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Zealot Audiobook

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth

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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

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

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  •  
    John Chesterfield, MO, United States 09-04-13
    John Chesterfield, MO, United States 09-04-13 Member Since 2006
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    "Filled with Speculation"

    In the introduction the author points out how the New Testament was never intended to be a historical book and should not be interpreted as a historical book, and then proceeds to interpret the New Testament as a historical book for the rest of the novel. Of course, if the author did not do this, there wouldn't have been much to say other than provide a sense of the culture at the time Jesus lived. I initially thought the book might be worthwhile since it seemed to provide some historical context to the New Testament, however, given the author's propensity for pure speculation about Jesus, I now question the authenticity of the historic background provided in the novel, and wonder how much of that is also speculation. In addition, the author never seemed to question the accuracy of Josephus' writings, even though Josephus' history often times is at odds with archeological findings. Whenever there seemed to be a discrepancy between Josephus and another source, the author always sided with Josephus. Although many references are provided for the novel, the author's interpretation of the references and tendency toward conjecture lead to the low rating of this book. If this is what passes for biblical scholarship, I feel sorry for the field.

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D. Littman OH 11-02-13
    D. Littman OH 11-02-13 Member Since 2017

    history buff

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    "excellent, thought-provoking book"
    What did you love best about Zealot?

    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.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    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.


    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    sonofsoulreaver 06-29-16 Member Since 2014
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    "Should be Manditory Reading for any Christian"

    It was fantastic. It was fascinating see how thoroughly Paul's teachings have divorced Jesus the Christ from Jesus the Nazarene. Putting the so-called Messiah squarely into the time and place where he lived and looking at his life through that lens paints a very different picture of him than what any modern Christian church teaches. What most people don't realize (I know that I never had) is that not only was Jesus on of many self proclaimed Messiahs in his day, our understanding of what the Messiah was has almost nothing to do with the Messiah of Jesus' day.

    As a person raised in a Christian tradition, I actually found the revolutionary Nazarine more compelling than the Christ that persists today. Reza Aslan sums it up best with the final line of his book, "...the one thing any comprehensive study of the historical Jesus should hopefully reveal is that Jesus of Nazareth—Jesus the man—is every bit as compelling, charismatic, and praiseworthy as Jesus the Christ. He is, in short, someone worth believing in."

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stevon Tempe, AZ, United States 02-24-16
    Stevon Tempe, AZ, United States 02-24-16 Member Since 2017

    I love books!

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    "interesting take on the life of Jesus"

    First time author for me. In this book, the author states in the prologue that his intent is to write a book on the life of Jesus of Nazareth, the man and the life he lived not so much the life as described in the Bible in developing a religion.

    The book starts by pointing out that Jesus was born a Jewish peasant, illiterate and poor like most of the Jews of his time. It goes on to state that the Jews of the time lived under the yoke of brutal Roman rule and a privileged class of Jews that ran the church and made the laws to fit into the Roman will. Most of the Jews wanted out from under Roman rule and there were many that preached they were the Messiah and would lead the Jews to freedom, the freedom to live freely under the law of Moses, headed by the 10 commandments. Into this environment came Jesus and his ministry. To many he was just another Messiah and only slowly during his short three year ministry did the people start wondering and believing that maybe he was the real Messiah. Still, Jesus was a Jew and his goal was to communicate how to lead a good life, how to treat the poor and underprivileged. He never stated that his intention was to start a new religion, Christianity, that came after he died. It was Paul that came along after Jesus died and started preaching that the teachings of Jesus were meant for more than just the Jews. An interesting perspective for sure.

    A profile of the author is key in understanding the perspective of the book. The author, Reza Aslan, is an Iranian-American that was born into a Shia Muslim family. At age 15 he converted to Christianity then converted back to being a Shia Muslim once he started college. Among other academic achievements he got a degree from the Harvard School of Divinity and an MFA from the Iowa Writers Workshop. He now teaches Creative Writing as UC Riverside in California. He married a Christian woman, has three sons and lives in a true inter-faith family, He seems to be uniquely qualified to write this type of book. He states that even though he is a practicing Muslim he is still a disciple of Jesus of Nazareth, the man.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Seymore Smith 10-27-15
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    "really good."

    i have been struggling with belief for years. i qm from the caribbean and if you reject the teachings of christianity then you are an atheist. I am really glad this book was written. it gives perspective on the this religion and educates as well. really liked it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jordan Thierry 10-26-15 Member Since 2016
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    "Provocative, eye opening, informational!"

    I like this book, and it made me appreciate Jesus the man much more. I think most history buffs and those critical of religion will like this book too.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Philadelphia, PA, United States 09-23-15
    James Philadelphia, PA, United States 09-23-15 Member Since 2007
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    "Jesus (with a great many assumptions)"
    Would you ever listen to anything by Reza Aslan again?

    Most likely.


    Any additional comments?

    I was disappointed by "Zealot" and its foundation. The author Reza Aslan opens the story by raising doubts about the historical accuracy of the Gospels. Then, he proceeds to use these texts as a historical source. But, if they're not to be trusted, then why use them? And, if there is no real source available, then why attempt a historical review?

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stacy Dial 05-22-15
    Stacy Dial 05-22-15
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    "Finally! Answers to the Questions of a Lifetime!!"

    For anyone and everyone like me who simply could not reconcile the Old Testament God with New Testament Jesus. Reza Aslan walks the reader step by step through the transformation of Historical Jesus to Jesus Christ. Many thanks to Mr. Aslan for authentic, historic truth.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CHS 02-08-15
    CHS 02-08-15 Member Since 2015
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    "History of Jesus"

    Compelling history of Jesus the man vs the Christ figure and the making of a new religion in the cultural context of Jewish life in a Roman Empire. It dispels the simple myths and stories of Christianity as truths and delves deep into the motivation of the followers creating a new religion over many hundreds of years. A must read in understanding the role of religion in the human quest for power and dominance.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vincent 08-12-13
    Vincent 08-12-13 Member Since 2014
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    "Surprisingly compelling"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Zealot to be better than the print version?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    Not really a religious spiritual book but a great historical/biblical account of the times and events surrounding the life of Jesus.

    7 of 10 people found this review helpful
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  • MrTellyBelly
    Birmingham, UK
    5/15/16
    Overall
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    "Very Informative"
    What did you like most about Zealot?

    Very well researched book. I think we all know the story of Jesus but what this book did was to put it into a social context of the time.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Zealot?

    I was shocked at the society at that time - groups fighting each, massacres, foreign invaders. I was left with the thought that it doesn't look as if much has changed since then - just the names are different.


    Which character – as performed by Reza Aslan – was your favourite?

    Jesus :-)


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    When the Romans came back after the rebellion with the express intent of "pummelling" the local population to teach them a lesson. I was shocked at the cruelty.


    Any additional comments?

    Great book to listen to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mugzy
    3/27/16
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    "The True Jesus"

    Excellent book on who Jesus really was and believed in. Christianity belongs to Paul not Jesus!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Alex Lancaster
    11/29/15
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    "Fascinating"

    a beautifully written / produced piece. a compelling read for those with or without faith.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mika Neko
    4/16/15
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    "recommend"

    Good book, compelling facts, and smooth narration makes it a very nice experience to enjoy.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    UK
    2/28/15
    Overall
    "Well written."

    A pragmatic and unsentimental work. Pieces history together in a rational way, making sense of the politics and movements during the time of Jesus and the time when Christianity was emerging as a world religion.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Frank F
    Northwest London
    1/5/14
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    Performance
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    "Kind of missed the point."
    If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

    People who are sure that the Church is full of conspiracies and into sensationalism in some way.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Reza Aslan again?

    Probably not.


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    Enjoy would be the wrong word. It was amusing to recognise where his conclusions were based upon misunderstanding and lack of proper scholarship


    You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    I'm not really sure that it does. How often does the average man believe in the written word, just because it is written and the author lays claim to authority that he doesn't possess or more dangerously, misleads the facts about his authority. (Check out the realities of his degrees as they would apply to being a biblical scholar, especially if you've ever seen someone misrepresent a resume for a job they weren't really qualified for but needed.)


    Any additional comments?

    In today's world of the Internet, self publishing, and lack of academic critical review before getting published, it has been my experience that we must spend as much time researching the credentials of the scholar who publishes, as we do in researching sensational assertions. There is a danger as an author of settling on a hypothesis and then focusing on proving that hypothesis rather than collecting information objectively and completely and then seeing what hypothesis that information might suggest.
    This author appears to have fallen into these traps and so based upon the other scholars I have read, along with my personal research over a 5 year period, I'm not sure there is much value in this work any more than the works that Dan Brown used for the themes of the Da Vinci Code.

    2 of 10 people found this review helpful

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