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

by Bart D. Ehrman

Paper Book, 2004




Oxford University Press (2004), 240 pages


Presents an appraisal of some of the claims that are directly made or are embedded in the successful work of popular fiction by Dan Brown, ""The Da Vinci Code"". This wok discusses the historical truth behind the claims made in ""The Da Vinci Code"". It focuses on the historical Jesus, the development of the early Christian church, and more.

Original publication date





Local notes

Given by Br. Steve Sparrow


½ (66 ratings; 3.8)

User reviews

LibraryThing member FluidMindOrg
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,
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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 Nicea, 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non-canonical gospels, and most importantly insight into how professional historians view and assess ancient texts as historical documents.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.
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LibraryThing member stacyinthecity
A really great answer to The DaVinci Code - not a religiously based answer, but one based on historical evidence. If the author is Christian or nonChristian, it is never revealed, but he does enlighten his readers on specifically the questions posed and the claimed "truths" in the popular fiction
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book. In short, I would take anything Dan Brown writes with a huge bag of salt, and despite his disclaimer that all the works of art, architechture, documents, etc are real and as he describes them, I would not trust one letter of it unless it was indpendantly verified. I would not believe his description of The Mona Lisa unless it jived with another independant source.

The book also serves as a great introduction to early Christianity during Jesus's time through Constantine.
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LibraryThing member tole_lege
The reason this has the tag of alternative is simplyh sloth on my part - so a search of my library will find books also *connected* to the genre.

Ehrman provides a sensible, rational and scholarly look at some of the claims made by Brown et al.
LibraryThing member bkswrites
Like other works of Ehrman's I've looked into, places undue authority in the canonical Gospels as historical sources in the modern sense. In addition, here he dismisses arguments from silence vs Jewish social norm with reference to the absolute apocalypticism, cf Essenes [155-7]. Cit. Paul
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157-8.Likewise, he dismisses the feminist view of Jesus’ subversion of social structure, and Schussler-Fiorenza specifically, with the absoluteness of Jesus’ apocalypticism. [151] But just a little farther on, Ehrman acknowledges that, while "the leaders of the original Christian community in Jerusalem appear to have been the core members of [Jesus'] (male) apostolic band. [165],” "[t]he apostolic band was evidently larger and more inclusive than the list of twelve men most people know about.” 1Cor. 11:4–6; Phil. 4:2. [167] Gal. 3:28 [168] contra 1Cor. 11:2–16 [169] Not that I was ready to believe Dan Brown, but neither do I just roll over for Ehrman's assertions.
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LibraryThing member maunder
I read the Da Vinci COde and thoroughly enjoyed it as did the author however this short book taught me far more about early Christianity then did Brown's best seller. The author managed to do this without disparaging Dan Brown's novel (which is a great read). He explains some fascinating facts
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about Jesus, ary Magdalene and Constantine and their roles in the formation of modern Christianity. This book is a must read for anyone who has read Dan Brown's book (and who hasn't)
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LibraryThing member kakadoo202
interesting background info on the DA VINCI CODE, but too much repetition.
LibraryThing member librisissimo
Substance: Ably confronts Brown's claims and debunks almost all of them. Brown is correct in only a few instances, mostly where non-specialist scholarship is irrelevant. Ehrman's point-by-point deconstruction (not quite a fisking) is illuminating. From a "practicing Christian" viewpoint, he falls
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into the camp of the symbologists rather than the literalists.
Style: Not as straight-forward 1-2-3 as I prefer, but covers the territory.
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LibraryThing member JulesMcKay
Found the facts behind the book really interesting - opened up a different way of viewing religion and the church
LibraryThing member datrappert
In his usual somewhat repetitive but detailed fashion, Ehrman goes about demolishing Dan Brown's claim of the truth of all the documents he based The Da Vinci Code on. It turns out Brown had no understanding of the documents his "experts" in the novel talk about, totally misrepresenting their
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content and meaning. For example, he claims that the Dead Sea Scrolls contains gospels, which they do not. The contents are all Jewish documents. He claims the word "companion" used to describe Mary Magdalene's relationship to Jesus meant spouse in Aramaic, again showing his ignorance of the non-canonical gospel he was using as his source, which only survives in a Coptic translation from Greek--not Aramaic. And the Coptic translation borrows the Greek word, which is quite common and quite clearly does not mean "spouse". The truth, of course, is that Brown stole the whole idea for his book from one published a few years earlier: The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. Still, Ehrman's explanation is interesting and he does a good job as his own narrator in the audiobook version.
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