Sunday, October 13, 2013

Review: Zealot (the Book)

Parishioners have talked about this book.  I read it to see what the hub bub was all about.

First off, I disliked how Reza Aslan's chapters jumped all over the place in their time frames.  It was disorienting and I don't believe it helped to tell his theories on Jesus.

I am not outraged as others that a Muslim has written this book.  He does it respectfully but he makes Jesus in his own image in what studies he has done.

I've read his book. His scholarship is very good. His conclusions, however, don't flow well from the scholarship. He picks and chooses which sources are authentic in very unauthentic ways.  Why is Josephus and Roman authors more authoritative than others? Do they not have their own biases?

In the end, his book makes Jesus an angry young zealot and that others have made into the Christ where the true Jesus would not have.

His version of Jesus reminds me of a song written by Billy Joel (1976):
"There's a place in the world for the angry young man
With his working class ties and his radical plans
He refuses to bend, he refuses to crawl,
He's always at home with his back to the wall.
And he's proud of his scars and the battles he's lost,
He struggles and bleeds as he hangs on the cross-
And he likes to be known as the angry young man." 
This review in the Christian Century also represents well my take on his book:

An excerpt from that review:

Readers may derive many benefits from Zealot. The book does bring Jesus’ world “before the eyes,” as the ancients put it. Albeit with many errors, Zealot vividly lays out the material and social conditions of Jesus’ world, along with the long tradition of Jewish resistance. Aslan artfully ex­plains some of the historical problems presented by the Gospels and Acts, even if his judgment is uneven. Surely the churches need to take more seriously the political dimensions of Jesus’ activity—a point most scholars would support, even when not accepting his specific conclusion. But this book includes so much misleading information and relies on so many outworn misconceptions that I fear it will create more problems than it will solve.

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