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Reza Aslan’s biography of Jesus opens with this quote from the gospel of Matthew: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth. I have not come to bring peace, but the sword.” (10:34) Aslan’s Jesus is an angry Jewish peasant who has come to Jerusalem to drive out the moneychangers and corrupt priests of the Temple who are bleeding the people dry. Thus, the title---Zealot, one who is full of zeal, so full of zeal that one will resort to any means necessary to achieve that end, including holy war. Of course this idea of a violent Jesus is the opposite of the orthodox Christian idea of Jesus as a man of peace. But nevertheless, those militant words in Matthew, and others like them, are part of the Christian gospels.
Part of Reza Aslan’s task in this book is to explain these contradictory portrayals of Jesus, and to do this it is necessary to make readers aware of the historical context within which the short life of Jesus is played out. First century Judea was a Roman province, and Rome ruled its subjugated provinces with an iron fist. Rebellion and even talk of rebellion was considered treason and was stamped out with torture, execution, massacre, and wholesale destruction. Rome sought to divide a conquered people by setting up puppet rulers, showing them favor, and encouraging them to keep their own people in control by any means necessary. In Jerusalem, the capital, the puppets were the high priests and elders of the Temple. They were a corrupt lot and enjoyed wealth and luxury at the expense of everyone else. Thus they were hated and had many enemies. Among the most dangerous enemies were zealous preachers, magicians, and healers who moved among the poor stirring up trouble. To the high priests, elders, and their Roman masters, Jesus was just another such troublemaker. Thus, he had to be put to death.
Most of the conclusions Aslan presents about this “historical” Jesus have been debated by religion scholars for decades. The author does not pretend to be covering new ground in this book. In fact, his back-of-the-book notes provide more than fifty pages of very interesting documentation for his views. (This is a book where the back notes are almost as interesting as the main book matter. Aslan cites authors on both sides of the controversy. He lets you know who disagrees with him.) Even though, the historical Jesus controversy has been raging for decades now, it is telling that this book will probably be surprising and controversial among the faithful. A reaction of shock and surprise would suggest that the scholarly debates about Jesus have not filtered down to the people in the pews. As so often happens, the pastors out in the parishes have not spent a lot of time educating people about theological controversies raging in seminaries and universities, if even they themselves are aware of them.
With Zealot, Aslan plays the role of popularizer of scholarly theological matters. He brings the debate down from the misty heights of academia and presents it as a fascinating story for the masses. One does not have to be a Christian or follower of any faith, for that matter, to be captivated by Aslan’s biography of Jesus. He has turned it into a great story. It may be quite different from “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” but it is definitely a page-turner. (And don’t forget to read the back notes.)
Very satisfied with this book. I bought it for my future daughter-in-law who is in medical school.
She likes it as well and thinks it will be very useful.
Armin Van Buuren does it again in this album. Loved it! Naturally, I have my favorite tracks, but generally speaking the State of Trance series gets better with each passing year.
I own State of Trance 2006 - 2013, and 2013 is perhaps my favorite one of all the series. For the record, "Intense" is also quite good. I wouldn't say it's better than SOT 2013, but it's worth picking up if you like Armin Van Buuren's style.
Armin Van Buuren is what I would call Melodic Trance. He differs from artists such as Dead Maus in that there is a much richer melodic / musical progression throughout his songs. Rarely do I find myself saying, "Okay, get to the point..." in his songs. He's a master!
After just becoming single after 10 years of marriage I was a little nervous to begin dating again. This book was great and had a lot of practical tips that I could really put into practice. It was an excellent look at dating from a male's perspective, and how women can utilize that to find what they are looking for.
Sheryl Sandberg's wise and inspiring words are both motivating and comforting. As a working mother of 4 children with a passion for leading I took solace in knowing that I can lead at home and work. I hope Sheryl inspires a revolution of women to lead and that my daughter knows she can reach her potential and achieve equality in the workplace.