U Vic Lecture Attacks Conservative Christian Biblical Scholarship

English prof manages several sleights of hand to target the usual bad guys.
Who knew that Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code was not really an attack on the Catholic Church but on Bible-believing Protestants? University of Victoria Christopher Douglas unveiled this implausible thesis with a public lecture early in April sponsored by the U Vic’s Centre for the Study of Religion and Society; a packed house of academics apparently bought it hook, line and sinker.
Douglas’s lecture was billed as “The Literary Response to the Conservative Christian Resurgence in America,” and the promotional material implied that U.S. literary stars “Cormac McCarthy, Thomas Pynchon, Marilynne Robinson, Philip Roth, Barbara Kingsolver, Carl Sagan and Dan Brown” would be covered.
Bait and Switch
But Douglas ignored everyone except Brown, who writes thrillers nobody thinks are literature; and ignored all his books except the Da Vinci Code.
Douglas convincingly debunked Brown’s claims that the book was “fact-based” by exposing as false a list of “truths” the author puts in the mouths of the novel’s two of his academic characters, Robert Langdon and Leigh Teabing, disproving them all.
Brown, Douglas says, was taken in by an earlier book, ostensibly a serious work of scholarship, by two popular writers, Baigent and Leigh, called The Holy Blood, and The Holy Grail, which was actually based on a mid-century fraud by a delusional French con-artist who wanted to make himself out to be a descendent of Jesus and Mary Magdalene.
Both books claim that Jesus was mortal, and produced a daughter via Mary Magdalene; that this was suppressed by Emperor Constantine who wanted a male divinity to unify the Roman empire, and then by the Catholic church. Together they burned all the 80-odd gospels containing the “truth.” Much of the action in the book/movie is provided by The Vatican’s efforts to murder Langdon, which always fail. (the book’s title could have been: The Church That Couldn’t Shoot Straight).
How does Douglas get that the book is actually an attack on Bible Christians? Because the book advances the idea that its alternative “truth” is as good as the “truth” about the origins of Christianity accepted by modern Biblical and historical studies
“The collapse of expert authority,” is Douglas’s name for this phenomeon, which is also to be seen among those doubting, the Jewish Holocaust, that Muslim terrorists attacked the World Trade Center, and conspiracy theorists generally.
Bogus scholarship–But WHose?

Actors Audrey Tatou and Tom Hanks are shown fleeing CHristian assassins in 'The Da Vinci Code'

Actors Audrey Tatou and Tom Hanks are shown fleeing CHristian assassins in ‘The Da Vinci Code’

But it can also be found among Evangelical Christians, says Douglas, when they argue that the New Testament consists of eyewitness accounts that can be traced right back to the apostles. Mainstream, legitimate Biblical scholarship insists that the Gospels were written one or two generations later. But like Brown, Baigent, and the “9-11 truthists,” Evangelicals “mimic” legitimate scholars, with bogus scholarship to make their claims.
Douglas did a good job debunking Brown. But his thesis seems to require Brown attack his own pretensions to scholarship in order to surreptitiously attack the scholarship of Evangelical Christians. It’s impossible to swallow. By the end of Brown’s novel he exonerated the Catholic Church of any conspiracy, according to Douglas, who admits that many readers will miss this and close the book believing in the Vatican conspiracy to suppress the “truth” about Jesus’s mortality and his offspring.
In the end, this lecture attacks Evangelical Protestant scholarship’s efforts to authenticate the Gospels. He offers no evidence at all that these efforts are invalid or fail in the face of mainstream scholarship. The real attack on conservative Christians comes not from Brown, but Douglas.

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