Guest / Limited Access /

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.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only Go Figure
Recent statistics about evangelicals' perceptions.
Current IssueA Tale of Two Calvary Chapels: Behind the Movement’s Split
Subscriber Access Only
A Tale of Two Calvary Chapels: Behind the Movement’s Split
Chuck Smith’s successor says he is expanding founder’s vision. Other leaders say he’s diluting it.
Current IssueGene Yang: A Graphic Novelist Caught Between Two Worlds
Subscriber Access Only
Gene Yang: A Graphic Novelist Caught Between Two Worlds
The graphic novelist and MacArthur Grant recipient sees his life as an outsider as a blessing.
RecommendedThe Real History of the Crusades
Subscriber Access Only
The Real History of the Crusades
A series of holy wars against Islam led by power-mad popes and fought by religious fanatics? Think again.
TrendingAll 240 Family Christian Stores Are Closing
All 240 Family Christian Stores Are Closing
More than 3,000 employees in 36 states will be laid off in the liquidation of one of the world’s largest Christian retailers.
Editor's PickMy Missionary Great-Grandfather Led Me to Christ
My Missionary Great-Grandfather Led Me to Christ
But only after I went to Japan in search of his life story.
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.