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

By Bart D. Ehrman (Author)
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Item Number 160099  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   240
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.27" Width: 5.67" Height: 0.94"
Weight:   1.01 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Nov 1, 2004
Publisher   Oxford University Press
ISBN  0195181409  
EAN  9780195181401  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
A staggeringly popular work of fiction, Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code has stood atop The New York Times Bestseller List for well over a year, with millions of copies in print. But this fast-paced mystery is unusual in that the author states up front that the historical information in the book 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 (which are not Christian in content, contrary to The Da Vinci Code); 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.
Ehrman separates fact from fiction, the historical realities from the flights of literary fancy. Readers of The Da Vinci Code who would like to know the truth about the beginnings of Christianity and the life of Jesus will find this book riveting.

Buy 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 from our Christian Books store - isbn: 9780195181401 & 0195181409

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More About Bart D. Ehrman

Bart D. Ehrman Bart D. Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He came to UNC in 1988, after four years of teaching at Rutgers University. At UNC he has served as both the Director of Graduate Studies and the Chair of the Department of Religious Studies.

A graduate of Wheaton College (Illinois), Professor Ehrman received both his Masters of Divinity and Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary, where his 1985 doctoral dissertation was awarded magna cum laude. Since then he has published extensively in the fields of New Testament and Early Christianity, having written or edited twenty-four books, numerous scholarly articles, and dozens of book reviews.

Among his most recent books are a Greek-English edition of the Apostolic Fathers for the Loeb Classical Library (Harvard University Press), an assessment of the newly discovered Gospel of Judas (Oxford University Press), and four New York Times Bestsellers: Jesus Interrupted (an account of scholarly views of the New Testament), God’s Problem (an assessment of the biblical views of suffering), Misquoting Jesus (an overview of the changes found in the surviving copies of the New Testament and of the scribes who produced them) and Forged (discusses why some books in the New Testament are deliberate forgeries). His books have been translated into twenty-seven languages.

Among his fields of scholarly expertise are the historical Jesus, the early Christian apocrypha, the apostolic fathers, and the manuscript tradition of the New Testament.

Professor Ehrman has served as President of the Southeast Region of the Society of Biblical literature, chair of the New Testament textual criticism section of the Society, book review editor of the Journal of Biblical Literature, and editor of the monograph series The New Testament in the Greek Fathers (Scholars Press). He currently serves as co-editor of the series New Testament Tools, Studies, and Documents (E. J. Brill), co-editor-in-chief for the journal Vigiliae Christianae, and on several other editorial boards for journals and monographs in the field.

Professor Ehrman lectures extensively throughout the country. Winner of numerous university awards and grants, he is the recipient of the 2009 J. W. Pope “Spirit of Inquiry” Teaching Award, the 1993 UNC Undergraduate Student Teaching Award, the 1994 Phillip and Ruth Hettleman Prize for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement, and the Bowman and Gordon Gray Award for excellence in teaching.

Professor Ehrman has two children, a daughter, Kelly, and a son, Derek. He is married to Sarah Beckwith (Ph.D., King's College London), Marcello Lotti Professor of English at Duke University. He lives in Durham, North Carolina.

Bart D. Ehrman currently resides in Chapel Hill, in the state of North Carolina. Bart D. Ehrman has an academic affiliation as follows - Department of Religious Studies, The University of North Carolina, Cha.

Bart D. Ehrman has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Loeb Classical Library
  2. New Testament in the Greek Fathers
  3. Studies & Documents (Paperback)

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
The lie and be(lie)f of Da Vinci Code  Apr 27, 2008
It is enjoyable to read this book to learn from Prof. Ehrman, a scholar on the development history of Christianity.

Prof. Ehrman traced the historical sources for Jesus who started the Jewish movement against the powerful Roman Empire and paid for with his own life. It was a heroic saga `by the Jew, for the Jew and of the Jew'. However, it was a Jewish cult picked up by Paul to gentiles and developed into the powerful and influential Western (Cult)ture through Emperor Constantine who chose to rule by theocracy.

Prof. Ehrman briefed on the discovery of Dead Sea Scrolls and Nag Hammadi Library and their significance in understanding the early development and struggle of the diverse sects of this new faith. He discussed the other Gospels that were not available in regular Sunday sermon or school and showed how and why the 27 books were authorized into the collection known as New Testament Canon.

He discussed Part 2 and commented on the speculation of the marriage of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. He pointed out the importance of women in early Christianity days. It was women who stood by Jesus till the end and proclaimed the empty tomb. However, over the two millenniums, women still are not allowed to fulfill their proper role as seen and demanded in Roman Catholic Church. The Promise Keepers also demand women subject to their same ancient role of the Bible.

The Da Vinci Code caused world wide sensation in facts and fiction. As a history scholar, Prof. Ehrman points out which is which so that readers will have a better informative understanding.

The well layout chapters enable readers to follow easily. The Holy Blood, Holy Grail and Da Vinci Code lead pilgrimage to France for the divine family tree. Prof. Ehrman guides readers in the lie and be(lie)f in Da Vince Code.

Affable, well-informed and devastating  Sep 10, 2007
Almost as amazing as the explosive phenomenon that was "The Da Vinci Code," is the explosion of books attacking its premises and conclusions. Bart Ehrman's book, "Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code" is an able addition to the list.

Ehrman is a historian, a Protestant, with a mainstream viewpoint. His book examines 6 "codes" that appear in TDVC. These touch on the persons of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, the process of defining the canon or list of accepted books, the role of women in the early church and other topics germane to the discussion. Ehrman's examination and conclusions are logical, based on the evidence and (I thought) quite convincing. For instance, he discusses the supposed "fact" that since all rabbis had to be married, then Jesus (often called "Rabbi" by his disciples) must have been married as well. Ehrman demolishes this notion with easily-accessible facts. The apostle Paul himself was unmarried, as evidenced by his own letters. And the 1st-century Jewish historian Josephus speaks glowingly of the Essenes, noting that they do not marry. The term "rabbi" means "teacher," and can be applied to those who have undergone and official process as well as those (like Jesus) for whom the term is used as an honorific. And, unconvincingly to skeptics, the Gospels do not mention a married Jesus. Having made the case, Ehrman states that he has broken the code (that a married Jesus was probable) and moves on.

By far, Ehrman spends the most time with the so-called gnostic gospels, upon which the hopes of so many who attack the Church are based. These works of the early centuries of the current era were known mostly through the attacks upon them made by early Church Fathers like Irenaeus. Since the 1940s, with the discover of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi library, historians have had a field day studying the primary texts of the first, second and third centuries. Ehrman examines the texts themselves as well as the cosmology and theology they espouse. This section is long, confusing and hard to follow, not least because the texts themselves are contradictory and plain weird. Ehrman pays special attention to details that moderns have given special importance. There is, for instance the section in the Gospel of Phillip in which Jesus is said to have kissed Mary Magdalene often on the mouth. Ehrman shows how this text is a reconstruction, with key words missing, and that it is embedded in sections that have purely spiritual and symbolic significance. Those who see it as an example of a flesh-and-blood relationship often neglect these key aspects of the work. Not to mention that the text post-dates the canonical gospels by many decades.

"Truth and Fiction" is a careful and dispassionate critique of the fuzzy thinking of TDVC partisans. It is also an good-natured attack on best-selling authors like Elaine Pagels ("The Gnostic Gospels") who have gained prominence by championing the vision of the gnostics. But the book's ultimate attack is on the "code behind the codes" -- the attempt to make the doctrine of the gnostics equivalent to the orthodox view taught in the gospels. Ehrman's great contribution is in making clear that two gospels -- one that preaches a suffering, crucified and risen Lord, and another that preaches a Lord who did not suffer and die -- can not merely be considered alternatives of one another. They preach different realities and have different consequences for believers. One is a gospel for all, the other a gospel for the elite. One opposes the world, the other revels in it. One was passed down by those close the Jesus, the other was invented decades or centuries after his life.

Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code" was more than a work of fiction. It was an attack on the truth and on the hard-won and hard-kept beliefs of Christians over the last 2000 years. Ehrman's book is an educated, entertaining and accessible rebuttal that is well worth the read.
Needs balance  Feb 4, 2007
This is a good book with a lot of historical information and quotes, but it is the usual kind of scholarly approach that one finds to Christianity (like few other subjects): An investigation for which the author already knows the answer. I would rather see something a bit more open-minded than the sort of "writing the facts to fit the opinion" that usually comes to religion. For instance the entire concept of Jesus's "Kingdom of God" has only one possible meaning to the author; suffice it to say this is not so for a great many scholars, theologists and spiritualists. Rather disappointing for something that came through the Oxford University Press.
Debunking Da Vinci  Jan 7, 2007
It can't really be said that a scholar of Dr. Ehrman's magnitude was needed to demolish the historical claims of Dan Brown's piece-of-garbage novel. Any 12 year old Sunday school student could have blown down half the arguments of the Da Vinci Code while any intelligent person with a history book could have knocked over the other half. The value that Ehrman provides is that he delves deeper into Brown's claims and, rather than merely pointing out Brown's whoppers, gives us a very detailed education on Early Christianity, Biblical exegesis, the Gnostics, Mary Magdalene, Constantine, and all the other issues touching on the Da Vinci Code. It is a real pleasure for anyone interested in the Early Church and historical truth. However, Christians should be warned- although the vast majority of the book is unobjectionable, the born-again apostate Ehrman does indulge his agnosticism and judges the relative historical truth of the Gospels. If you can disregard that, the rest of the book contains some very valuable information.
Expert demolition  Dec 14, 2006
Bart Ehrman is a well-known historian of Christianity and chairman of the Religious Studies Department at UNC-Chapel Hill. This short book (it can be read in one long sitting) debunks Brown's plot and purported evidence from top to bottom. Better yet, it contains a lot of interesting material about early Christianity, the development of the NT scriptural canon, historical Jesus, what Constantine was and wasn't trying to do at Nicea, etc. I've read some of Ehrman's other books, which is why this one caught my eye. This one was clearly done in a hurry by pulling together parts of those other books, and a it's a bit padded with repetition. But Ehrman knows his stuff, and this is a nice, boiled down rapid-fire overview of that whole area of scholarship, how it proceeds (in a word, skeptically), and what kinds of conclusions it tends toward. Well worth the investment of time, even beyond the specifics about 'Da Vinci Code.'

The bottom line on Brown's book is that it's a page turner, but largely a mess in terms of historical accuracy, and a book that unfortunately promotes some really fundamental distortions and errors. Probably the two foundational inaccuracies are (1) Constantine did not decide the NT canon, and (2) the books that were left out of the NT were not books that over-emphasized Jesus' humanity, quite the contrary. There is much more wrong with 'Code,' (for example, it badly misrepresents both the Dead Sea Scrolls and the content of the books found at Nag Hammadi), but those two falsehoods pretty much destroy all its plot premises. 'Da Vinci Code' is an entertaining book that should not be taken seriously.

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