After church on Easter Sunday, my wife and I hosted our second annual "Easter Musicians Meltdown" for a few exhausted organists and choir directors. One guest told me that his congregation was in an uproar over The Da Vinci Code. People who had joined the church the previous Easter were already talking about leaving it because of what they had "learned" in Dan Brown's bestseller. When the novel was published in April 2003, most Christian leaders dismissed the book's fabrications, because it was, after all, fiction. But as stories like the one above started circulating, scholars and pastors began to feel the need to reassure the rattled.
A front-page article in the April 27 New York Times announced that 10 books were being released "with titles that promise to break, crack, unlock or decode 'The Da Vinci Code.' " Pre-publication copies of four of those books have come across my desk (two with requests for endorsements).
The Da Vinci Code is full of fabrications, ranging from silly interpretations of Leonardo Da Vinci's paintings to unsupported charges that Constantine brutally repressed competing gospels. (Read Ben Witherington's "Why the 'Lost Gospels' Lost Out" on page 26 for the details on that claim.) In addition, Brown's book alleges that:
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