In Dan Brown's best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code, villain Leigh Teabing explains to cryptologist Sophie Neveu that at the Council of Nicea (A.D. 325) "many aspects of Christianity were debated and voted upon," including the divinity of Jesus. "Until that moment," he says, "Jesus was viewed by His followers as a mortal prophet. … a great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless."

Neveu is shocked: "Not the Son of God?"

Teabing explains: "Jesus' establishment as 'the Son of God' was officially proposed and voted on by the Council of Nicea."

"Hold on. You're saying that Jesus' divinity was the result of a vote?"

"A relatively close one at that," Teabing says.

A little later, Teabing adds this speech: "Because Constantine upgraded Jesus' status almost four centuries after Jesus' death, thousands of documents already existed chronicling His life as a mortal man. To rewrite the history books, Constantine knew he would need a bold stroke…Constantine commissioned and financed a new Bible, which omitted those gospels that spoke of Christ's human traits and embellished those gospels that made Him godlike. The earlier gospels were outlawed, gathered up, and burned."

Unfortunately, this passage of fiction has raised questions for many readers because it appears to be an accurate historical summary embedded in an otherwise fictitious account. It is anything but that.

The novel expresses in popular form what some scholars have been arguing or implying for years. Twenty years ago, Elaine Pagels wrote The Gnostic Gospels, a book that introduced the larger public to the other "Christian" ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

May
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Read These Next
Also in this Issue
Go Figure Subscriber Access Only
Recent statistics about evangelicals' perceptions.
Current IssueOn Immigration, Welcoming the Stranger Is Only One Piece of the Puzzle
On Immigration, Welcoming the Stranger Is Only One Piece of the Puzzle Subscriber Access Only
Why Christians should support reforms that recognize both the dignity of immigrants and the rule of law.
Current IssueThe Greatest Threat to the Church Isn’t Islam—It’s Us
The Greatest Threat to the Church Isn’t Islam—It’s Us Subscriber Access Only
A leading Nigerian theologian believes the real danger to Christianity in Africa is in the church.
RecommendedThe Real History of the Crusades
The Real History of the CrusadesSubscriber Access Only
A series of holy wars against Islam led by power-mad popes and fought by religious fanatics? Think again.
TrendingForgiveness: Muslims Moved as Coptic Christians Do the Unimaginable
Forgiveness: Muslims Moved as Coptic Christians Do the Unimaginable
Amid ISIS attacks, faithful response inspires Egyptian society.
Editor's PickChristians, Think Twice About Eradicating Mosquitoes to Defeat Malaria
Christians, Think Twice About Eradicating Mosquitoes to Defeat Malaria
When disease vectors are also victims.
Christianity Today
Why the 'Lost Gospels' Lost Out
hide thisJune June

In the Magazine

June 2004

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.