“It was all about power,” Teabing continued. “Christ as Messiah was critical to the functioning of Church and state. Many scholars claim that the early Church literally stole Jesus from His original followers, hijacking His human message, shrouding it in an impenetrable cloak of divinity, and using it to expand their own power. I’ve written several books on the topic.” (233)
Dan Brown’s utter incomprehension of biblical scholarship and history comes out here again, for he seems to think that “Christ as Messiah” and “Jesus as Son of God” are equivalent terms. Surely, the idea of Christ as the Jewish Messiah is as primitive as can be, and it would be even more absurd (if that is possible) to suggest that it was Constantine who came up with the idea of Jesus as the Messiah! Such is silly beyond words, and I know of now scholar at all who makes such a suggestion.
The early church was a loosely connected group of persecuted churches, racked by heresy and strife, despised by the world. The idea that the early church could be so organized, let alone so dishonest, as to 1) die by the thousands for a lie, 2) seek political power while being persecuted thereby, and 3) come up with such a grand scheme, is again absurd. So is Brown misusing terminology again, and not referring to the early Church at all, but instead to post-Constantinianism? Surely the growth of the church/state relationship began with Constantine, but there is simply no possible way of connecting Jesus as Messiah with post-Constantinianism. So, assuming, then, that Brown is simply incompetent as a historian, let’s reconstruct his assertion. Let’s say he’s talking solely about the deity of Christ here, not Jesus as Messiah. So, the idea is that Jesus’ deity was vital to the construction of a church/state relationship. Is there merit to this assertion?
Not historically, for once again, Brown ignores the Arian resurgence after the council of Nicea. Constantine didn’t care if Jesus was deity or not: he only cared about political stability in his lifetime. He surely did not have some “big conspiracy picture” in his mind for future generations. This is pure historical revisionism masquerading as scholarship (note the “I’ve written several books on the topic”—and he will soon cite numerous actual books published over the past decades, again giving credence to the “fiction based on fact” concept). Who are these “many scholars”? Of course, we are not told. Of course, you could get a group of “scholars” to agree to anything if you have enough money and time, but that is hardly relevant to truth.
Ironically, this thesis, as absurd as it is historically, is exactly what I keep hearing from Islamic apologist Shabir Ally. The poor “original followers” of Jesus could not manage to proclaim his truth, and the mean nasty followers of Paul basically “took over.” When you try to find these original followers, you find more and more assertion with less and less documentation—in fact, you find absolutely nothing more than mere assertion and speculation, but these days, assertion and speculation, as long as it is joined with a smile or “sincerity,” is all you really need. Post-modernism flourishes.
Now having made an utter mockery of history itself, Brown now decides to mock the faith itself in these words. Having claimed to have written several books asserting Jesus was “hi-jacked” by the early church, we read,
“And I assume devout Christians send you hate mail on a daily basis?”
“Why should they?” Teabing countered. “The vast majority of educated Christians know the history of their faith.”
This kind of rhetoric is simply disgusting. “Well, if you were really educated, you’d know what I’m saying is true.” Such is especially reprehensible in light of the fact that it is Brown who is demonstrating his utter lack of education (or, worse, utter dishonesty) with this kind of ravaging of historical realities. The vast majority of educated Christians know the early church hi-jacked Jesus? This kind of absurdity can only be promulgated in this fashion: it can never survive actual debate and examination, so it must assert itself by repetition, or, in this case, through repetition on movie screens and in book stores all across the world.