Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Jesus was no messiah, but rather a kind of zealous bandit. This is what you will take away from biblical scholar Reza Aslan's Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth.
After having read the book, I can't disagree with his conclusions. Not everything Aslan proposes rings true or is backed with solid evidence. But hey, we're talking about a sketchy 2000 year old history here! No matter where you stand on the topic, a lot of so-called "facts" about Jesus are clearly tenuous at best. However, Aslan's suppositions on some key points seem solid.
As a kid, I was baptized, circumcised and christianized. I understood what all that meant and had a vague notion that they didn't all jell together, but lately I've been reading up on the world's religions for shits and giggles, and just it has occurred to me just how disparate these acts and ideas are: how divorced from Catholics were the Baptists; how peculiar it seems for a Catholic to undergo a very Jewish ritual with the wee-willy snipping. Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth drove home these points.
The book starts off playing all nicey-nice, acting as if everything's kosher, there ain't nothing wrong, and we're all gonna act cool like a bunch of Fonzies. However, by the midway point Aslan really begins tearing down Jesus, denying the miracles, calling him out on his lack of messianic achievements, and basically attempting to reveal that Jesus was just a Jewish hero, not a Christian god. That's not going to sit well with the people that love their Baby Jesus and Virgin Mary. And honestly, if you want to believe in the Bible with all your heart and refuse to see any fault in it, go ahead. Cling to your beliefs if you feel it's doing you any good. Just avoid faith-shaker books like this. Me, I enjoyed this. I'm not all caught up in the myth, the legend, the whatever-it-is. I don't need all the extracurricular Christian activities, I just like the "be a good person" message and I'll continue to live by that, regardless of what really happened 2000 years ago.
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