|By Arne Herstad|
The Da Vinci Code, which has lately created such a stir, collides with verifiable facts of ancient history. It alleges, through a character introduced in chapter 55, that certain Gnostic writings kept out of the New Testament would swing truth on another tack, one that leaves an ancient royal bloodline conveniently ensconced in Europe. This engaging theme works, but only when we suspend judgement and read it as a farce.
Why? Because this view of the New Testament loses traction when we realize that during the first years of the Church, the Apostles of Christ never preached from it. They couldn't, because the New Testament writings hadn't been compiled yet. Christianity, with it's preaching of the resurrection of Christ, was taught exclusively from the Old Testament during the first decades A.D. by eyewitnesses who later put their accounts to writing (see Luke chapter one for amplification).
The antiquity of the Old Testament is verified in that it was translated into Greek in Alexandria, Egypt, circa 250 B.C. That early date puts its prophecies well out of reach of potential Christian tampering (on which author Brown builds his premise), or any possibility of Jewish tampering after the dissemination of the text. This version of the Hebrew Bible, called in our time the "Septuagint", was ensconced in every synagogue of the Jewish diaspora by the time Christ walked the earth. So when Paul
alighted in Corinth, Berea, or Ephesus, he simply called for the scrolls of Isaiah, Daniel, or the Psalms, and preached from them the resurrection of Christ. Those who heard were wise enough to know from the book of Daniel that the window of time for the sufferings of Christ had come and gone, hence the immediacy of their response to the Gospel.
Those who later compiled the apostles' writings into our New Testament knew enough to reject Gnostic offerings that didn't agree with the prophetic teaching of the Septuagint. They knew, just as we do today, that the counterfeit postulates the reality of the original.
"So what?", you say. "Who cares? Isn't the Da Vinci Code just fiction?"
Yes, but so is Pilgrim's Progress and some of the writings of C.S. Lewis. If truth can be presented in a parable, then so can a lie. The Da Vinci Code's foundational premise is weighed in the balance of history and found wanting. It's a well written, heart-pounding thrilller that belongs on the same shelf as the Gnostic writings from which it draws its cosmology. Its value, as with those writings, lies mostly in what it reveals about its author's heart.