Teabing tells Sophie the following about Jesus' earthly ministry:
'Jesus Christ was a historical figure of staggering influence, perhaps the most enigmatic and inspirational leader the world has ever seen. As the prophesied Messiah, Jesus toppled kings, inspired millions and founded new philosophies. As a descendant of the lines of King Solomon and King David, Jesus possessed a rightful claim to the throne of the King of the Jews. Understandably, His life was recorded by thousands of his followers across the land.'(55.313)
In this description Jesus is pictured as just another political leader seeking an earthly kingdom. While it is true that he was a descendant of David (and David's son, Solomon - there was only one line) it is unlikely that the carpenter's son from Galilee would have had any rightful claim to the Judean throne.
More importantly, Jesus is consistently portrayed in the Gospels as uninterested in establishing a political kingdom. In part, it was his claim to be the Messiah that led to his crucifixion by the Roman authorities.
The Jesus Teabing describes sounds like someone to be dealt with diplomatically. Anyone who has millions of followers and who has already toppled kings can't simply be arrested and executed!
The book of Acts in the New Testament suggests that Jesus had significantly fewer followers than Teabing states. In Acts 1:15 Peter stands up among the believers who Luke numbers at about one hundred and twenty.
The other primary inaccuracy in this description is Teabing's account of the number of records of Jesus' life. There are three problems with suggesting that there were thousands of documents about Jesus.
First, as we have seen, it is unlikely that Jesus ever had thousands of followers. We have narratives recorded in the Gospels in which large crowds followed him but the number of people who would have been considered 'believers' would have been much lower.
Second, even if he had thousands of followers it is highly improbable that they were literate. The highest levels of literacy would have been in the upper classes and not in the 'outback' regions of Galilee. Acts 4:13 suggests that Peter and John, two of Jesus' closest disciples were illiterate themselves.
Third, the grand total of references to Jesus, outside of the New Testament, in the first hundred years after his death is four. The earliest Jewish reference is in Josephus, the Jewish historian who wrote at the end of the first century. He mentions Jesus twice.
The first reference tells us that a certain James was the brother of Jesus, who is called the Messiah. The second reference informs us that Jesus did miracles, had Greek and Jewish followers and was handed over to the Roman authorities by the Jewish people and was crucified.
The earliest pagan reference to Jesus is in the correspondence between Pliny, the governor of Bythnia, and the Emperor Trajan around 112 AD in which he asks how to handle accusations against Christians who worship Christ as god.
The only other reference within a hundred years of Jesus' death is found in Tacitus, a Roman historian of the second century who tells us that Jesus lived in Judea and was crucified under Pontius Pilate.
It is certainly true that over the last two thousand years Jesus has had a staggering influence and has had millions of followers this was not the case of his earthly ministry. Jesus was not a political wannabe. He had an entirely different mission. We'll return to this a little later.
For now, let us turn to the great secret which could crumble the Church - Jesus' marriage.