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Publisher's Summary

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

Critic Reviews

"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)

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  • Tom
  • Macquarie Hills, Australia
  • 09-05-13

Time travelling masterpiece

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.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Questionable research

Adding further to the problem is Aslan's propensity toward hyperbole both in his language and his performance. Bart Ehrman has written pretty extensively on this book on his blog - and he challenges and corrects many of the assertions in Aslan's Zealot.

Ultimately, the historical Jesus was not a zealot at all but is best understood as an apocalyptic prophet. It may be true that Jesus believed God would put a violent end to roman imperialism, but there's no indication (in fact a lot contrary to the idea) that Jesus thought he was going to be the cause of that violence.

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Cleared up a lot of questions I had!

So thorough and detailed originated. I'm so glad I read it. Highly recommended for folks wanting a better insight of Jesus's life and those around him.

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Great!

As a Christian I was sceptical at first about this book, I had to completely understand and remind myself that I bought this for the purpose of learning, not to hear a story...

The information is spot on an I even researched some of it myself, to see if I could find any mistakes...

The book is not so much a story as it is a lesson.

I would strongly recommend this book to anyone who has an eagerness to learn about the history of Christianity.

Awesome, learned a lot! Thanks.

  • Overall

Jesus

So much packed into such a small volumn. A must listen to for anyone interested in Jesus, the man .

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  • H
  • 09-28-17

Fantastic

Beautifully written and compelling told, with a lot information in a well organized fashion. I would have appreciated the definitions of a few more words though, such as gentile. 10/10 would listen again!

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sobering

volume levels were uneven, but the story educational. I will recommend to friends and family.

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Very creative piece...

Would you try another book from Reza Aslan and/or Reza Aslan?

Very creative piece of blasphemy. Aside from discrediting the truth and validity of the bible thrugh and through, he seems to have forgotten to talk about Jesus. Nearly three hours in, he has yet to come on the scene. Would not buy another Reza Aslan religion book.

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Truly educational

The ending sums it up. Jesus the man is every bit as compelling Jesus the savior. Well researched and perfectly paints a picture of the time. If you in search of a great nonfiction look no further.

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Fascinating

As a life long Catholic I found this book fascinating, thought provoking and engaging. Unbiased, well researched, well written and presented clearly. The historical perspective is captivating whether you're a believer or not.