Sunday, July 25, 2004

The DaVinci Code & the Silence of Scholars

Today's Sunday New York Times has Dan Brown's fictional book The Da Vinci Code as #1 - again. Why? People are looking for a good summer read, and DVC appears to be that.
But its historical claims are false.
In my Ph.D studies I took one of my comprehensive exams in the area of Christology (the study or doctrine of Christ). The many books on my shelf tell the tale of the amount of study I had to do in this area - from the New Testament documents, and the Old Testament Messianic passages, to the early Christological formulations at Chalcedon and Nicea, then on through history to the great contemporary Christological works of scholars like Edward Schillebeeckx. I love studying Christology so much that it remains one of the main areas of my personal reading and scholarly investigation. Thus I have a pretty good idea of who the main Christological scholars are, past and present.
How many of these great scholars, who come from a variety of theological perspectives, are paying attention to Dan Brown's claimed scholarly theses? None. Not one. This is because his ideas are considered nonsensical because non-historical and groundlessly speculative. Actually, the very few who are paying attention to Brown are doing so only to write rebuttals so that the many people reading DVC will find it only a good read and nothing more.
No serious scholar believes that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and that this "fact" has been hidden by the church. The great New Testament scholar Ben Witherington writes: "We can say with certainty that there is absolutely no early historical evidence that [Mary Magdalene's] relationship with Jesus was anything other than that of a disciple to her Master teacher."
The Great Silence among the great scholars tells us something; viz., that what works as interesting fiction does not thereby translate into historical fact.