The release of the movie version of the bestselling The Da Vinci Code will expose more people to Dan Brown's tale of conspiracy and intrigue. At the heart of the novel is an indictment of the early church, which Mr. Brown suggests buried the truth about Jesus, his secret marriage to Mary Magdalene, and the daughter they purportedly had. In response, many well-known Christians have written small books designed to expose the falsehoods upon which the book and movie are built.
The debunking books have much in common. They destroy Mr. Brown's claim, found on his book's first page, that the novel is "Fact. . . . All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate." They correct the historical record and offer a positive defense of the gospel. Here are four of the small books (each costing less than $8, the price of a movie ticket in many cities) found on display at a local Barnes & Noble.
CONTENT The indignant writing style is most likely to convince Christians looking for some quick facts to bolster their confidence in the Bible. Printed on better-quality paper than some of the others, the book features a myth-busting first half and a gospel-defending second half.
CONTENT Paul Maier, a professor at Western Michigan, wrote the thoughtful first half; others writing about the Da Vinci debate (including D. James Kennedy) frequently quote Maier. Hanegraaff wrote the second half, a basic Christian apologetic.
CONTENT Strobel combines first-person travelogue, as he visits sites associated with the book, with short interviews of four experts (including Paul Maier) who answer basic questions about Jesus, history, the four Gospels, and the role of women in Christianity.
CONTENT Abanes attacks Brown's credibility even on relatively insignificant points such as the number of panes of glass in the Louvre's pyramid. The book's easy-to-use layout features quotations and page numbers from the novel placed in gray boxes set amid analysis of Da Vinci claims.
Although some people will want to buy a book about The Da Vinci Code, plenty of material is available for free on the internet. Several websites provide insightful analysis in an engaging style. Mark D. Roberts (www.markd roberts.com), a Presbyterian pastor with a Ph.D. in New Testament and expertise in the Gnostic gospels, provides a Da Vinci FAQ (frequently asked questions) as well as two series related to the book: "The Da Vinci Opportunity" and "Was Jesus Married?"
DaVinci Code: The Dialogue (www.thedavincidialogue.com) is a website that features Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox experts (including Darrell Bock, Chuck Colson, and Tony Campolo) who grapple with issues that the book and movie raise. The website also contains information about sites and historical figures featured in the book.