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The Da Vinci Code Is Wrong

When were the Bible's Gospels written?

One of the most important ideas in 'The Da Vinci Code' is that we can't trust what the Bible says about Jesus. The Gospels in the Bible were made up later, or they've been altered. But there are other Gospels that didn't make the cut into the Bible.

These give us a more authentic picture of Jesus. These show us that the first Christians believed that he was just a mortal man - a great prophet and teacher, perhaps, but not the Son of God, as the Church later made him out to be.


The part of the Bible that relates to the time of Jesus - the New Testament - is made up of twenty seven documents. Sometimes when people in The Da Vinci Code talk about them, they call them all Gospels, but this isn't accurate. A Gospel is an account of the life of Jesus, and there are only four Gospels in the Bible - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Leigh Teabing talks about these four Gospels 'among others,' but there aren't any others - just these four.

Paul's letters

Jesus was put to death in 29 or 30 AD. In the years that followed, the man who did most to spread the new Christian faith across the Roman Empire was Paul, the apostle. Paul was a Jew who started out hostile to Christianity, but was converted around 35 AD. He was probably executed for his faith by the Roman emperor Nero in 66 AD.

The Bible contains thirteen letters that are said to be by Paul. Specialists disagree whether he actually wrote them all. However, most specialists agree that he really wrote at least seven of them - the letter to the Romans, two letters to the Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians and Philemon.

Paul wrote these letters between about AD 50 and AD 66 - twenty to thirty years after Jesus died. This makes them the earliest Christian documents that we have. We will see why this is important when we look at when Christians first started believing that Jesus was the Son of God.


What about the Gospels? When were they written? Most specialists, whatever they believe about Jesus, date them to the last thirty years or so of the first century. John's Gospel might have been written near the beginning of the second century.


By early in the second century, Church leaders were already quoting from these Gospels. So, for example:

So people were already recognising Paul's letters and the four Gospels as authoritative two hundred years before Constantine and the Council of Nicaea.


But couldn't they have been altered? Couldn't they have been 'sexed up' like other official documents, to make a political point? Well, not really. There were too many copies for them to have been altered easily. There are far more copies of the New Testament documents than of any other document from around that time:

In all, we have about twenty five thousand hand copied manuscripts of New Testament documents.

Compare this with Homer's famous poem the Illiad. There are about six hundred manuscript copies of the Iliad. Or consider the 'Gallic Wars' written by Julius Caesar, from roughly the same time as the New Testament. Today, there are only about ten copies of it altogether.

The New Testament documents were the most copied, and most widely circulated, of any ancient documents. No other documents from the same period of time come anywhere near having as many copies. Not only that, but there are manuscripts around today that were made very soon after these documents were first written.

The Rylands Fragment

The Rylands Fragment

For example, in a museum in Manchester, there's a small piece of a document called the Rylands Fragment. This is part of John's Gospel.

It was found in Egypt in 1920, and scientists have dated it to 125 AD, plus or minus 25 years. This makes it the earliest manuscript of any part of the New Testament that's ever been found.

Specialists believe that John's Gospel was written some time between about 85 and 105 AD. So this fragment comes from a copy made just a few years after the Gospel was written.

Because of the number of copies, and how close in time some of them are to the originals, we can be sure that what we read in our Bibles today is what the original writers wrote - they haven't been altered.


Europe's Chastisement? -- How the Abandonment of Christianity May Be Leading to Disaster
By Ed Vitagliano
April 13, 2006

(AgapePress) -- Anyone know where we can find some Etruscans? You know, members of the Etruscan civilization that existed in ancient Italy, predating even Rome?

Well, there aren't any. The Etruscans were absorbed by the Roman civilization and ceased to exist as a distinct people.

Ominously, if a growing number of experts and cultural observers are right, it's entirely possible that the same question may be asked 100 years from now -- only about Italians or Spaniards or Russians.

As writer Mark Steyn glumly put it in The New Criterion, "Much of what we loosely call the Western world will not survive this century, and much of it will effectively disappear within our lifetimes, including many if not most Western European countries."

A Birth Dearth

What could possibly cause such a cataclysm? Another world war? A nuclear confrontation? The devastation of a plague, similar to that caused by the Black Death in the 14th century? Nothing quite so dramatic, say the experts. Rather, Europe is slowly dying simply by refusing to have enough children to replace the people who die each year.

Catholic scholar George Weigel, a senior fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and author of The Cube and The Cathedral, says Europe is "committing demographic suicide, systematically depopulating itself."

For any population to remain stable, it must maintain a birthrate of 2.1 births per woman. That rate provides a replacement for both mother and father, while the .1 covers infant and child mortality. When the birthrate falls below that number, a population goes into decline -- unless it invites in large numbers of immigrants.

"The 'birth dearth' is what demographers call plummeting birth rates in most of the industrialized world," says culture critic Chuck Colson. "Throughout Western Europe and East Asia, the birth rate is well below 2.1 births per woman ..."

Sociologist Ben Wattenberg, author of Fewer: How the New Demography of Depopulation Will Shape Our Future, puts this birth dearth in historical perspective. "Never in the last 650 years, since the time of the Black Plague, have birth and fertility rates fallen so far, so fast, so low, for so long, in so many places."

According to U.N. figures and other projections, Patrick Buchanan states in The Death of the West that by 2050 Europe (from Iceland to Russia) will see its population drop from 728 million (in 2000) to 600 million -- and perhaps 556 million. And if current trends continue, by the end of the century Europe's population will stand at 207 million.

Collapse of Family Values

Why has this happened? As it turns out, a variety of factors and trends have combined to create, as it were, the "perfect storm."

World magazine's Gene Edward Veith sums it up this way: "Why the population decline? The worldwide collapse of what are, literally, family values. Thanks to contraceptive technology, sex has become separated from childbearing. With women pursuing careers of their own and men getting sex without the responsibility of marriage, why bother with children? For many women and men, pregnancy has become an unpleasant side effect, something to prevent with contraceptives or easily treated with a trip to the abortion clinic."

Abortion comes in for particular blame in Veith's view. "The dirty little secret of the population implosion, one seldom mentioned by demographers, is that the world is aborting its future generations," he says.

Pro-family groups in the U.S., for example, rightly bemoan the abortion rate here, where Veith says one-third to one-fifth of all pregnancies end in abortion. Some European nations are far worse, however. "In Russia, the average woman may have as many as four abortions in her lifetime," he says. "There are two abortions for every live birth. That is to say, Russians kill two-thirds of their children before they are born."

All this is symptomatic of a pervasive hedonism that permeates the West, "a complete philosophy of pleasure," according to Allan Carlson, president of The Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society.

"Everywhere in the European Community and Anglo-America, real attention focuses on the consumption of food (alternately rich and fat-free), frequent sex, and raucous fun," Carlson says. "Relatively few are pestered these days by children. Fertile young adults rely on mechanical devices and chemical agents to thwart the designs of nature. In places as culturally different as Spain, Italy, Denmark and Germany, the sexual experimentation starts early, but hardly anyone brings forth a child."

Despite efforts on the part of some European nations to increase the desire of adults to have children -- such as tax breaks or cash incentives -- some experts think the pursuit of personal fulfillment will triumph.

Joseph Chamie, director of the U.N. Population Division, says, "No demographers believe birth rates will rebound. How much will it take to convince a woman to have four children? People are concerned about their appearances, their education, their careers."

What's ironic, however, is that this pursuit of personal pleasure and personal wealth may result in economic ruin.

"When it comes to forecasting the future, the birthrate is the nearest thing to hard numbers," Steyn argues. "If only a million babies are born in 2006, it's hard to have two million adults enter the workforce in 2026 ...."

Veith lists but a few of the ramifications of population decline. "Citizens are not just consumers but producers," he says. "Having fewer people can wreak havoc on an economy, creating both a labor shortage and a shortage of buyers. A government with a shrinking population faces a smaller military and fewer taxpayers. Dwindling populations have always signaled cultural decline, with less creativity, energy, and vitality on every level of society."

Abandoning Christianity

These explanations do not go far enough to suit culture critic and columnist Don Feder, who sees Europe's abandonment of its Christian heritage as the true root cause of its population problems.

"It's no coincidence that central to the new Europe ... is a refusal to acknowledge the continent's origins," says Feder, who is Jewish. "The proposed constitution for the European Union (a document of over 70,000 words) contains not a single reference to Christianity. Thus more than a millennium of European history is effectively erased."

The abandonment of Christianity in most European countries has been well-documented. For example, author and journalist James P. Gannon says that in five key European countries -- France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy -- over the last 30 years regular church attendance has fallen from roughly 40% of the population to about 20%." As Weigel says, Western Europe has become a "post-Christian society."

Feder believes there is a clear link between a lack of faith and the loss of that sense of duty to the future that leads people to conceive and bear children. "Having lost their faith and embraced an ethic of radical autonomy," he says, "Europeans stopped going to church, stopped taking the Bible seriously, stopped believing in the future and stopped having children."

Maria Burani, president of the Parliamentary Commission for the Family and Infancy in Rome, told Citizen magazine that faith is a foundation for the kind of lifestyle that parenting requires. "If you don't have inside your head great religious and ethical principles," she insists, "you're just not going to want to go and have these kids because it's a sacrifice."

Beyond that, of course, is the fact that religious principles also restrain the often selfish behavior that grows out of the "radical autonomy" that permeates Europe. "Among the consequences of Europe's abandonment of its religious roots and the moral code that derives therefrom is a plunge in its birth rates to below the replacement level," says Gannon. "Abortion, birth control, acceptance of gay marriage and casual sex are driving the trend."

Islamification of Europe

However, the prognosis for Europe gets even worse because many of the nations there have chosen a risky path for making up for their population shortfalls: immigration. Because North Africa and the Middle East represent a relatively convenient source of cheap labor, millions of Muslim immigrants have been flooding the continent for a half century.

"Western Europe has gone from a Muslim population of 250,000, 50 years ago, to 20 million today," says Feder.

Unlike Westerners, however, Muslims typically have large families. According to Robert S. Leiken, director of the Immigration and National Security Program at the Nixon Center, higher Muslim birthrates combined with Muslim immigration have led the U.S. National Intelligence Council to project that Europe's Muslim population will double by 2025.

As a result, Colson says flatly, "[d]emographics may bring about what the Moors and Ottoman Empire couldn't: a Muslim Europe."

But so what? Isn't such hand-wringing about Muslim immigrants nothing more than utter bigotry?

Hardly, say concerned Westerners. The Islamification of Europe would bring incredible cultural changes to Europe. "In 50 to 100 years, the Europe of Shakespeare and Victor Hugo, the Europe of Rembrandt and Bach, the Europe of Churchill and Karol Wojtyla will exist only in textbooks and museums," Feder says. "Or, perhaps the remnants of Christian Europe will be subjected to the fate of Afghanistan's Buddhist statues, demolished by the Taliban regime."

Political changes would also be inevitable, Steyn insists. "Can a society become increasingly Islamic in its demographic character without becoming increasingly Islamic in its political character?"

It is a rhetorical question, of course, and Steyn predicts that by 2050 many European nations will be forced to apply Sharia -- Muslim law -- to Muslim communities. He notes the results of a 2004 poll that found that over 60 percent of British Muslims want to live under Muslim law -- while living in the United Kingdom.

At first, most European governments would probably resist the demands of an increasingly assertive Muslim population. But in response, it would not be surprising to see an escalation of what has already begun to transpire: terrorist bombings in London and Madrid; the 2002 assassination of conservative Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn, who campaigned on a platform of limiting Muslim immigration; the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh in 2004 for allegedly insulting Islam; rioting by Muslim youths throughout France in 2005; and rioting this year in response to political cartoons that were deemed offensive to Muslim sensibilities.

Steyn thinks Europe will see more such unrest -- and soon. "It seems more likely that within the next couple of European election cycles, the internal contradictions of the [European Union] will manifest themselves in the usual way," he says, "and that by 2010 we'll be watching burning buildings, street riots and assassinations on American network news every night."

In any case, Carlson says, "the Great Party [of Western hedonism] will not last much longer. There is an iron law in history: the future belongs to the fertile. Just as the clan-centered, child-rich barbarian tribes of the Germans swept away the sensuous and sterile Western Roman Empire, so shall new barbarians arise."

Scripture teaches that God rules over the nations, and the future of Europe looks increasingly like that of Israel when its prophets warned of impending chastisement and judgment. Are we on the brink of God's chastisement of Europe, even after a century of wars and other atrocities failed to bring the continent back to Christianity?

How ironic it would be that a European culture that demanded unlimited personal freedom might wind up living under the repressive heel of Muslim totalitarianism. Or that a culture that rejected its Christian heritage might, instead, be subjected to Islamic fundamentalism.

Cultures have disappeared before. Just ask the Etruscans. If you can find one.
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Quills & Poison Pens:
The Rehabilitation of
a Scoundrel

Since its opening a few weeks ago, the film Quills
has enjoyed both good reviews and better-than-
expected commercial success. I say "better-than-
expected" because of its subject: the Marquis de Sade.

The star, Geoffrey Rush, has been nominated for a
"best actor" Oscar. He may honestly deserve the
award. But that would be just about the only honest
thing about this movie.

Moviegoers whose knowledge of the Marquis is limited
to what they see in Quills would have little idea of
why his name is synonymous with cruelty -- the source
of the word "sadism."

Most of the movie is set in an asylum where the
sixty-nine-year-old de Sade is imprisoned, presumably
because of his writing. The clear intent is to
portray the Marquis as a martyr in the cause of free
speech -- oppressed by both the Church and secular authority.

The problem is that the real Marquis de Sade was
never imprisoned for anything he wrote. He was in the
asylum because his mother-in-law, tired of his
mistreatment of her daughter, arranged to have him
confined at her expense.

This misrepresentation sets the tone for how the film
treats its subject. Nearly every significant detail
of the story either distorts the historical record or
is a fabrication intended to endear de Sade to moviegoers.

The most notable example is the film's depiction of
the Marquis himself. The de Sade of Quills is an Age-
of-Reason Larry Flynt. He is a pornographer whose
work is too sexually explicit for his sexually-
repressed contemporaries -- especially the authorities.

There's no exploration of the sexual violence that is
central to the Marquis' work. Viewers aren't told
that, in De Sade's work, the link between sex and
cruelty is unbreakable, or that qualms about hurting,
and even killing, another person must not stand in
the way of sensual pleasures. Or that, as de Sade put
it, "guilt is an illusion."

Nor are viewers told that de Sade's commitment to
these ideals transcended literature: The hero and
"martyr" of this film tortured and poisoned real-life women.

The question is: Why the whitewash? Why go to all
this trouble to rehabilitate one of the most
notorious men in Western history? The answer, as is
often the case, has more to with our time than with de Sade's.

And this time no inference is necessary. Director
Phillip Kaufman told Sight and Sound magazine that a
large part of the inspiration for the film came from
following the Clinton impeachment scandal. He said
that he saw a parallel between de Sade's principal
tormentor in the film and independent counsel Kenneth Starr.

In the worldview represented by the film, sexual
repression is, if not the greatest evil, one of the
greatest. Those who stand for sexual expression and
license are the good guys, and those who oppose it
are the bad guys. Adherents to this worldview are so
committed to it that they are even willing to embrace
a fiend like de Sade.

Well, regardless of what happens at the Oscars,
there's one award I'm ready to bestow on Quills: best
example of why history is best learned from a book,
not from a Hollywood movie.

For further reference:
Last, Jonathan. "Cheap Quills: The Marquis de Sade
Does Hollywood." Weekly Standard, 29 January 2001.

As you read the Scriptures with your family, I hope
you'll have a new appreciation for who the "Word made
flesh" really is: He's the Creator who existed before time.
He's the Logos who made heaven and earth, and who
steers the stars in their courses. He is the Truth that is
ultimate reality. He is the 'Babe of Bethleham & the
'Word' of John 1. If you know of others who would
enjoy receiving BreakPoint in their E-mail box each
day, tell them they can sign up on the Web site at If they do not have access to
the World Wide Web, please call 1-800-457-6125.
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* * * Four Important Things To KNOW: #1) For ALL (Americans, Muslims, Jews, Catholics, Hindus, Buddhist, Asians, Presbyterians, Europeans, Baptist, Brazilians, Mormons, Methodist, French, etc.) have sinned & fall short of the glory of God. #2) For the wages of above (see #1) are DEATH (Hell, eternal separation from God, & damnation) but the Gift (free & at no charge to you) of God (Creator, Jehovah, & Trinity) is Eternal Life (Heaven) through (in union with) Jesus Christ (God, Lord, 2nd Person of The Trinity, Messiah, Prince of Peace & Savior of the World). #3) For God so greatly loved & dearly prized the world (Americans, Muslims, Jews, Catholics, Hindus, Buddhist, Asians, Presbyterians, Europeans, Baptist, Brazilians, Mormons, Methodist, French, etc.) that He even gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, that whosoever (anyone, anywhere, anytime - while still living) believes (trust in, relies on, clings to, depends completely on) Him shall have eternal (everlasting) life (heaven). #4) Jesus said: "I am THE WAY, THE TRUTH, & THE LIFE. No one (male/female - American, Muslim, Jew, Catholic, Hindu, Buddhist, Asian, Presbyterian, European, Baptist, Brazilian, Mormons, Methodist, French, etc. ) comes (arrives) to the Father (with GOD in Heaven) EXCEPT BY (through) ME (no other name). *** This wonderful loving GOD gives you the choice - - - (Rev. 3:20) {Please note that church membership, baptism, doing good things, etc. are not requirements for becoming a Christian - however they are great afterwards!!!} *** Jesus said, "Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction (Hell, damnation, eternal punishment), and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life (Heaven, eternal happiness, forever with God), and only a few find it.

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But these are written so that you may
believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the
Son of God, and that by believing in
Him you will have life. Jn 20:31

Seek the Lord while He may be found;
call on Him while He is near. Let the
wicked forsake his way and the evil
man his thoughts. Let him turn to the
Lord, and He will have mercy on him,
and to our God, for He will freely
pardon. "For My thoughts are not
your thoughts, neither are your ways
My ways," declares the Lord. "As the
heavens are higher than the earth, so
are My ways higher than your ways
and My thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow come down
from heaven, and do not return to it
without watering the earth and making
it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed
for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is My word that goes out from My
mouth: It will not return to Me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire and
achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
You will go out in joy and be led forth
in peace; the mountains and hills will
burst into song before you, and all the
trees of the field will clap their hands.
Instead of the thornbush will grow the
pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle
will grow. This will be for the Lord's
renown, for an everlasting sign, which
will not be destroyed." Is 55

O Lord, you have searched me and you
know me. You know when I sit and when
I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying
down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you know
it completely, O Lord. You hem me in -
behind and before; you have laid your
hand upon me. Such knowledge is too
wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where
can I flee from your presence? If I go up
to the heavens, you are there; if I make
my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide
me and the light become night around
me," even the darkness will not be dark
to you; the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you. For you
created my inmost being; you knit me
together in my mother's womb. I praise
you because I am fearfully and wonderfully
made; your works are wonderful, I know
that full well. My frame was not hidden
from you when I was made in the secret
place. When I was woven together in the
depths of the earth, your eyes saw my
unformed body. All the days ordained
for me were written in your book before
one of them came to be.

How precious to me are your thoughts,
O God! How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them, they would
outnumber the grains of sand. When
I awake, I am still with you. Search me,
O God, and know my heart; test me
and know my anxious thoughts. See
if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Ps 139

But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up,
that I may show My power in you, and that My
Name may be declared in all the earth. Ex 9:16

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of Glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small:
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
- - Isaac Watts

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