Book Reviews

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

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List Price: £9.99


Paperback: 318 Pages.

Published: 03 March 2014 by The Westbourne Press

Edition: Reprint

ISBN: 9781908906298

EAN: 9781908906298

Sifting through centuries of mythmaking, Reza Aslan sheds new light on one of history s most influential and enigmatic figures. He examines Jesus within the context of the times in which he lived: the age of zealotry, an era awash in apocalyptic fervour, when scores of would-be messiahs preached holy war against Roman occupation and were executed for sedition.

Zealot provides a fresh perspective on one of the greatest stories ever told. The result is a thought-provoking, elegantly written biography and a singularly brilliant portrait of a man, a time and the birth of a religion.


5.0 Stars5.0 Stars5.0 Stars5.0 Stars5.0 Stars  by Anne

Well worth reading - an interesting argument which is well put

How you feel about this book and its message will very much depend on where you stand on issues about the gospels and the traditional depiction of Jesus. If you have an open mind or are at least prepared to consider other points of view then this is a fascinating book which presents an alternative view of the historical figure.

The author argues, and puts a very solid case, for Jesus being one of a number of zealots of the time - people who were noted for their zeal for the purity of the Jewish people and their traditions, and for a track record of opposing Roman occupation with violence. He shows how this relates to what is recorded in the gospels and the other histories of the time. He also interprets what the New Testament writers say, and what the church has drawn from their writings, in the light of their audience and what they were trying to achieve. The book is clear about the historical context in which Jesus lived and the gospels were written, and includes a lot of interesting information about the Jewish practices under Roman occupation and also what life was like for ordinary people at the time.

I do feel that, on occasion, the author dismisses some text as unreliable and then uses other passages on which to build an argument - he is in a difficult situation because the New Testament writings are most of what we have from the era. I don't think that he is entirely consistent with this but there are remarkably few occasions when he argues from silence and where he cannot back up an assertion he doesn't labour it.

This book is well written and very accessible. You need to have a working knowledge of the writings of the New Testament (although I suspect that the book would have little interest to you if you didn't) but you don't need to have a lot of background knowledge about Roman history. I would urge anyone reading this to include it in a wider examination of writings about the historical writings about and figure of Jesus in order to get a fully rounded view of various opinions but I do think that this book needs to be there. I think that the author is as sensitive as he can be, given his argument, to those with a Christian faith and the book reads as a well organised argument rather than a rant.

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