Dan Brown’s body

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Ross Douthat of the NYT says, “You can have Jesus or Dan Brown. But you can’t have both.” Douthat writes: “Piggybacking on the fascination with lost gospels and alternative Christianities, (Brown) serves up a Jesus who’s a thoroughly modern sort of messiah – sexy, worldly, and Goddess-worshiping, with a wife and kids, a house in […]

  • Asinus Gravis

    Douthat’s case against Dan Brown’s Jesus would be more persuasive if he was better informed about the historical Jesus, and were more restrained in his claims about Brown’s book “The Da Vinci Code.” His remarks are, at best, a caricature of Brown’s Jesus.

    The book is not “false from start to finish.” For a more balanced assessment take a look at Bart Ehrman’s 2004 work “Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code.” It is head and sholders above the usual Protestant and Catholic hatchet jobs on the novel.

    The “lost gospels” which we now have in hand are not “far, far weirder” than the four canonical gospels. They are mostly later than the four, and embrace versions of Christianity that lost out in the religious wars of the first several centuries of the Common Era. The Gospel of Thomas is not nearly as weird as the magical, non historical, birth stories of Jesus. It clearly avoids the absurd “I am” statements of the Fourth Gospel, with it determination to divinize Jesus and equate him with God.

    As for the canonical gospels, Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John (to put them in proper chronological order) they do not all offer historically credible stories about Jesus. They offer conflicting, and sometimes inconsistent, accounts of the life of Jesus. They are, to varying degrees, filled with myths attached to Jesus. As the decades went by the later gospel writers added to, changed, and sometimes contradicted what earlier gospel writers wrote about Jesus.

    As it stands Douthat has neither an historically credible Jesus, nor Dan Brown’s Jesus.