|By: ATRI Staff Writer; ©2005|
|There is no question that the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls (1949ff) and the documents at Nag Hammadi (1945) were important in terms of biblical scholarship—but not for the reasons that Dan Brown posits in The Da Vinci Code.|
There is no question that the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls (1949ff) and the documents at Nag Hammadi (1945) were important in terms of biblical scholarship—but not for the reasons that Dan Brown posits in The Da Vinci Code.
According to Dr. Norman Geisler,
By studying these scrolls, scholars have found that the “scrolls give an overwhelming confirmation of the faithfulness with which the Hebrew text was copied through the centuries.” Geisler goes on to quote Millar Burrows: “It is a matter of wonder that through something like a thousand years the text underwent so little alteration. As I said in my first article on the scroll, ‘Herein lies its chief importance, supporting the fidelity of the Masoretic tradition.’”
But confirmation of the Old Testament is not the only benefit the Christian Church has derived from this amazing cache.
In addition to confirming the accuracy of the text, these scrolls have also provided proof that “the New Testament view of a personal messiah-God who would rise from the dead is in line with first-century Jewish thought.”
Furthermore, in one important excerpt, the Dead Sea Scrolls actually affirm that the deity of Jesus was assumed far before the Council of Nicea! Geisler reports:
In short, “The Dead Sea Scrolls in no way provide proof that any secret gospels exist. Instead, they confirm the accuracy of the Old and New Testament.”
But what about the documents found at Nag Hammadi? Do they provide any better basis for the claims made in The Da Vinci Code? Sadly for Brown, the answer is no. For the most part, the Nag Hammadi texts consist of so-called “Gnostic gospels”.
Gnosticism was a problem even in the first century church. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia provides this definition: …
Warnings against specific Gnostic teachings can be found in 1 Corinthians, Colossians, 1 Timothy, and 1 John.
But while there is no evidence that the early church fathers deliberately tried to hide or destroy these documents, we do have evidence that they knew about them, and rejected them because they were not accurate and trustworthy sources of information about Jesus or the Christian faith:
What about the other 40 or so apparently “lost” gospels that Brown refers to?
Is there any evidence that they existed? Not according to Craig Blomberg:
And then there is this interesting comment from James Holding:
So what is the evidence that these Gnostic Gospels give us better information about Jesus than Matthew, Mark, Luke and John? There is none. What is the evidence that they should have been included in our Bibles? In fact, the opposite is true—they simply do not qualify as “inspired, inerrant” works. But even if we take them simply as literature, there is another problem these “gospels” face: