- Hardcover: 240 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press (November 1, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195181409
- ISBN-13: 978-0195181401
- Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 1.1 x 5.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,618,410 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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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From Publishers Weekly
Ehrman, chair of religious studies at UNC-Chapel Hill, has written widely on the subject of early Christian documents and the formation of the biblical canon. While acknowledging that Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code is an exciting mystery novel, Ehrman questions some of its historical claims. Focusing on 10 areas of concern, including the role Constantine played in the formation of the both the church and the Bible and the evidence for Jesus' personal involvement with Mary Magdalene, Ehrman reviews the historical record and demonstrates that Brown's history behind the mystery is seriously flawed. Ehrman is not concerned with theology; he has no interest beyond that of the professional historian who wants to arm the everyday reader with sound research and helpful historical perspective. His is a documentary approach, avoiding speculation and theory. This tone distinguishes the book from many other responses to Brown's novel that uphold a particular theological agenda. Ultimately, Ehrman believes that readers should not try to learn history from speculative fiction. This is a very readable treatment of some difficult themes, such as the reasons for the exclusion of some early gospels from the canon and the enormous influence of recent archeological discoveries. Readers at every level will appreciate this book.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* There are have been several books debunking Dan Brown's enormously popular Da Vinci Code; often the rebuttals have been coated with hostility. Ehrman, a biblical historian, does it better. Using the novel as a jumping-off point, he offers a highly readable introduction to the historical Jesus as well as a brief primer on biblical exegesis. Not an easy task to provide such complex material for a pop-fiction audience, but Ehrman succeeds brilliantly. He immediately gives Brown's book its due; it's a page-turner, and there is no need to refute that. But the book is filled with many historical inaccuracies, everything from claiming the Dead Sea Scrolls were Christian documents to the idea that all the Jewish men of the era were married. (The assumed writers of the scrolls were celibate.) Ehrman uses each inaccuracy as an opportunity to explain how biblical scholarship works. The topics he touches on include how historians assess documentation, the Gnostic gospels in Christian thought, the role of Constantine in the formation of a Christian empire, and the role of women in the early church. Everyone loves conspiracies and secrets, which makes it a bit melancholy to watch Ehrman remove the veil from the Jesus story. Even the most devoted Da Vinci Code fan, however, will be forced to agree that Ehrman succeeds at separating historical fact from literary fiction. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top customer reviews
For example, Truth and Fiction's entire, lengthy description of the discovery of the Nag Hammadi library, as well as the detailed description of those books and other Gnostic writings, has been taken from Lost Christianities with virtually no changes.
Clearly, Truth and Fiction was quickly cobbled together to capitalize on the popularity of Brown's novel. If you've already read Lost Christianities, you'd be better off rereading it, since very little in this one is new. If you haven't read Lost Christianities, I'd recommend it over Truth and Fiction; it's both more serious and more comprehensive — not to mention more original!
As to this particular title, I found it quite interesting. The way Ehrman used the so-called "historical" elements of the plot in this work of fiction as devices for comparing and contrasting with those based in historical probability was very illuminating. I feel that I learned quite a bit. And it was somewhat entertaining as well given that it followed the plot of the book and corrected the many erroneous statements along the way.
The book, The Da Vinci Code speculates that the ancient order of the Priory of Sion has been protecting the secrets of the Grail (the living descendants of Christ) throughout history, while the fanatical Catholic order, Opus Dei has been trying to discover and destroy them.
Ehrman discovers many factual errors in the Da Vinci Code, which are;
1. Jesus' life was not recorded by thousands of followers in his own time.
2. It is not true that 80 gospels were considered for the New Testament.
3. It is not true that Jesus was not considered divine until the Council of Nicea.
4. Constantine did not commision a Bible that omited references to Jesus' human traits.
5. The Dead Sea Scrolls were not found in the 1950s but in 1947.
6. Jewish decorum did not forbade a Jewish man to remain unmarried.
7. The Dead Sea Scrolls were not the earliest Christian writing, they were not Christian at all.
8. We have no idea of the lineage of Mary Magdalene. Nothing connects her with the house of Benjamin.
9. No biblical evidence points to the fact that she was pregnant at the crucifixion.
10. The Q source is not a surviving source being hid by the Vatican, nor was it written by Jesus.
Ehrman's book goes on to detail each of these premises that were presented in Dan Brown's book and how they are in error of actual biblical texts and explanations there in. He states that if Brown had done a little more "home work" the film would have been much more more factual.
In closing, Ehrman says that much of what we believe about history has been portrayed in the movies and that that's the way we remember and see things. We just can't help it.
Most recent customer reviews
that's part of the fiction.