Sunday, November 6, 2016



In ZEALOT: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, Reza Aslan’s thesis is simple--“Jesus was not a Christian. Jesus was a Jew preaching Judaism to other Jews. His was a Jewish mission, one concerned exclusively with the fate of his fellow Jews. Israel was all that mattered to him.” [Aslan’s italics.]

Jesus was a zealot, Aslan says. “Zeal implied a strict adherence to the Torah and the Law, a refusal to serve any foreign master--to serve any human master at all--and an uncompromising devotion to the sovereignty of God.”

Zealots were prophets devoted to restoring strict devotion to God and God’s laws. No king was greater than God, and no king was to take precedence over God.

Aslan says Jesus came into a time and place full of zealots. They had been systematically hunted down and killed by the Romans just as Jesus was. And they would continue to be hunted down long after Jesus.

Because of the resurrection narrative, history remembers Jesus when it has forgotten other zealots.

Paul’s teachings are at odds with what Jesus taught. James, Jesus’ brother and the leader of the post-resurrection church, represented the faith Jesus taught. Paul represented the faith of diaspora Jews and Gentiles, a faith based on Paul’s concepts formed after Jesus’ resurrection.

Paul and James would be at odds until 62 CE when the Romans martyred James and wiped out the church as James tied the church to Jesus.

Then Paul’s writings and the writings of the early church (including the later Nicene Creed) took precedence. The post-Jesus church became the Roman way of life. It became the church which led to the church we know today.

Needless to say, fundamentalist Christians probably don’t much like Reza Aslan’s ZEALOT. But Aslan fills the book with historical detail. He makes a strong case for his thesis.

I came across this book because my son told me he had read it. He said ZEALOT told him a lot about Jesus and his times.

Its historical detail alone makes ZEALOT: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth worth reading.

I checked out and downloaded an electronic copy of ZEALOT from our local library. Your library might have electronic books to check out too. 

1 comment:

Joe Barone said...

As I read this, it occurred t me that I didn't give my major "objection" to ZEALOT. He says that all of the details in the gospels are so far away from Jesus it is not possible to know how factual they are. Then he uses many of the gospel details to prove his case. I saw that as a major weakness in his argument.