The book did not present facts about Jesus, but mere speculations and twisting of what the Gospels present who Jesus was.
Anger, this book should not be in the Christian genre.
This book failed miserably to do the research promised on Jesus. What this book does well is present the time and events that surrounded Jesus during his ministry. The fact is that outside of the Gospels there is very little light as to who Jesus is, everything outside that is pure speculation which this author does very well to paint Jesus in a different light under the tones set by the events during his ministry. If you are looking to find who Jesus really is, pick up the Bible.
I will finish the book, most likely, because it's somewhat interesting.
It's not approvable as a dissertation. I've only read about 1/3 and am distracted by mistakes like Aslan's assertion that the Zealots arose around the the Temple resistance in the latter half of the 1st century. He also claims that Jerusalem was called Aeolia Capitolina after Vespasian's triumph (it was 60 years later under Hadrian). He says that Jesus "the Christ" began with John Mark in 70CE (Pauline epistles use the term extensively and they were written in the 50s).
His preface says that this is the fruit of 20 years of research which is something I cannot buy.
For anyone who knows little about the 1st century, just be prepared for some exciting fiction a la The Davinci Code, which I also enjoyed, once I could overcome the offensiveness of the fantasy.
It's about as historically accurate as The DaVinci Code but not nearly as entertaining.
First and foremost…consider the source ; Reza Aslan is a practicing Muslim. I wanted to learn something from this book… I really did. However, I could not get passed the author’s clear bias and lack of facts to back his broad brush assumptions. When discussing Jesus’ teachings of the “golden rule” and “turn the other cheek” he asserts that these maxim were directed solely at other Jews (gentiles be damned); he provides no facts to support this notion, merely his opinion—but it is presented as fact. He is constantly referring to the Jewish religion as a “cult”; it almost comes across as having an axe to grind. I suppose I would expect the same thing if a Christian and religious scholar decided to write a historical piece on Muhammad. Like I said; and especially when reading any book on history… to fully understand a work on history, you must understand the point of view of the author.
New discovery or facts. As he actually admits, there is nothing new in this book and it has all been said and debated before. He simply tells us his particular viewpoint of what he accepts from higher criticism and what he does not.
He claims to have "researched" the book for more than 20 years and is a "New Testament scholar" - then clearly admits he doesn't have a full command of Greek. How can you be a scholar of an ancient text that you don't have a complete grasp of it's original language? He claims to have been a Christian, converted at an evangelical camp around a blazing fire where he heard the story of how Jesus was born in Galilee. What evangelical camp would have introduced him to Jesus born in Galilee? Evangelicalism is steeped in the teaching that Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea - a completely different district of Palestine. He says that it was not until college, when he discovered the "numerous errors" and "contradictions" of the Bible that he rejected his faith in anger (the acknowledgement that he is angry at Christianity is a clue). But anyone who has studied the Bible extensively has heard these accusations of supposed "contradictions" and each of them has been laid to rest as rubbish for centuries. As for the errors, there are very few and they are well documented and non-consequential to the story of the Bible; every second year Bible scholar has done this exercise. Therefore, his supposed autobiography of faith is the tell that he clearly has an ax to grind; perhaps he hoped to make a buck in the process. Very sad.
I have recently increased my study of the bible and this as lead me to crisis of faith. I know God is real, but if the bible is "literally true" why are there errors of omission and inter-book discrepancies? This book has helped to answers this very difficult questions that I, in truth, was afraid to ask in church.
I now understand so much of what was distorted by the influence of Paul from Tarsus. I must now read the Epistle of James the Just. The absolute mandate to serve the poor is something worth believing in - unlike the "faith is all you need" doctrine that took over many of those who claim to follow Jesus of Nazareth.
Thank you Reza Aslan for this amazing piece of work. Unfortunately, I fear for the safety of the author as some fundamentalists might issue an evangelical "fatwa" (in the commonly understood meaning of the word rather than the Arabic "opinion") because he is a Muslim. So sad that this brilliant work will be judged by some through this distorted lens.
Strictly a portrait of Jesus from an historical prospective. Facts are interspersed with probabilities and likelihoods, but this book held my attention from beginning to end. This is one man's perspective based upon extensive work and study. In my opinion, it should be combined with the studies and reflections of others in forming one's opinions and beliefs.
I really enjoyed the historical aspect being explored in such a way that I wasn't accustomed to. I decided to read the book after the initial controversy that was generated, but instead found an incredibly informative and interesting account of the historical Jesus.
When I haven't done this before: when I got to the last sentence of the recorded book I immediately downloaded it to my iPad for another read. For a Christian, the book is illuminating and challenging. The political history of Jesus' time is something we don't hear about in church, but it is crucial to understanding his intentions and his fate.
I read Aslan's previous work "No God But God", which is a similar text that focus' on Islam and Islamic traditions.
Zealot is very much in the same mold and quite enlightening. Its well written, well read, and I have the sense that the content is well researched. Apparently with the written text you can look up the source material through the appendices.
Regardless of your take on Christianity and who you feel Jesus was, this is a good, professionally written, scholarly, and respectful text. It can get a little confusing and it speaks to confusing times. But Aslan does a great job staying on track and elucidating the key events critical to early Christianity.