From the internationally best-selling author of No god but God comes a fascinating, provocative, and meticulously researched biography that challenges long-held assumptions about the man we know as Jesus of Nazareth.
Two-thousand years ago, an itinerant Jewish preacher and miracle worker walked across the Galilee, gathering followers to establish what he called the "Kingdom of God". The revolutionary movement he launched was so threatening to the established order that he was captured, tortured, and executed as a state criminal.
Within decades after his shameful death, his followers would call him God.
Sifting through centuries of mythmaking, Reza Aslan sheds new light on one of history's most influential and enigmatic characters by examining Jesus through the lens of the tumultuous era in which he lived: first-century Palestine, an age awash in apocalyptic fervor. Scores of Jewish prophets, preachers, and would-be messiahs wandered through the Holy Land, bearing messages from God. This was the age of zealotry - a fervent nationalism that made resistance to the Roman occupation a sacred duty incumbent on all Jews. And few figures better exemplified this principle than the charismatic Galilean who defied both the imperial authorities and their allies in the Jewish religious hierarchy.
Balancing the Jesus of the Gospels against the historical sources, Aslan describes a man full of conviction and passion, yet rife with contradiction; a man of peace who exhorted his followers to arm themselves with swords; an exorcist and faith healer who urged his disciples to keep his identity a secret; and ultimately the seditious "King of the Jews" whose promise of liberation from Rome went unfulfilled in his brief lifetime.
©2013 Reza Aslan (P)2013 Random House
"In Zealot, Reza Aslan doesn't just synthesize research and reimagine a lost world, though he does those things very well. He does for religious history what Bertolt Brecht did for playwriting. Aslan rips Jesus out of all the contexts we thought he belonged in and holds him forth as someone entirely new. This is Jesus as a passionate Jew, a violent revolutionary, a fanatical ideologue, an odd and scary and extraordinarily interesting man." (Judith Shulevitz, author of The Sabbath World)
"A bold, powerfully argued revisioning of the most consequential life ever lived." (Lawrence Wright, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief)
"The story of Jesus of Nazareth is arguably the most influential narrative in human history. Here Reza Aslan writes vividly and insightfully about the life and meaning of the figure who has come to be seen by billions as the Christ of faith. This is a special and revealing work, one that believer and skeptic alike will find surprising, engaging, and original." (Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power)
I thought I would get a book on the human side of Jesus but all I got was how the bible is historically inaccurate. It did not add anything to my understanding of Jesus as a human being though this is what the author says he set out to explain.
The book is not told for a wide audience. Other scholars of religion might find it interesting.
Even though Aslan tells us there really is limited proof for the jesus of the bible. For the entire book he continued to quote the bible and started to analyze the Bible and it wasn't remotely interesting. He also said he was going to give alternative views on the subject but never did.
He makes interesting points about the historic jesus and the time which he lived. But he never referenced anything directly other than the bible. He constant tells us the bible isn't factual over and over . He never adds anything else. The book should have been shorter.
He paints a picture on the specific time that Jesus lived and all the other messiahs that came before him.
It's a complete waste of time. Not thought-provoking at all.
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.
Haven't read the print but the audio is well narrated - unusual for an author narration but the author is very engaged and engaging and the material is well researched and well told.
Not really a religious spiritual book but a great historical/biblical account of the times and events surrounding the life of Jesus.
It is written novelistically, but with plenty of reference material interspersed with the story to lend credence to the arguments. Very thought-provoking. I am sure there are other interpretations besides this one, but the author makes his interpretation(s) quite convincing.
Yes, this would have been a book I could have listened to in one sitting. However, it is so packed with ideas, it does merit stopping once in awhile to let the ideas sink in.
After seeing the way he handled Fox News ignorance, I was looking forward to reading Aslan's book. I can't say that I was disappointed, but I can't say that I was overly impressed, either. People who have never been exposed to literary/historical biblical criticism, or those who have never looked into the historical Jesus really would benefit from reading Zealot. But for those who are part of mainline churches, there's not too much here that's completely new.
I suppose what underwhelmed me was the author's seeming lack of realization that there are millions of Christians who are continually confronted with the tension between (as he differentiates them) Jesus the Christ and Jesus the Zealot. It is this very tension that causes our faith to grow and thrive, and the doubt it creates forces us to be tolerant of other viewpoints.
As all authors do - even in scholarly works - Aslan manipulates words, research, and data to prove his point. One point in the book stands out, and that is his treatment of the baptism of Jesus. He very cogently examines how this event in the life of Jesus is dealt with in each of the four gospels, moving from an explicit reference to John being the baptizer to no direct connection at all between Jesus' baptism and John. I found it very thoughtful and meaningful until Dr Aslan suddenly referred to Christianity's "frantic" attempt to disassociate John from the baptism of Jesus. Does he not realize that this is nothing new to mainline Christians, that we don't see anything "frantic" about this phenomenon, and that we are well aware of the greater popularity of John and the possibility that Jesus started out as his disciple?
In closing, there's nothing about this work that I find incorrect. After all, Dr Aslan is a greater scholar than I'll ever be. But I would just advise the reader that even excellent scholars can choose subjective words to manipulate the reader's (or listener's) opinions.
Laypersons reading this book would do well to discuss it with their pastor. In so doing, may would discover that much of what the author talks about has already been incorporated into the thinking of their denomination (especially if it's the UCC, ELCA, PCUSA, UMC, ECUSA, ABC etc).
I grew up with a great deal of instruction about christianity, but very little about Jesus himself. Reza Aslan crafts a story which breathes life into what I had perceived to be an archaic time. His style is approachable and not pretentious.
Reza's description of the life and times of Jesus made me realise that almost every New Testament verse I had heard, read or memorised was out of context. It is that context which makes the book so compelling.
While there were times when this book provided interesting insight into the life of Jesus, the majority really drew heavily from the New Testament, and what was already printed in those pages. As a non-Christian, I was certainly unaware of some aspects of the story, but I wonder how much extra was gained beyond what has already been written. Interesting, and worth reading, but not earth-shattering.
Reza posits a theory based on a pre-supposition that denies the divinity of Jesus and the supernatural. To deny the supernatural brings one back to the ultimate conscious/subconscious question for all and that is origins - were we created by an uncaused first cause (God) or we must explain how something came from nothing which is impossible by definition and logic. I did find ithis an interesting read although I did not agree with many of his propositions, assumptions, speculations and innuendos. For better coverage on the subject I would recommend Hank Hanegraaff's "Has God Spoken - Proof of the Bible's Divine Inspiration" and the for a more experiential understanding "Destined to Reign" by Joseph Prince.
One of the wonderful things about this audiobook is that it's read by the author, who has a fantastic voice that's very easy to listen to. Even when Aslan is imparting a lot of complex information, he remains perfectly understandable and makes those concepts seem easy.
Although 'Zealot' deals with a lot of questions and ideas that I have personally already encountered, there were a lot of concepts in here that were completely new and entirely engaging for several people in my life who downloaded it at my recommendation. It's an extremely accessible and engaging book, and even if these are ideas that you've grappled with before you'll still find yourself saying 'oh, that's just perfectly put'.
It was so interesting to learn about Saul/Paul and James in particular, two religious figures I've never put much thought into
I listened to the whole thing in two days and didn't regret a moment of it! A fascinating listen, and one I very much recommend experiencing.
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