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)
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.
Not sure where this young man got his information but in the first ten minutes he made gross historical errors and it only became painfully worse. I am sure that if he was a true follower of Christ, he would have a deeper understanding of the truth, instead he only shames himself.
I saw Jesus in a new light as an organizer and leader with vision and integrity. Jesus was willing to take the shot.
Reza put some old ideas together to form a new, unique approach to ideas in the New Testament.
Well done, good job. I especially like the clarity and emotion Reza puts into the narrative. The audio version must be a thousand times better than the print version.
The true story of Bethlehem near the beginning got my attention. I love the Christmas Carol "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem." This year I'll have to adopt a new carol, something like "Onward Christian Soldiers."
I hope Reza can do a sequel about the theme of Empire that we find throughout the Old and New Testament. I think that then he will realize the true mission of Jesus, the one he wrote about in Zealot..
Tell us about yourself!
I couldn't resist getting the book that Fox News interjected itself into controversy, to learn for myself what all the bugaboo was about. After getting thru the first chapters I was convinced the detractors of this author are invoking pure animus toward the author while ignoring the merits of the book. Being a former catholic and one who has studied biblical exegesis and theology, I conclude the book is a legitimate socio-historic treatment of the subject. In fact it covers material that would be quite familiar to any New Testament exegetical scholar. Any catholic (Roman, Anglican, Orthodox, Lutheran) would likely be right at home with the material. This is not a theological, dogmatic catechism. It's a very interesting treatise that does precisely what the author set out to do - provide a glimpse into the life and times of the historical Jesus, his impact, and place in history as a historical figure.
I highly recommend the work to anyone who is interested in the study of the formation of religions and in particular, the one related to a Jewish man named Yeshua. I would dare to say, had the author submitted this, it would receive an Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur from the Catholic Church.
Provocative, Insightful, Vivid
With excellent writing, in-depth scholarship and wonderful organization of material, Aslan brings the first century CE to life. While none of these ideas or theories are particularly new to me, the deftness and skill with which Aslan presents the material are exceptional. This is a wonderful book for anyone wanting to understand the state of the art scholarship regarding this subject.
Aslan's reading is clear and passionate. It never is boring.
There are many. Most fascinating were the activities around the temple, the futile revolt against the Romans, and the chaotic struggles of all the various factions, messiahs, despots and "holy men."
No matter what conclusions you want to draw, this is greatly informative and fascinating recreation of the 1 CE conditions of Judea and the Roman empire. Reads like an exceptionally good novel.
Historical Jesus Zealot
Easy to listen. Clearly understood.
Jesus: The man you thought you knew.
I appreciate what Reza Aslan is trying to do with "Zealot", but like so many other books about Jesus, he misses the mark, or only hits it in parts. To portray Jesus through the ideologue/fanatic/zealot lens is to ignore so many other (more) profound dimensions of what Jesus was really all about, not to many vast swaths of the Gospels themselves. Jesus advocated violence? What about the instructions to "love thy enemies" and "turn the other cheek"? Jesus was concerned with a physical Kingdom of God? How does one explain the very clear statement, "The Kingdom of God is within you" or his numerous other references that point toward an inner or mystical experience of God? Jesus was an us/them, either/or, exclusionary thinker? How does one square that with the parable of the Prodigal Son or the many nondualistic images and metaphors that he used in his teaching? I could go on and on and on. Bottom line, "Zealot" may shed light on Jesus' times and perhaps some lesser known dimensions of his personality and work, but it fragments and obscures the real light, wisdom, and understanding that Jesus brought into the world.
This book and its author have received so much press and air time over the last month that I wanted to read it if for no other reason than to see what all the noise was about. the subject fascinated me as well, because the church in which I was raised never taught anything about the historical background of the New Testament, and I was hoping that this book would fill in the blanks.
It did not disappoint. The story of the centuries-old conflict between the Romans and the Hebrews was new to me. Yes, I know about Egyptian slavery, but had no idea of Rome's governing principles concerning its conquered nations and how their treatment of the Jews differed. I had no idea of the religious and daily culture of the Jews and how they clashed with the Roman way of life. The background that Aslan provides helps to fill out the historical picture. I found it absolutely fascinating.
I have two criticisms. One is that I would have liked the book to be at least twice as long. I want more details, more background, more of this riveting picture of ancient life. And the other is that the book really should have been narrated by a professional reader. Aslan isn't bad, but he succumbs to the common problem of a single rhythm and intonation that becomes distracting. It wasn't bad, though - I still found the book fascinating.
Aslan's ability to present the historical analysis in an attention-holding narrative. He elucidated the means and motives behind the words and actions of historical figures.
Paul the Apostle. It seems clear that, without Paul, author of over half the books of the NT, the Jesus movement would not have untethered itself from Judaism. With little support, and much contradiction from the gospel words of Jesus himself, Paul single-handedly jettisoned the Law, repackaged the movement for a gentile audience, and set the terms of salvation. In short, Paul created Christianity as it's understood today.
His emphasis and intonation deepened the meaning I gleaned from the book.
When Aslan explained the conflict between James and Paul, two of the most important first century Christians, and how it shaped the canon as well as the basic tenets of the religion itself.
Aslan is skilled as a writer and reader, so that his book does not come across as non-fiction, but as a narrative story with character, conflict, plot, and the other staples of a novel.
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