Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. This book was written by Reza Aslan and published in 2013 by Random House. This book is 296 pages long including the index and a huge notes section, befitting a book such as this.
I expect to read controversial books. In fact, the more controversial a book becomes, the more I want to know why. I hate hearing people tell me why I shouldn’t read a book. I rather like to read the book and make up my own mind.
Zealot is a very interesting book that puts the life of Jesus in its proper historical context. One is so very rarely told about the cauldron of human extremes that was Palestine at the time of Jesus. The main thesis of the book is that the historical Jesus was a decisively different person than the Prince of Peace I grew up with. Mr. Aslan suspects that the real Jesus was a man who was looking to establish a real, physical kingdom in Palestine and that it was only later, much later, that his disciples built him up to be a supernatural being who spoke not of a kingdom in this earth, but a kingdom of heaven. As for me, I have always been mystified by many many things about the story of Jesus and this book sheds lights on some of them.
For example, since I was a child, I couldn’t understand the story about the woman who touched Jesus’ robe and was healed. The thing about the story that gave me fits was the fact that Jesus felt the power drain from him, like a battery! The implication for me was that if Jesus felt the power drain from him, then he could build it back up. More to the point, for me anyway, was that there may be a procedure, a method, by which I could attain power such as this. Where was this procedure in the bible? And if this procedure existed, how many other things Jesus knew that were not told in the bible?
Well, the book doesn’t answer this question but, Mr. Aslan did go on to say that stories like this one in the bible, have given biblical scholars fits as well.
A long time ago, I found Joseph Campbell. It was Mr. Campbell who set me straight about being ok with the spiritual Jesus and the historical Jesus. Zealot cements that quite firmly for me. The book is filled with analysis and the notes section should be enough for anyone wanting to know how the author reaches his conclusions. This book is a keeper for me. I surely will re-read it and I will save it for anyone who wants to borrow it.
As a Christian, I am secure enough in my faith to enjoy this book. If anything, I feel much better about my beliefs after reading it.