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Archive: Other Books > Zealot: the life and times of Jesus of Nazareth - 3 stars

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message 1: by Barbara M (last edited Oct 09, 2016 01:26PM) (new)

Barbara M (barbara-m) | 2191 comments Zealot The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan I started this for the 2013 tag but finished too late. Nonetheless, I've enjoyed this. I have always been interested in the historical Jesus. This isn't strange since I love and studied history for my BA. I am also a Cradle Catholic so I wondered how I would react to this book, especially after Aslan contradicts so many of the stories of Jesus that I learned in my religious education, some of it in Catholic elementary school. I can certainly see why some would dislike this book completely, perhaps not finish it. For some reason, I don't have a great problem with the contradictions since this is very old history and documentation leaves a lot to interpretation, including Aslans.

I was fascinated to learn of the many messiahs before and after Jesus of Nazareth came on the scene. There was even another Jesus claiming to be a messiah, but only this Jesus is the Christ. The history of the Jewish faith and especially the Temple were fascinating. In church, just this morning, the Temple was mentioned and I had a whole new vision of what that meant. Our gospel was the one where Jesus healed 10 lepers - one of whom was a Samaritan. He told them to go show themselves to the Priests at the Temple and now I know why that was necessary for the Jewish men, and actually quite dangerous for Jesus.

I remember when I was very young and realized that Jesus (the Christian in my mind) was actually a Jew. Why that took a light bulb moment, I can only attribute to my youth at that time. What was fascinating in this book was how clear Aslan pointed out that Jesus never looked to start a new religion and his disciples didn't go out to preach a new religion but were instead trying to bring the Kingdom of God on earth, in Jerusalem and for the Jews. Followers of Jesus were a small sect within the Jewish faith for hundreds of years.

Because of the contradictions in Aslan's research to the teachings of today's Christianity, I appreciated his last words. "Two thousand years later. . .the memory of the revolutionary zealot who walked across Galilee gathering an army of disciples with the goal of establishing the Kingdom of God on earth, the magnetic preacher who defied the authority of the Temple priesthood in Jerusalem, the radical Jewish nationalist who challenged the Roman occupation and lost, as been almost completely lost to history. That is a shame. Because the one thing my comprehensive study of the historical Jesus should hopefully reveal is that Jesus of Nazareth--Jesus the man--is every bit as compelling, charismatic, and praiseworthy as Jesus the Christ. He is, in short, someone worth believing in."

message 2: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8297 comments Lovely review- well done!

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