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In his staggeringly popular work of fiction, Dan Brown states up front that the historical information in the The Da Vinci Code is all factually accurate. But is this claim true? As historian Bart D. Ehrman shows in this informative and witty book, The Da Vinci Code is filled with numerous historical mistakes. Did the ancient church engage in a cover-up to make the man Jesu In his staggeringly popular work of fiction, Dan Brown states up front that the historical information in the The Da Vinci Code is all factually accurate. But is this claim true? As historian Bart D. Ehrman shows in this informative and witty book, The Da Vinci Code is filled with numerous historical mistakes. Did the ancient church engage in a cover-up to make the man Jesus into a divine figure? Did Emperor Constantine select for the New Testament--from some 80 contending Gospels--the only four Gospels that stressed that Jesus was divine? Was Jesus Christ married to Mary Magdalene? Did the Church suppress Gospels that told the secret of their marriage? Bart Ehrman thoroughly debunks all of these claims. But the book is not merely a laundry list of Brown's misreading of history. Throughout, Ehrman offers a wealth of fascinating background information--all historically accurate--on early Christianity. He describes, for instance, the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls; outlines in simple terms how scholars of early Christianity determine which sources are most reliable; and explores the many other Gospels that have been found in the last half century. In his engaging book, Ehrman separates fact from fiction, the historical realities from the flights of literary fancy. Anyone who would like to know the truth about the beginnings of Christianity and the real truth behind The Da Vinci Code will find this book riveting.


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In his staggeringly popular work of fiction, Dan Brown states up front that the historical information in the The Da Vinci Code is all factually accurate. But is this claim true? As historian Bart D. Ehrman shows in this informative and witty book, The Da Vinci Code is filled with numerous historical mistakes. Did the ancient church engage in a cover-up to make the man Jesu In his staggeringly popular work of fiction, Dan Brown states up front that the historical information in the The Da Vinci Code is all factually accurate. But is this claim true? As historian Bart D. Ehrman shows in this informative and witty book, The Da Vinci Code is filled with numerous historical mistakes. Did the ancient church engage in a cover-up to make the man Jesus into a divine figure? Did Emperor Constantine select for the New Testament--from some 80 contending Gospels--the only four Gospels that stressed that Jesus was divine? Was Jesus Christ married to Mary Magdalene? Did the Church suppress Gospels that told the secret of their marriage? Bart Ehrman thoroughly debunks all of these claims. But the book is not merely a laundry list of Brown's misreading of history. Throughout, Ehrman offers a wealth of fascinating background information--all historically accurate--on early Christianity. He describes, for instance, the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls; outlines in simple terms how scholars of early Christianity determine which sources are most reliable; and explores the many other Gospels that have been found in the last half century. In his engaging book, Ehrman separates fact from fiction, the historical realities from the flights of literary fancy. Anyone who would like to know the truth about the beginnings of Christianity and the real truth behind The Da Vinci Code will find this book riveting.

30 review for Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code: A Historian Reveals What We Really Know about Jesus, Mary Magdalene & Constantine

  1. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Norton

    Before I get into my review, I'd like to state that I knew of Mr. Ehrman and his reputation before I read this book. If you've done research on the Historical Jesus, chances are that you've heard of Mr. Ehrman. It seems that the general consesus is you love him or you hate him. Mr. Ehrman is absolutely not shy in his views and research and has become a leading authority on many Bible-related subjects. That all being said, on to the book. Like everyone else, I read the Da Vinci Code and was left w Before I get into my review, I'd like to state that I knew of Mr. Ehrman and his reputation before I read this book. If you've done research on the Historical Jesus, chances are that you've heard of Mr. Ehrman. It seems that the general consesus is you love him or you hate him. Mr. Ehrman is absolutely not shy in his views and research and has become a leading authority on many Bible-related subjects. That all being said, on to the book. Like everyone else, I read the Da Vinci Code and was left with more questions than answers. I knew enough at the time to know a lot of "facts" were actually either fabrications of truth or plain made up stories. The copy I read had pictures included which probably added to my questions more than took from them. Mr. Ehrman has written a book that is extremely easy to read. He explains things well and seems to understand that his average reader will not have the knowledge that he does. One thing I especially liked was that, although I do know his beliefs, he does not make it obvious and he doesn't try to change the readers belief. He simply says, "this is not correct" and then presents facts, backed up by Scripture or Gnostic writings, as to why it isn't correct. However, like most people in his field, Mr. Ehrman talks about Q. Since we haven't found Q yet, we don't know what it says IF it even exists. It seems a bit premature to me to refer to a document that currently exists only in theory. Mr. Erhman goes as far as quoting Q, stating that things are preserved for us in this document. As far as disproving the "facts" in Dan Brown's novel, this book does a fantastic job. Mr. Ehrman gives a breif history on most of the sources he credits and he does not make assumptions where a conclusion can not be made. I think this is a good book for anyone looking for the real truth behind Dan Brown's allegations. While The Da Vinci Code is a fun read, it has things in it that are absolutely not truth, but presented as such, and Dan Brown has stated he would not change a thing about his "facts" as he believes they actually are facts. The real facts are in Bart Ehrman's book, and it's well worth the read.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Eric Shaffer

    I found this volume refreshingly straight-forward and a good review of all of what I learned in my college studies of religion, the world religions, and various other information. Ehrman is thoughtful, bringing his own experience, doubts, certainties, and learning to the task of examining Dan Brown's best-seller. Like many, I found The Da Vinci Code a wonderful page-turner, and I was absorbed in its twists and turns, but I was on occasion, a little uneasy when the "facts" Brown was offering conf I found this volume refreshingly straight-forward and a good review of all of what I learned in my college studies of religion, the world religions, and various other information. Ehrman is thoughtful, bringing his own experience, doubts, certainties, and learning to the task of examining Dan Brown's best-seller. Like many, I found The Da Vinci Code a wonderful page-turner, and I was absorbed in its twists and turns, but I was on occasion, a little uneasy when the "facts" Brown was offering conflicted with what I thought I knew. Looking back, the discomfort might have been completely avoided if Brown had not asserted at the beginning of the book that all of this information was accurate. Actually, I think his book would have been more success as a fiction for me if he hadn't insisted on his own veracity. It is my own personal quirk, perhaps, that when I see the first frames of a movie or the introductory pages of a novel list a phrase like "based on a true story," I am convinced that what I am about to view or read is an absolute fiction. Anyone who's ever watched Cops or been unlucky enough to encounter a sociopath in his or her life KNOWS that the statement "I'm not going to lie" always and only proceeds a torrent of untruth. So maybe I should have been a little more ready to take Brown's tale as fiction, but my lack of detailed knowledge about Christianity and the history of the Christian church unsettled me too many times and just enough to make me step away from the fiction I was enjoying and wonder. This volume is, thus, a welcome and useful refresher for those of us who want to know which was truth and which was fiction while at the same time learning or re-learning a number of fascinating facts.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    Ehrman has outdone himself again. This is a great little book for people who are actually interested in the historical questions that The Da Vinci Code claims to answer: Who wrote the New Testament? Who decided whether Jesus was a human or a god? Was he married? What did Jesus actually teach? Who was Mary Magdalene, and what was her relationship with Jesus? and what were the contents of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Nag Hammadi library, and the gnostic gospels? One puzzling thing at the beginning of Ehrman has outdone himself again. This is a great little book for people who are actually interested in the historical questions that The Da Vinci Code claims to answer: Who wrote the New Testament? Who decided whether Jesus was a human or a god? Was he married? What did Jesus actually teach? Who was Mary Magdalene, and what was her relationship with Jesus? and what were the contents of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Nag Hammadi library, and the gnostic gospels? One puzzling thing at the beginning of the Da Vinci code, on the first page or on one of the cover pages, is Dan Brown's claim that all of the descriptions of the ancient documents in the book are true. In light of what Ehrman and other historians of early Christianity actually know, the only way to make sense of Brown's claim (other than to assume his research consisted of skimming a single book and copying it's ideas wholesale - ie ignorance) is to read this page as part of the fiction of the Da Vinci Code. As if the fictional author, who lives in a fictional parallel world where all of his claims are true, were writing it, because from Dan Brown that statement is a lie. The real historical knowledge about these questions is in some ways just as subversive and interesting as the more fanciful daydreams presented in the Da Vinci Code. The only reason authors like Brown can spin such a tale about early Christianity and get away with it, is that people, even devout Christians (especially devout Christians) have the real information hidden from them by omission. Read this book; Ehrman presents his material with clarity and authority.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Terence

    If you want to get an idea of what early Christianity and Christians were about I'd go with Ehrman's serious works like Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture & the Faiths We Never Knew or Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible & Why. And he's far too kind to Dan Brown. If you want to get an idea of what early Christianity and Christians were about I'd go with Ehrman's serious works like Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture & the Faiths We Never Knew or Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible & Why. And he's far too kind to Dan Brown.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Erik Graff

    Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code promises, among other things, to be faithful to the documentary facts upon which its plot depends. Bart Ehrman shows how often this simply is not true while managing in the course of his critique to discuss the origins of Christianity and its canon in a clear and simple manner. Indeed, one would benefit from reading this text whether or not familiar with either Brown's book or the movie based upon it. As I noticed, and as Ehrlich notes, Brown's work, and his thesis a Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code promises, among other things, to be faithful to the documentary facts upon which its plot depends. Bart Ehrman shows how often this simply is not true while managing in the course of his critique to discuss the origins of Christianity and its canon in a clear and simple manner. Indeed, one would benefit from reading this text whether or not familiar with either Brown's book or the movie based upon it. As I noticed, and as Ehrlich notes, Brown's work, and his thesis about the descendants of Jesus, is derivative on a highly speculative work by nonspecialists entitled Holy Blood, Holy Grail. So, too, is much of The Matrix movie trilogy.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Anne Hawn Smith

    This audiobook was incredibly interesting. The author is a noted Biblical scholar and he refuted many of the claims made in Dan Brown's book resoundingly. For example, that the Emperor Constantine decided the can of Scripture and that he rejected some 80 other Gospels. The canon was established more than 100 years beyond his time and there were only a few other gospels and they had glaring errors or in some cases were almost nonsense. The mystique of "the sacred feminine" is simply not supported This audiobook was incredibly interesting. The author is a noted Biblical scholar and he refuted many of the claims made in Dan Brown's book resoundingly. For example, that the Emperor Constantine decided the can of Scripture and that he rejected some 80 other Gospels. The canon was established more than 100 years beyond his time and there were only a few other gospels and they had glaring errors or in some cases were almost nonsense. The mystique of "the sacred feminine" is simply not supported by the available documents or the known history of the time and place. The book was very well arranged and written respectfully refuting the character's statements in the books rather than attacking Brown. As a work of fiction, the Da Vinci Code was a real page turner, but the actual documents that Brown says exist to prove what he wrote simply don't exist. The only problem I found with Ehrman is that he does not have any room in his historical facts for faith, and especially a personal faith with a real Jesus Christ. His approach is purely historical, which is fine, but there is more to religion than simply choosing to believe a bit of history and staking your life on it. With that said, I would recommend the book to anyone interested in real scholarship presented in a logical, easy to listen to or read text. The author is clear and concise and easy to follow.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    I liked that the author didn't set out to bash "The Da Vinci Code" and that he did, indeed, enjoy the novel (as did I). He attempted to examine what is known historically to either confirm or refute Brown's statements in the novel. However, I DIDN'T like that Ehrman seemed to interpret historical documents in the way that fit his thesis (this being that Brown was mostly wrong in the novel). I read a lot of "it's impossible to tell for sure, but it is most likely...." when the interpretation fit I liked that the author didn't set out to bash "The Da Vinci Code" and that he did, indeed, enjoy the novel (as did I). He attempted to examine what is known historically to either confirm or refute Brown's statements in the novel. However, I DIDN'T like that Ehrman seemed to interpret historical documents in the way that fit his thesis (this being that Brown was mostly wrong in the novel). I read a lot of "it's impossible to tell for sure, but it is most likely...." when the interpretation fit his thesis, and a lot of "it's impossible to tell for sure, but it is unlikely that...." when it DIDN'T fit his thesis. Sorry, Bart, but you can't have it both ways. If the documents aren't clear on intent, you don't get to "guess" intent. I'm not a Christian scholar, but I have done a fair amount of reading on many subjects discussed in this book. I feel that overall, Ehrman wasn't objective enough in his interpretations and came across as too sure that the current Bible was the original. Also, he sure seems to love Emperor Constantine (not sure why, though!) I think there's a lot more to ancient religious history covered up, but I DO remind people that "Da Vinci Code" IS on the fiction shelf!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Poo1987 Roykaew

    This is a very good introductuion for anyone who interests in the study of Bible and historical Jesus. I would argue that professor Ehrman does not intend to smash 'The Davinci Code', his main target of criticism, nor does he intend to judge the value of the novel itself. His effort is doing at his best to assure us, his readers, to recognize the fact that this novel is a novel, not a book containing of historical facts, and to correct facts claimed of its validity by the novelist himself - most This is a very good introductuion for anyone who interests in the study of Bible and historical Jesus. I would argue that professor Ehrman does not intend to smash 'The Davinci Code', his main target of criticism, nor does he intend to judge the value of the novel itself. His effort is doing at his best to assure us, his readers, to recognize the fact that this novel is a novel, not a book containing of historical facts, and to correct facts claimed of its validity by the novelist himself - most of which, as he has shown throughout his essays, has been wrong. His style of writing is witty and readable. He provides historical background of Jesus' life, of the first-century Palestine, and of the early Christianity. It does not elaborate in many details, but opens our eyes to the world that we may not know before or once consider that we've already known. I suggest to anyone who wants to begin his study on history of Christianity or has interest in the topic about the man who proclaimed himself to his contemporary Jewish fellows a Messiah.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Larry Cunningham

    I've read, and mostly enjoyed, about half a dozen of Bart Ehrman's works on early Christianity. As a result, I was familiar with his approach to the subject before finding this work at a discount book store and deciding to add it to my collection. The book does a decent job of setting the record straight regarding the factual claims posited by Dan Brown as background to The Da Vinci Code. In the process, Ehrman manages once again to promote his own well-reasoned take on the early history of Chri I've read, and mostly enjoyed, about half a dozen of Bart Ehrman's works on early Christianity. As a result, I was familiar with his approach to the subject before finding this work at a discount book store and deciding to add it to my collection. The book does a decent job of setting the record straight regarding the factual claims posited by Dan Brown as background to The Da Vinci Code. In the process, Ehrman manages once again to promote his own well-reasoned take on the early history of Christianity. I found it amusing that the majority of notes in the back of the book refer the reader to other, more in-depth, books by the same author. In summary, this book is a fine summary of the realities behind many of Dan Brown's claims, and an even better summary and promotion for Bart Ehrman's more important works. Not bad for 207 pages.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ellis

    I wasn't terribly concerned with the veracity of the historical claims made in The Da Vinci Code, but I am a big fan of Bart Ehrman, so I picked this up. It's been so long since I read the Da Vinci Code that I forgot much of what was said about Jesus and his bunch. As is often the case, this book points out that the historically-justified story just isn't as sensational as the story designed to pique our interest.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    Interesting and informative study on the potential truths and fallacies of the Da Vinci code and other such mythos.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Boni

    I really enjoyed the book and the movie (Da Vinci Code), but after reading some books on early Christianities, I became interested in this book to find out if the bases of the novel are historically true or not. Well, I guess not.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Carl Williams

    S

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sascha

    I have owned this book for about four or five years and never read it till now.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kathy England

    The subtitle is a good review of the book - a historian reveals what we really know about Jesus, Mary Magdalene and Constantine.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Will Thorpe

    Not bad. Nothing terribly new if you've read misquoting Jesus or Jesus interrupted. He talks about early church history and femininity within the church and the bible in far more detail.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    DNF. superficial, quotes The da Vinci Code extensively but doesn't really offer rebuttals; very repetitive

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rose

    A well-researched, clearly written explanation of the different aspects of THE DA VINCI CODE and where they are fiction and why. Very well done.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany

    I started my journey of reading books refuting The Da Vinci Code with The Da Vinci Hoax: Exposing the Errors in the Da Vinci Code. Oh my God, that book was awful. The authors write as if they have a personal vendetta against Dan Brown, rather than simply wanting to show the facts of his book are wrong. I had a very difficult time separating their valid points from their hateful tone. The next book in my pile is this one. Right off the bat, this is a better book. Ehrman's introduction has a much I started my journey of reading books refuting The Da Vinci Code with The Da Vinci Hoax: Exposing the Errors in the Da Vinci Code. Oh my God, that book was awful. The authors write as if they have a personal vendetta against Dan Brown, rather than simply wanting to show the facts of his book are wrong. I had a very difficult time separating their valid points from their hateful tone. The next book in my pile is this one. Right off the bat, this is a better book. Ehrman's introduction has a much friendlier tone than Olson and Miesel's book does. Now, I'm not saying that you have to be all cheery and rainbows with everyone; but the fact that Ehrman doesn't have a tone of HATING DAN BROWN!!#$##($*& makes the book much more inviting. He's not condescending like the previous two authors were, but simply interested in the facts. Not only that, but he even states right up front that he is doing *critical history*, i.e. looking at sources critically and objectively. This includes .... *gasp* the Bible! Olson and Miesel always (it seemed to me) took Bible stories as 100% true and irrefutable, and anything Brown said in The Da Vinci Code or interviews that disagreed with the Bible was WRONG! and deserved beheading. Ehrman, though, admits that even stories in the Bible must be looked at critically -- are there other sources that can confirm (or contradict) those stories? Ehrman's book already seems a much more *academic* study, rather than a flying-off-the-handle loathing of a particular author. ----------------------------------------- Done with the book now. As I thought at the beginning, the book seems to be a much more objective look at The Da Vinci Code -- not angry, not attacking Dan Brown, just stating the facts of "Here's what he says in his book, here's what our sources say, here's where different sources differ. What can we say, then, about what really ["really"] happened and about what Dan Brown wrote?" I'm not 100% convinced about all of the claims he makes (both in saying why Dan Brown was mistaken at certain points, and also some of the religious claims in general), but he does a good job of disputing Brown's statements in an academic/critical way, so I'm 98% convinced overall.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kimball

    Barely 4 stars. If you're going to read this book or The Da Vinci Code, make sure to read them close to each other. The author does go over a brief synopsis of it before he indulges in his book so that's helpful. This was so very thought provoking though. I could have gotten more out of it but with the elections going on and ADD spiking more than normal, my mind wandered at times. Plus I wasn't always able to tell when the author was reading/quoting from Dan Brown and when he was doing his own t Barely 4 stars. If you're going to read this book or The Da Vinci Code, make sure to read them close to each other. The author does go over a brief synopsis of it before he indulges in his book so that's helpful. This was so very thought provoking though. I could have gotten more out of it but with the elections going on and ADD spiking more than normal, my mind wandered at times. Plus I wasn't always able to tell when the author was reading/quoting from Dan Brown and when he was doing his own thing. More inflections or at least a different voice would have been helpful here. However, the book does take you on a wild ride. But after it was over I felt like I ended up just where I started, strangely, even more baffled. The author mentioned so many things that I need to Wikipedia later such as, Dead Sea Scrolls, The Infancy Gospel of Thomas, The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, some Q book that supposedly was written by Jesus. I still find it hard to believe that not much was written about Christ during His time for being the Being that He was. I didn't realize that about 85% of the people at that time were illiterate. It's such a miracle that the Bible even exists today. Not to be blasphemous, but it almost sounds crazy that billions of people accept it as sound Doctrine despite all the "handling" it has received over the years. I can see why skeptics are so skeptical about its teachings. Especially when comparing them with the above mentioned texts. Sometimes the author would quote some scriptures and I would look them up too and have no idea where he got his scripture from because they didn't say what he said they said. Also, he kept dragging his feet when talking about Mary Magdalene and Jesus' relationship. It's like those news stories that keep baiting you in to watch more of their premier by saying, "All this and more when we come back with the inside scoop of Jesus and Mary." I think the book could have been a little shorter. The story of Muhammad Ali (I don't think it was the boxer) eating his dad's murderer's heart was wild. The Ritual of Sacred Sex in the Priory of Sion was unbelievable. And nasty. But I don't know if that one was truth or fiction. Dan Brown's interpretation of it wasn't quite the same. The author called Mormons Christians. Good job.

  21. 5 out of 5

    K. Smith

    While I am all for books that tell the real, more compelling stories of history I do feel bad for anyone whose publisher asks them to do such a thing. If you are going to hash through a fiction and find out what is right and wrong you have to be spot on, I mean--really spot on. And you have to do this without sounding overly pompous. Here's the thing, Ehrman was great, but not with everything. His scholarly 'we know what we are talking about because we know a ton of ancient languages' comes off a While I am all for books that tell the real, more compelling stories of history I do feel bad for anyone whose publisher asks them to do such a thing. If you are going to hash through a fiction and find out what is right and wrong you have to be spot on, I mean--really spot on. And you have to do this without sounding overly pompous. Here's the thing, Ehrman was great, but not with everything. His scholarly 'we know what we are talking about because we know a ton of ancient languages' comes off a little patronizing--but only a little patronizing and so for that I easily forgive him (I mean, scholars can't seem to help their language can they?) When it comes to wrong information, I'm less forgiving--I will just list one. When talking about the Nag Hammadi I am supremely grateful that he made a point to say that they were actually codices and not scrolls--in fact, they are one of the earliest forms of the codex that we still have. But then he says, "...the spines of the leather bindings were strengthened with scrap paper, and some of the scrap paper come from receipts..."--ugh talk about painful. If the Nag Hammadi had paper along the spines, then they are complete and utter forgeries. It is tragic that a prof of ancient languages has no idea when the invention of paper spread to the West and that the Nag Hammadi are all made from papyrii and leather--so painful. That being said, there was something rather easy about his way of describing the more solid aspects of his historical interpretations, even if most of them came from his own books. I am super grateful for any scholar/historian who can write a book that is not a complete snooze-fest and this most definitely was not an insomniac-fixer in the least. I am thinking about reading something more from him, not going to lie.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    This was fascinating. It did exactly what it set out to do: address the historicity of the claims of The Da Vinci Code. Had Dan Brown not insisted that his "facts" were true, this book would not have been necessary, since The Da Vinci Code is fiction, and thus its content does not matter. But when Brown repeatedly claimed all the details were true, that meant a rebuttal from an actual historian such as Ehrman was inevitable. And quite a rebuttal it is. What's interesting is that Ehrman is not jus This was fascinating. It did exactly what it set out to do: address the historicity of the claims of The Da Vinci Code. Had Dan Brown not insisted that his "facts" were true, this book would not have been necessary, since The Da Vinci Code is fiction, and thus its content does not matter. But when Brown repeatedly claimed all the details were true, that meant a rebuttal from an actual historian such as Ehrman was inevitable. And quite a rebuttal it is. What's interesting is that Ehrman is not just nitpicking a few little details here - he actually corrects some major inaccuracies that cause the complete undermining of the book's premise. And, as Ehrman points out, a few additional hours of research on Brown's part would have corrected those whopper-sized historical mistakes - but then, that would have also made the plot of The Da Vinci Code fall apart. While I didn't agree with all of the erudite Ehrman's conclusions (because his knowledge, although scholarly and detailed, is still limited by his lack of certain understandings), I did appreciate the way he delivered his information. It also served to provide a few interesting tidbits toward the research for my own WIP. All in all, a must-read for anyone who enjoyed The Da Vinci Code but would like to know more about what REALLY occurred in history.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sarah - All The Book Blog Names Are Taken

    Firstly, I didn't read this because of The Da Vinci Code directly. I read that book many, many years ago and don't have an opinion on the story either way, but I remember being wholly annoyed at the laughable disclaimer at the beginning about Brown's citing of documents as authentic. Instead, I read this because I know my own knowledge of the history of Christianity has considerable gaps and the more I read, the more these gaps are filled in. Ehrman does a fine job explaining why something is in Firstly, I didn't read this because of The Da Vinci Code directly. I read that book many, many years ago and don't have an opinion on the story either way, but I remember being wholly annoyed at the laughable disclaimer at the beginning about Brown's citing of documents as authentic. Instead, I read this because I know my own knowledge of the history of Christianity has considerable gaps and the more I read, the more these gaps are filled in. Ehrman does a fine job explaining why something is incorrect in Brown's writing, without being forceful of his own opinion or why one should believe what he believes. Certainly he is far more credible than Brown, who is not a historian in any way. I could've rated this five stars had Ehrman not been so repetitive. It absolutely irritates me to no end when authors say, "As I've discussed in the previous chapter..." Or "In the next chapter I will..." Come on, seriously. How about you cut out all the unnecessary filler and just present your case and facts supporting it? It's distracting and annoying. I'd hope that anyone who enjoyed The Da Vinci Code would take time to read this as well, so they are not simply taking Brown's word for it about what is accurate in Christian history. It would be a shame to have so many more misinformed people speaking of fiction as fact.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Douglas

    In a delightfully engaging and conversational manner, Bart Ehrman shows how the claims regarding matters related to Jesus and the early centuries of the Christian era that appear in Dan Brown's popular bestseller, The Da Vinci Code, are without any historical foundation. After discussing how professional historians go about their work, delineating the criteria for determining and assessing the credibility of historical sources (i.e., "evidence"), Ehrman takes up each of the principal claims rega In a delightfully engaging and conversational manner, Bart Ehrman shows how the claims regarding matters related to Jesus and the early centuries of the Christian era that appear in Dan Brown's popular bestseller, The Da Vinci Code, are without any historical foundation. After discussing how professional historians go about their work, delineating the criteria for determining and assessing the credibility of historical sources (i.e., "evidence"), Ehrman takes up each of the principal claims regarding Christian origins made in the book, and shows how each of them cannot pass muster by the trained historian. The reason is simple: There is no evidence for any of the claims! This is not to say that Ehrman does not appreciate the tale told in Brown's novel. Quite the contrary. He not only enjoyed reading it, but has recommended it to others. The point of Ehrman's book here is to assess the Christian claims made in the novel from the perspective of an historian of antiquity.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    Having read a lot of ancient history, particularly early Christian history, most friends and family, after reading The Da Vinci Code, inevitably ask me how much of it is true. I always refer them to this book. Ehrman is eminently rational and respectful in his critique. He doesn't slam Dan Brown, he simply points out where his claims are historically accurate and where they are way off base. Not only is this an excellent assessment of the book, it is an amazingly accessible and interesting distil Having read a lot of ancient history, particularly early Christian history, most friends and family, after reading The Da Vinci Code, inevitably ask me how much of it is true. I always refer them to this book. Ehrman is eminently rational and respectful in his critique. He doesn't slam Dan Brown, he simply points out where his claims are historically accurate and where they are way off base. Not only is this an excellent assessment of the book, it is an amazingly accessible and interesting distillation of New Testament scholarship. Ehrman offers a brief history of Charlemagne and the Council of Nicaea, discussions of many non-canonical gospels, and most importantly insight into how professional historians view and assess ancient texts as historical documents. This is the kind of information that EVERY member of the Christian religion should know, but most don't.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dana

    I think this is a nice short sample of Ehrman's writing for those who have not read his longer books. It is a bit more interesting and fun of a read than his other books since he takes apart the biblical references from the DaVinci Code and refers to the story throughout his book. Bart sets the record straight and explains, as a historian, that most of the controversial "biblical facts" from the DaVinci code are not really factual, but rather come from the fertile imagination of Dan Brown, who s I think this is a nice short sample of Ehrman's writing for those who have not read his longer books. It is a bit more interesting and fun of a read than his other books since he takes apart the biblical references from the DaVinci Code and refers to the story throughout his book. Bart sets the record straight and explains, as a historian, that most of the controversial "biblical facts" from the DaVinci code are not really factual, but rather come from the fertile imagination of Dan Brown, who skillfully mixes fact with fiction in the book, The DaVinci Code. He does not address the art works or other parts of the DaVinci Code, merely the biblical references. This is a short, quick read and a nice introduction to Ehrman's point of view and his writing

  27. 5 out of 5

    Charles

    Dan Brown gets school in a very literal sense in Ehrman's take-down of his claims for his book the Da Vinci Code. While he effectively obliterates every point Brown claims is historical truth, what is more interesting is *how* he does it; by teaching us how scholars approach the questions that Brown so casually and inaccurately answers. Having read a lot of Ehrman books before, a lot of this is familiar, but he always offers something I haven't heard before, and he keeps his short book interestin Dan Brown gets school in a very literal sense in Ehrman's take-down of his claims for his book the Da Vinci Code. While he effectively obliterates every point Brown claims is historical truth, what is more interesting is *how* he does it; by teaching us how scholars approach the questions that Brown so casually and inaccurately answers. Having read a lot of Ehrman books before, a lot of this is familiar, but he always offers something I haven't heard before, and he keeps his short book interesting. Not that Brown cares; he probably knows perfectly well there's a lot of nonsense in his book and was just trolling the world by claiming it was all true; books debunking his theories probably simply help sales. But it's an interesting book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    I read this as part of an online challenge to read a fiction / nonfiction book on the same topic. Unfortunately, the fiction book I was pairing this with was not The Da Vinci Code (which I di read several years ago) but The Expected One. The Expected One has a very similar plot to The Da Vinci Code, though it is less of a thriller and much more detailed in my opinion. Regardless, this book paired well with the plot of The Expected One as well. I thought this was interesting, maybe a little dry fo I read this as part of an online challenge to read a fiction / nonfiction book on the same topic. Unfortunately, the fiction book I was pairing this with was not The Da Vinci Code (which I di read several years ago) but The Expected One. The Expected One has a very similar plot to The Da Vinci Code, though it is less of a thriller and much more detailed in my opinion. Regardless, this book paired well with the plot of The Expected One as well. I thought this was interesting, maybe a little dry for audio. I liked the author / narrator and respected what he was saying. I thought the parts about Mary Magdalene were especially interesting. Good book overall.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Andi

    Having just finished Misquoting Jesus, and Jesus, Interrupted, a lot of the information that Ehrman presented was familiar to me, but there was some new information as well. The thing I liked most about this book was the way in which it was presented. Ehrman's agenda was simply to point out historical error, not to criticize the message. He actually LIKED The Da Vinci Code as a work of fiction. It was a refreshing change from other books I've read that were defensive and reactionary, namely The Having just finished Misquoting Jesus, and Jesus, Interrupted, a lot of the information that Ehrman presented was familiar to me, but there was some new information as well. The thing I liked most about this book was the way in which it was presented. Ehrman's agenda was simply to point out historical error, not to criticize the message. He actually LIKED The Da Vinci Code as a work of fiction. It was a refreshing change from other books I've read that were defensive and reactionary, namely The Da Vinci Hoax: Exposing the Errors in The Da Vinci Code by Carl E. Olson.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    As the movie of Angels and Demons was being released, I realized that I didn't remember much of the fictitious, conspiracy-theory history underlying The Da Vinci Code (which I read years ago). This was a pretty quick read, and the title explains it all. In the process it also ends up being a decent primer on some of the historical context surrounding first century Palestine, the Gospels, and the early Church. It's not an in-depth exploration of those topics, by any means; but it doesn't purport As the movie of Angels and Demons was being released, I realized that I didn't remember much of the fictitious, conspiracy-theory history underlying The Da Vinci Code (which I read years ago). This was a pretty quick read, and the title explains it all. In the process it also ends up being a decent primer on some of the historical context surrounding first century Palestine, the Gospels, and the early Church. It's not an in-depth exploration of those topics, by any means; but it doesn't purport to be.

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