Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth

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NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
Good Housekeeping • Booklist • Publishers Weekly • Bookish

From the internationally bestselling author of No god but God comes a fascinating, provocative, and meticulously researched biography that challenges long-held assumptions ...

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Overview

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
Good Housekeeping • Booklist • Publishers Weekly • Bookish

From the internationally bestselling 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. Aslan explores the reasons why the early Christian church preferred to promulgate an image of Jesus as a peaceful spiritual teacher rather than a politically conscious revolutionary. And he grapples with the riddle of how Jesus understood himself, the mystery that is at the heart of all subsequent claims about his divinity.
 
Zealot yields a fresh perspective on one of the greatest stories ever told even as it affirms the radical and transformative nature of Jesus of Nazareth’s life and mission. The result is a thought-provoking, elegantly written biography with the pulse of a fast-paced novel: a singularly brilliant portrait of a man, a time, and the birth of a religion.

Praise for Zealot
 
“Riveting . . . Aslan synthesizes Scripture and scholarship to create an original account.”The New Yorker

“A lucid, intelligent page-turner.”—Los Angeles Times
 
“Fascinatingly and convincingly drawn . . . Aslan may come as close as one can to respecting those who revere Jesus as the peace-loving, turn-the-other-cheek, true son of God depicted in modern Christianity, even as he knocks down that image.”The Seattle Times
 
“[Aslan’s] literary talent is as essential to the effect of Zealot as are his scholarly and journalistic chops. . . . A vivid, persuasive portrait.”Salon
 
“This tough-minded, deeply political book does full justice to the real Jesus, and honors him in the process.”San Francisco Chronicle

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times - Dale B. Martin
A real strength of the book is that it provides an introduction to first-century Palestine, including economics, politics and religion. Mr. Aslan uses previous scholarship to describe the precarious existence of Jewish peasants and the lower classes, and how the Romans and the Jewish upper class exploited the land and the people…Zealot shares some of the best traits of popular writing on scholarly subjects: it moves at a good pace; it explains complicated issues as simply as possible; it even provides notes for checking its claims…[Aslan] is a good writer. Zealot is…an entertaining read. It is also a serious presentation of one plausible portrait of the life of Jesus of Nazareth.
Publishers Weekly
The person and work of Jesus of Nazareth has been a topic of constant interest since he lived and died some 2,000 years ago. Much speculation about who he was and what he taught has led to confusion and doubt. Aslan, who authored the much acclaimed No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam, offers a compelling argument for a fresh look at the Nazarene, focusing on how Jesus the man evolved into Jesus the Christ. Approaching the subject from a purely academic perspective, the author parts an important curtain that has long hidden from view the man Jesus, who “is every bit as compelling, charismatic, and praiseworthy as Jesus the Christ.” Carefully comparing extra-biblical historical records with the New Testament accounts, Aslan develops a convincing and coherent story of how the Christian church, and in particular Paul, reshaped Christianity’s essence, obscuring the very real man who was Jesus of Nazareth. Compulsively readable and written at a popular level, this superb work is highly recommended. Agent: Elyse Cheney, Elyse Cheney Literary Associates (July)
Kirkus Reviews
A well-researched, readable biography of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus of Nazareth is not the same as Jesus Christ. The Gospels are not historical documents, nor even eyewitness accounts of Jesus' life. In fact, most of the incidents in them are pure fiction. Aslan (How to Win a Cosmic War: God, Globalization and the End of the War on Terror, 2009, etc.) has made the study of religion his life's work, and it shows. After explaining the origins and evolution of Islam, the author now turns to Christianity and its unlikely beginnings. The Gospels weren't written during Jesus' lifetime, but rather between A.D. 70 and 120, and they certainly weren't written by the men whose names are attached to them. In fact, every word written about Jesus was written by people who never knew him in life--even though Paul claimed to know Jesus intimately, not as man, but as God. Jesus neither fit the paradigms nor fulfilled scriptural prophecies to meet the requirements of being a messiah. As he described himself, the historic "Jesus…was a Jew, and nothing more." He was concerned only with Israel and his fellow Jews. For readers who believe that the Bible is the true word of God and its meaning must be taken literally, Aslan's book will awaken doubt. The ancients did not see a difference between myth and reality, and eyewitness history did not exist; it was all propaganda. The authors of the Gospels were writing for the express purpose of explaining that Jesus wasn't just another professional wonder worker; one thing set him apart. Why has Christianity taken hold and flourished? This book will give you the answers in the simplest, most straightforward, comprehensible manner.
From the Publisher
“Riveting . . . Aslan synthesizes Scripture and scholarship to create an original account.”The New Yorker

“A lucid, intelligent page-turner.”—Los Angeles Times
 
“Aslan’s insistence on human and historical actuality turns out to be far more interesting than dogmatic theology. . . . This tough-minded, deeply political book does full justice to the real Jesus, and honors him in the process.”San Francisco Chronicle

“Aslan brings a fine popular style, shorn of all jargon, to bear on the presentation of Jesus of Nazareth. . . . He isn’t interested in attacking religion or even the church, much less in comparing Christianity unfavorably to another religion. He would have us admire Jesus as one of the many would-be messiahs who sprang up during Rome’s occupation of Palestine, animated by zeal for ‘strict adherence to the Torah and the Law,’ refusal to serve a human master, and devotion to God, and therefore dedicated to throwing off Rome and repudiating Roman religion. . . . You don’t have to lose your religion to learn much that’s vitally germane to its history from Aslan’s absorbing, reader-friendly book.”Booklist (starred review)
 
“Be advised, dear reader, Sunday school this isn’t. Yet Aslan may come as close as one can to respecting those who revere Jesus as the peace-loving, turn-the-other-cheek, true son of God depicted in modern Christianity, even as he knocks down that image. . . . Aslan is steeped in the history, languages and scriptural foundation of the biblical scholar and is a very clear writer with an authoritative, but not pedantic, voice. Those of us who wade into this genre often know how rare that is. . . . Fascinatingly and convincingly drawn.”The Seattle Times
 
“[Aslan’s] literary talent is as essential to the effect of Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth as are his scholarly and journalistic chops. . . . A vivid, persuasive portrait of the world and societies in which Jesus lived and the role he most likely played in both. . . . Fascinating.”—Salon
 
“Accessibly and strongly presented . . . Readable and with scholarly endnotes, Aslan’s book offers a historical perspective that is sure to generate spirited conversation.”Library Journal
 
“A well-researched, readable biography of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus of Nazareth is not the same as Jesus Christ. The Gospels are not historical documents. . . . Why has Christianity taken hold and flourished? This book will give you the answers.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
 
“[Aslan] parts an important curtain that has long hidden from view the man Jesus. . . . Aslan develops a convincing and coherent story of how the Christian church, and in particular Paul, reshaped Christianity’s essence, obscuring the very real man who was Jesus of Nazareth. Compulsively readable and written at a popular level, this superb work is highly recommended.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“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
 
“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

Library Journal
In his notes section, Aslan (creative writing, Univ. of California, Riverside; No god but God) remarks that he is heavily indebted to John Meier's multivolume A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus. Like Meier, Aslan analyzes historical information from first-century Palestine in order to situate Jesus within the turbulent social and political context of his time, appreciating the man for who he really was: one of many itinerant peasant preachers and teachers who sought to reinvigorate the Judaism of his day with eschatological and spiritual fervor. Aslan takes a somewhat dim view of Pauline Christianity, arguing that Paul's concept of a divine, cosmic Christ is at odds both with the Jerusalem church of James, brother of Jesus, and with the Gospel of John. Likewise, Paul's approach, Aslan believes, is at odds with sacred Jewish norms, e.g., circumcision, and with eyewitnesses who saw Jesus as reviving Judaism. But following the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 CE, claims Aslan, "the Christ of Paul's creation utterly subsumed the Jesus of history," giving the world the Christianity we have today. This perspective is hardly new but is accessibly and strongly presented here. VERDICT Readable and with scholarly endnotes, Aslan's book offers a historical perspective that is sure to generate spirited conversation. For Christian history buffs of all stripes.—Sandra Collins, Byzantine Catholic Seminary Lib., Pittsburgh
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400069224
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/16/2013
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 213
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Reza Aslan

Reza Aslan is an internationally acclaimed writer and scholar of religions. His first book, No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam, has been translated into thirteen languages and named by Blackwell as one of the hundred most important books of the last decade. He is also the author of How to Win a Cosmic War: God, Globalization, and the End of the War on Terror (published in paperback as Beyond Fundamentalism), as well as the editor of Tablet & Pen: Literary Landscapes from the Modern Middle East. Born in Iran, he lives in New York and Los Angeles with his wife and two sons.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

A Hole in the Corner

Who killed Jonathan son of Ananus as he strode across the Temple Mount in the year 56 c.e.? No doubt there were many in Jerusalem who longed to slay the rapacious high priest, and more than a few who would have liked to wipe out the bloated Temple priesthood in its entirety. For what must never be forgotten when speaking of first-century Palestine is that this land—this hallowed land from which the spirit of God flowed to the rest of the world—was occupied territory. Legions of Roman troops were stationed throughout Judea. Some six hundred Roman soldiers resided atop the Temple Mount itself, within the high stone walls of the Antonia Fortress, which buttressed the northwest corner of the Temple wall. The unclean centurion in his red cape and polished cuirass who paraded through the Court of Gentiles, his hand hovering over the hilt of his sword, was a not so subtle reminder, if any were needed, of who really ruled this sacred place.

Roman dominion over Jerusalem began in 63 b.c.e., when Rome’s master tactician, Pompey Magnus, entered the city with his conquering legions and laid siege to the Temple. By then, Jerusalem had long since passed its economic and cultural zenith. The Canaanite settlement that King David had recast into the seat of his kingdom, the city he had passed to his wayward son, Solomon, who built the first Temple to God—sacked and destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 b.c.e.—the city that had served as the religious, economic, and political capital of the Jewish nation for a thousand years, was, by the time Pompey strode through its gates, recognized less for its beauty and grandeur than for the religious fervor of its troublesome population.

Situated on the southern plateau of the shaggy Judean mountains, between the twin peaks of Mount Scopus and the Mount of Olives, and flanked by the Kidron Valley in the east and the steep, forebidding Valley of Gehenna in the south, Jerusalem, at the time of the Roman invasion, was home to a settled population of about a hundred thousand people. To the Romans, it was an inconsequential speck on the imperial map, a city the wordy statesman Cicero dismissed as “a hole in the corner.” But to the Jews this was the navel of the world, the axis of the universe. There was no city more unique, more holy, more venerable in all the world than Jerusalem. The purple vineyards whose vines twisted and crawled across the level plains, the well-tilled fields and viridescent orchards bursting with almond and fig and olive trees, the green beds of papyrus floating lazily along the Jordan River—the Jews not only knew and deeply loved every feature of this consecrated land, they laid claim to all of it. Everything from the farmsteads of the Galilee to the low-lying hills of Samaria and the far outskirts of Idumea, where the Bible says the accursed cities of Sodom and Gomorrah once stood, was given by God to the Jews, though in fact the Jews ruled none of it, not even Jerusalem, where the true God was worshipped. The city that the Lord had clothed in splendor and glory and placed, as the prophet Ezekiel declared, “in the center of all nations”—the eternal seat of God’s kingdom on earth—was, at the dawn of the first century c.e., just a minor province, and a vexing one at that, at the far corner of the mighty Roman Empire.

It is not that Jerusalem was unaccustomed to invasion and ­occupation. Despite its exalted status in the hearts of the Jews, the truth is that Jerusalem was little more than a trifle to be passed among a succession of kings and emperors who took turns ­plundering and despoiling the sacred city on their way to far grander ambitions. In 586 b.c.e. the Babylonians—masters of Mesopotamia—rampaged through Judea, razing both Jerusalem and its Temple to the ground. The Babylonians were conquered by the Persians, who allowed the Jews to return to their beloved city and rebuild their temple, not because they admired the Jews or took their cult seriously, but because they considered Jerusalem an irrelevant backwater of little interest or concern to an empire that stretched the length of Central Asia (though the prophet Isaiah would thank the Persian king Cyrus by anointing him messiah). The Persian Empire, and Jerusalem with it, fell to the armies of Alexander the Great, whose descendants imbued the city and its inhabitants with Greek culture and ideas. Upon Alexander’s untimely death in 323 b.c.e., Jerusalem was passed as spoils to the Ptolemaic dynasty and ruled from distant Egypt, though only briefly. In 198 b.c.e., the city was wrested from Ptolemaic control by the Seleucid king Antiochus the Great, whose son Antiochus Epiphanes fancied himself god incarnate and strove to put an end once and for all to the worship of the Jewish deity in Jerusalem. But the Jews responded to this blasphemy with a relentless ­guerrilla war led by the stouthearted sons of Mattathias the Hasmonaean—the Maccabees—who reclaimed the holy city from Seleucid control in 164 b.c.e. and, for the first time in four centuries, restored Jewish hegemony over Judea.

For the next hundred years, the Hasmonaeans ruled God’s land with an iron fist. They were priest-kings, each sovereign serving as both King of the Jews and high priest of the Temple. But when civil war broke out between the brothers Hyrcanus and Aristobulus over control of the throne, each brother foolishly reached out to Rome for support. Pompey took the brothers’ entreaties as an invitation to seize Jerusalem for himself, thus putting an end to the brief period of direct Jewish rule over the city of God. In 63 b.c.e., Judea became a Roman protectorate, and the Jews were made once again a subject people.

Roman rule, coming as it did after a century of independence, was not warmly received by the Jews. The Hasmonaean dynasty was abolished, but Pompey allowed Hyrcanus to maintain the position of high priest. That did not sit well with the supporters of Aristobulus, who launched a series of revolts to which the Romans responded with characteristic savagery—burning towns, massacring rebels, enslaving populations. Meanwhile, the chasm between the starving and indebted poor toiling in the countryside and the wealthy provincial class ruling in Jerusalem grew even wider. It was standard Roman policy to forge alliances with the landed aristocracy in every captured city, making them dependent on the Roman overlords for their power and wealth. By aligning their interests with those of the ruling class, Rome assured that local leaders remained wholly vested in maintaining the imperial system. Of course, in Jerusalem, “landed aristocracy” more or less meant the priestly class, and specifically, that handful of wealthy priestly families who maintained the Temple cult and who, as a result, were charged by Rome with collecting the taxes and tribute and keeping order among the increasingly restive population—tasks for which they were richly compensated.

The fluidity that existed in Jerusalem between the religious and political powers made it necessary for Rome to maintain close supervision over the Jewish cult and, in particular, over the high priest. As head of the Sanhedrin and “leader of the nation,” the high priest was a figure of both religious and political renown with the power to decide all religious matters, to enforce God’s law, and even to make arrests, though only in the vicinity of the Temple. If the Romans wanted to control the Jews, they had to control the Temple. And if they wanted to control the Temple, they had to control the high priest, which is why, soon after taking control over Judea, Rome took upon itself the responsibility of appointing and deposing (either directly or indirectly) the high priest, essentially transforming him into a Roman employee. Rome even kept custody of the high priest’s sacred garments, handing them out only on the sacred festivals and feast days and confiscating them immediately after the ceremonies were complete.

Still, the Jews were better off than some other Roman subjects. For the most part, the Romans humored the Jewish cult, allowing the rituals and sacrifices to be conducted without interference. The Jews were even excused from the direct worship of the emperor, which Rome imposed upon nearly every other religious community under its dominion. All that Rome asked of Jerusalem was a twice-daily sacrifice of one bull and two lambs on behalf of the emperor and for his good health. Continue making the sacrifice, keep up with the taxes and tribute, follow the provincial laws, and Rome was happy to leave you, your god, and your temple alone.

The Romans were, after all, fairly proficient in the religious beliefs and practices of subject peoples. Most of the lands they conquered were allowed to maintain their temples unmolested. Rival gods, far from being vanquished or destroyed, were often assimilated into the Roman cult (that is how, for example, the Canaanite god Baal became associated with the Roman god Saturn). In some cases, under a practice called evocatio, the Romans would take possession of an enemy’s temple—and therefore its god, for the two were inextricable in the ancient world—and transfer it to Rome, where it would be showered with riches and lavish sacrifices. Such displays were meant to send a clear signal that the hostilities were directed not toward the enemy’s god but toward its fighters; the god would continue to be honored and worshipped in Rome if only his devotees would lay down their arms and allow themselves to be absorbed into the empire.

As generally tolerant as the Romans may have been when it came to foreign cults, they were even more lenient toward the Jews and their fealty to their One God—what Cicero decried as the “barbarian superstitions” of Jewish monotheism. The Romans may not have understood the Jewish cult, with its strange observances and its overwhelming obsession with ritual purity—“The Jews regard as profane all that we hold sacred,” Tacitus wrote, “while they permit all that we abhor”—but they nevertheless tolerated it.

What most puzzled Rome about the Jews was not their unfamiliar rites or their strict devotion to their laws, but rather what the Romans considered to be their unfathomable superiority complex. The notion that an insignificant Semitic tribe residing in a distant corner of the mighty Roman Empire demanded, and indeed received, special treatment from the emperor was, for many Romans, simply incomprehensible. How dare they consider their god to be the sole god in the universe? How dare they keep themselves separate from all other nations? Who do these backward and superstitious tribesmen think they are? The Stoic philosopher Seneca was not alone among the Roman elite in wondering how it had possibly come to pass in Jerusalem that “the vanquished have given laws to the victors.”

For the Jews, however, this sense of exceptionalism was not a matter of arrogance or pride. It was a direct commandment from a jealous God who tolerated no foreign presence in the land he had set aside for his chosen people. That is why, when the Jews first came to this land a thousand years earlier, God had decreed that they massacre every man, woman, and child they encountered, that they slaughter every ox, goat, and sheep they came across, that they burn every farm, every field, every crop, every living thing without exception so as to ensure that the land would belong solely to those who worshipped this one God and no other.

“As for the towns of these people that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance,” God told the Israelites, “you must not let anything that breathes remain alive. You shall annihilate them all—the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites—just as the Lord your God has commanded” (Deuteronomy 20:17–­18).

It was, the Bible claims, only after the Jewish armies had “utterly destroyed all that breathed” in the cities of Libnah and Lachish and Eglon and Hebron and Debir, in the hill country and in the Negeb, in the lowlands and in the slopes—only after every single previous inhabitant of this land was eradicated, “as the Lord God of Israel had commanded” (Joshua 10: 28–­42)—that the Jews were allowed to settle here.

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Customer Reviews

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 288 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2013

    Wow! Ignorance abounds!

    Just to set matters straight here folks; Aslan was raised Christian and converted to the Muslim faith. More importantly, he has a PHD in spiritual studies. So essentially, he studies religions of ALL TYPES and writes about them. So his personal choice of religion is irrelevant to this book. If you want to discredit the man, read the book and present credible evidence that he's wrong. "But, he's Muslim" doesn't tell us anything about the quality of the information in his book.

    135 out of 164 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 16, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    No matter your beliefs, Zealot is a captivating book. It takes a

    No matter your beliefs, Zealot is a captivating book. It takes a new look at the life of Jesus, his mission, and the impact he had. It is a very good book, excellently researched and well written.

    128 out of 148 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2013

    Here's some truths behind this author that he and no other media

    Here's some truths behind this author that he and no other media source have bothered to point out, that you as a reader should be aware of:

    Reza Aslan has four degrees. In 1995, he got a BA in religion, in religious studies. In 1999, a Masters in world religions from Harvard. In 2002, a Masters in fine arts in fiction. In 2009, a PhD in sociology. So he’s studied us. He’s learned how to write fiction, and he's learned how to speak the religious language. But there’s no history degree. He’s not a PhD in religions, and he’s not a fully-credited historian. It’s possible that his Harvard theology degree included some history credits, but it’s not the same, not even on the same planet as an expert with a PhD in the history of religions.

    Currently, he's teaching at UC Riverside, in the department of Creative Writing. He also teaches at the University of Southern California in Public Diplomacy. He’s also a contributor to The Daily Beast. But what's most notable is that he is an assistant professor at Drew University, and what he’s teaching is something fantastic. He’s teaching people about Middle Eastern revolution.

    He isn't who the media says he is (or who they allow him to say he is), and he’s not about what the detractors say either. The media said he’s got a PhD in Gospel history. He doesn’t. He’s a Muslim -- not exactly. He is a Muslim, but that isn't what motivated him to write the book. It begins with his productions of Aslan Media. What is he teaching at Drew University? He’s teaching the art of revolution “on the art of protest in the Middle East", examining protest literature, film, art, and music. He’s producing literature and media.

    Who is Aslan Media? Well, they’re operating under the fiscal sponsorship of this group, the Levantine Cultural Center. Who are they? Well, they’re partners with CODEPINK on the founding committee of a project called Narrative 4. What’s Narrative 4? That’s a project dedicated to creating social change, and that’s a project of the Tides Center. He’s also a board director on the National Iranian American Council. So who is he, really? He’s a radical Progressive. He's also hardcore anti-Israel. He wants to change our understanding of history and our relationship to God to create social change. That’s what he’s been teaching (occasionally) at Drew University. At least when he’s a visiting professor at Drew University, the class knows what they’re walking into, to witness the art of protest in literature, film, art, and music.

    Just thought you might be interested to know some of this information before you read the book for yourself. There's more... but you can do your own homework. For myself, I wasn't really impressed. The author has made claims that he doesn't accept the Gospels as a reliable source because they were written 30 or 40 years after Jesus' death. That's a logical point to make, but how are we supposed to take his book any more seriously 2,000 years later -- when he's not even a true historian???

    99 out of 213 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    Zealot is a remarkable book. It is a very well researched accoun

    Zealot is a remarkable book. It is a very well researched account of the life of Jesus, put in the context of the times that he lived. The writing is easy to follow and the story is fascinating.

    93 out of 107 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 30, 2013

    As Mr. Aslan has stated in many interviews, this is an academic

    As Mr. Aslan has stated in many interviews, this is an academic work about the historical Jesus of Nazareth, not the Lord Jesus Christ of the Catholic Church, as well as many other faiths. This is about the rebel, the seditionist, the zealot. The descriptions of the Jerusalem during Jesus’ lifetime, the politics, laws, economy, and hierarchy of the Sanhedrin and the Roman rule are both educational as well as insightful. It is amazing at what a provocative and powerful, how bold a figure He must have been amidst that era, as He challenged all the powers-that-be as He fought for a different “Kingdom” for His people. Aslan shows us how extraordinarily passionate the historical Jesus was as he reveals to us the compelling story of a radical who defied the Sanhedrin and the Roman empire, as both were enslaving His people. We now ponder and question the Gospel writers (as we will never know who they really were), what their agenda was, and how true to the actual events they were permitted to write. This was evidenced by the information given regarding the conflict between Paul and the Twelve Apostles, particularly with James in Jerusalem and Peter in Rome, as the New Testament clearly shows a Pauline influence. Thank you Mr. Aslan for enlightening us to the historical Jesus of Nazareth. Even though this book may have brought to light many challenges to what Christians have been taught to be true for centuries, one thing that will never be challenged is our faith in Jesus the Christ.

    87 out of 98 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    Zealot is a very well researched and very informative look at th

    Zealot is a very well researched and very informative look at the life of Christ in the context of the times he lived. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and feel like I learned a lot.

    68 out of 84 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2013

    The idiots reviews here have convinced me to give my money to Reza Aslan

    I have not read the book yet but I will buy it and read it if only because there are a lot of clearly stupid people on here telling me not to. It must be good!

    66 out of 112 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 28, 2013

    I love how the author is being attacked because of his religious

    I love how the author is being attacked because of his religious beliefs. I wonder how you would feel if you discovered the religious, political, or sexual orientation of all your favorite authors? Aslan is a scholar, he is not just some crazed Muslim who is attempting to change your opinion of Jesus. It's not like they give away PhDs. Why don't you read the book, then criticize.

    With that out of the way, I found it to be interesting. I loved the insight I gained about Jesus as a man, not just the Son of God.

    65 out of 84 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2013

    I give 4 stars because there are some limitations to this book,

    I give 4 stars because there are some limitations to this book, which I'm glad that Mr. Aslan clearly and tries to account for.

    If you're interested in the historical Jesus rather than the biblical Jesus, then this book may be for you. Mr. Aslan provides a good background and cultural insight into the region around the time that Jesus has lived. He then tries to extrapolate these findings into understanding who this historical Jesus might be. You will find out that Mr. Aslan obviously uses a lot of would-be's and would-have-been's in his writing, so Mr. Aslan does know that that people will critique his findings which he is open to.

    Personally, I don't get the 1-2 star critiques on this review board, because Mr. Aslan tries to use anthropology, sociology, and history to study this historical Jesus, rather than rely only on the Bible

    60 out of 70 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2013

    Amazing

    Amazing read. Ignore the ignorant racists. A muslim writting on the new testament is no different than a christian looking at the torah. Get over yourself. I highly recommend this for people of all faiths.

    59 out of 80 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2013

    Unless you've actually READ THE BOOK, please do not comment with

    Unless you've actually READ THE BOOK, please do not comment with a review. Because those of us who are intelligent, educated, literate individuals are interested in reading valid comments about how the book is written. We do NOT want to read your ignorant and bigoted rants about Islam. Go share your bigotry on the Fox News blogs. Or better yet, keep it to yourselves.

    55 out of 93 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2013

    Thanks, one star reviewers!

    The ones who claim this book is biased blasphemy motivated me to read it. Because fundamentalist Christians were right about other scientific matters - the earth is the center of the universe, and the fossil record is completely fabricated. Mr. Aslan reveals nothing new to scientists - basic college courses teach what he says - but he writes in a down to earth style I wish I had. Easily approachable and quickly put in context. He is a gifted writer.

    44 out of 56 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2013

    A lot of ignorant post on here. The author of this book was born

    A lot of ignorant post on here. The author of this book was born Muslim and converted to Christianity. And he is a historian. It really shouldn't matter.

    40 out of 77 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2013

    Did you read this..

    Hey did the people who gave this zero stars read this book? I want to know what someone who read it thought not some one who didnt read it and still has an opinion. How close minded.

    34 out of 175 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2013

    Aslan is actually a Christian. To refer to him as a Muslim indi

    Aslan is actually a Christian. To refer to him as a Muslim indicates either prejudice or ignorance or both.

    32 out of 99 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2013

    Zealot

    There has emerged archaeological evidence that the Ascedics, and their apocolptic teaching, may have had a signifcant influence on a young Jesus during the lost 20 years of his life. This book enforces those findings and the speculations of many biblical scholars.

    29 out of 36 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2013

    Aslan is a brilliant and well-informed thinker who has written a

    Aslan is a brilliant and well-informed thinker who has written another excellent book
    For it to matter whether he is a Muslim or a Christian shows ignorance AND prejudice, 
    as well as simple-minded thinking.  Zealoy is well-worth reading regardless of race, ethnicity, or religion.
    jaty

    28 out of 44 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 31, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    As the author of The Last Moderate Muslim, and a man who was bor

    As the author of The Last Moderate Muslim, and a man who was born and raised in a multi-faith nation, Lebanon, I know countless cultural nuances in applying the Christian and Islamic theologies.




    Zealot is purely academic and as fact-based as any scholar could produce. Having learned the theology and history of Islam, the biography of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, and read Zealot, some of my conclusions are reinforced, Jesus and Muhammad shared a holy calling to inject humanity in a region that was and continues to be paralyzed with strife.




    Incidentally and to a great extent, Zealot corroborates the understanding of Jesus by millions of moderate and rogue Muslims worldwide. I hope that those who read "rogue Muslims" internalize that to mean, 'Perhaps we have a lot in common to bridge the differences' in contrast to, 'If the rogue Muslims see it this way; therefore, we should condem Zealot.' Those whose reviews condemen the book, I trust match the latter for another more profound reason. Maybe they are jaundiced by Aslan saying and writing that Jesus was a man,not Lord, over and over.




    Drop your hearing weapons and give yourselves the privilege to learn more about Jesus Christ, whose story and actions made the world a better place.

    26 out of 35 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 30, 2013

    Fascinating description of the historical Jesus.  Excellent abil

    Fascinating description of the historical Jesus.  Excellent ability of author to relate scholarly research findings  to a lay readership. As a Christian by faith I did not find this a threat to my faith but an absorbing description of  Jesus the man.   I want to read more by this author.                     at all.

    22 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 30, 2013

    Please accept my humble apologies in advance for writing anythin

    Please accept my humble apologies in advance for writing anything outside of a review. I'm giving a 3-star assessment based on premise. But I would like to quickly address the [apparent] religious zealots (pun intended) who seem bent on marking this piece of literature as anti-Christian Muslim propaganda. I find it interesting - and sad - that many of the individuals whose reviews were poor and had inflammatory things to say about the author are anonymous, and that their rebuttal to the literature in question is little more than a rehashing of the age-old religious argument, "I'm right, you're wrong, how dare you think I'm wrong, you have no right." I would venture to say that any Catholic or Christian historian, scholar, theologian, or exegete, will be the first to tell you that some of the most important discovery made on the topic of Christology has been done based on the inter-faith, and faith-to-non-faith collaborative work facilitated over the last several centuries. Perspectives on Christ's life that allow for non-religious, professionally & respectfully objective review of His history and the times in which He lived are just as important as any Gospel literature, Apocrypha, and religious philosophy carried out by the Church itself. For too long, ignorance and fundamentalist fanaticism have prohibited for actual intense study into this individual, and the fact that members of our society who claim to be Christians are still unable to exercise their minds & free will into understanding the life of Christ from all points of view, opting rather to condemn and dismiss anything that might challenge their views, biased as they are, is a sorry mark against the faith as a whole. In my humble opinion, Christ's message was meant to encourage self-awareness, communal growth, and, of course, love without condition. These things cannot happen without a deeper, intelligent assessment of the world around us. Shame on anyone who would stand in the way of such progress. We have all got to do better.

    19 out of 43 people found this review helpful.

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