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.
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.
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.
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.
Learning about Jesus from a different point of view is a good thing. But this is an author setting up numerous possible insights, then stumbling through biased conclusions. Each time a flash of originality begins to emerge, Aslan falls into flawed logic and exaggerrated justifications. The premise of demonstrating how Jesus was a part of religious culture oppressed by a foreign power prompted me to try this book. Now, as I'm about two-thirds done, it's clear Aslan wants to grasp at every possibility to discount the divine calling of Jesus. His real premise is to expound every weak argument possible to "prove" those that came after Jesus cleverly devised the fable of a Messiah. Too bad he skipped the eyewitness affirmation of Peter where he struck down any such claim.
Of course not. But, as for this book, it is forced nonsense. Don't waste your money. Don't waste a credit, even if it was free.
No. His delivery is quite good, except for a few places where words are slurred as he rushes to his misguided point.
A representative example of his agenda is the part where he discusses the many times Jesus heals those that wish to be healed. Ignoring the numerous testimonies of those that witnessed the touch of Jesus restoring sight, allowing the crippled to walk, healing life-long diseases and, of course raising the dead; Aslan claims that there were others in this time that also performed "magic' (his word). Ignoring the miracle of One that can give a new life with only a touch, he mentions some pathetic example of a man that allegedly drew a circle on the ground, stood in it, and cried out for rain. Aslan forgot to say if this really did bring forth rain. With this odd comparison, he tries to show Jesus was just another magician of his time.
If I could cut scenes similar to this, there would be no book.
So...you're telling me I can pay people to read books to me whilst I do other things?
Like it or not, Aslan creates a plausible portrait of the historical Jesus. (Sounds like Jesus's brother James was more Jesus-like than Jesus, but...whatever).
The real question is, how/why did Saul/Paul of Tarsus co-opt this historical Jesus into this new Roman-friendly religion? If anyone wants to argue that there was divine intervention for Christianity at some point, I think you could argue it's through Paul...
If you're a fundamentalist Christian, you'll find holes in Aslan's theories; if you're agnostic, I think you'll find it interesting.
No matter what you believe, I highly recommend this book...you won't be disappointed!
This book and its author have received so much press and air time over the last month that I wanted to read it if for no other reason than to see what all the noise was about. the subject fascinated me as well, because the church in which I was raised never taught anything about the historical background of the New Testament, and I was hoping that this book would fill in the blanks.
It did not disappoint. The story of the centuries-old conflict between the Romans and the Hebrews was new to me. Yes, I know about Egyptian slavery, but had no idea of Rome's governing principles concerning its conquered nations and how their treatment of the Jews differed. I had no idea of the religious and daily culture of the Jews and how they clashed with the Roman way of life. The background that Aslan provides helps to fill out the historical picture. I found it absolutely fascinating.
I have two criticisms. One is that I would have liked the book to be at least twice as long. I want more details, more background, more of this riveting picture of ancient life. And the other is that the book really should have been narrated by a professional reader. Aslan isn't bad, but he succumbs to the common problem of a single rhythm and intonation that becomes distracting. It wasn't bad, though - I still found the book fascinating.
Aslan's ability to present the historical analysis in an attention-holding narrative. He elucidated the means and motives behind the words and actions of historical figures.
Paul the Apostle. It seems clear that, without Paul, author of over half the books of the NT, the Jesus movement would not have untethered itself from Judaism. With little support, and much contradiction from the gospel words of Jesus himself, Paul single-handedly jettisoned the Law, repackaged the movement for a gentile audience, and set the terms of salvation. In short, Paul created Christianity as it's understood today.
His emphasis and intonation deepened the meaning I gleaned from the book.
When Aslan explained the conflict between James and Paul, two of the most important first century Christians, and how it shaped the canon as well as the basic tenets of the religion itself.
Aslan is skilled as a writer and reader, so that his book does not come across as non-fiction, but as a narrative story with character, conflict, plot, and the other staples of a novel.
I am constantly on the road and a voracious reader, so audiobooks are a must!
First, a disclaimer: I am not a Christian. I used to be, but I became disillusioned with it and turned away. That being said, this is an absolutely AMAZING book. Reza Aslan's attempt to strip away 2,000 years of myth and legend to find who the real, historical Jesus was, is absolutely fascinating. He takes the reader back in time to show us the historical context of the Jewish mindset of the time; he paints the world of Palestine with its proper revolutionary fervor; he strips away the contradiction and mythology and is able to bring us a narrative of what probably really happened before, during, and after Jesus's brief but enduring life. He also paints Saul of Tarsus, as well as his true role in the early church, in his proper light.
I am aware of the controversy surrounding this book as well as the arguments against its author. Put away your ignorance and fear and read this book. There is no hostility; there is no anti-semitism; there is no racism nor hatred in this book. Mr. Aslan is a religious scholar hunting the truth about Jesus of Nazareth - who he was, what he preached, what he believed. He isn't looking for the myth; for that anyone can simply pick up a bible and read it. He is looking for the man. I happen to agree with his closing statement - Jesus the Man is every bit as compelling as Jesus the Christ; he is absolutely someone worth believing in. Read this book. You won't be sorry.
This book presents a straight forward view of the modern thinking of the historical Jesus. Reza Aslan presents a compelling case that Jesus in fact was a practicing Jew and how the Jesus movement developed into modern Christianity, mainly through the later universal acceptance of the works of Paul. Fascinating insights and research into the political dynamics of the early Church, the leadership of Jesus' brother James in Jerusalem (now largely minimized), Peter in Rome, his successor Clemente, and of course Paul.
Fans of Bart Ehrman will be in familiar territory. Reza Aslan is an exceptional narrator who enhances his work with an engaging performance.