Because Paul is almost the villain in this, set against Jesus' brother James. Aslan makes a compelling case concerning how far afield modern Christianity is from the probable teaching of the historical Jesus. And the reason? Paul, who never met Jesus and got into a real tussle with James over the conversion of the gentiles. I, for one (having read a good bit of the New Testament) had apparently glossed over the passages Aslan uses to demonstrate this. Aslan, perhaps a bit shy, perhaps a bit sensitive because of his Muslim background, never actually comes out and states the thesis of his book: That Christianity, as a religion apart from Judaism, was sort of made-up after its prophet's death by a guy Jesus might not have approved of. So, forewarned is forewarned.
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While I was aware that the gospel was not necessarily Jesus's word but more the creation of the church to fits its existence. Always thought Jesús was a messenger of brotherly love, & "turn your other cheek". This books paints him in very different light, and that almost everything is but a creation of the church.
As per the book, Jesus was only interested in Jews and not creating a new religion, which was work of Peter & church. Who knows what the truth is.
This book had some controversy when it came out, and some hard-liners may not enjoy this book, but this tale of the historical Jesus is fascinating and epic! Reza Aslan does a wonderful job of really telling a fascinating story, putting a new context of Jesus and his life, and it really makes a lot of sense about the development and foundations of Christianity at the very earliest period, and taking the true historical nature of Jesus, and what he stood for. For Christians, people interested in religion, and even Romanophiles, this is a great epic tale!
It is rare that I find a book that I would consider a complete wast of time but I have now found it! I could not even finish this. I tried for about 3 hours and had to throw in the towel.
Researching early Christian history is basically a hobby of mine so I'm no stranger to the basic ideas this book is based on. If you are, I suggest the fantastic "Jesus Interrupted" by Bert Ehrman as it introduces the critical historical method of reading the New Testament from the standpoint of an everyday Christian.
That said, books of this sort will always make an attempt to place Jesus in his time and place, but the author offers a fresh perspective that illustrates a deep understanding of Jewish culture in the first century and its tangled relationship with Rome. Jesus and his apostles fit neatly into the picture he paints as revolutionaries who have a lot in common with other Jewish zealots. While I've often read about the Kingdom of God mentioned in early Jesus sayings as being an eschatological event, the author's suggestion that this was a revolutionary message about a coming theocracy is thought provoking.
His message about James is also very insightful. He describes his conflict with Paul in vivid detail and even shows what appear to be clear steps he took to undermine him. That said, the author's assertion that his epistle as a sermon of his is needlessly shaky.
That said, I recommend this whole heatedly. I always love when the author reads their own work and this book is no exception.
turns upside down everything you previously knew about Christianity, like shining a light into a dark cave to reveal what's really there!
For anyone who has studied early Christian history, there won't be many surprises here. However, Aslan has a delightful way of spinning a story based on historical context. His audio books are the next best thing to good historical fiction. In fact, I think he should try his hand at some Dale Brown type writing - he would be very good at it.
I am the stone that the builder refused
This book really filled in some of the holes in my understanding of the relationship of Christianity and it's Jewish origins. The author does a great job of helping you understand the importance of the temple to the people not just religiously but also economically and politically.
If you are Christian or not you won't regret listening to this book. Well paced, and very well researched.
He brings to light that Pilate was not a torn individual who sympathized with the Jews. He was there to govern and was known for his cruelty. He was eventually removed because of it.
His reading was well done. It is his content and he adds the proper context with his easy and clear voice.
The point he makes about Jesus being crucified for sedition by the Romans not stoned for blasphemy by the Jews
Like Reza Aslan I spent plenty of time in Evangelical circles in my youth, so this kind of material always piques my interest. What you learn is that Jesus of Nazareth probably had much more in common with the Taliban than the air-brushed white guy on the cover of my Children's Bible. The Jesus Christ of much of the new testament, Aslan says, was a creation of Paul, who never met Jesus and whose views were significantly at odds with those who did. He highlights passages in different New Testament letters that indicate a feud between Paul and Jesus' brother James over who controlled the truth about Jesus. That was news to me.
I couldn't wait to get back to listening to this book. It goes by quickly and author Aslan paints a vivid picture of the era. At times he appears to take poetic license with the history, given that almost no historical writing about Jesus exists outside of the New Testament. His assertion that Jesus would have been surrounded by MANY other bandits while on the cross, for example, feels like conjecture presented too suredly as fact.
One question the book left me with is, if the traditionally Jewish followers of Jesus who supposedly knew the man himself were so opposed to Paul's teaching that Jesus was God, what were they still following all those years after his death? If they understood Jesus' true mission to be the overthrow of the Romans and their Jewish collaborators, what was the enduring appeal after his "shameful failure" on the cross?
I've been thinking of finally listening to the audiobook of the whole Bible, and "Zealot" provides a very thought-provoking back-story to the New Testament.