May 02, 2006

Book Review: The DaVinci Codebreaker by James L. Garlow

Whenever you read anything about The DaVinci Code, for or against, you are going to be bombarded by buzzwords and jargon. Often, these buzzwords are used by different authors in different ways, which can lead to some serious confusion. Historical references are also made that they just didn't cover in your high school World History class.

That's where this book comes in handy. The DaVinci Codebreaker was originally intended to be a glossary in Dr. Garlow's previous book, Cracking DaVinci's Code, but had to be left out for space considerations. It serves as an excellent resource for anyone confused by the jargon and pseudo-history that permeates The DaVinci Code.

One of the most valuable entries in the book is the section covering the canon. Garlow offers an excellent overview of the process of canonization, and includes a chart listing each book (or section, in the case of the OT canon) and the reasons for inclusion or exclusion. He also gives us a timeline showing approximately when each book under discussion was written, as well as valuable comparisons between the various canons held by different churches.

Garlow also points out factual errors in The DaVinci Code, whetting the appetite for broader discussion. A few examples:

  • Dan Brown contends that the vote at the Council of Nicea was a close one. The fact is that the orthodox view affirming Jesus' full divinity AND full humanity was passed 316 to 2. Hardly a close vote.
  • The DaVinci Code states that in the Gospel of Phillip (third century), Mary Magdalene is referred to using the Aramaic word for companion, which (in Brown's character's words) "any Aramaic scholar will tell you ... literally means 'spouse'." Unfortunately, the oldest copy og The Gospel of Phillip that we have is written in Coptic, not Aramaic, and there is no evidence that an Aramaic copy ever even existed.
  • It is erroneously stated in The DaVinci Code that Constantine "converted the world from matriarchal paganism to patriarchal Christianity." Greek and Roman paganism were FAR from matriarchal, but beyond that, Constantine gave paganism and Christianity equal status, and paganism was practiced long after Constantine was gone.

Just a few examples. If you want more, you need to read this book. I personally found this reference more valuable than many of the DaVinci debunking books out there, just because Garlow presents the bare facts in an easy to use format. This belongs on everyone's bookshelf, regardless of your opinion of The DaVinci Code.

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