Paul Maier is angry.
“Put it this way,” he said, “there is not one ranking scholar in the entire world who supports what Dan Brown has done with history.”
Maier, a Harvard graduate, Fulbright scholar, author of 15 books and professor of ancient history at Western Michigan University, is incensed at the faulty history in Dan Brown’s bestselling novel, “The Da Vinci Code.”
“As a professor of ancient history, I can’t stand known, accepted facts from the past lied about,” he said. “If my students did something like that, I’d flunk them.”
Maier is one of 15 scholars, theologians and authors who join Christian broadcaster D. James Kennedy in “The Da Vinci Delusion,” a nationally televised documentary look at Dan Brown’s wildly popular recasting of ancient Gnostic heresies. The one-hour program airs May 13 and 14 – just days before “The Da Vinci Code” movie debuts worldwide.
Shot in Paris, Dallas, New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and elsewhere, “The Da Vinci Delusion ” also features Darrell Bock, New Testament scholar at Dallas Theological Seminary; Kerby Anderson, president of Probe Ministries; Janet Parshall, host of Janet Parshall’s America; William Donohue, president of the Catholic League; Erwin Lutzer, author of “The Da Vinci Deception”; Sandra Miesel, Catholic journalist and medievalist; Gary Habermas, author of “The Historical Jesus”; and Lee Strobel, coauthor of “Exploring the Da Vinci Code.”
“Although “The Da Vinci Code” is a murder mystery novel, it claims to be based on facts, and those so-called facts attack the very heart of Christianity,” said Kennedy, the author of more than 65 books and one of America’s most-watched television ministers.
It is author Dan Brown’s claim to facticity – and eager readers who have snapped up 40 million copies of his potboiler worldwide – which make a Christian response so acutely needed, opponents believe.
Brown tells readers on the novel’s first page that “all descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents and secret rituals in this novel are accurate.” Many take him at his word. One-third of Canadians who have read “The Da Vinci Code” (some 20 percent of the population) believe Brown’s theories and think that descendants of Jesus are alive today, according to a 2005 National Geographic poll. A more recent poll, taken in April 2006 by IPSOS found that 13 percent of Americans and 17 percent of Canadians think Jesus was married and had a family.
Scene from “The Da Vinci Code.”
And a New York Daily News book reviewer wrote that Brown’s “research is impeccable” – a claim Brown trumpets on his website.
Others disagree – strenuously.
“Everything in “The Da Vinci Code” is wrong, except Paris is in France; London is in England and Leonardo da Vinci painted pictures. All else is fabrication,” said Miesel, coauthor of “The Da Vinci Hoax.”
“Don’t they have editors at Doubleday in New York; don’t they have fact checkers?” groans Maier. “Fifty years ago, Doubleday or any other New York publisher would never have published this book, at least, without tremendous revision.”
The one-hour documentary takes up key Da Vinci Code claims, including:
- Jesus and Mary Magdalene were man and wife. “We don’t have any evidence anywhere in any kind of document of any sort that Jesus was married” – Darrell Bock
- “The New Testament is false testimony” (p. 345 of “The Da Vinci Code”). “The four Gospels were written during the life and the times of those who were the eyewitnesses of Jesus. Now, more importantly, … they were also written during the life and times of the skeptics, who could refute anything that was said.” – Kerby Anderson
- There were 80 gospel accounts of Christ’s life. “Frankly, there are no written Gospels from the same time frame that are even in the picture.” – Gary Habermas
- The Roman emperor Constantine gave us the New Testament. “Totally false. He had nothing to do with it whatever. … The Canon was pretty well set in concrete about 150 A.D.” – Paul Maier
- The divinity of Jesus is an invention of fourth-century church leaders at the Council of Nicea. “That is bunk. If you look at the documents, and we have men, like Eusebius, who were there, what happened at Nicea is because the early church believed in the deity of Jesus.” – Erwin Lutzer
“The Da Vinci Delusion” looks at more mundane errors as well. Dan Brown tells readers that Silas, a self-punishing albino monk/assassin, belongs to Opus Dei, a Catholic prelature. Not possible. Opus Dei has no monks. Its purpose, in fact, is to energize Catholic lay people.
Brown also writes that an organization created to keep alive the alleged hidden truth about the marriage between Jesus and Mary Magdalene dates to 1099. Actually, that organization, the Priory of Sion, goes back just 50 years, to when French anti-Semitic con man Pierre Plantard invented it out of whole cloth.
“In time, the ‘Da Vinci myth’ will be discarded into the dustbin of history, along with all of the other attempts to discredit Christ, while the Gospel truth will continue to spread,” said Kennedy, coauthor with Jerry Newcombe of “The Da Vinci Myth versus the Gospel Truth.”
“The tragedy is that in the interim, some people will miss salvation because they reject the Gospel truth and believe the Da Vinci myth, or something like it.”
“The Da Vinci Delusion” is a production of Coral Ridge Ministries, a Christian broadcast organization with radio and television programming that reaches into 200 nations. “The Da Vinci Delusion” airs May 13, 14 in “The Coral Ridge Hour” time slot.
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