I was disappointed by "Zealot" and its foundation. The author Reza Aslan opens the story by raising doubts about the historical accuracy of the Gospels. Then, he proceeds to use these texts as a historical source. But, if they're not to be trusted, then why use them? And, if there is no real source available, then why attempt a historical review?
Mr. Aslan is easy to listen to, and I like his auditory style. However, I would hesitate to try another book by Mr. Aslan due to the conclusions I came to while fact-checking this book. Namely, that he presented his opinions and misguided critiques of the historical Jesus as historical facts.
Honestly, there's too much to cut out because many of his premises are based on old, re-hashed arguments about the historical Jesus, and Mr. Aslan presents one side of the arguments as historical facts when in reality, he has too much of his own opinions mixed in. He approaches one side of an argument that sounds really compelling and proceeds to proclaim this one side as absolute truth, without any attempt to consider the historical facts and variables around the issues. To be quite frank, this book is nothing more than a modern-day flat-earther.
if you are looking to understand the historical Jesus the real Jesus and submerge yourself into his time and what what's going on at that time when he was around this book is sure. help you accomplish that I think it's extremely enjoyable and very factual and it's easy to tell how knowledgeable and well-documented the author is
Having taken a degree in Religious Studies and Theology, I appreciate the way Aslan constructs a picture of what Jesus' culture would be. I disagree with some points regarding Paul and early Christian movment.....but this is a fun read with a great performance by the author.
the biok is worth a read. i did struggle with some historical parts that seemed to have required pre-knowledge as the author assumes the reader is already aware of.
otherwise, reza gets very descriptive to paint a picture of how life was like back then.
what a fascinating and historic filled view of a very powerful, larger than life character. I listened to it twice and I'll get more of his books. I especially liked hearing about his brothers and the "real Paul"
Reza Azlan has attracted a lot of controversy with Zealot' but this is pretty much the same basic outline of the historical Jesus that I studied in university 40 years ago. His presentation of Jesus as a zealot is new to me and he makes his argument very thoroughly and carefully. I encourage anyone interested in the history of Christianity and the historical Jesus to read this book. You may not agree with everything Azlan writes but he does present a thoughtful and respectful picture of Jesus the person in history and the early church and its challenges.
On the positive side, the politics of the era are well presented and interesting. The nature of concurrent would-be messiahs and their stories are seldom told, worth noting, and contextually very important. Likewise, the post-crucifixion history as it pertains to the emergence of lines of thought in the early church are also worthwhile, though certainly not the first time they've been presented.
There are 2 major drawbacks to the work. The first is that Aslan can't seem to figure out, or at least be consistent with, whether or not the Gospels have historical veracity worth anything in an academic study. He takes pains to describe the authors as detached from the events, and following one on top of another and using one another's accounts as starting points, making them seem rather ahistorical. Yet, in what should be the most important section of the text, the actual part about the tumultuous few years of preaching leading up to Golgotha in the life of Jesus of Nazareth, Aslan is more than happy to start using the Gospels as source material. You can't pick and choose in this kind of work, and Aslan of guilty of this.
The second, and more important problem, is the question his contextual analysis raises that he refuses to answer. If there were a number of would be messiahs in this time period, why did this seeming nondescript isolated example from a small backwater town become one of the most important figures in human history. What is different? Why Jesus of Nazareth, and not the others in the line of rebels caught and crucified. If this work is about the individual, and the individual is described as rather run-of-the-mill for the period, the author must then at least postulate why this one person had such an impact. Failing to do so simply makes the initial analysis seem shallow, which is the feeling I came away with.
The more cynical side of me can't shake the feeling that Aslan perhaps rushed this, because he wanted it published, he wanted Fox News to go idiot-bananas, and have that to drive books sales. Of course, the first I heard of the book was a replay of that idiot Fox interview.... and I bought the book.... so, mission accomplished? Anyway, it's not all fluff, it just doesn't get deep enough to answer the questions it raises. It's perhaps more pop and less history than I really wanted.