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.
That the author was reading it and I got the book to check the notes he mentioned. Uses an incredible collection of sources
Learning about Jesus's brother, James.
Not really but the book did not change my beliefs, it actually gave me more confidence in them.
This does not diminish the Christian Religion at all if you listen to the book in its entirety and know what is most important in the Christian faith.
If Aslan were to ask me "Who do you say I am?" I would answer "You are a scholarly bull in a theological china shop." There is an energetic recklessness about this well written book, as he goes from point to point, flinging solid scholarship and wild conjecture in equal measure like stones from a sling. He really nails the popular history genera, and the book is on the best seller lists for a reason. His thesis, that Jesus was a zealot (not a Zealot, as one might have guessed from the title) and His intent one of temporal revolution, is really just a framework for a much broader discussion. What Aslan does in this book is to take a hard look at the life of Jesus and the early church in the context of Second Temple Judaism and first century Palestine. First century Palestine is something Aslan knows quite a bit about, and he's not shy about filling gaps in the source material with well-reasoned, and often fascinating, conjecture. If you have an interest in the subject, it’s a great listen, and I'd recommend it. That said, I'm never really sure now to take books like this. Sound and well established scholarship is interspersed with scholarly fabrication without any break in the pace or rhythm of the narrative. One moment he's describing Masada using Josephus' exact words, the next he's talking about Jesus’ apprenticeship in Cephorus, or his 40 day reunion with John in the desert. It's history, much of it, but there's no way to tell from the tone of the text when the history stops and the compelling, but oftentimes entirely unattested, conjecture begins. Often it reads like an historical novel. There is a faint aroma of revisionism to the whole business, but I disagree with the reviewers who think there is some ideological axe being ground here. I think it's just commerce. The title and the tone were intended to raise hackles, and he tends to neglect evidence that weakens his positions. Most popular history is written like this now. They push our buttons. It sells books. Still, I like Aslan. I think he's sincere, he writes well, and he brings a lively scholarship to the subject. At one point he recommends we "Put aside for a moment, centuries of exegetical acrobatics....” which I think is exactly the right way to listen to this book. Grant Aslan a bit of intellectual elbow room, and you may find that much of his conjecture has a ring of truth to it.
That the author read it.
No other book that I have read it quite like it.
That he wrote and read the book.
No extreme reaction. It was good to hear another perspective and other facts about Jesus.