This book gave so many false facts right from the get go that I checked online and this author is a "former" Muslim, but after reading his account of Jesus I'd say he still is. This book represents the Muslim viewpoint that Jesus was a good teacher, but not the Son of God.
I love books!
First time author for me. In this book, the author states in the prologue that his intent is to write a book on the life of Jesus of Nazareth, the man and the life he lived not so much the life as described in the Bible in developing a religion.
The book starts by pointing out that Jesus was born a Jewish peasant, illiterate and poor like most of the Jews of his time. It goes on to state that the Jews of the time lived under the yoke of brutal Roman rule and a privileged class of Jews that ran the church and made the laws to fit into the Roman will. Most of the Jews wanted out from under Roman rule and there were many that preached they were the Messiah and would lead the Jews to freedom, the freedom to live freely under the law of Moses, headed by the 10 commandments. Into this environment came Jesus and his ministry. To many he was just another Messiah and only slowly during his short three year ministry did the people start wondering and believing that maybe he was the real Messiah. Still, Jesus was a Jew and his goal was to communicate how to lead a good life, how to treat the poor and underprivileged. He never stated that his intention was to start a new religion, Christianity, that came after he died. It was Paul that came along after Jesus died and started preaching that the teachings of Jesus were meant for more than just the Jews. An interesting perspective for sure.
A profile of the author is key in understanding the perspective of the book. The author, Reza Aslan, is an Iranian-American that was born into a Shia Muslim family. At age 15 he converted to Christianity then converted back to being a Shia Muslim once he started college. Among other academic achievements he got a degree from the Harvard School of Divinity and an MFA from the Iowa Writers Workshop. He now teaches Creative Writing as UC Riverside in California. He married a Christian woman, has three sons and lives in a true inter-faith family, He seems to be uniquely qualified to write this type of book. He states that even though he is a practicing Muslim he is still a disciple of Jesus of Nazareth, the man.
I expected something different, and while I really wanted to get through this book, I couldn't. It literally feels like I am sitting in a lecture hall in college, doodling on a pad and letting my mind wander. The premise of the book was something that I yearned for and if the delivery of the subject matter (and performance, which isn't a performance at all) was conveyed as the dynamic story that it truly is, I would have been all in. As it is, guilt kept my going as long as I could, but in reality, I need more than an oral presentation of facts and figures to become invested. This is about Jesus Christ! I expected so much more.
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.