THE GOSPEL CODE: Novel Claims About Jesus, Mary Magdalene and Da Vinci

Ben Witherington, III, Author . InterVarsity $15 (208p) ISBN 978-0-8308-3267-5

The popularity of Dan Brown's novel The Da Vinci Code has caused Christian apologists to address what they consider to be its heresies and historical errors. Witherington, a New Testament scholar at Asbury Theological Seminary, intends in this volume to add his voice to the growing criticism of Brown's novel. Each chapter treats an issue—the formation of the canon, the "married Jesus" theory, etc.—and then offers a wealth of background material to support an evangelical Christian viewpoint. Drawing on his background in Christian theology and church history, Witherington explains his position in a lucid and sometimes whimsical style. He is particularly strong when exploring and explaining the processes of textual criticism and redaction, and in helping readers understand the flow of Christian history and the development of doctrine. The influence of Gnosticism, ancient and modern, likewise receives extensive treatment. The book closes with an appeal for a more rational, and less speculative, consideration of the Jesus story. Quite apart from its treatment of Brown's novel, this book is a fine exposition of mainstream evangelical teaching and merits wide readership. (July)

Forecast: Witherington's book is a late starter—Cook, Thomas Nelson, Ignatius and other publishers have already offered Da Vinci responses. Still, this more extensive, reasoned treatment may have the staying power that other instant books lack.

Reviewed on: 05/31/2004
Release date: 06/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
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