DVC: Fact or Ficton? You be the judge!
I must admit that I didn’t read Dan Brown’s book Da Vinci Code before I was informed of its incursions into theological themes. The book cast aspersions on the historical repository of the Church’ faith, and not surprisingly caused quite some concern. However, the theological assertions made by the book are untenable with all the established historical facts. The book casts shades of doubts on the credibility of the Christian tradition and history, although that is not its main theme. I guess, the intensity of ‘doubt’ and ‘skepticism’ experienced would depend much on our preferred vantage point, let alone our pre-understanding.
Books like Da Vinci Code still continue the tradition of speculation concerning Jesus, albeit through the fiction route. The question: “Is Da Vinci Code fact or fiction?” is pertinent. Are we then engulfed in a powerful lie? As a serious student of the Christian faith, I do not think so. To me, Dan Brown survives on the lack of adequate knowledge on the formulation of the four canonical Gospels, the resolving of Jesus’ divine-human debate, and the pseudo-ephigraphal books in the early centuries. The major theological assertions of DVC cannot stand objective historical scrutiny.
- Volumes of scholarly New Testament research have established the trustworthiness of the Jesus story in the gospels. You may read the works of F.F. Bruce, N.T. Wright, Donald Guthrie and a host of NT scholars who have spent a lifetime studying the New Testament.
- For its part, DVC entirely depends on sources that contain fictitious portrayals of Jesus, and it is precisely to put an end to the spread of these fictitious stories that the NT books were canonized.
- The NT was not canonized haphazardly out of fear for the political establishment as is claimed. Certain methodological procedures were followed and only those which met the standards were accorded a place in the Sacred Scriptures.
- And moreover, the Dead sea scrolls and the Gnostic books from Nag Hammadi are not the oldest Christian documents and quite interestingly, there were no Christian writings among the scrolls.
- All these writings have not yet been destroyed and are available for anyone for study and research.
- And then, all the Councils convened within the first four centuries were for the purposes of stating, clarifying and re-claiming the historical/theological interpretations of the Church’ faith. Dan Brown’s assertion (in the guise of a suggestion) that the bible and Jesus are constructs of Emperor Constantine’s political whims is nothing but a far-fetched truth.
- The Council of Nicea (325 AD) was convened to address the Arian controversy. The confusion at the Council was not on the divinity of Jesus but rather due to semantics involved in the debate. In any case, the divergent views were discussed, deviant beliefs were condemned and right beliefs were attested collectively.
- The Nicene creedal formula stimulated further discussion regarding the status of the Son as many as twelve different creeds were produced during the period 325 – 381 AD. The Nicene Creedal statement was again discussed at length in Constantinople (381 AD) and Chalcedon (451AD) much after the death of the Emperor.
- There is a wealth of Christian research on these topics. There have also been open discussions within the Church on the same issues raised by Dan Brown. This in itself is an indication that the Church is not engaged in either a subversion of Truth or a suppression of Truth.
With fantasy-fiction unable to either hold our collective imagination or provide diversionary discourse, there is a penchant for info-attainment and Spirituality- fiction. A rather peculiar combination of Fact and Fiction, Information and entertainment are mixed in varying proportions to concoct a ‘magic’ potion for the emerging postmodern mind. Dan Brown has followed the trend and mixed free-floating ideas with a compelling story. Is Da Vinci Code – Fact or Fiction? This is a question each of us need to respond with a genuine quest, open mind and intellectual honesty.
Perhaps, it’s time to do some digging into historical research before we arrive at some conclusions. Often times, we expect ‘instant’ answers and ‘ready made’ solutions to serious questions that have far reaching implications for what we believe in and how we live. We do not make even the least of the required effort to test truth claims i.e. is begin by asking the right questions. Asking the right question as we read Dan Brown’s book would help us resolve the question: Is it Fact or Fiction?
It is not what book you read but how you read the book that matters. Is Da Vinci Code: Fact or Fiction! You be the judge!