Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
JMAT 9:1 (Spring 2005) p. 119
Breaking the Da Vinci Code. Darrell L. Bock. Nashville: Nelson, 2004.
This book by a premier evangelical NT scholar responds to the best-selling novel The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown. Bock contends that the novel by Brown, even though clearly portrayed as a work of fiction, appears to have an agenda to spread misinformation about the life of Jesus. Brown’s book follows in the tradition of earlier works such as Holy Blood, Holy Grail (1982) by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln. Such schemes for the life of Christ have formed a sort of cottage industry in publications over the last twenty-five years. Bock’s penetrating analysis, which calls Brown’s work undisciplined and sloppy (p. 155) unravels or “breaks” the alleged Da Vinci Code, exposing its false assumptions, thin evidential support, and distortion of the actual historical records.
However, Breaking the Da Vinci Code is not a scholarly tome out of reach for the average church member. Those used to Bock’s other detailed commentaries and theological discussions will not find an overly technical journal. To his credit, Bock has written a work of apologetics that any pastor could recommend and give to any person in his congregation. It is the general population that made Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code a best seller. Bock has apparently aimed for the same group noting that “there is no reason why debates in ivory towers should not also take place at water coolers” (p. 158). This reviewer believes he has aimed and written well, making the book a quick read while not glossing over substance. True to this intention, a helpful glossary with information on technical terms, historical figures, and proper names is added in the back of the book to help with any confusing terms which the reader might encounter.
After an introductory chapter, Bock organizes his presentation around seven codes found in Brown’s work. These codes can be expressed as questions which Bock answers in seven different chapters: (1) Who was Mary Magdalene? (2) Was Jesus married? (3) Would being single make Jesus un-Jewish? (4) Do the so-called secret, Gnostic gospels help us understand Jesus? (5) How were the NT Gospels assembled? (6) Does Mary’s honored role as apostle match the claims of the New School? (7) What is the remaining relevance of the Da Vinci Code? In the seventh chapter, Bock notes that Brown’s novel does present two historically accurate truths: that the teaching of Jesus elevated women and that Mary Magda-
JMAT 9:1 (Spring 2005) p. 120
lene was not a prostitute. However, all else is built on sand according to Bock. The prior six chapters put the details to the conclusion.
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