Questioning the alternative Jesus

Richard Neitzel Holzapfel was on a plane traveling from Berlin to Paris. Two Americans sat next to him. One was a scientist from the University of California San Diego. "As soon as he found out that I was a religion professor from BYU, he immediately went to sleep," Holzapfel said.

The scientist's wife, however, was excited and pulled out a copy of "The DaVinci Code."

"I'm reading this," she said.

The woman was a secular Jew and had never before entertained an interest in Jesus or Christianity. "The DaVinci Code," with its new and secret information, had piqued her interest.

"I talked to her the whole way to Paris," said Holzapfel, publications director of BYU's Religious Studies Center.

The people in the row in front of them turned around to listen. The people in the row behind also listened in.

Holzapfel realized then that the secular scholars had tapped into something. "They've caught the world's attention and people are reading," Holzapfel said. "I say the glass is half full because 10 years ago I never would have (been able) to talk to a secular Jewish woman who is married to a UC San Diego scientist. It has allowed us to talk to people about it, but guess what? We need to talk."

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