The Da Vinci Codebreaker



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The Da Vinci Codebreaker
Wednesday, 2 August 2006
Dialogue between TimothyPaulJones and New Wineskins magazine

Greg Taylor of New Wineskins magazine emailed a thoughtful critique of The Da Vinci Codebreaker, to which I recently responded. I have copied our dialogue below ...

 
The DaVinci CodebreakerDear Greg,

I am a coauthor of The DaVinci Codebreaker. I do not presume to represent either Dr. Garlow or Bethany House Publishers - I can represent only my thoughts and intentions. You write ...

Your first and critical response to Brown is that if he'd have just not insisted all elements of art, history, and theology were "FACT," the firestorm would not have been created. Yet, I find it ironic that the materials promoting your book claim at every turn that what's included in your book is completely and utterly factual.


From my perspective, when a book is launched - as The DaVinci Code was - with the explicit claim that it is historically factual, an adequate response to the book must meet the book on the playing-field of historical data. This is what we have tried to do in The DaVinci Codebreaker - to look carefully at the historical records and to point out places where Dan Brown's novel misconstrues or ignores historical evidences.

I'm not certain to which "materials promoting your book" you're referring, but I think I understand your point nonetheless. What this book attempted was to weigh even-handedly all of the historical evidences and to summarize these evidences for readers. When there is uncertainty about an issue - such as the exact date of a book' s composition - we have attempted to present these data in terms of " ranges of possibility." If you find any points at which these evidences have been summarized unfairly or inaccurately, please let me know.

New Wineskins: The DiVine CodeAre there points at which we 've made mistakes? Yes - there have been two errors of which I am aware that readers have pointed out to us thus far (one of them has to do with the pillar of Boaz; the other one, I can' t recall at this moment). These two are likely not the only ones. The difference I see is that, as these errors have been pointed out to us, we have looked carefully at the evidences provided, admitted the error, and made plans for correction. Dan Brown has, even after the presentation of vast evidence demonstrating that he has misconstrued multiple historical sources, persistently maintained his claim that what he's written represents historical truth.

I understand the need to promote correct views over incorrect, but this is so typical of Christians who feel we have all the correct answers and anyone saying something opposed to orthodoxy cannot state the case so strongly. Is there a way to enter the conversation without immediately claiming we know answers to all these difficult and complex text critical issues?


If I have at any time claimed to know the answers to all these issues, I immediately stand corrected. I do not possess all of these answers. I can, however, look at certain bits of evidence and recognize that some of Dan Brown's claims stand outside the range of historical possibility - for example, the claim that the Gnostic Gospels represent a historical witness to the identity of Jesus Christ that precedes the New Testament Gospels or that the "Aramaic" word for "companion" literally means "spouse." I can look at the John Rylands Papyrus 52 and discover that John's Gospel was in wide circulation in the Roman Empire before 100 C.E., I can examine the Greek words that underlie the Coptic terms in the Gnostic Gospels and discover word-patterns that share the greatest number of affinities with post-160 C.E. Greek, and I can discover that there is no extant Aramaic manuscript of Gospel of Philip and that the Coptic word translated "companion" stems from a Greek word that, in the ancient world, rarely and only under certain grammatical conditions (which are not present in Gospel of Philip) carried the meaning of "spouse."

I view The DaVinci Codebreaker as being part of a continuing dialogue; if someone from an opposing perspective makes an alternative case that is based on honest examinations of actual historical evidences, I will welcome their perspective, and it will - as has The DaVinci Code - send me back to the historical evidences, where I will open-mindedly re-weigh, re-examine, and rethink what I believe. That's why, right now, I am carefully reading everything that Bart Ehrman has written - he challenges me with hard, historical evidence to rethink what I believe.

I do not have everything about the ancient documents figured out. At the same time, I do trust the apostolic eyewitness regarding Jesus Christ, and I find strong historical evidences that this apostolic witness is most adequately reflected in the New Testament documents.

Is there a way to enter the conversation without immediately claiming we know answers to all these difficult and complex text critical issues? Who can say we have all those ancient documents and how they became part of the canon figured out?


I would love to enter into this as a "conversation" - I would welcome an opportunity to collaborate on a project in which authentic dialogue and adducing of historical evidences from varying views occurs. Unfortunately, I and several others have tried to invite other viewpoints to such a conversation with no response.

Each time I have been interviewed about what I've written regarding The Da Vinci Code, I have said, "If I met Dan Brown, the first thing I would say to him is, 'Thank you - thank you for bringing this conversation to the forefront of so many people's minds, thank you for demonstrating that the history of early Christianity does truly matter.'" And I would.

I do not believe that I possess every right answer; I pray that I have never implied that to anyone. I do, however, believe that the Right Answer possesses me. And I am on a journey to discover more - not only historically but also existentially - about this One who has possessed me. This journey is one in which I will never find every answer but one in which "the road goes ever on and on," to borrow a line from Bilbo Baggins.

I don't know that I've answered your questions. If not, feel free to email me again. Seeing that you and I minister only about seven miles apart, perhaps we can discuss these issues in more depth at some point. In any case, I thank you for the congeniality of your response.

Still learning to be God's child,

Dr. Timothy Paul Jones
Author of Answers to The Da Vinci Code, Christian History Made Easy, and Finding God in a Galaxy Far, Far Away.

The complete text of Greg's letter reads:
Dear ___,

In reading through The DaVinci Codebreaker, I find its format a helpful reader's companion to The DaVinci Code, but I have one question I feel I need to attempt receiving response from Dr. Garlow:

Your first and critical response to Brown is that if he'd have just not insisted all elements of art, history, and theology were "FACT," the firestorm would not have been created. Yet, I find it ironic that the materials promoting your book claim at every turn that what's included in your book is completely and utterly factual. I understand the need to promote correct views over incorrect, but this is so typical of Christians who feel we have all the correct answers and anyone saying something opposed to orthodoxy cannot state the case so strongly. Is there a way to enter the conversation without immediately claiming we know answers to all these difficult and complex text critical issues? Who can say we have all those ancient documents and how they became part of the canon figured out?

I appreciate your time and energies to respond to Wineskins.org .

Thanks,

gt

Posted by timothypauljones at 1:24 PM CDT
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Monday, 31 July 2006

Topic: For Your Information

After receiving this email ... 


------ Forwarded Message
From: [EMAIL DELETED]
Date: Sat, 29 Jul 2006 11:09:05 -0700
To: info@rose-publishing.com
Subject: Constantine's Manuscript

Hello, this message is intended (mostly) for the Author of your pamphlet "Answers to the Da Vinci Code," which I have enjoyed immensely - I believe it is Timothy Paul Jones.  Though I send it directly to you (Rose Publishing) in the hopes that either someone on staff will have insight on this or otherwise be able to direct me to the correct resource - finally you may or may not see fit to update the pamphlet if you agree this is a legitimate question many readers will have.

In the section talking about whether Constantine was the chief player in the canonization process, last paragraph, last line it reads: "The manuscripts of the New Testament that were copied before Constantine's fifty Bibles do not differ significantly from the manuscripts that were copied after Constantine's fifty Bibles."  I take this to mean there were indeed differences, which is part of what's at issue in this section of the pamphlet.  Yet there is no mention made of what those differences are, providing no indication as to whether they're significant or trivial.  Without even a minor clarification here I find myself wondering very much what those differences (however minute) were, and questioning if Dan Brown's book didn't make a compelling point here.

[NAME DELETED]

... I thought it might be helpful to post my response:

 

Thank you for your concern and for your interest in Answers to The Da Vinci Code!

I used the word “significantly” because there are no two New Testament manuscripts that are absolutely identical. If I had said …

"The manuscripts of the New Testament that were copied before Constantine's fifty Bibles do not differ from the manuscripts that were copied after Constantine's fifty Bibles.”

…an astute reader might have (rightly) said, “But there are differences between, for example, the second-century papyri and Codex Vaticanus (which was probably one of the fifty Bibles commissioned by Constantine.” True, the differences are merely spelling variants or minute scribal errors—but there are differences between earlier and later manuscripts. These differences are not, however, significant in any way. Hence, the sentence in Answers to The Da Vinci Code …

"The manuscripts of the New Testament that were copied before Constantine's fifty Bibles do not differ significantly from the manuscripts that were copied after Constantine's fifty Bibles.”

 

Still learning to be God’s child,

Timothy Paul Jones


Posted by timothypauljones at 11:56 AM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, 1 August 2006 9:46 AM CDT
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Information about Answers to The Da Vinci Code
Topic: For Your Information

Here's how Coral Ridge Ministries described Answers to The Da Vinci Code ...

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown has been on the bestseller list for a record number of weeks. People are reading it… and people are talking about it. The problem is, much of what they're talking about includes errors… or outright heresy! However, it is a fiction book! So why should we care? Because in today's post-modern culture, it is okay to base your "faith" on anything that makes you feel good—even a novel that says Jesus was married, had children, and wanted to have a feminist church! Can you prove them wrong? This beautiful 12-page pamphlet will enable you to do just that, with evidence that can't be denied!


Posted by timothypauljones at 10:56 AM CDT
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Information about The Da Vinci Codebreaker
Topic: For Your Information

Book Description
An exposé of the bestselling novel. Readers questioning The Da Vinci Code can “fact check” with this book of terms, events, people and places.

From the Inside Flap
"The Da Vinci Code reminds us once again how much interest people have in the story of Jesus. Curiosity about who he was and what he did never seems to come to an end. In a work like The Da Vinci Code, fiction can be easily confused as an accurate portrayal of history. In this case, the facts about Jesus are far more amazing than anything we could make up or imagine. Jim Garlow provides for us a great glossary to help us unwrap the amazing mystery that goes far beyond The Da Vinci Code." --Erwin Raphael McManus, Lead Pastor, Mosaic

"This is a book for any person–whether you are for or against the thesis of The Da Vinci Code. Garlow has gone beyond the large plethora of books affirming or refuting The Da Vinci Code, including his own coauthored book Cracking Da Vinci’s Code, by supplying the reader with a bona fide Da Vinci Code dictionary. This glossary of more than 500 terms should be a constant companion to anyone who has read The Da Vinci Code or who will see the movie. It is a quick, insightful, easy-to-navigate tool. But most important, he provides the correct definitions for terms and concepts. Putting it simply, this is a must-read." --Tim LaHaye, Author, Left Behind series

Phillip Tomasso III, In the Library Review
"The dictionary style... allows readers easy access to... unearth useful facts and actual truth."

Kevin Miller, HollywoodJesus.com
"clear, concise representation of orthodox Christianity. I really wish I had it handy when I first read The DaVinci Code."

enterstageright.com
"The Da Vinci Codebreaker is a useful reference to have alongside The Da Vinci Code itself..."


Posted by timothypauljones at 10:54 AM CDT
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Resources for Teaching Answers to The Da Vinci Code
Topic: Learning Resources

All materials are provided free of charge to help pastors and teachers as they study, as long as appropriate credit is given to TimothyPaulJones.com. 

Click here to hear TimothyPaulJones teach about The Da Vinci Code.

Click here to print a slideshow of TimothyPaulJones' teaching materials.

Click here to print a worksheet of TimothyPaulJones' teaching materials.


Posted by timothypauljones at 10:49 AM CDT
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D. James Kennedy's Recommendation of Answers to The Da Vinci Code
Topic: Publicity and Reviews

D. James Kennedy's Coral Ridge Ministries as well as R.C. Sproul's Ligonier Ministries have used Answers to The Da Vinci Code to train their staff to deal with issues related to The Da Vinci Code.

 


Posted by timothypauljones at 10:26 AM CDT
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Reviews of The Da Vinci Codebreaker
Topic: Publicity and Reviews

Here are some reviews of The Da Vinci Codebreaker, the easy-to-use reference guide coauthored by TimothyPaulJones ...

Kevin Miller of HollywoodJesus.com

Ben DeGrow of Mount Virtus 

Steve Martinovich of EnterStageRight

Dialogue between myself and Greg Taylor of New Wineskins magazine 

 


Posted by timothypauljones at 10:19 AM CDT
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