The Gospel Code

The Gospel Code

Novel Claims About Jesus, Mary Magdalene and Da Vinci

by Ben Witherington III

The Gospel Code
  • Length: 208 pages
  • Published: June 02, 2004
  •  Print on Demand
  • ISBN: 978-0-8308-3267-5
  • Item Code: 3267
Print on Demand

Dan Brown's international bestseller The Da Vinci Code has raised many questions in the minds of readers.

  • Was Jesus really married to Mary Magdalene?
  • Did he father a child with her?
  • Did Constantine suppress the earliest Gospels and invent the doctrine of Christ's divinity?
  • Do the Gnostic Gospels represent the true Christian faith which the early church sought to supplant?

The Da Vinci Code, in blurring the lines between fact and fiction, popularizes the speculations and contentions of numerous more serious books that are also attracting wide attention. How should we respond to claims that we now have documents that reveal secrets about Jesus, secrets long suppressed by the church and other religious institutions? Do these new documents successfully debunk traditional views about Jesus and early Christianity?

Ben Witherington III confronts these claims with the sure-footedness of a New Testament scholar, yet in the plain language that any interested reader can follow. He takes us back to the early centuries after Jesus' death and tells us what we can really know about Jesus, Mary Magdalene, the canonical Gospels and their Gnostic rivals.

"Here's a much-needed antidote to the history-twisting misinformation that, unfortunately, has seeped into popular culture in recent years. Thanks, Ben, for setting the record straight!"

Lee Strobel, author of The Case for Christ and The Case for Faith

"Ben Witherington won't stop at refuting the historical errors of The Da Vinci Code. He will not rest until he refutes the novel's spiritual error as well. Witherington names the narcissism at the heart of the Gnostic revival and offers the New Testament's God-centered good news in its place."

David Neff, Editor, Christianity Today

"Unlike so many critiques that carefully mince words, Ben Witherington explains exactly why currently popular attempts to treat the historical Jesus in a revisionist manner are so wide of the mark. Beginning with a bang by noting 'seven deadly errors' right on through the conclusion, Witherington pulls no punches while showcasing his wonderful sense of humor. Here the reader is treated to an excellent evaluation, making points that many of us wish were made far more frequently. This book is simply a delightful read."

Gary R. Habermas, Distinguished Professor of Apologetics and Philosophy, Liberty University

"In these few pages, an eminent New Testament scholar not only explodes the follies of The Da Vinci Code but also dissects the claims of certain scholars to find in the Gnostic Gospels a historically authentic Jesus and an alternative Christianity. Timely and compelling!"

William Lane Craig, coauthor of Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?

Witherington's The Gospel Code is a welcome response to this runaway phenomenon. Witherington shows time and again why Brown's "novel claims" find so little support in sober scholarship. Here are superb introductions to the New Testament data and to the Gnostic and other post-Biblcal literature. Witherington does an excellent job of clarifying the truth with strong historical and textual support.

Tony Tremblett for The Christian Librarian, volume 49.1, 2006

"Other publishers have already offered Da Vinci responses. Still, this more extensive, reasoned treatment may have the staying power that other instant books lack."

Publishers Weekly



Part 1: Veni, Vidi, Da Vinci
1. A Novel Idea?
2. No Weddings and a Funeral
3. Tell Me the Old, Old Story
4. His Story, History and the Canon's Story

Part 2: Mary Magdalene and the New Gnosticism
5. Something About Mary
6. Those in the Know
7. Doubting Thomas

Part 3: Did the Canon Misfire?
8. Consulting the Canon Professors
9. Reading Borg Again for the First Time
10. What If God Was One of Us?
Postscript--Truth Decay in the Twenty-first Century

A Select Bibliography
Subject Index
Scripture Index

Ben Witherington III

Ben Witherington III (PhD, University of Durham) is a prominent evangelical scholar and Jean R. Amos Professor of New Testament for Doctoral Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary. Witherington has written over forty books, including The Jesus Quest and The Paul Quest, both of which were selected as top biblical studies works by Christianity Today. His other works include The Indelible Image, Women and the Genesis of Christianity, The Gospel Code, A Week in the Life of Corinth, and commentaries on the entire New Testament. He also writes for many church and scholarly publications and is a frequent contributor to Patheos and Beliefnet.

Witherington is an elected member of the prestigious Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas, a society dedicated to New Testament studies. He is a John Wesley Fellow for Life, a research fellow at Cambridge University, and a member of numerous professional organizations, including the Society of Biblical Literature, Society for the Study of the New Testament, and the Institute for Biblical Research. He previously taught at institutions like Ashland Theological Seminary, Vanderbilt University, Duke Divinity School, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

An ordained pastor in the United Methodist Church and a popular lecturer, Witherington has presented seminars for churches, colleges, and biblical meetings around the world. He has led numerous study tours through the lands of the Bible and is known for bringing the text to life through incisive historical and cultural analysis. Along with many interviews on radio and television networks across the country, Witherington has been seen in programs such as 60 Minutes, 20/20, Dateline, and the Peter Jennings ABC special Jesus and Paul—The Word and the Witness.

Read Witherington's Patheos blog The Bible and Culture.