Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth

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Random House, Jul 16, 2013 - Religion - 336 pages
1291 Reviews
From the internationally bestselling author of No god but God comes a fascinating, provocative, and meticulously researched biography that challenges long-held assumptions about the man we know as Jesus of Nazareth.

Two thousand years ago, an itinerant Jewish preacher and miracle worker walked across the Galilee, gathering followers to establish what he called the “Kingdom of God.” The revolutionary movement he launched was so threatening to the established order that he was captured, tortured, and executed as a state criminal.

Within decades after his shameful death, his followers would call him God.

Sifting through centuries of mythmaking, Reza Aslan sheds new light on one of history's most influential and enigmatic characters by examining Jesus through the lens of the tumultuous era in which he lived: first-century Palestine, an age awash in apocalyptic fervor. Scores of Jewish prophets, preachers, and would-be messiahs wandered through the Holy Land, bearing messages from God. This was the age of zealotry—a fervent nationalism that made resistance to the Roman occupation a sacred duty incumbent on all Jews. And few figures better exemplified this principle than the charismatic Galilean who defied both the imperial authorities and their allies in the Jewish religious hierarchy.

Balancing the Jesus of the Gospels against the historical sources, Aslan describes a man full of conviction and passion, yet rife with contradiction; a man of peace who exhorted his followers to arm themselves with swords; an exorcist and faith healer who urged his disciples to keep his identity a secret; and ultimately the seditious “King of the Jews” whose promise of liberation from Rome went unfulfilled in his brief lifetime. Aslan explores the reasons why the early Christian church preferred to promulgate an image of Jesus as a peaceful spiritual teacher rather than a politically conscious revolutionary. And he grapples with the riddle of how Jesus understood himself, the mystery that is at the heart of all subsequent claims about his divinity.

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.

Advance praise for Zealot

“A bold, powerfully argued revisioning of the most consequential life ever lived.”—Lawrence Wright, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief

“The story of Jesus of Nazareth is arguably the most influential narrative in human history. Here Reza Aslan writes vividly and insightfully about the life and meaning of the figure who has come to be seen by billions as the Christ of faith. This is a special and revealing work, one that believer and skeptic alike will find surprising, engaging, and original.”—Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power

“In Zealot, Reza Aslan doesn't just synthesize research and reimagine a lost world, though he does those things very well. He does for religious history what Bertolt Brecht did for playwriting. Aslan rips Jesus out of all the contexts we thought he belonged in and holds him forth as someone entirely new. This is Jesus as a passionate Jew, a violent revolutionary, a fanatical ideologue, an odd and scary and extraordinarily interesting man.”—Judith Shulevitz, author of The Sabbath World
  

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Good historical research and writing. - Goodreads
More difficult to read than I expected. - Goodreads
Interesting insights. - Goodreads
Interesting page turner. - Goodreads
Interesting political overview of the times - Goodreads
The author's premise will put off some. - Goodreads

Review: Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth

User Review  - Steven Fake - Goodreads

Fascinating. Read full review

Review: Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth

User Review  - Mehrsa - Goodreads

This book is not what it says it is--it is not a scholarly history. However, it is fascinating and well-written. I do wish the footnotes were a bit more supportive of his thesis, but all in all, I ... Read full review

Contents

A Hole in the Corner
10
King of the Jews
17
You Know Where I Am From
25
The Fourth Philosophy
34
Where Is Your Fleet to Sweep the Roman Seas?
46
Year One
57
Zeal forYour House
73
The Voice Crying Out in the Wilderness
80
Chapter ElevemWho Do You Say I Am?
127
No King but Caesar
146
PART III
161
If Christ Has Not Been Risen
172
Am I Not an Apostle?
183
The Just
197
True God from True God
213
Notes
219

Follow Me
90
By the Finger of God
103
May Your Kingdom Come
115

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About the author (2013)

Reza Aslan is an internationally acclaimed writer and scholar of religions. His first book, No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam, has been translated into thirteen languages and named by Blackwell as one of the hundred most important books of the last decade. He is also the author of How to Win a Cosmic War: God, Globalization, and the End of the War on Terror (published in paperback as Beyond Fundamentalism), as well as the editor of Tablet & Pen: Literary Landscapes from the Modern Middle East. Born in Iran, he lives in New York and Los Angeles with his wife and two sons.

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