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)
The content was interesting but the juvenile sound of the author's enthusiastic narration made it very hard to take the book seriously. A professional reader would have made a world of difference.
I'd only listen if someone else read it.
I don't have any names at hand but would have liked a serious sounding narrator, NOT Asian.
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.
backup in the text... not see appendix
social and political appeal
a real alternative for a nonbelievers belief system
A whole worldview about Jesus is made here of largely conjecture. When it comes to the proof that backs up his points its....see the appendix. Problem is not that the worldview is developed (it is) but rather the proof for it is lost as he developed the worldview. If one can disprove any or many of the points then the entire worldview falls apart. As an example the "Q" source documents, by Aslan's own admittance a hypothetical book for which there are no documents or copies, plays a major role in this book but he never delves into the proofs / disproofs. I know this was not the point of his book but again Aslan's Jesus overview is only believable if you believe the "Q" source stuff or the details which he glosses over etc. I think the devil is in the details here. If the evidence for each point is doubtful then the book is doubtful but Aslan never gives the reader the chance. By quickly moving on to complete the Jesus worldview the unquestioning reader just accepts Aslan's points as he moves quickly on. People who are looking for a book that explains their preconceived (apriori) belief that Jesus is only a social & political figure will find an intellectual guide. People who are looking for the "real Jesus" by testing the truth of each Aslan's claims will be left thumbing to the appendix.
Three things set this book apart.
1) It is entertainingly written and passionately narrated.
2) The author's ability to make you feel like you're in Galilee and Judea, in biblical times.
3) You get to hear a balanced non-christian view of the new testament.
The descriptions of the places and times of the events really bring the gospel narratives to life and give you a sense of what it may have been like, the day to day goings on of ordinary folk, the violence of the time, the brutality of the roman reign, the politics of the temple, and so on. And its delivered mostly in a way that accepts the detail of gospels as pointers to historical truth while reminding us the bible does not really seek to present "history" as we know it, but truth. Occasionally the author's opinions jar the senses, but hey, this is a great book for promoting discussion about the gospel, so what could be bad about that?
Anyway, extremely well written, worth a listen.
I'm glad to have listened because I had seen the Fox News interview of the author & wondered why they showed such,badly expressed anger. Then I found my anger surface while listening to the authors continual effort to convince and be the expert. As if, because he has studied history before, during & after the time of Jesus, he knows so, so much that in 2013, he can write a book that labels the Biblical story of Jesus's life & death to have been simply chucked full of twisted truths and fantasy. To me, it isn't so much of what he said but the tone in which he spoke that cause me to suspect his need to expose Jesus's story a contrivance of His devoted followers. The book got me to remember a thought that I had previously considered. I think it is probable that Jesus did not precisely know exactly what God was asking of Him. Jesus was first of all, a human. Much of what God intended Jesus to do, accomplish may have been hidden from Jesus's conscious mind and only gradually revealed to him. Jesus would have needed guidance in the years of ministry. He would have a sense but would not known every step to take along His way.
Zelot inspired me to remember the Healings of Jesus both the ones I have witnessed and the ones I have experienced.
Very interesting in the 1st section about the times around Jesus and how turbulent they were. The remaining sections had good comparisons of the spiritual readings to what was historically available. Makes you think.
I love a good book...
Not a great book to read for exegesis, but if one wants to understand the history around the time of Jesus and to better understand how a non-Christian biblical scholar understands Jesus this book is for you.
This book is an easy read and rather enjoyable. Gets its point across clearly. While it is informative and provides several good observations, I could not take it too seriously in a scholarly manner as Mr. Aslan tends to embellish and romanticize events, settings and world views using very descriptive and colorful language. As someone who is interested in scholastic works, I know how difficult it is to make objective assertions about matters that happened two decades ago, let alone millenia. However, Mr. Aslan frequently describes matters as if they were facts. Zealot reads like a Dan Brown novel in my opinion. I personally prefer lectures on the subject that present the historical record, give their views and interpretation of such record along with others', and let the reader/listener come to his/her own conclusions. Mr. Aslan quotes the Gospels quite often as references to Jesus and what he might have been like, yet mentions how erroneous and biased they might be. I was a bit confused by this.
Having read "No God but God" I would say that this book is very comparable in writing style as Zealot. However, Zealot is a bit more enclined to tell a story with a view and a certain moral, rather than being more objective.
This book could very well be made into a movie. It would be more of a drama than a true documentary. I would definetely go see it.
While my inclinations are more towards less subjective works on historical religion, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I would definetely recommend it. Although, I would advise to take it with a grain of salt and encourage you to read other publications on the subject.
Better conclusions and less authoritative
The author admits that there is only one non-biblical historical reference to Jesus and then he uses his research into the times surrounding Jesus' life to pick and choose from the New Testament the events that fit his thesis and considers them truth then calls the events that don't fit his ideas: invention, exaggerations, fabrications, lies and fairy tales. Reza references the few documents that have survived the centuries and considers them to be all he needs to judge what is truth and what is not. He does not consider that the people who wrote the Gospels had access to countless documents that have been lost to time as well as letters and first and second hand accounts from eye witnesses to the of events of Jesus' life. So he sits in judgment in 2013 and has the supreme wisdom to draw this conclusion and then call this event a fabrication. As a Muslim turned Christian and then disillusioned into who knows what today, the author decides to discount that there may be more to life than he can comprehend from his little office in 2013. His omnipotent tendencies to speak for "the majority of scholars" on this point or that point is very annoying. If he presented his ideas as possibilities based on his research, this book would be worth reading. But to listen to him chapter after chapter try to lay out his arguments by deciding these verses of the bible make sense to him and these do not, and then definitively saying here this is what happened and this did not is eventually too much to take. Pompous Ass is the only term that comes to mind by the end of the book. If you follow his tweets, you will see that the guy is a real jerk.
Annoying, sneering, pompous
Most of his conclusions.
I really enjoy the books I read and hear!
This book helped me confirm my beliefs in Jesus of Nazareth, the person and how it was to live in the first century under Roman rule. I recommend this book to anyone who is curious about Jesus.
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