Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth

Reza Aslan’s Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, is the story of Jesus, the man, not Jesus Christ. Aslan looks through all historical texts contemporary to the life of Jesus, including but not limited to the Bible. He pulls the different stories together with what is known about the time period within Jesus lived. Anyone who thinks that the Bible was a truly accurate account of Jesus’s life would never have read the entire Bible since different stories contradict each other, but this book brings in additional sources to prove some of the Bible stories false.

Even with this, my opinion is that Aslan is not writing with an anti-Christian motivation, but rather through a historical lens. A true believer in the Bible and Jesus’s works should not be turned off by reading this book. Aslan makes it clear that the most important part of Jesus Christ, his resurrection, must be believed by faith since there would be no historical proof. In fact, Aslan is generous in his telling of what Jesus’s followers said and how their testimony facing death is pretty good proof. But unless you were already a believer, this book wouldn’t change your mind.

Aslan is very clear that the New Testament and the Christian religion were written and developed by men other than Jesus. Written, for the most part, many years after Jesus and his followers lived. The historical Jesus story is interesting for historical as well as religious reasons. Aslan shows that much of the story of Jesus the man was lost in order to make him the Christ, but that Jesus the man was great also. He was a real man that walked the earth 2,000 years ago and said and did some pretty amazing things.

This book didn’t change my mind about religion and I don’t think it would for anyone with deep convictions. From a non historian, the book seems well researched and presented in layman’s language to make it an easier and educational read.

Read August 2013