Few things have shaken the contemporary Christian community like Dan Brown's fictional work, "The Da Vinci Code." The book has sold over 46 million copies and been translated into 44 languages. Its influence has grown even more with the May 19 release of the movie version, directed by Hollywood mega-director Ron Howard and starring two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks.
"The Da Vinci Code" is labeled as a work of fiction, which leaves many people wondering what all of the controversy is about. Essentially, though the story is marketed as fiction, Brown makes a written claim in the first pages of the book that "...descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals are accurate." Some say the statement blurs the line of fact and fiction, causing confusion among the audience about what is real and what isn't.
Dr. Darrell Bock, research professor of New Testament Studies and spiritual development and culture at Dallas Theological Seminary is weighing in on the controversy and helping people understand the documented historical basis surrounding the main themes in "The Da Vinci Code." Bock has also written a New York Times best-selling book called "Breaking the Da Vinci Code: Answers to the Questions Everyone's Asking."
Recently Bock was featured on ABC's "Nightline" where he spoke with Martin Bashir regarding the controversy surrounding the book.
Bock told "Nightline" that when shared readership of the book is considered, about 100 million people have read it. He said what alarms many Christians is that between 20 percent and 33 percent believe the book or think that they have benefited, in some way, by its contents.
In an attempt to educate people about the fallacies contained within "The Da Vinci Code," Bock is traveling around the United States giving lectures and teaching based on exhaustive research that refutes Brown's assertions.
Particular problems arising from Brown's plot are the implication that Jesus was not divine, that Mary Magdalene and Jesus were secretly married and that a child was conceived during their marriage. In addition, Brown builds a web of intrigue around the idea that the Catholic Church knew about these secrets and has gone to extreme measures to keep this information hidden.
Bock's book "Breaking the Da Vinci Code: Answers to the Questions Everyone's Asking" takes each basic claim made by Brown and refutes it. The book is broken down into a series of eight chapters that discuss individual "codes" as they relate to the issues Brown says are "facts" and answers the following questions: Who Was Mary Magdalene? Was Jesus Married? Would Being Single Make Jesus Un-Jewish? Do the So-Called Secret, Gnostic Gospels Help Us Understand Jesus? How Were the New Testament Gospels Assembled? Does Mary's Honored Role As Apostle Match the Claims of the New School? What is the Remaining Relevance of "The Da Vinci Code"?
Residents of Northeast Arkansas who want to educate themselves on these hot-button topics won't want to miss seeing world-renowned scholar and author Dr. Darrell Bock when he comes to Jonesboro on June 19. Fellowship Bible Church will host Bock's lecture at 7:00 p.m at the Valley View Fine Arts Center, 2118 Valley View Drive. The lecture will cover "The Da Vinci Code" in both print and film formats, followed by question and answer session.
Dr. Bock spoke with Faith & Purpose regarding the book and his upcoming visit to Jonesboro:
F&P: Your approach seems to be a bit more interactive than other critics of "The Da Vinci Code" in that you don't simply tell people that this is a problem, you cite research and challenge them to seek out the truth themselves. Why do you think this is a better approach?
BOCK: Because it is fully authentic both at a relational level and in terms of the content about which people have sincere questions.
F&P: You said that you "feel the church has failed in its duty to teach Christians about the history of their faith." Where do churches begin to remedy this?
BOCK: By encouraging the study of these areas at a first-class and carefully developed level. By not making such a great division between spirituality and knowledge. By not being angry and screaming "this is wrong," but by enganging the facts.
F&P: In many ways, people in smaller predominantly Christian communities like Jonesboro feel that they are immune from the impact of misinformation in "The Da Vinci Code." Can this be a harmful attitude?
Bock: Everything is now available through the Net and the media. The world has come to your computer and TV in Jonesboro. Those ideas are circulating among your friends and neighbors. It is important to be ready to engage their questions.
F&P: What can people in Northeast Arkansas look forward to when they come to hear you speak?
BOCK: A careful look at The Da Vinci Code, how our Bible came together, how far back the view of Jesus' divinity goes, plus a few secrets Dan Brown never told you.