That the author was reading it and I got the book to check the notes he mentioned. Uses an incredible collection of sources
Learning about Jesus's brother, James.
Not really but the book did not change my beliefs, it actually gave me more confidence in them.
This does not diminish the Christian Religion at all if you listen to the book in its entirety and know what is most important in the Christian faith.
If Aslan were to ask me "Who do you say I am?" I would answer "You are a scholarly bull in a theological china shop." There is an energetic recklessness about this well written book, as he goes from point to point, flinging solid scholarship and wild conjecture in equal measure like stones from a sling. He really nails the popular history genera, and the book is on the best seller lists for a reason. His thesis, that Jesus was a zealot (not a Zealot, as one might have guessed from the title) and His intent one of temporal revolution, is really just a framework for a much broader discussion. What Aslan does in this book is to take a hard look at the life of Jesus and the early church in the context of Second Temple Judaism and first century Palestine. First century Palestine is something Aslan knows quite a bit about, and he's not shy about filling gaps in the source material with well-reasoned, and often fascinating, conjecture. If you have an interest in the subject, it’s a great listen, and I'd recommend it. That said, I'm never really sure now to take books like this. Sound and well established scholarship is interspersed with scholarly fabrication without any break in the pace or rhythm of the narrative. One moment he's describing Masada using Josephus' exact words, the next he's talking about Jesus’ apprenticeship in Cephorus, or his 40 day reunion with John in the desert. It's history, much of it, but there's no way to tell from the tone of the text when the history stops and the compelling, but oftentimes entirely unattested, conjecture begins. Often it reads like an historical novel. There is a faint aroma of revisionism to the whole business, but I disagree with the reviewers who think there is some ideological axe being ground here. I think it's just commerce. The title and the tone were intended to raise hackles, and he tends to neglect evidence that weakens his positions. Most popular history is written like this now. They push our buttons. It sells books. Still, I like Aslan. I think he's sincere, he writes well, and he brings a lively scholarship to the subject. At one point he recommends we "Put aside for a moment, centuries of exegetical acrobatics....” which I think is exactly the right way to listen to this book. Grant Aslan a bit of intellectual elbow room, and you may find that much of his conjecture has a ring of truth to it.
That the author read it.
No other book that I have read it quite like it.
That he wrote and read the book.
No extreme reaction. It was good to hear another perspective and other facts about Jesus.
As a professional nonfiction writer, I am well aware of the advantages of "print" books over audio. I like audio for books that I'm going to listen to linearly – start-to-finish. Print is better for skipping around and dodging boring bits. I do not regret getting this in audio. There was no reason to move outside of the path of the text. It made sense and was developed coherently, and all of that. Plus, I thought the narration was as good as it could possibly have been.
I have had strong feelings about the disciple Paul ever since I read his writings in the Bible. They just didn't seem to fit with the teachings of Jesus. And, sure enough, this book arrives at much the same conclusions as I did. So it was nice to have confirmation of what I have believed for the last half century. And that is: Paul was all about setting up rules and conduct for the church. This was far and above the teachings part of the Gospels.
This is the first time I have heard this narrator. I thought he did an absolutely excellent job.
Well, for a nonfiction book, there were many "interesting" passages. For instance, all of the killing that went on in those days, and executions, and the rebellion in 66 to 70 A.D.– much of that was new to me.
I was raised Christian. Baptized in my early teens, became a member of the church. Went to church most Sundays, Bible school in the summers. Hated all of it.
I read the New Testament in my early 20s. I read the Old Testament a year ago. What an eye-opener. This book is a perfect complement to that kind of inquiry, filling in an awful lot of perspective that is not available in the Bible.
As a habitually critical reader (with a degree in journalism), I kept thinking the whole time about what the "true believers" would offer to counter what is in this book. Of course, people tend to believe what they want to believe. And I'm sure "the other side" would have plenty of arguments against this book. But I have a feeling those arguments would be flimsy and based mainly on wishful thinking and not on available facts and research.
The book claims not to be "anti-Jesus," but rather to be an examination of the historical record with regard to the life of Jesus of Nazareth. And I think the author sticks to that premise and behaves very responsibly. It's just that he has amassed so much evidence in favor of that argument that it may sound biased. I don't see any bias. And I am encouraged to try to find other books like this to take my investigation further. And of course I can always reread the Bible. (I have the NIV in Kindle for iPad.)
I definitely feel this book was worth my time. Outstanding.
As other reviewers have noted, Aslan does a fine job of pulling together the material on Jesus of Nazareth from all available first and second century sources both religious and secular. His conclusion is that Jesus of Nazareth saw himself as a messiah through which God was going to bring about the Kingdom and see justice done. This puts him in opposition to Rome and its representatives, such as the Temple leadership. He also does a nice job of helping the listener to see how the Christ of the Gospels and Epistles took shape from the life of Jesus and subsequent events in Rome and Israel that created the context in which Christianity emerged.
Nothing in the book is radically new but it is well written and the story told by Aslan is not only well researched but gripping. Rarely have I enjoyed a book on theology or scripture studies as much as Aslan’s Zealot.
The author also serves as the narrator, which usually proves to be a major ingredient in a recipe for disaster. However, Aslan did an excellent job of reading his book. I didn’t realize it was the author who had been reading until I finished the book and checked to see who the narrator was. He read with an appropriate mix of excitement and seriousness, drawing the listener into his vision of the historical Jesus and the world in which he lived.
As an author and researcher Aslan is also honest. His forward discusses his religious history, including his Islamic roots, an involvement with Evangelical Christianity in his youth and an eventual return to Islam. This allows the listener to be sensitive to any influences on the book from his life history. The resulting vision of Jesus that emerges is probably closer to the Islamic perspective on Jesus, as human and prophet, than the traditional Christian perspective, which divinizes Jesus. Yet, if the historical record supports the Christian tradition, he accepts that position, as with the death of Jesus by crucifixion. The final result is a reasonable, etic perspective on the historical material and well argued conclusions.
Jesus has become such an untouchable, unquestioned, lightning rod of a figure that any honest look at his life without the stench of agenda(for or against) seems almost an impossible task. The threat of Blasphemy, or the ax to grind from a bad religious experience, and the effect of our very cynical times all taint an honest look at a man who was different, who was enlightened, who may even be much of what is forced down our(christian) throats to believe. Aslan does a good job following his curiosity vs any pre-determined conclusion(jesus is god or Jesus is a myth) by turning stones and reporting what he finds...what he finds reaches no definitive conclusions and as you might expect, most of what he finds is contradictory and confusing, but it's rarely dull. Through common sense and due diligence to pull the best possible historical portrait of Jesus, Alsan adds missing human dimension that puts this man in his time and in his place in history....a human being struggling as all of us do, to struggle for what he believes in, a person who makes mistakes, who tries to do the right thing, but also does not always succeed.
Reading this book has made Jesus more interesting and real to me now, not a mythical, pasted over, untouchable revised version that seems so fairytale like. I have no doubt he was an inspiring, brave, enlightened figure that faced a brutal Nazi-like roman empire with courage and profound depth right up to his death...and possibly beyond.
Regardless of what image you believe; the mythical guy floating down from a cloud appearing like a roadside oil painting on black velvet or a buddha-like enlightened being with a transcendent message for all of humanity, this book will add dimension and depth to the man(or god)....your choice.
Non-fiction it what I like.
Uderstand the historical context of Jesus! Be prepared for your conception to be overturned, just like the money changer's tables were at the temple.
Reza Aslan's writing was so easy for me to understand. The author narrated his own book and did an execellent job.
If your interested in history and religion this is highly recommended.
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!
Great performance and detailed information. This audiobook makes me wanna discover more about this subject area.
Audible obsessed lifelong learner.
Attempts to take on discrepancies in the Gospels by stating the Bible wasn't written as a historical document since the writers had no concept of historical writing at the time. The authors used poetic license to make points according to Aslan to support the young religion. Aslan backs up his up his claims with quotes from the Bible and historical facts we know about Rome and the Middle East at the time.