Zealot

Zealot

The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth

Book - 2013
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#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
Publisher: New York : Random House, c2013.
Edition: 1st ed. --
ISBN: 9781400069224
140006922X
Characteristics: xxxiv, 296 p. :,ill., map ;,24 cm.
Alternative Title: Zealot, Jesus of Nazareth

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g
gritslover
Aug 04, 2016

This take on Jesus was totally unexpected for me. Still considering everything I read. Thought provoking, super interesting.

h
horthhill
May 19, 2016

"Zealot: The life and times of Jesus of Nazareth" by Reza Aslan was OK but not my favourite 'historical Jesus' book - which is a bit of a favourite genre of mine.

j
JP_Wright
Mar 19, 2016

I give this book a 6 star rating!
Very well researched material not to mention an incredible story telling that engages the reader. It took Reza Aslan 20 years to do the research and put this together. I will warn you that if you grew up in a traditional Christian home regardless of denomination, there are some very controversial arguments that you may not be comfortable reading. However, the point of the book is to tell the story of Jesus of Nazareth not Jesus the Christ. I was blown away by the author’s ability to paint the picture and describe the social and political issues of that particular time period. What makes this topic so difficult to research is that not much is known about the historical Jesus and the author had to reconstruct the setting based on accounts of other historians who wrote after his death. The fist gospel about Jesus wasn’t written until 40 years after his death. A lot had happened in that time frame which shaped the outcome of how Jesus was portrayed. Additionally, a majority of the New Testament was written by Paul who viewed Jesus in a different light than the disciples before him. Whatever your view point may be, I encourage every reader to look at this text with an open mind and decide for yourself what you believe and what you don’t. I choose to give credit where credit is due and I appreciate the author writing about such an important historical event that challenges people to examine the setting and issues from a different lens.

w
WMarlow
Jul 19, 2015

The author gives lots of detail about the politics of the day and gives plenty of references. Very interesting.

s
sevelina
Jul 16, 2015

An eye-opening, mind-expanding book. For those who have been relying to understand Jesus through sermons and Bible studies, it offers a refreshing dose of historical context.
The edge is twofold, however. On one hand, the things Jesus says and events in the Bible start making much more sense. On the other, the possibility of losing the traditional Sunday-school understanding of him/Him becomes extremely real.
One of the reviewers said that the faith of believers may not be shaken much by this book. I disagree. But shouldn't we all seek to know more, not less, about God?

j
jdmm4ever
Jun 18, 2015

For those of you who are familiar with the work of a group of religious/biblical scholars known as "the Jesus seminar" , this book adds very little new information. He largely summarizes the work of other scholars.
However, he writes in a very accessible way for everyone. He effectively explains the numerous contradictions between the scant historical record and the Bible.
The Bible is an article of faith and not a historical record

k
Kunterbunt
Apr 14, 2015

I greatly enjoyed reading Aslan's "Zealot" as it has brought me closer to who I believe the "real Jesus" was. Certainly nothing in common with the Jesus of the old myths.
This man was a rebel, a revolutionary thinker and most of the hokus pokus acts attributed to him and virgin births were likely added by some fans to fluff the story of a Messiah a bit.
Excellent read. I recommend reading it once accompanied by Reza Aslan's narrated audio book. It's a quite a treat.

h
Hippolyta
Apr 04, 2015

My main purpose in reading 'Zealot' was to learn more about the 'real' Jesus and what 'really' happened. With this in mind, I enjoyed Aslan's accessible (if sometimes enthusiastic) writing style, his clear and consistent perspectives and his apparently substantial knowledge base. Having read the book, I certainly feel much more well-informed.

I am also a woman and have an interest in feminist theology. Aslan almost completely denies the influence, let alone the presence of women, despite his subject being "The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth." Typically in patriarchal (and arguably misogynistic) perspectives, when Aslan references 'the feminine' it is in terms of women's (hetero) sexual functions; ie Mary, as the mother of Jesus; the virgin birth; menstruation; and Jesus' association with "loose women."

I understand Jesus was remarkable for his honouring of women. And yet, despite Jesus' devotion and respect for Mary Magdalene; despite the presence and active involvement of women followers; and despite the important role women played in the formation of the early Christian Church, these facts are of no relevance to Aslan. Women in Aslan's book constitute 'white space.'

m
milhous
Jan 29, 2015

Before I attempted to write my comments on the book, I read the ones already posted. I found them very thoughtful, and they covered the ground I was to tread.

As a person who has been indoctrinated in, and has studied the Bible on my own for much of my life, the most revealing thing to me was that Jesus had no intention of starting a new religion. He was a revolutionary and a reformer. What I don't understand is how, after all my independent study, I could have missed it.

He said many times that he was the son of man, not the Son of God. He said several times that he came for the Jews, not the gentiles. He said that he came not to change a jot or a tittle of the word, what we call the Old Testament. All of these themes strike me as anathema to Christianity as we know it today. The latter comment is meant as an observation only, and not a criticism.

The beatitudes took on a new meaning for me read in light of this new knowledge, that Jesus was a revolutionary and a reformer. You could almost say a socialist. He was not alone.

k
kianting
Jan 06, 2015

This is a good book it tells me the state of affairs during Jesus time, I cannot get the same details reading the bible. This allows me to appreciate and understand the actions that is being done in the bible.

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SEBoiko
Dec 30, 2013

And the more the movement was shaped by these new 'pagan' converts, the more force fully it discarded its Jewish past for a Graeco -- Roman future.

s
SEBoiko
Dec 30, 2013

Yesus ho Xristos

s
SEBoiko
Dec 30, 2013

Little by little over the following decade, the Jewish sect founded by a group of rural Galileans morphed into a religion of urbanized Greek speakers.

s
SEBoiko
Dec 30, 2013

God has granted us the power to die bravely, and in a state of freedom, which was not the case for those who were conquered unexpectedly.

s
SEBoiko
Dec 30, 2013

No lord but God!

s
SEBoiko
Dec 30, 2013

What Pilate was best known for was his extreme depravity, his total disregard for Jewish law and tradition, and his barely concealed aversion to the Jewish nation as a whole.

s
SEBoiko
Dec 30, 2013

Crucifixion was a punishment that Rome reserved almost exclusively for the crime of sedition.

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