes us think about our own world view and why we believe what we do. Make sure you read this book, and that everyone in your Sunday School class does too - it will be essential reading for when the Da Vinci movie comes out, and a first class apologetics/evangelistic tool for your non-Christian friends who will be flocking to see it. Make sure you and your pastor know Witherington's book. Christopher Catherwood, Cambridge UK and Richmond VA historian (author of CHRISTIANS MUSLIMS AND ISLAMIC RAGE [Zondervan, 2003] and CHURCHILL'S FOLLY: HOW WINSTON CHURCHILL CREATED MODERN IRAQ [Carroll and Graf: hardcover 2004 and paperback 2005])
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Format: Paperback
Seldom has a book had as much impact on society, particularly a fiction one, as the Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. In the year and a half since it burst onto the bestseller lists, people who never thought much about Jesus have begun talking about Him and some who have thought about Him have changed their views. Those who remain faithful are often challenged at the water cooler to explain where in the Bible the Mrs. Jesus section is, or some such thing, and need something more than being able to say that is untrue because it's what they believe. To fill this gap, a host of books debunking the "Magdalene Files" have emerged, but this one stands ahead of the others.

**** While most are thin volumes that address superficial difficulties, The Gospel Code digs in deeper, exploring the root of the problem that has more branches than just Da Vinci. After reading this, you will know about the gnostic heresies, the alleged "lost books of the Bible," and have a good grounding in early church history. For that alone, even if you never read Holy Blood, Holy Grail, or DaVinci Code, etc., this is a time worthy book. ****

Reviewed by Amanda Killgore for Huntress Reviews.
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Format: Paperback
I have several Christian critiques of DVC and this ranks as one of the best. I liked how Ben Witherington pointed out at the outset the 7 errors made by the Da Vinci Code (henceforth referred to as DVC) and then in subsequent chapters goes on to deal in detail each of these errors, namely, 1) DVC claims that the Gnostic gospels, which the church suppressed, are earlier than the 4 biblical gospels; 2) Jesus was a great man or prophet but was later proclaimed as divine in the Council of Nicea; 3) Constantine suppressed the earliest "Gnostic" Gospels and imposed the canonical Gospels and the deity of Christ on the church; 4) Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene; 5) Jesus must have been married since he was an early Jew; 6) The Dead Sea Scrolls, along with the Nag Hammadi documents, are the earliest Christian records; 7) The theological and philosophical underpinnings of the book. Witherington's scholarship is impeccable, his presentation of his arguments are lucid and easy to follow. He also includes a helpful glossary of terms and bibliography in the end. I'm thankful to God for Ben Witherington's critique -- it is must reading for any person who seeks a balanced and scholarly critique of the DVC and also a solid foundation for defending the orthodox Christian faith as supported by canonical Scripture. It is must reading, especially for those deceived by the false claims and attacks of the DVC.
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