WMU News

Maier appears on ABC news special Wednesday

Aug. 2, 2004

KALAMAZOO--When ABC News wanted to update one of its fall 2003 news specials, network newscasters turned to Western Michigan University's Paul Maier for a fresh perspective on a topic that has been capturing the public's imagination for well over a year.

The result is new material gleaned from interviews with Maier that will be seen Wednesday, Aug. 4, when ABC reprises "Jesus, Mary and Da Vinci," a "20/20" primetime special originally broadcast in November. The show is set for broadcast at 10 p.m. on most ABC affiliates, and examines some of the controversial theories about Christianity expounded in the best-selling book by Dan Brown, "The Da Vinci Code."

Maier, WMU's Seibert Professor of Ancient History, is the co-author of "The Da Vinci Code--Fact or Fiction?," and he has been a favorite source for ABC on religious topics in recent months, appearing last April as a major historical source for the three-hour primetime special "Peter Jennings Reporting: Jesus and Paul-The Word and the Witness."

"When I did 'Jesus and Paul' with them, they filmed about two and a half hours of our interviews and really like them," Maier says. "For this special, they wanted a fresh look this time around, so they took some of my interviews back up from the cutting room floor."

For the new "20/20" treatment, hosted by Elizabeth Vargas, Maier's comments and views on whether Mary Magdalene was married to Jesus are among the new additions to the program. Maier, who scoffs at the idea, says this and other errors in Brown's book reflect some dubious research. In their new book, Maier and his colleague Hank Hanegraaff of the Christian Research Institute, challenge this and many other allegations that are woven throughout Brown's novel and form the basis of the plot.

"In one of the interviews, we focused on the fact that Jesus couldn't possibly have married Mary Magdalene," Maier says.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 269 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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