I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - Salinger ^(;,;)^
Let me just throw in here now that Fox skeptics need not worry, while this book was written by a Muslim, it wasn't written by that d@mn lion from Narnia.
The book's good points: compelling, well-written, and challenged a lot of well traveled myth-making by Christianity, Islam, etc., about the life and acts of Jesus of Nazareth. The bad points: there wasn't much NEW history here. The book was written to challenge, but not support. It isn't as much a biography of Jesus as a history of early Christianity, an examination of Jerusalem around the time of Jesus, a longish academic piece on Jewish Zealotry, and a examination of some of the other major players that might have reflected (James) or tilted (Paul) our view of who Jesus was. This isn't groundbreaking history about Jesus, and a rehash of ideas of other Early Christian historians that have been kicked around for the last 50 years.
The challenge a historian faces with writing a biography of Jesus is there are only a couple real facts you can hang your reputation on: Jesus lived. Jesus died on a cross. The rest is hearsay, myth, reflections, faith, hope and stories. All you have left to do, as a historian, is: examine the space around the hole. Look at the times, the place. Use templates of similar men to approximate what Jesus was like. Examine other figures who have more of a historical footprint (Paul, Peter, Pilate, etc), and then enter triumphantly into FOX News and overthrow the tables of the producers and drive out the lamb-like anchors. Fox New prefect Rogerios Aīlātos now washes his hands of Aslan of Tehran (and now California).
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.
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.
This is a case where I simply disagree with the research of the author, Reza Aslan. Reza used the reason, "Scholars disagree" many times as a basis for discrediting the Bible. Furthermore, Reza quoted Josephus to contradict a portion of the scriptures, where I thought the Josephus writing actually confirmed the killing of John the Baptist during 28 to 30 CE. I tried to approach this book with an open mind, and provide the author a chance to make his case for Jesus basically being a worthy zealot, but not the son of God. Time and time again, Reza would select Gospel scripture, and simply discredit it for the reason, "Scholars disagree...", and insinuate that about 50% of the Gospels is purely mythical. For those who choose to doubt the Gospels, this would be a great read.
In my humble opinion, the book was not well researched. It appeared to me that the author had an agenda of discrediting the Gospels, and used this book as a forum to do so. Reza's favorite reason for disagreeing with the New Testament is "Scholars disagree." I could also add, that many scholars over the last 2,000 years do indeed agree. I will concede that much of the Bible is based on faith, and the Bible makes that clear.
Reza's performance was okay.
The character that I would cut from Zealot would be the author. The book is a worthy subject. Jesus was indeed a zealot, and many other things as well.
If you are looking for a book to discredit Christianity, this could be for you. I would encourage readers to research this subject further in other sources.
Decent. I expected a more scholarly focus, and although such an approach was not pursued, it was an entertaining use of my listening time. The whole attempt to describe the historic Jesus and his most ardent followers as zealots was fairly pathetic.
One should read this book knowing that it does not hold to the inherency of scripture. Makes for a good read on history, but falls way off when it comes to accepting what the scripture says as truth. I finished the book feeling way more confused than when I started. I think this is a perfect example of what happen when all we use is head knowledge without the faith which comes from Heaven; The faith that must be exercised in order to please God
It is quite interesting to learn about the life, mission and teachings of Christ through a scholar's point of view. Taking into account the history and political climate of the time makes for some really fascinating discussion.
This was the most interesting book about religion I have ever read. Finally, I understand who all the different characters in the new testament Bible stories are and where they came from and how they fit into the Jesus story. I also finally understand a lot of geo-political/religious forces that shaped Jesus 's times. It did not alter my religious belief (or lack thereof ), but now I feel closer to knowing who Jesus and James and Paul and all the others were and how Jesus was turned into Christ.
Extremely well written and read by the author himself, this book is interesting and engaging while at the same time being full of well researched facts and scholarly wisdom. I highly recommend this for anyone interested in history as related to the famous Jesus of Nazareth.
Charlie Seymour Jr
This book really opened my eyes to what was taking place during the time of Jesus. Raised as a Protestant, I am thrilled to learn this additional information.