“Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth” by Reza Aslan

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of NazarethZealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There is a lot to address about Aslan’s work. Any time a religious figure is addressed in such a manner, it is hotly debated and camps form on both sides. How is one to reach an accurate verdict on the material presented when so much material abounds that challenges each way of consideration?

This book is, from an initial glance, one of un-apologetic (being the reverse of Christian apologetics) approach. Aslan presents his own personal statement of faith and approach to his Muslim roots, coming to Christ, and walking away from the Bible as the inerrant word of HaShem. He has made no ill attempts to cover his own intentions, but rather bluntly states, as a foreword, his personal experience with Y’shua as the Christ compared to his own personal academic research of Y’shua as a zealot. Aslan admits in the very beginning that it is hard to come to an account of who Y’shua is outside of the Gospel accounts. He subsidizes all the historical research completed thus far to compound and assume what he believes the correct interpretation on who Y’shua really is.

The Publisher describes the book as such:

Zealot yields a fresh perspective on one of the greatest stories ever told even as it affirms the radical and transformative nature of Jesus of Nazareth’s life and mission. The result is a thought-provoking, elegantly written biography with the pulse of a fast-paced novel: a singularly brilliant portrait of a man, a time, and the birth of a religion.
Looking into the formations of this book, Aslan takes the approach of a critic that has taken faith and belief outside of the equation. That is a fair thing to do in his consideration, and also unpopular. The current model of research into biblical events requires a faith decision one way or the other to come to a complete viewpoint. Aslan admits that much must be assumed and formulated based off what one can learn of the culture. In the assumption lies a personal leaning point. One can look to the Bible and see divine word, while another can look at it and see tale tales. The difference is merely the lens with which one approaches it.

Aslan earnestly seeks to find out who Y’shua is. This is admirable. However, despite his intention to have an academic pursuit, when there is so little to go on with historical evidence, one can only arrive at a finality if they choose to believe one way or the other. That is why the Bible even says that followers must live by faith, and not by sight. It requires faith to believe Y’shua is the Christ, just the same as it requires faith to assert that Y’shua is merely a zealot. Either way, faith and belief are involved. It just depends on where you place yours…

Overall, Aslan writes in a fairly respectful manner on the topic. He tells from personal experience and tries to share with what seems an at-first humble approach. It is an intriguing read, for sure, and one that can either shake your foundation or solidify it – regardless of what you believe.

Disclosure: I was contracted to write an honest review in exchange for a reviewer copy of the product. The opinions stated in this review are solely my own.

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