"Da Vinci Code" roundtable highlights conference
From contributed reports
WAKE FOREST - More than 1,000 people ranging from high school and college students to seminary students, faculty and curious visitors gathered at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary Feb. 3-4 to hear scholars discuss Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code and the issues it raises regarding the reliability of the New Testament . . . .Well, I suppose it shows that discussions of Brown's wretched book at least get people engaging in some useful and interesting discussions.
. . . . Featured in the panel discussion were Norman Geisler, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary; University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill professor Bart Ehrman, the chairman of the school's Department of Religious Studies; Duke University Divinity School associate professor of New Testament Richard Hays; and Southeastern professor of New Testament Andreas Kostenberger . . . .
. . . . Hays was even less complimentary of the book.
Calling The Da Vinci Code "dreadful literature," "full of egregious historical errors," "a teeth-grinding experience," and "deeply confused theologically," Hays noted that it also has a readily observable anti-Catholic bias.
"It is characterized from start to finish by a virulent anti-Catholicism, a terrible bias against the Catholic church as an institution," said Hays, who belongs to the United Methodist denomination. "I find this a deeply morally offensive view on these grounds, and I should make clear that I'm not a Roman Catholic." . . . .
. . . . Perhaps the most contested question for panelists involved the New Testament as it relates to history and reliability. While Kostenberger and Geisler contended strongly for biblical inerrancy, both Hays and Ehrman found that explanation wanting.
"While the New Testament gospels do bear witness to the historical record of Jesus, they bring a theological witness, not a historical witness, to record," Hays said, adding that the New Testament contains "factual discrepancies that cannot be swept under the rug by any honest reader."
Ehrman, an agnostic who said that he formerly held to scriptural inerrancy while a student at Moody Bible College, told listeners that he changed his position during his studies at Princeton University, realizing that "God did not want me to throw away my mind." He urged students to read the New Testament to judge for themselves whether it contains errors . . . .