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.
The author claims to be a scholar, but plays around with interpretations and assumptions way too much to be considered a scholarly work.
How Christianity changed the world.
He is the author of the book, so he does a good job at narrating.
It confirmed the existence of a historical Jesus, that is important.
It is clear that the author's background influenced his negative views on the Christian faith. He claimed to have been a true convert, but his was a short and quick conversion based on emotion at an evangelical camp. This sort of converts almost always leave the Christian faith because they have to real foundation. This is ignored or not mentioned by the author. Instead he claims he left the Christian faith because he found many things that did not agree in the New Testament with historical documents.
Also, coming from a background based on earning salvation through work, the author has a hard time grasping the message of the gospel, salvation through faith. This same message can be read in the Old as well as the New Testament. A lack of knowledge of the complete Bible ends up affecting the author's arguments.
backup in the text... not see appendix
social and political appeal
a real alternative for a nonbelievers belief system
A whole worldview about Jesus is made here of largely conjecture. When it comes to the proof that backs up his points its....see the appendix. Problem is not that the worldview is developed (it is) but rather the proof for it is lost as he developed the worldview. If one can disprove any or many of the points then the entire worldview falls apart. As an example the "Q" source documents, by Aslan's own admittance a hypothetical book for which there are no documents or copies, plays a major role in this book but he never delves into the proofs / disproofs. I know this was not the point of his book but again Aslan's Jesus overview is only believable if you believe the "Q" source stuff or the details which he glosses over etc. I think the devil is in the details here. If the evidence for each point is doubtful then the book is doubtful but Aslan never gives the reader the chance. By quickly moving on to complete the Jesus worldview the unquestioning reader just accepts Aslan's points as he moves quickly on. People who are looking for a book that explains their preconceived (apriori) belief that Jesus is only a social & political figure will find an intellectual guide. People who are looking for the "real Jesus" by testing the truth of each Aslan's claims will be left thumbing to the appendix.
Three things set this book apart.
1) It is entertainingly written and passionately narrated.
2) The author's ability to make you feel like you're in Galilee and Judea, in biblical times.
3) You get to hear a balanced non-christian view of the new testament.
The descriptions of the places and times of the events really bring the gospel narratives to life and give you a sense of what it may have been like, the day to day goings on of ordinary folk, the violence of the time, the brutality of the roman reign, the politics of the temple, and so on. And its delivered mostly in a way that accepts the detail of gospels as pointers to historical truth while reminding us the bible does not really seek to present "history" as we know it, but truth. Occasionally the author's opinions jar the senses, but hey, this is a great book for promoting discussion about the gospel, so what could be bad about that?
Anyway, extremely well written, worth a listen.
In the introduction the author points out how the New Testament was never intended to be a historical book and should not be interpreted as a historical book, and then proceeds to interpret the New Testament as a historical book for the rest of the novel. Of course, if the author did not do this, there wouldn't have been much to say other than provide a sense of the culture at the time Jesus lived. I initially thought the book might be worthwhile since it seemed to provide some historical context to the New Testament, however, given the author's propensity for pure speculation about Jesus, I now question the authenticity of the historic background provided in the novel, and wonder how much of that is also speculation. In addition, the author never seemed to question the accuracy of Josephus' writings, even though Josephus' history often times is at odds with archeological findings. Whenever there seemed to be a discrepancy between Josephus and another source, the author always sided with Josephus. Although many references are provided for the novel, the author's interpretation of the references and tendency toward conjecture lead to the low rating of this book. If this is what passes for biblical scholarship, I feel sorry for the field.
I'm glad to have listened because I had seen the Fox News interview of the author & wondered why they showed such,badly expressed anger. Then I found my anger surface while listening to the authors continual effort to convince and be the expert. As if, because he has studied history before, during & after the time of Jesus, he knows so, so much that in 2013, he can write a book that labels the Biblical story of Jesus's life & death to have been simply chucked full of twisted truths and fantasy. To me, it isn't so much of what he said but the tone in which he spoke that cause me to suspect his need to expose Jesus's story a contrivance of His devoted followers. The book got me to remember a thought that I had previously considered. I think it is probable that Jesus did not precisely know exactly what God was asking of Him. Jesus was first of all, a human. Much of what God intended Jesus to do, accomplish may have been hidden from Jesus's conscious mind and only gradually revealed to him. Jesus would have needed guidance in the years of ministry. He would have a sense but would not known every step to take along His way.
Zelot inspired me to remember the Healings of Jesus both the ones I have witnessed and the ones I have experienced.
Very interesting in the 1st section about the times around Jesus and how turbulent they were. The remaining sections had good comparisons of the spiritual readings to what was historically available. Makes you think.
I love a good book...
Not a great book to read for exegesis, but if one wants to understand the history around the time of Jesus and to better understand how a non-Christian biblical scholar understands Jesus this book is for you.
This book is an easy read and rather enjoyable. Gets its point across clearly. While it is informative and provides several good observations, I could not take it too seriously in a scholarly manner as Mr. Aslan tends to embellish and romanticize events, settings and world views using very descriptive and colorful language. As someone who is interested in scholastic works, I know how difficult it is to make objective assertions about matters that happened two decades ago, let alone millenia. However, Mr. Aslan frequently describes matters as if they were facts. Zealot reads like a Dan Brown novel in my opinion. I personally prefer lectures on the subject that present the historical record, give their views and interpretation of such record along with others', and let the reader/listener come to his/her own conclusions. Mr. Aslan quotes the Gospels quite often as references to Jesus and what he might have been like, yet mentions how erroneous and biased they might be. I was a bit confused by this.
Having read "No God but God" I would say that this book is very comparable in writing style as Zealot. However, Zealot is a bit more enclined to tell a story with a view and a certain moral, rather than being more objective.
This book could very well be made into a movie. It would be more of a drama than a true documentary. I would definetely go see it.
While my inclinations are more towards less subjective works on historical religion, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I would definetely recommend it. Although, I would advise to take it with a grain of salt and encourage you to read other publications on the subject.
I'm an avid reader of many genres and issues. Audiobooks sometimes bring books into 3D , and when that happens its brilliant!
I have been reading historical Jesus books for many years, as an Australia pastor to encourage informed exploration of both Jesus and the gospels.
I must say that I enjoyed much of the content of this book, and Reza's vivid description of Jewish & Roman politics in the 1st century CE. He offers a very interesting reading of Jesus which clearly separates a an understanding of Jesus in his matrix with the Christ of faith ( blamed largely on Paul). Perhaps this is because his own faith story - becoming Christian and then returning to Islam??
However, there are a number of excellent of theologians who need to be read alongside "Zealot" e.g. John Dominic Crossan & Tom Wright to look at the impact and theology of Paul in the emerging Christian movement.
Reza argues ( and reads) persuasively and interestingly, but in the end I had a whole lot of questions about his purpose in constructing this interpretation.
I gave it three stars overall because of these hesitations. It would be a good discussion book though.