Dan Brown's book The Da Vinci Code, currently at No. 5 on Amazon's list of top sellers, has spun out a small industry, and no one is more grateful than Darrell Bock, research professor of New Testament studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. The author of Breaking the Da Vinci Code, which was Amazon's 1,047th best seller as of this morning, Bock is doing lots of lectures and interviews in the run-up to the May 19 release of Ron Howard's big-screen adaptation starring Tom Hanks. "I've been going around the country like crazy, speaking on the radio like crazy, in churches like crazy, on campuses like crazy," Bock says. "It started in January and won't stop until June. It's become even more intense in the last three weeks."
Last weekend, he spoke at Princeton, Yale, Wesleyan, St. Johns and SMU—all in five days. "Most of the church audiences just want information, particularly on the first 300 years of church history as it relates to the novel," Bock says. An interview with Bock posted last week explains why he thinks the debate over what is, after all, a book of fiction, should matter to Christians. "On campuses, with almost any audience," Bock says, "their knowledge is minimal, so this information is fresh to them."
Bock even contributed to the Sony-created Da Vinci Dialogue site created to explain and defuse the controversy, but he has yet to see the movie. "They have not made a decision to preview the film," Bock says. "They don't think they need it."
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Bock's better known for his commentaries on the book of Luke, but his Da Vinci-debunking book has far outsold any of his scholarly tomes; sales are approaching the quarter-million mark. Bock and wife Sally, who live in East Dallas, have worked out code phrases to deal with the frenzy, which is paying for college tuition and weddings: "If you complain, tell it to Oprah. If something goes good, credit Dan Brown." In other words, count your Da Vinci blessings. Bock's second book on the topic, The Missing Gospels: Unearthing the Truth Behind Alternative Christianities, comes out in August, also published by Nelson Books. --Glenna Whitley