Friday, May 05, 2006

Decoding The Da Vinci Code

The Da Vinci Code

I guess Christians should be flattered. Who knew the Council of Nicea and Mary Magdalene could be this hot? Thanks in large measure to Dan Brown's fictional thriller The DaVinci Code, early church history just can't stay out of the news.

If only a more worthy work could have prompted such attention. Brown first grabbed the headlines and prime-time TV in 2003 with his theory that Jesus married Mary Magdalene. But The DaVinci Code contains many more (equally dubious) claims about Christianity's historic origins and theological development. It's left to the reader whether these theories belong to Brown's imagination or the skeleton of "facts" that supports the book.

Brown claims "almost everything our fathers taught us about Christ is false." Why? Because of a single meeting of bishops in 325, at the city of Nicea in modern-day Turkey. There, Brown argues, church leaders who wanted to consolidate their power base (he calls this, anachronistically, "the Vatican," or "the Roman Catholic church") created a divine Christ and an infallible Scripture—both novelties that had never before existed among Christians.

Christian History and Christianity Today magazines have covered the subject widely, and we've compiled the articles below.

Christian History & Biography Issue 85: Debating Jesus' Divinity
The Council of Nicaea and its bitter aftermath.

Editor's Bookshelf: Da Vinci Dissenters
Four books try to break, crack, or decode the deception.

Speaking in Code
A roundup of the many anti-Da Vinci Code books from Christian publishers.

The Da Vinci Rejects
What other Christian publishers could have done to respond to Dan Brown's bestseller.

Why the 'Lost Gospels' Lost Out
Recent gadfly theories about church council conspiracies that manipulated the New Testament into existence are bad—really bad—history.

The Da Vinci Code, Corrected
Why the "lost gospels" were really lost

Thanks, Da Vinci Code
The book sends us back to Christianity's "founding fathers"—and the Bible we share with them.

Breaking The Da Vinci Code
So the divine Jesus and infallible Word emerged out of a fourth-century power-play? Get real.

The Good News of Da Vinci
How a ludicrous book can become an opportunity to engage the culture.

A Hammer Struck at Heresy
What exactly happened at the famous Council of Nicea, when the Roman emperor convened some 250 quarreling Christian bishops?

Christian History
Readers respond to The Da Vinci Code

Film Forum: Talking About Revolutions
What religious critics are saying about The Matrix Revolutions, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, Elf, Brother Bear, The Human Stain, In the Cut, Shattered Glass, Mystic River, Radio, Veronica Guerin, and the upcoming Return of the King, and Da Vinci Code films.

Film Forum: Critics Rocked by Jack Black, Gored by Tarantino
Religious press critics attend The School of Rock, Kill Bill—Vol. 1, Out of Time, The Station Agent, and Wonderland. More reviews arrive for Luther, Secondhand Lions, and Matchstick Men. Plus: More Passion debate, farewells for Elia Kazan, a report from the Chicago Film Festival, and director Ron Howard takes on the heresy-laced Da Vinci Code.

On the following articles, you'll have to scroll down to find the Da Vinci items:

Weblog: Will Iraq Turn to Shari'ah?
Plus: More on Kelley, The Passion, Da Vinci Code, Billy Graham plans revival in Missouri, and articles from online source around the world.

Weblog: Time Goes Gnostic
Plus: Christmas, Carl Henry, more Gnostics, and other articles from online sources around the world.

Weblog: Newsweek Goes to Sunday School
And learns about all the women in the Bible, who have been there for millennia.

Weblog: Marriage Amendment Introduced in Senate
Plus: Graham Staines murderers appeal, Christians like gambling, but not psychics, and Homer Simpson ministry.

Weblog: Bethlehem Prepares for Dour Christmas
Plus: Tons more on Christmas, the lies of Da Vinci, State Department's religious freedom report, Christian video games, and hundreds of stories from online sources around the world.

Weblog: Catholics Boot Episcopal Ceremony Over Presiding Bishop's Pro-Homosexuality Comments
Plus: Hiding gay bishops under poetry readings, Christianity vs. Islam, and other stories from online sources around the world.

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