Mark Lamendola, author of over 4,500 articles.
When I read the Da Vinci Code, I found its short chapters and fast-moving, interwoven plot
kept me tuning the pages. The story was vividly entertaining. Too bad, however, it fell far short of
its promise to be a great book.
In the prologue of the book, Dan Brown (the
author) stated that all of the historical facts presented by the
characters in the
book were true. Then, Brown seemingly goes on a campaign to test the naiveté
and ignorance of his readers. I found this insulting, and it
detracted from my enjoyment of the book.
This is where Ehrman's book comes in. As someone
who's read previous work by Ehrman, I was curious to see what he had
to say. I was hoping Ehrman would once again provide his rock-solid
analysis, rather than be one of the shrill voices we readers
contend with so often. I was not disappointed: Ehrman delivered.
As I read The Da Vinci Code, a question began to gnaw at me.
Was Brown merely playing a prank by stating several
historical "facts" a reasonably well-read person would know
to be false, or was there more to it than that?
Ehrman answered that question in his own
admirable way--and he presented much more answer than I expected. It
was, in classic Ehrman style, a complete answer that leaves no doubt.
The key to that answer is in another book--one that The Da Vinci
Code draws heavily from.
When you read an Ehrman piece, you have to
understand something about this author. What he writes is devoid of
personal opinion. He writes with authority. He backs everything he
says--with logic and the actual evidence. Ehrman is the consummate
scholar, whose only interest is the truth. He has no axe to grind with
Dan Brown, and he makes that clear--he's recommended The Da Vinci
Code to others. And, he stays within his scope of expertise
(something else other authors would do well to emulate). He doesn't
analyze the whole book, doesn't go into a religious rant, doesn't
defend or advocate any particular viewpoint, doesn't and doesn't
get emotional. He simply writes what is. And he does so in a clear and
In this book, Ehrman counters the
"facts" Dan Brown's characters gave us on Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and
Constantine. But, he doesn't throw a laundry list of errors at the
reader. Instead, Ehrman first explains how historians look at information
sources and how they determine which ones are accurate. He fully explains the
methodology, so you--as the reader--can follow along and draw your own
conclusions as the evidence is presented. And then he walks you
through the various statements presented as "fact" by the
characters in the book. I found it a rather pleasant walk, myself.
My suggestion is to read The Da Vinci Code, if
you like a well-crafted thriller. But, keep in mind that Dan Brown is
no Tom Clancy or James Michener. Consequently, this is not an
historical novel (a novel that correctly conveys historical fact).
Rather, it is completely a work of fiction. It's great for
entertainment, but not for education. If you do read it, get a
"knowledge correction" afterwards, courtesy of Bart D.