Zealot Book Report

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Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth Book Report
Zealot by Reza Aslan is a meticulously researched biography that challenges the belief of one of the most influential and enigmatic spiritual leaders, Jesus. Reza Aslan examines Jesus through the perception of his era: first-century Palestine, an age of unrest and rebellions. Aslan, at the start of the book, reviews the attempts of a number of men who sought to overthrow the established order and free Israel. His belief was that Jesus was an itinerant Jewish preacher who sought followers to establish what he would call the “Kingdom of God,” which was a revolutionary movement to overthrow the established regime, the Roman hegemony over Israel. The campaign Jesus started was so threatening that the Romans arrested and executed as a criminal. After his death, his followers would change his political teachings to that of spiritual teachings thus calling him God.

Using both the Jesus of religion and historical sources, Aslan describes a man of both compassion and violence; as seen when Jesus urged his followers to arm themselves with weapons and when he provided miracle healings to his people. The author juggles the reasoning behind why the early Christians viewed Jesus as an image of a peaceful spiritual leader, rather than a political revolutionary and provides his own theory. In an interview with PBS, Reza Aslan states “zealot ideals and principles are the heart of Jesus’s teachings and actions…” and that Jesus’s crucifixion was proof of Jesus as a revolutionary rebel. Aslan also states that the transition from political teachings to spiritual teachings led to the divorce of Christianity from Judaism.

Reza Aslan is an Iranian-American writer and scholar of religions. He holds many degrees varying from a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies to a PhD in Sociology of Religions and he is currently an Associate Professor in Creative Writing. His family background is Muslim, but not devout and Aslan,...
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