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 that this writer came across kind of arrogant. He obviously does not believe in God's Word being infallible. I know that is not a popular opinion these days. However, I think that over 2000 years of church history, one should be careful about saying "they all have it wrong", here is what Jesus really said.......
very informative and revealing
Jesus as a historical figure
It changed my view on the origins of Christianity. It is a coherent story where Reza Aslan explains the circumtances of life of real Jesus
Very interesting content, excellent audio performance by the author
Honor Your Mind, Body, and Soul
As it's narrator explained, one needs to know the historical Christ as well as the biblical Christ! It is up you the reader to decide what is and what is not.
I drive a lot. This way, I can "read" while I drive.
An absolutely fascinating look into 1st Century Judea. What a bloody mess! So many things about the Bible make sense now. The politics behind the writing of the Book are incredible
If you are a dogmatic Christian, don't bother. You'll only get outraged. If you have an open mind and love to learn, this is fantastic.
Wow! I really must start off my expressing my gratitude to Reza Aslan for writing such a book that speaks to the history and culture of both the decades leading up to, and the millennia following, the life of Jesus of Nazareth. I'll get this one imperfection out of the way, and it's really the only flaw I found in the book: I don't know if Aslan was reading from the published copy of his work (certainly not the copy I own) or if he read from an earlier edition but, whenever the phrase 'the Jewish faith' or 'the Jewish religion' came up he said 'the Jewish cult.' A little annoying; and there were some other phrases that didn't match what my eyes were reading as I followed along. But I'll let it pass.
Aslan spends a bit of time explaining how Jesus's trial was fabricated and embellished over time, noting that the governor Pontius Pilate executed thousands upon thousands of insurrectionists with a flick of his pen, never even giving them proper trials. But the Pilate we read of in the New Testament is a man who cared deeply about whether or not the fellow he was sending to the cross was truly guilty of his crimes; he even tries to make the people choose between the insurrectionist Jesus or the murderer Barabbas (supposedly a custom at Passover, though there is no evidence of this custom). Also, with Mark's gospel in hand, Luke and Matthew paint an even broader picture of a week-willed Pilate, though history speaks of a man who had great disdain for the Jews.
One thing that must be realized is that the gospel writers were not writing to Jews in Jerusalem but to Romans who had overthrown the Jewish revolution. Therefore Pilate had to be "innocent of this man's blood" (just like Annas and Caiaphus) and and the Jews had to be made responsible. Matthew, writing later than Mark, says that the Jews responded as a whole: "His blood will be on us and on our children!" (Matthew 27.25). Luke's gospel says that Pilate "found in [Jesus] no ground for the sentence of death; I will have him flogged and then release him" (Luke 23.22). But John goes the farthest, saying that Pilate actually thought Jesus was the son of God, and Jesus tells Pilate that the Jews are to blame, guilty of a greater sin for handing him over (John 19.11). But then, when Pilate asks "'Shall I crucify your king?' The chief priests answered, 'We have no king the the emperor'" (John 19.15). This is heresy among Jewish faith.
Do not forget that Jesus is arrested at night on the eve of the Sabbath (against Jewish law) during the festival of Passover (against Jewish law); he is brought at night (against Jewish law) to the high priest's courtyard where the Sanhedrin are awaiting him; a group of witnesses appear to testify that he has made threats against the Temple of Jerusalem (also against Jewish law because the trial must begin with a detailed list of why the accused is innocent before witnesses testify against him). Now, if the high priests did actually conduct this little trial, then the Torah could not be clearer about the punishment: "One who blasphemes the name of the Lord shall be put to death; the whole congregation shall stone the blasphemer..." (Leviticus 24.16), not be handed over to the governor for questioning and crucifixion.
I could go on for hours telling of eye-opening phrases and word-changes in translation that Aslan explains with great clarity, but I thought the previous tidbit would be most interesting. It certainly was for me! Enjoy!
Fascinating exhilarating and compelling
I loved his voice and the way he is so passionate about his views.
No there is too much to digest in one sitting.
A must Read or Listen
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