August 27, 2012

Happy Mon. Gray here with rain. Rained all day yesterday, too, with some pretty strong showers at times. Not great for outdoor work. Lots of color beginning to show in the forest.

I just read a good book explaining why the claims about Jesus and Church history in Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code are based on sensational speculation (Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, and after he died she moved with her daughter to France where the Priory of Sion has guarded their legacy over the centuries and engaged in religious sex orgies). Bart Ehrman demonstrates all this is pretty much made up. The novel was a huge bestseller, you will recall—I think the hardcover was in print and on the NYT best seller list for two years before they released it in paperback. It was also made into a movie.

The author of the book I read, Ehrman, a professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina and one of the leading experts on the New Testament, decided to write a popular exposition of what we actually know about the formation of the NT, how the gospels and other books were chosen for inclusion, which writings were not chosen and why, and how subsequent generations of Christians dealt with diversity of opinion about who Jesus was and what his message was. These have been surprisingly contentious issues, and not just academic ones. Wars and assassinations have erupted over such issues, books have been burned, churches vandalized, countries and families rent asunder with violent speech and acts. Modern Islam is undergoing similar forces now.

Anyway, Ehrman thinks, based on his experience teaching the New Testment to college students, that The Da Vinci Code may well be the main source of information many people have on this subject. I have read about this topic quite a bit, and this short book is the best simple discussion of its topic I have seen.

Ehrman writes well, in a very accessible manner. He explains complex ideas clearly and documents the evidence so you could look it up if you wanted to. A good read. BTW, Ehrman says he thinks the The Da Vinci Code is a very entertaining novel and he recommends it as fiction. Cheap copies available online. Also probably in your public library.

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