"There's not a single text anywhere that I'm aware of that says that Jesus was married to anybody. There's not an explicit text anywhere," Bock said. "The best you can do is get the inference out of two texts, both of which are late Gospels -- the Gospel of Philip and the Gospel of Mary Magdalene; second, third century texts -- and all they claim is, is that Jesus loved this woman more than he loved the 12."
What about Dan Brown's claim that Jesus and Mary Magdalene conceived a child?
"Again, no evidence of such a thing, and we're talking about masses of literature here," Bock said. "I have a collection in my office of 36 volumes that stretches about five to six feet wide. It's hundreds of pages in each of those volumes. Single-spaced, small font. It's a lot of material. Nowhere, nowhere is there any hint that Jesus had a child."
Bock maintains that the church has failed in its duty to teach Christians about the history of their faith, and this is why so many have faltered in the face of Brown's fiction.
"I think that the church has not done a good job of teaching its membership," he said. "And, and so when something comes along, it walks into this black hole of a lack of knowledge. And when someone purports to say, 'I've done careful research,' we take the author at face value and the idea becomes, 'Oh, that must be true.'"
Bock readily concedes that Brown's book is a compelling and captivating read. But it's his hope that by engaging the substance of the book he'll persuade people to look beyond "The Da Vinci Code."
"When, as often happens ... something comes out in our culture, from the world, that attacks our faith ... the best response is not to whine or shake our finger," he said. "The best response is to engage and have a conversation and a dialogue. Because I think through the conversation and the dialogue, the opportunity does exist not only to talk about the real Jesus but to reflect the real Jesus, because when He went to be crucified, He never lost his love for the world."