Book Review: “Breaking the Da Vinci Code” (Jul-Aug 2006)

By Matt Dabbs

by Genstacia Bull
May – June, 2006

Breaking the DaVinci Code by Darrell L Bock. PH.D.
Thomas Nelson Publishers (April 2006) 188pp
ISBN-078526043 Hardback £7.99

What will you do if your faith is challenged at work based on the ‘facts’ in Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code? Would you be able to hold your ground and decipher fact from fiction? Breaking The DaVinci Code will put you in a better position to defend your faith or make you distinguish between fictitious entertainment and historical elements of the Christian faith. The book works though the seven code issues that were presented in the novel.

In The DaVinci Code, Mary Magdalene is the wife of Jesus and the mother of His children – and that is a secret the church wanted to cover up to protect the divinity of Jesus. The novel claims that Mary was in Leonardo da Vinci’s painting The Last Supper. The evidence is the V shape to the left side of Jesus as one looks at the painting. It is the symbol of the feminine and a feminine-looking figure on the left side of the V is Mary Magdala. Breaking The DaVinci Code kicks off with a study of Mary Magdalene. It states that biblical passages the discuss Mary from Magdala; firstly she was a disciple who was the beneficiary of an exorcism by Jesus and was part of an entourage of women supported and travelled with Jesus and His disciples. Secondly she was a witness at the cross, (Matt 27:55-56). Thirdly, some text placed her at the cross either as or after Jesus was laid to rest with the “other” Mary (Mark 15:40), the mother of James the younger, and Joses and Salome. Fourthly, biblical text depicts her as a witness to Jesus resurrection, she returned with the “other” Mary to anoint the body, which they still expected to be there after the crucifixion.

New Wineskins: The DiVine CodeHe refutes a famous passage that has Jesus kissing Mary Magdalene (Gospel of Philip 63:31-64:10), where the text described Mary as a “companion” of Jesus. However where the key part of the text is broken at 63:33-36, specialists surmise what specific word goes in the blank by the number of the letters missing and then translate the result. Some contend that it could affirm that she was kissed on her cheek or forehead since either term fits in the damaged manuscript.

In The DaVinci Code, the Opus Dei attempts to cover up the “fact” that Jesus had a family and children in order to protect His claim to deity. One of the arguments for Jesus’ marriage is that it was un-Jewish to be unmarried. Breaking The DaVinci Code states five arguments to refute that theory; one of them is that Christians believe Jesus was 100 percent human. So if even if He was married and fathered children, His marital relationship and His parenthood would not theoretically undercut His divinity but would have been reflections of His complete humanity. Had Jesus been married, there would have been no need to cover it up. Bock goes on to make a strong case for Jesus as a single man using Jewish practices and biblical text. The DaVinci Code novel claims that Jewish custom condemned celibacy and it would be unthinkable for a Jewish man to remain single. Breaking The DaVinci Code argues that Jesus did not follow the culture and in Matthew 19:10-12 where Jesus argued that some should be “eunuchs” for the kingdom as an indication of their dedication to it. Jesus appeared to be an example of such dedication in His own life. His singleness was due to the itinerant nature of His ministry. Not every Jew had to marry.

The largest chapter in the book is “Code 4 – Do the So- Called Secret, Gnostic Gospels Help Us Understand Jesus?” This chapter is highly informative and a bit technical, but it is worth it if you press on. Teabing, a character in The DaVinci Code, claims that there were “more than eighty gospels” considered for the New Testament, but only four were chosen. Breaking The DaVinci Code argues that Teabing’s statement is misleading because The Hammadi Library, for instance, consisted of forty five separate titles – and not all of them were gospels. In fact, it names five separate works as gospels: Truth, Thomas, Philip, Egyptians and Mary. The collection of The Gnostic Scriptures by Bentley Layton has just short of forty works, three of which bear the title “gospel” and overlap with the Nag Hammadi list. The most generous count of extra biblical documents appears in Harvard Professor Helmut Koester’s Introduction to the New Testament. That count stands at sixty, excluding the twenty-seven books in the New Testament. However, a vast majority of these works were not “gospel.” Bock explores in great depth the beliefs found in these other gospel and their related texts. This chapter shows that what is represented in the secret gospel is vastly different to that which is in the New Testament. The dispute between Gnostic and traditionally-rooted Christians was not a matter of trying to gain entrance into and share the faith; it was about who represented the faith. This disproves the impression that Christians shared a vast array of writing that that some reduced in number to produce Scripture of their own later design ignore this debate contentious nature from early on.

So, how were the New Testament gospels assembled? In my view, this is the most exciting chapter. It discussed the origin of the Nicene creed and it shed truth on areas that would help you in general evangelism as well as ripping The DaVinci Code‘s “facts” to shreds. Darrell Bock did thorough research; he was fair in giving credit to the few areas where The DaVinci Code had some validity. The areas of validity are Constantine was a key figure and that his rule was a turning point in Christian history, The Nicene Creed was an important affirmation in the history of the faith and third the collection text into an official list that became the canon of Scripture gained momentum in this period.

The latter part of the book revisits Mary’s role in The DaVinci Code, it examines the claim she had a special leadership role as an apostle that was suppressed by the church. The book then dissects the claims of the Holy Blood and Holy Grail. The book closes with the real code, the Jesus code. It states clearly that Jesus claimed that as the Son, He must return to the Father so that God could give the Spirit to those who embraced what Jesus was saying. Jesus called this kingdom teaching a mystery, not in the sense of secrets for insiders, because Jesus preached that message openly on the streets and in the countryside. He often preached and then said, “Let the one who had ears to hear, hear.” The mystery is for those who will hear it. It is a secret lost for those who will not listen.

This book is educational and gives solid evidence for what we believe, understanding the issues discussed in this book will make you more confident to have an intellectual discussion about the origins of Christianity.New Wineskins

Genstacia BullGenstacia Bull is a review editor, freelance writer and a qualified accountant. She has been published in different magazines including Liberti and her church magazine Oracle. She resides in London and writes reviews for several sites, including her own blog [http://bookbuff1.blogspot.com/].

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Profile photo of Matt DabbsThis author published 1584 posts in this site.
Matt is the preaching minister at the Auburn Church of Christ in Auburn, Alabama. He and Missy have been married 12 years and are raising two wonderful boys, Jonah and Elijah. Matt is passionate about reaching and discipling young adults, small groups, and teaching. Matt is currently the editor and co-owner of Wineskins.org.

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