- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Random House; Sixth edition (July 16 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 140006922X
- ISBN-13: 978-1400069224
- Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 2.5 x 24.1 cm
- Shipping Weight: 612 g
- Average Customer Review: 98 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #47,557 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth Hardcover – Jul 16 2013
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“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
About the Author
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.See all Product description
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Top Customer Reviews
The biggest of said problems is time and time again, Reza dismisses vast swathes of the Gospels as unhistorical, theological, fabricated etc. Yet he turns around and uses the very same Gospels to prove his points about the "historical" Jesus! One thing that I took particular amusement in was how literal and historical the author treated the brutal passages in the Old Testament...which are arguably the most mythological and widely exaggerated parts of the Bible! It was just too much at times.
For those who think he may be out to attack or completely discredit the Christian faith, you won't find that here. He is respectful (as any honest historian should be) about the Resurrection. It truly is a mystery of history which boggles the mind when you look at the historical evidence surrounding that event (some of which Reza touches upon). What Reza does more is expose the infighting and controversies surrounding early Christianity as opposed to discrediting the religion altogether. Obviously Evangelical Christians or other fundamentalists will have mountains of issues with the book's treatment of Christianity, but for more moderate readers it is quite compelling material. Vehement Atheists will also be disappointed, as miracles are not disproved and left open to the realm of possibility, as, for example, even Jesus Christ's enemies did not question his powers. Basically, the book is agnostic in regards to the supernatural, as any reasonable person should be when it comes down to it.
Chronologically, the book jumps around a bit: before Jesus, after Jesus, during Jesus, after Jesus, etc. It's a little weird in that regard. Another point of annoyance while reading the book is Reza's broad assumptions and complete lack of consideration for viewpoints outside his own. This can be best seen when he described the historical Pontius Pilate as a tyrannical, Jew-hating soldier, and that it is laughable to suggest that Jesus would have had a conversation with him consisting of anything beyond a single sentence. Why couldn't Jesus, known for stunning those he spoke to, have touched the hard Pilate with his words and eloquence? S(P)aul, after all, was a Pharisee who participated in the persecution of the first Christians before he became one, and was eventually martyred. Jesus transformed people, that much is certain. Yet Pilate was immune? Why? Paul's conversion (for reasons mentioned above) was also astounding and defies rational explanation, yet it happened: a Jewish Pharisee and persecutor of Christians martyred for the Christian faith. But somehow the hard Pilate couldn't be softened?
I guess a large part of the problem with this book is that it tries to have its cake and eat it too. All the passages that counter Reza's theories are dismissed as fabricated, exaggerated or even preposterous. Yet similar examples or passages from the very same pages as those just dismissed, are in turn called upon to support his arguments.
Despite being incredibly well written, very readable (a rarity in history) largely enjoyable and very educational in the non-Jesus parts, this book should not be taken as...gospel.
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