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Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code | [Bart D. Ehrman]

Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code

Dan Brown's immensely popular New York Times best-selling The Da Vinci Code is one of the most successful books of recent history. It has captivated millions the world over with its enthralling suspense and its provocative questions about the true nature of Jesus' life.
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Publisher's Summary

Dan Brown's immensely popular New York Times best-selling The Da Vinci Code is one of the most successful books of recent history. It has captivated millions the world over with its enthralling suspense and its provocative questions about the true nature of Jesus' life.

But is there any truth to this clever work of fiction? Brown makes the extraordinary claim that all the historical information in his book is factually true. Historian Bart D. Ehrman, an authority on Jesus and the early Church, reveals that Brown's book is actually riddled with historical errors. In witty fashion, Ehrman separates fact from fiction, delivering the truth behind the code.

Can't get enough of The Da Vinci Code? Check out our store devoted to all things Da Vinci.

©2004 Oxford University Press, Inc.; (P)2004 Recorded Books, LLC

What the Critics Say

"His is a documentary approach, avoiding speculation and theory. This tone distinguishes the book from many other responses to Brown's novel that uphold a particular theological agenda....This is a very readable treatment of some difficult themes." (Publishers Weekly)

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  •  
    John Mertus Rumford, RI USA 01-23-05
    John Mertus Rumford, RI USA 01-23-05

    Radical Skeptic

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A historian's approach to the Da Vinci code"

    I choose to read this book about the Da Vinci code because of Dr. Ehrman's credentials as a historian and I was not disappointed.

    This book is not about rigid thinking but about how one can evaluate the surviving gospel texts and reach likely conclusions about who Jesus really was. For example, Dr. Ehrman discounts the premise of the Da Vinci code that Jesus was married by painstakingly looking at what the writings say and what is reasonable in the context of the 1st century.

    His conclusion is that it is highly unlikely Jesus was married but not impossible. This might throw people off who want a definite answer of yes or no, or do not want to examine the evidence in detail in order to reach one's own conclusion.

    If you believe you have a scholars approach to thinking, or have a mind that wants to learn how a historian approaches history, then I believe you will find this book excellent. I highly recommend it. But if you want to be told what is right or wrong, look somewhere else.

    Lastly, if you are a Christian who believes in the divine nature of bibical writings, then this book is not for you because its premise is that the gospels must be looked at with a critical eye, not accepted blindly.

    45 of 46 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joshua kansas city, KS, USA 01-23-05
    Joshua kansas city, KS, USA 01-23-05
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    "Refreshingly objective"

    Excellent review. This may be a shocker: the author knows that the Da Vinci code is a fictional story so we should not be so concerned about what it says. Many Christian authors have taken offense to the implications of Dan Brown's book, and set off to "setting the facts straight." Ehrman says this is a bad perspective to review history from. However, he states that a book as popular as Brown's has a tendency to shape the popular view of history, just as Mel Gibson's "The Passion" will shape the veiw of the crucifixion for at least a generation or two. Thus, we must make sure that the public is well informed about what is true, what is a half-truth and what is just plain made up. He goes about this from a purely historical perspective without stating any theological or philosophical opinions of his own. The book is slightly slow, but written for a layperson, rather than a historical expert who would already know everything Ehrman wrote. So it gives in depth explainations and is full of useful information on various subjects. If you want to know the real history of the Christian church and dont want to hear some author's opinion about everything, get this book and not any of the plethora of others.

    24 of 25 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher SOMERS, MT, United States 12-14-07
    Christopher SOMERS, MT, United States 12-14-07
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    "Revelations and mythbusters galore!"

    I highly recommend this book for:
    1) Those who think they know everything about Christianity.
    2) Fundamentalist Christians who believe everything written as attributed to have been said by Jesus and his disciples was.
    3) Those who want to know the real story and facts that inspired Dan Brown's best-selling novel.

    I came away from this book with a greater understanding of what we really know and yet still don't know about the life and times of Jesus, as well as an even greater lack of understanding as to why the fundamendalists haven't acknowledged how flawed some of their tenents are.

    If this audiobook sounds like a lecture, it is one; not surprising, given the author/narrator's profession. This is one lecture well worth listening to.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary Spooner, WI, USA 04-18-05
    Mary Spooner, WI, USA 04-18-05
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    "Worth waiting for"

    I had the sense that much of the book is comprised of repackaged material from Ehrman?s other books or lectures in an effort to capitalize on the success of ?The Da Vinci Code.? Ehrman spends a lot of time giving an overview of how Biblical research is conducted and the authenticity of the gospels, which, while fascinating, is only tangentially related to the promise of his title. The most relevant parts are saved for the final two hours of the audio, which deal with the role of women in Christ?s life, their role in the early days of Christianity and how that role got subjugated. And, for myself, that made wading through the rest of it worth the wait.

    I would also note that Ehrman?s introduction is weighted by a condescending tone toward ?Da Vinci? author Dan Brown and a transparent jealousy of a fiction writer profiting in his field of study.

    Ehrman?s delivery is capable, although I found his deliberate pronunciations distracting (?written? is pronounced ?writ ten?). The book is often repetitive (which he handily reminds us of with phrases like, ?as I pointed out in an earlier chapter?). Those reminders are probably necessary in book form, but they could have been trimmed down or edited out for the audio.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    04-27-06
    04-27-06
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    "Both Books Are Excellent"

    I loved this book. I read this book before I read The Da Vinci Code but after reading it I was compelled to read The Da Vinci Code (which I loved as a fiction novel).

    This book, to my view, is written is a very non-biased way. It is impossible to tell if the author is Christian of non-Christian. He just tells it the way it is according to current records. Unfortunately for The Da Vinci Code, current recordes do NOT match with its story.

    But lets be real.... both books have a purpose and that is that they get the Christian and non-christian population talking about the life of Jesus Christ.

    Works for Me!

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Darren San Francisco, CA, USA 01-23-05
    Darren San Francisco, CA, USA 01-23-05
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    "Finally a scholarly approach to the Da Vinci Code"

    Ehrman approaches the Da Vinci code armed with historical data, not faith based arguments. If you're looking for an impartial discussion of the material presented in the Da Vinci Code, this is the book for you.
    Ehrman points out where Browne's character - BTW the fictional VILLIAN of the book made errors when stating facts, and what those mistakes were without resorting to standing on a soap box (or pulpit). As any good villian, Teabing presents historical data that is not exactly wrong, but that is innacurate and twisted to fit his agenda.

    13 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lindsay C Cullen Kanwal, NSW Australia 04-17-05
    Lindsay C Cullen Kanwal, NSW Australia 04-17-05
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    "A very useful precis of historical methodology"

    This book is valuable in two distinct ways. Firstly, for those looking to understand the actual historical credibility of Dan Brown's book, especially as it pertains to Christian history and faith, this book will provide the lay (ie non-history trained) with a sense of where the historical consensus actually lies.

    However it's second contribution is equally, if not more important, and that is the background and tools to think more deeply about other historical issues and hypotheses, not least the basis of the Christian faith. Christians who are serious about understanding and evaluating the records of their faith left in the New Testament and other writings will gain immensely from reading this book and applying some of the principles found within it.

    The only reason I didn't give the book five stars is that it proceeds somewhat slowly, even for a non-historian.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim Trenton, ON, Canada 02-11-05
    Tim Trenton, ON, Canada 02-11-05
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    "and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code (Unabridged)"

    An interesting book, but a bit too academic for my tastes. I was disappointed that in the prolog, the author informed the listener that he would only cover the history of Jesus and not the other areas of the DaVinci code such as the art, architecture or secret societies. It would have been of benefit if this was addressed in the book description.

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marie-Elizabeth Finamore Scottsdale, AZ USA 08-01-09
    Marie-Elizabeth Finamore Scottsdale, AZ USA 08-01-09

    mefinamore

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    "really enjoyed and appreciated it!"

    if you truly are interested in early Christian history, and the DaVinci Code left you with a lot of questions, this is a great, thorough evaluation of the historical points... and well presented by the author, a professor of antiquities at UNC. this is the only book i've seen on this topic written by someone who actually knows the real history. it is well researched, thought out, explained,and presented. while there is some repetition... presumably for people who want to pick and choose among the chapters... the overall flow was good and enjoyable. yes, this just deals w/verifiable history and contrasts this w/literary license taken in the DaVinci code... nothing about conspiracy theories in more modern church times. that's fine. the book delivered well on what i was looking for, and i enjoyed it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Glory Thomasville, NC 07-25-09
    Glory Thomasville, NC 07-25-09
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    "Ehrman isa classy guy"

    Bart Ehrman manages to dispute the facts of The Da Vinci Code in the most respectful way possible. He enjoyed reading the Da Vinci Code, but wants to set the record straight so that people don't get their facts from a work of fiction. Plus, as usual you get the usual spate of valuable insight concerning biblical history.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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