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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

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Kindle Customer lincolnton, nc United States 10-11-17
    Kindle Customer lincolnton, nc United States 10-11-17 Member Since 2010
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    "Jesus"

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

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    H 09-28-17
    H 09-28-17 Member Since 2017
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    2
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    "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!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    shaun j cecil 09-27-17 Member Since 2016
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    "sobering "

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

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 08-30-17
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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.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Andrew Kinkead 08-20-17 Member Since 2017
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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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ArmRod Florida 08-09-17
    ArmRod Florida 08-09-17
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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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anonymous 08-01-17
    08-01-17 Member Since 2017
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    "An accesible look at the historical Jesus"

    Contrary to the insistence of its critics, this book is a fair and open minded look at how the shadowy Jesus of history likely differs from the glittering Jesus of Scripture. A reader would do well to acquaint themselves with the basic beliefs and texts of Christianity before reading, but enough accommodation is made by the author to allow anyone to enjoy its contents.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Craig J. Anderson Stuart, FL 07-11-17
    Craig J. Anderson Stuart, FL 07-11-17
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    "Eye Opening"

    A lucid and well researched exposition that tells an interesting story/history about jesus. Open your mind.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Chesterton, IN, United States 07-09-17
    James Chesterton, IN, United States 07-09-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Illuminating Early Church History"

    Aslan has chosen a very unique angle from which to approach his study of one of the most interesting and influential people in written history. I absolutely loved the context he gave to the formative years of one of the world's major religions. Given the research he presents, it is easy to see how sectarian theological differences within the Jewish community and the realities of life under Roman rule set the stage for the continually evolving Christianities we know (and love, hate, or are indifferent to) today...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Adrianna G. 06-30-17
    Adrianna G. 06-30-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Reza Aslan"

    I am a believer in Christ, history, and science. This book had opened my eyes more than I thought possible. I was hesitant at first, thinking it would shake my belief. Quite on the contrary, I am feeling quite fervent for my faith... one may even say, zealous.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Stuart
    10/9/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Speculative but sometimes interesting"
    Would you listen to Zealot again? Why?

    No, because I got all I needed from one listen


    What about Reza Aslan’s performance did you like?

    Well read, and it's always nice to hear the author read their own work.


    Any additional comments?

    The best part of the book is the first bit, setting out the cultural milleau in Roman Palestine. As for JC himself, Aslan is convinced that his take is sensational and new; but it's not the ground-shaker he thinks it is. The specifics where he diverges from other attempts to historicise Jesus are in Aslan's attempting to locate him in the Zealot tradition (rather than an apocalyptic as he's usually seen). But his evidence for this largely relies upon his own exegesis of biblical passages. In one particularly excruciating section he goes into details of the exact etymology of the Greek verb in “render/give/return unto Caesar...” in order to show what Jesus really meant by it; in the process apparently rather forgetting his own previous emphasis that JC would have spoken little if any of this language, and the word in the NT is not that that he would have uttered himself.

    Similarly, he shows how the trial before the Sanhedrin as recorded in Mark contradicts the rabbinical procedures for such trials. He then admits that the trial took place in the second temple period, before the emergence of the Rabbinic/Mishnaic tradition, but quickly points out that Mark *was* written within the Rabbinic tradition. A bizarre position: that the author of Mark ought to have rewritten his oral sources to make them conform to the standards of his day, and that because he did not this is evidence that the events could not have occurred as the traditions described them.

    These are both typical of its approach: it presents itself as falling within the scholarly rather than christological tradition, yet ultimately relies upon exegesis and substantial interpretative assumptions rather than painstaking and careful critical comparison.

    Not a bad or deliberately dishonest book, but he has a prior agenda (JC the militant anti-Roman), and cherry-picks and interprets the sources to back it up.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Elizabeth
    Lancaster, United Kingdom
    9/3/13
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    "Informative,but more questions than answers."

    I have surprisingly enjoyed this audio book. I have long been interested in the real truth and the fiction hidden within the Bible. Reza Aslan narrates his book with enthusiasm. I must admit that I wouldn't make it to the end of the written book, but the audio version is more bearable. I didn't fully understand all of the threads which he references throughout, but I picked up the general gist. It is a revealing book but you have to have an interest in the subject to make sense of it. It's not a book for someone unfamiliar with the Bible in my opinion. It has made me ask more questions than finding answers.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Nell
    Ferny Grove, Australia
    12/15/13
    Overall
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    "Brilliantly done"

    This is a fascinating and impressive take on the early history of the major world religion that is Christianity. I found Aslan's arguments persuasive and he reads his own work with an engaging enthusiasm. Not all the ideas are new, but I liked the way he pieced things together. I also liked the respect that he shows to the Christian faith; this is a secular text, but it is not aggressive in its secularism - at least, not more than it needs to be.

    I learnt a lot about Judaism that I didn't know before, and the book constructs a clear picture of the political tensions that simmered in Jesus' lifetime. The parts that really captured me were the description of the temple in Jerusalem and its rituals, the conflicts between early leaders (especially between Paul and James; that was a real eye-opener!), and the important differentiation Aslan makes between Jesus the man and Jesus the Christ, which really forms the backbone of the book. The title 'Zealot' refers to the Jewish concept of 'zeal', which is similar to the more common, colloquial understanding of the term, but not the same. I'm not an expert on world religions but in my limited understanding, it reminded me a little of the Islamic concept of jihad: both involve religious passion, both imply a struggle against something, and both can lead to violence, but don't always.

    I can imagine that some Christians may have a problem with Aslan's book, because its content strongly shows that men, not gods, make religions. But he never disrespects the faith of others or tries directly to debunk anything that is based on faith: rather, he places this faith into historical context. The way that he does so reminds us of a key fact about Jesus that ought to colour our view of him but too often doesn't. He was not a Christian; he lived and died a Jew. What's more, he did so in a time and place where being Jewish could cause you problems, especially if you were inclined to dislike the Romans.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • M
    Wakefield, United Kingdom
    10/16/13
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    "Holy Moly!"

    So, who does this Jesus fella think he is? I’d never bought the whole middle-class, middle-aged, middle-of-the-road pacifist guru-magician image that was thrust down our throats at school; I couldn’t quite see how that ancient Jewish peacenik could’ve inspired billions of people across thousands of years and cultures to such heights of beauty and horror. But, the Jesus portrayed in this book is one I like! A complex and charismatic Angry Young Man filled to the brim-stone with revolutionary zeal, with a talent for whipping up a crowd with his rhetoric and sleight-of-hand - this is someone worth reading about. Picture Jesus as a Jewish Nationalist Socialist (oh, the irony …) taking on The Roman Man with his mob of illiterate, fundamentalist peasants - it’s quite an image. And then throw him into the wonderfully described world of spirits, magic, gods, and the starkly brutal and bloody politics of Imperial Rome, and you’ve got one helluva story! That that Jesus was swept aside for early Christian PR reasons is a tragedy we may never recover from ...I like and respect Jesus of Nazareth much more than Jesus the Christ, and the Son of Man has a lot more to offer us than the Son of God does. An excellent and thought-provoking book - Amen!

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • max ward
    2/22/17
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    "Excellent Glimpse into the world of Jesus"
    Where does Zealot rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Being a big fan of Reza Aslan and his work (particularly his talks, which I watch often), his narration of this book worked for me really well. Reza Aslan has done a great deal to make learning more about world religions, and in this case Jesus 'the man' both incredibly interesting and accessible, whilst also upholding robust scholarly study, backing up his claims with a plethora of sources.

    It is Aslan's story-telling style that really elevates this audiobook from being an interesting historical study into an exciting and deeply thought provoking story that really made me think about the historical context in which Jesus lived in a new light.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Reza Aslan's reading of this book really brought the story to life.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Mr. N. J. Houchin
    10/2/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very thought provoking and interesting."

    Brings to life a fascinating time and place in history. One of the best audio books I've read.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • FBCOL
    1/18/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great"

    Brilliant, as near to the truth as I think you will get. Totally plausible and well researched story, read by the author himself.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • gintare
    2/3/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Amazing book and very well written"

    I could not stop reading it. Amazing book full of interesting facts about early christianity

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • M. C. Elson
    11/25/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Should be compulsory reading in schools."

    Chronicles the beginning of the religion that has been the cornerstone of western culture. If this book was compulsory reading it just might change the world.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Robert
    11/24/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Well researched, compelling and believable."

    This is a book on Jesus that atheists can take seriously, which does not deal only in historical fact, but which goes on the probability based on his time and location, that certain of Jesus' views and actions are historical rather than merely scriptural. I've listened to it twice now and enjoyed it equally well both times. Highly recommended to anyone interested in Jesus the man, rather than those willing to take as literal everything written in the New Testament.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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