Since The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown was published a year ago, more than 6 million copies have been sold, turning the novel into a word-of-mouth bestseller. As the months wore on, and the book got bigger and bigger, evangelical Protestants and some Catholics became increasingly concerned about it. The Da Vinci Code, they say, presents as truth some theories--chief among them that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene--that are considered fringe, even by liberal Bible scholars. Evangelicals began to see a "secret agenda" in the novel: to undercut Christianity. Now that director Ron Howard is making a movie based on the book, conservative Christians are even more worried.

Last fall, evangelical and Catholic publishers approached writers to produce books rebutting the theology of this puzzling novel. Among the first was Darrell Bock, a well-regarded Bible scholar at Dallas Theological Seminary who has now authored a new book, Breaking the Da Vinci Code. Beliefnet talked recently with Bock about his book. Meanwhile, there are at least 10 other new books debunking the Da Vinci theories. Included in this package are samples from several of them.

The basic reason is that there is an attempt to--and I’m going to use this term on purpose--relegate Christianity to a level that is like other religions. There are a lot of things Christianity claims are unique about what Christians believe and what Christianity is about—particularly the focus on Jesus Christ and his uniqueness. And it’s those elements that tend to be relativized by this kind of material. We have a novel that’s claiming that the divine Jesus was originally a human Jesus. That’s the major re-visioning that’s going on.

So to clarify: you’re saying that Christianity is unique because Jesus makes specific claims about his divinity?

And about his work, which puts a unique touch on the Christian faith.

And that’s what you feel this agenda takes away from.

Exactly right.

Why does this agenda take away from Jesus’ uniqueness?

Because it tries to reduce Jesus to a great religious figure, one among many, rather than being a unique figure who is uniquely divine.

Because the book posits that Jesus could have been married?

No, I actually make the point in the book that if Jesus had been married it wouldn’t touch the theology one bit. Jesus is 100 percent human. Had he been married and had he had children, all it would have done would have been to reflect his engagement with his humanity--but I just don’t think historically there’s any evidence that Jesus was married. But the important point in relationship to the novel is, had Jesus been married, the church wouldn’t have had any reason to suppress that knowledge.

So you’re saying that the movement spawned by the novel is trying to make Jesus into a sort of Buddha figure?

Yeah. Or Confucius or Moses or Elijah, Muhammad. You can pick and choose the religious great. The world’s reaction to Christianity--not people who hold the faith, but non-Christians--is that Jesus belongs in the religious hall of fame. Well, my point is that he deserves a wing all to himself, if he doesn’t deserve the building all to himself. And that’s the fundamental point of the claim of the Christian faith, and that’s why people who are evangelical Christians share this message with their neighbor--because they believe that they are sharing something precious and unique.


You say that there is a “conscious agenda” at work in the Da Vinci Code. What is that agenda?

The conscious agenda is an attempt to either redefine or revision the history of early Christianity.

Why do you think that there is this agenda, this claim, within the Da Vinci Code? Why would someone want to put forward this new agenda?

But here’s what I don’t get. Why do you think that the Da Vinci Code tries to take away from the idea that Jesus was divine? I’m not following that.


That’s interesting, because I thought the agenda was not to take away from Jesus’ divinity but just to essentially add Mary...

That would be a read that someone would have if they’re particularly sensitive to the gender issues the book raises. What you’re seeing is part of where the book wants to get to, but part of the way of getting there is by taking the focus off the uniqueness of Jesus and shifting it to some degree, to make sure Mary is in the loop.