Wednesday, September 3, 2014


Many people have heard of Jesus of Nazareth. Usually, it is from a religious perspective. Here, Aslan examines what we know about the historical figure Jesus. If there is one thing that is undisputed from various records and accounts, it is: Jesus was crucified. The question must be asked: what was a crime the Romans would crucify a person for? They would crucify a person for insurrection against the Empire. How does this line up to what we know about Jesus the religious, peaceful figure?

I found the explanation of events from their historical context to be very interesting. There was a fascinating comparison of sources from the Old and New Testament and historical sources. Alsan explains how the gospels were written at least seventy to one hundred years after the events they are about, and uses historical records to provide context about Jesus' life, and why he was killed.

One of the most interesting portions to me was the near the end of the book after Jesus died. James and Paul are in conflict about what direction this movement should go. James wanted to keep everything more in line with the Law of Moses, the way Jesus had presented it. Paul wanted to separate from traditional Judaism and be more Roman. I would like to learn more about that period.

I thought that Zealot was an excellent biography. The presentation was very clear and engaging. I think even people that would not typically read a lot of history would be able to easily follow this book. One point that is important to make about this book is what the author intended. In several interviews I heard with the author, he states that the book is not about tearing down people's faith or beliefs. It is about examining an important world figure from a historical perspective. I think he accomplishes that goal. He examines what was happening in history at the time and place Jesus lived. Aslan is able to present his thesis in a tone that is not dismissive of other people's beliefs.

I highly recommend reading this biography.

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