What if the world's greatest works of art held the secret that could change the course of mankind...foreverSuch are the lofty claims of this story. An ancient conspiracy, guarded by intrigue and murder, if revealed to the world would change the very fabric of society. Just exactly what could be such a secret? The Christian faith, the belief of billions on planet earth, is based on a well guarded fabrication that is revealed when a man seeks the truth in renaissance artwork and medieval legends. The book has garnered a huge following and the film will no doubt be a blockbuster success. Ron Howard is directing and Tom Hanks plays the lead role. The production values and cinematic excellence will be high and the story very compelling. From the spending some time on the film's web site today, this project is being undertaken with the highest of quality. It will move people. For those uninitiated with the details of history or the debates about the historical Jesus the story of the Da Vinci Code can be confusing. A fictional work passing for history can be a great fog for people in our day. Many actually "learn" more from films today that responsible history. We must serve our neighbors in such a time as this. This film is a fantastic opportunity for those who follow the biblical Jesus, the Jesus of history, to grow in our understanding of our own faith, its roots, and to share the true account of Jesus with those with whom we live, work and play. I see the following benefits to the conversation which will be had around the film's release.
- First, the film is a great opportunity to help one mature in our understanding of the historical roots of our faith. So many are completely ignorant of biblical history and the circumstances of early Christianity. It is a great time to study these issues greatly.
- Second, the film will cause “cultural Christians” and young people to struggle with what they believe and why. This will afford great opportunity for crisis and clarification. Which by God's grace can result in deeper commitment to truth. We will need to love and teach in this context.
- Third, the film will be a great opportunity, in my opinion, for evangelism – sharing about the Biblical Jesus – not the Jesus of the Davinci Code, but the living Jesus who saves sinners.
- First, read the book - check it out from the Library, buy it used. Read it and read it critically, but realize it is fiction.
- Read those who understand the fictional aspects and speculations of the book. There are many good books available and several articles on the web. I will list many at the conclusion of this post.
- If you see the movie talk to your friends and neighbors about the movie. Especially those who do not know the Jesus of the Bible. Don't look to fight, but to clarify, share the gospel of grace.
- Offer articles to friends (Christian or not) who have questions and are struggling with the content - walk with them in it.
On Church History and the Historical Jesus
- Church History in Plain Language by Bruce L. Shelley - Specifically Chapters 1-16. I think Shelley's book is accessible for laypersons, yet rigorous enough to be a general introduction for all. A must for your library.
- Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?: A Debate Between William Lane Craig and John Dominic Crossan. Contains the transcript of a debate between scholars as to the identity and nature of Jesus.
- Jesus Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents the Historical Jesus edited by JP Moreland and Michael Wilkins. Interacts with the radical claims of the Jesus Seminar.
Recommended Books on the Da Vinci Code
- The Da Vinci Code Cracks - A concise article from Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason. This is a great first read on the issues surrounding the Da Vinci Code.
- The Truth Behnind the Da Vinci Code by Richard Abanes. This work is quick to read and responds directly to passages in the Da Vinci Code. Very good little reference for those not initiated to the debates which go on scholarly circles.
- Answers to the Da Vinci Code by Timothy Paul Jones. This is a long fold out pamphlet which is printed on two sides. It has a very helpful timeline of the first centuries of the Christian movement. Very helpful.
More In Depth Treatments
- Breaking the Da Vinci Code by Darrel L. Bock Darrell L. Bock is Research Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas. He also serves as Professor for Spiritual Development and Culture for the Seminary's Center for Christian Leadership. His special fields of study involve hermeneutics, the use of the Old Testament in the New, Luke-Acts, the historical Jesus, and gospels studies.
- The Gospel Code: Novel Claims About Jesus, Mary Magdalene and Da Vinci Dr. Witherington is Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Asbury Theological Seminary. He offers a scholarly evangelical voice in the historical Jesus studies and has published over twenty five books.
Recommended Web Site
- Jesus and Da Vinci: Who Was Jesus...Really? This site has several excellent links to articles by a wide range of scholars and authors from an evangelical and a Catholic perspective. The abstracts for the articles will give you an idea of each resource.
- The Truth About Da Vinci - Westminster Seminary has offered an excellent site which describes itself as follows: While this site does engage the culture, it will not be blown about by the winds of opinion and will ultimately become a resource for all spectrums of people desiring to find and know the Truth... not only about "The Da Vinci Code," but more importantly, the Divine Truth.
- Jesus Decoded - A Web Site From the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. Though the site is from a Roman Catholic point of view, it offers some excellent insight. The video trailer for their TV Special is a great overview.