Da Vinci Code

While Dan Brown's books may make for good readin' (or not) they shouldn't be used to ascertain historical facts. I've already made some posts about The Da Vinci Code. This article from the UK's Telegraph newspaper gives a list of 50 of the more grievous ones: The Lost Symbol and The Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown: 50 factual errors

I'm not posting this to poke fun at Dan Brown, or take pleasure in pointing out his mistakes. Nor am I confused about the status of Brown's books as being fiction. So responses of "IT'S ONLY A FICTION BOOK GET OVER IT" are not welcome or helpful. Although well aware that Brown's books are fictional, many people DO believe at least parts of them are accurate. An example is my former co-worker who, upon learning I am a Christian, said something to the effect of "Oh I guess you haven't read The Da Vinci Code, it destroys Christianity!"

Of course after he saw The Real Da Vinci Code program on TV and got the facts he changed his mind. But it illustrates the need for proper information.

BookIt is sometimes suggested that the New Testament as we know it did not exist until centuries after Jesus, and that the books comprising the New Testament were not considered divine or authoritative until much later than the first century.

One problem with the theory that the books in our New Testament were not considered Scripture in the first century is that the authors of the New Testament books specifically refer to the other author's books as being Scripture! Take a look at 2 Peter 3:15-16:

Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.

Here Peter refers to the wisdom found in Paul's letters. Note Peter's wording: He says Paul's letters contain things that are hard to understand just like the other Scriptures. Peter considered at least some of Paul's letters to be Scripture, equal in authority to the Old Testament.

I came across another passage this week that seems to treat other New Testament books as Scripture, 1 Timothy 5:18:

For the Scripture says, "Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain," and "The worker deserves his wages."

The first quote is from Deuteronomy 25:4. The second is not found in the Old Testament, but it is found in the New Testament. Albert Barnes notes in his commentary that "This expression is found substantially in Matt 10:10, and Luke 10:7. It does not occur in so many words in the Old Testament, and yet the apostle adduces it evidently as a quotation from the Scriptures, and as authority in the case. It would seem probable, therefore, that he had seen the Gospel by Matthew or by Luke, and that he quoted this as a part of Scripture, and regarded the Book from which he made the quotation as of the same authority as the Old Testament. If so, then this may be regarded as an attestation of the apostle to the inspiration of the “Gospel” in which it was found." (Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible, via e-sword)

Kinda throws cold water on the whole "Constantine put together his own collection of scriptures" myth eh? (Sorry couldn't help referencing The Da Vinci Code again!)

There's an interesting book that I haven't been able to finish reading yet called The First Edition of the New Testament by Dr David Trobisch, which posits the theory that the New Testament we know today was first compiled (in a form identical to or very similar to its present form) in the early 2nd century, not in the 4th century as it is often assumed. It's an interesting but somewhat difficult read, probably in part because it's been translated from its original German form. It's also expensive ($45) considering it's only 184 pages. I'll finish reading it next semester when I'm back at the school library. 😉

The Real Da Vinci CodeOkay, after writing for the Discuss Da Vinci Blog (a dozen or so posts plus several dozen replies in the comments, some of them to some real … uh, "characters" …) I've had pretty much enough of Dan "it's true, absolutely all of it, errr, except when it's proven wrong or inconvenient for me" Brown's novel.

However, I had to post this. An excellent documentary called The Real Da Vinci Code (hosted by Tony Robinson and originally broadcast a year or so ago) is now available on DVD. I highly encourage anyone who's interested in the issues raised by the book to watch this documentary. It's both scholarly and entertaining. Buy it from Amazon.com ($13.99US) or from your local DVD store.

The entire thing is also available to watch online for free here: The Real Da Vinci Code on Google Video (1 hour 41 minutes). Of course, since they are now (finally) selling a legit DVD version, you should really buy the DVD in addition to watching it online. Besides, it loses something watching it on the blurry Google Video box, especially when they are showing the documents, beautiful architecture, etc.

Further reading:

The Da Vinci Toad
It's the most controversial and shocking new interpretation of Leonardo's work since The Da Vinci Code: It's The Da Vinci Toad!

Expert art historian Teabing Saunière* commented that "This novel new vision of Leonardo's art easily equals Dan Brown's novel in terms of historical accuracy. When you look closely at the Mona Lisa, you can clearly see a mostly dry looking, airy landscape, perfectly suited for toads. And what of Mona Lisa's enigmatic smirk? Leonardo even mentions toads in his own notebooks! Based on this evidence, I think we can conclude that the Mona Lisa was really based on a toad."

* Not a real person, of course. 'The Da Vinci Toad' is really just a shirt / hat created as a parody of the popular book & movie.

Further reading on The Da Vinci Code:

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