Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan is a book that has been on my “to read” list for some time. I wasn’t sure what to expect… from the description, I assumed I was in for a story explaining how Jesus was not divine but just a good man. When I started reading, I thought I got something entirely different.
Aslan’s preface that he was a Christian converted from Islam gave me hope that he was not set out to defame or downplay Jesus as the Christ. At times, it seemed like he wasn’t. Other times however, it appeared exactly what Zealot set out to do.
The first premise is one that a lot of Jesus detractors use – the Gospels were written long after his death and fictionalized (and cherry-picked) to contribute to the goals of men. While Aslan chided “historians” for doing that, it is exactly what he continues to do (albeit with an occasional historical reference thrown in to lend credibility.)
I found it interesting and certainly his take that Jesus was surely at times caught up in the fervor of the times made sense. At the end of the day however, this is just his take on things. He has no more proof than the writers of the gospels had. Yes, he makes great arguments for why his take is likely, but you know what they say about opinions…
I am still not sure if he is knocking Jesus, the apostles – or maybe all of the above. I did enjoy the telling but it really didn’t change my opinion about anything.
by Chris Doelle