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Breaking the Da Vinci Code

by Bock, Darrell L.

Thomas Nelson 2004

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Overview

Many who have read the New York Times bestseller The Da Vinci Code have questions that arise from seven codes—expressed or implied—in Dan Brown's book. In Breaking the Da Vinci Code: Answers to the Questions Everyone's Asking, Darrell Bock, Ph.D., responds to the novelist's claims using central ancient texts and answers the following questions:

  • Who Was Mary Magdalene?
  • Was Jesus Married?
  • Would Being Single Make Jesus Un-Jewish?
  • Do the So-Called Secret, Gnostic Gospels Help Us Understand Jesus?
  • What is the Remaining Relevance of The Da Vinci Code?

Darrell Bock's research uncovers the origins of these codes by focusing on the 325 years immediately following the birth of Christ, for the claims of The Da Vinci Code rise or fall on the basis of things emerging from this period. Breaking the Da Vinci Code distinguishes fictitious entertainment from historical elements of the Christian faith. For by seeing these differences, one can break the Da Vinci code.

Whether you've read The Da Vinci Code or you've seen the movie posters for the upcoming film, it's hard to miss the impact of this blockbuster story on popular culture today. Because of the popular success of Dan Brown's fictional work, questions about the validity of the traditional Gospel story, the supposed Holy Blood-line of Christ and Mary Magdalene, and the intrigue of secret societies within the Church have all come to the surface, demanding the attention of Christians today.

Darrell Bock, respected New Testament scholar and professor of New Testament studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, confronts the claims made by The Da Vinci Code in his work, Breaking the Da Vinci Code: Answers to the Questions Everyone's Asking. Getting to the heart of the supposed cover up scandals and the "how" and "why" of the development of our traditional beliefs regarding Christ's life, Bock clears the confusion about the mysterious past of the Catholic Church. Bock's study of significant New Testament texts, the Nag Hammadi, the Mishnah, and other Early Church texts, focuses on addressing the validity of Brown's claims about the story of Christ and offering his scholarly opinion on the truth of these ideas.

From the Preface

This book is my effort to clarify the difference between virtual reality and historical likelihood. In other words, I hope clearly to distinguish the difference between fictitious entertainment and historical elements of the Christian faith. By seeing these differences, one can break the Da Vinci Code. But I warn you there are some interesting—and even alarming—surprises along the way.

As I looked closer at The Da Vinci Code, I began to see another code lurking behind its pages, one I recognized from my study of the New Testament and the history of the earliest church. Most readers of the novel have no idea that this other code is there. I know when I started my work on the novel, I did not see it at first. Breaking the Da Vinci Code led me to discover the presence of this other code. That is another reason I have written this book—to bring to the surface the code underneath and behind The Da Vinci Code. This second code will emerge as we examine the novel. Keep your eyes open for it as it emerges from the clues we will encounter. It is a key element behind why this novel has become something of a public phenomenon and why the issues it raises are worthy of careful study and reflection.

Because our study has multiple layers, we will have to consider Mary Magdalene at two distinct points of our investigation, one early and the other later. The early point will focus on her specific relationship to Jesus. Later we will return to her and try to understand why the figure of Mary Magdalene is important. But before we can do that, we must examine various ancient documents in which she appears. Some documents the church has used for centuries, and others are receiving renewed attention today in a host of studies on secret writings outside the Bible.

Like a good investigator, I now assemble the pieces of the mystery surrounding the Da Vinci Code. Each chapter will probe what we know, how we know it, and what we have to think about together. We will review several ancient texts, for they unlock much of the history that The Da Vinci Code attempts to portray. If you get lost, turn to the Glossary in the back that gives the history of these ancient texts, defines major terms, and summarizes the major players. Treat the Glossary like tour guide information; it is there to make sure you know where you are. If you like Sherlock Holmes or Indiana Jones, I think you are in for an adventure. Only in this case, we are dealing with both fiction and history. What is the difference between virtual reality and historical reality when it comes to Jesus, Mary, and The Da Vinci Code? Let’s see if we can find out.

—Darrell L. Bock

Praise for the Print Edition

A must-read for anyone who wants to understand the pernicious nature of The Da Vinci Code. Darrell Bock shines the light of history on Dan Brown's conspiracy theories and turns up a mixture of fascinating possibilities, wishful thinking, overblown claims, and outright errors. But more importantly, he reveals the book's hidden agenda: to transform the very character of the Christian faith.

—David Neff, Editor & Vice-President, Christianity Today

From my Roman Catholic tradition, I am happy to join Darrell Bock and his Protestant tradition to affirm that The Da Vinci Code does not have a leg to stand on in its attempt to dethrone the two-thousand-year-old Christian story of what God has done for us in and through Jesus Christ.

—Francis J. Moloney, S.D.B., Dean, School of Theology and Religious Studies, Catholic University of America, from his Foreword

Thorough and convincing. . . . For every Christian who has read The Da Vinci Code this volume is an essential companion.

—Gary M. Burge, Ph.D., Wheaton College and Graduate School

Essential reading for those who want the true story about Jesus and his follower and who want to properly decode and debunk the speculative ruminations of The Da Vinci Code

—Michael J. Wilkins, Professor of New Testament, Biola University (CA)

Succinct and eminently readable. A must for all who are confused by Brown's portrayal of fiction as fact.

—Craig L. Blomberg, Distinguished Professor of New Testament, Denver Seminary

Product Details

  • Title: Breaking the Da Vinci Code
  • Author: Darrell L. Bock
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson
  • Publication Date: 2004
  • Pages: 188