New York Times Best SellerZealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth is a book by Iranian-American writer and scholar Reza Aslan. It is a historical account of the life of Jesus and analyzes the various religious perspectives on Jesus as well as the creation of Christianity. Aslan argues that Jesus was a political, rebellious and eschatological (end times) Jew whose proclamation of the coming kingdom of God was a call for regime change, for ending Roman hegemony over Judea and ending a corrupt and oppressive aristocratic priesthood.Reviews:Elizabeth Castelli, the Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Religion at Barnard College and a specialist in biblical studies and early Christianity, writing in The Nation:"Zealot is a cultural production of its particular historical moment-a remix of existing scholarship, sampled and re-framed to make a culturally relevant intervention in the early twenty-first-century world where religion, violence and politics overlap in complex ways. In this sense, the book is simply one more example in a long line of efforts by theologians, historians and other interested cultural workers."Craig A. Evans, an evangelical New Testament scholar and professor at Acadia Divinity College, writing in Christianity Today, states that Aslan made many basic errors in geography, history and New Testament interpretation. He said it "relies on an outdated and discredited thesis", consistently fails to engage the relevant historical scholarship, and is "rife with questionable assertions."A review in USA Today cited Stephen Prothero, a professor of religion at Boston University, who said Aslan's perspective as a Muslim may have influenced his writing as he found the picture of Jesus in Zealot seems more like a failed version of the Prophet Muhammad than the figure depicted in the Bible. However, Prothero agreed that biographies of Jesus citing alternative sources are often controversial since "outside of the Bible there's not enough historical evidence to write about a modern biography of Jesus", while Darrell Gwaltney, dean of the School of Religion at Belmont University, concurred and commented "Even people who were present in the life of Jesus couldn't make up their minds about who he was... And they were eyewitnesses."A review in ABC Online by Australian historian John Dickson questioned Aslan's expertise in the subject, claiming "Aslan has not contributed a single peer reviewed article", and further said "Aslan's grandiose claims and his limited credentials in history is glaring on almost every page."
Publication Date: 09-Sep-2014
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group