August 8, 2013

Did Reza Aslan, a Muslim writing about Jesus in "Zealot," intend to say anything about the politics of today's Middle East?

Asks Jonathan Kirsch of Jewish Journal. Aslan said:
I really didn’t. I was very careful in not trying to make any overt political point with this book. It’s a historical biography about a man who lived 2,000 years ago, and nothing else. But a lot of people have brought it up, because nothing much has changed. The politico-religious context of our world is something that Jesus would have understood. The arguments that Jesus made against authority are being made today on the streets of Cairo and Jerusalem. And the role of religion in providing a sense of dignity to marginalized and oppressed people, regardless of their religious background, is a universal that exists in all places and all religions.
Here's the book "Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth." And for those who'd like to see him write about Islam, here's his book "No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam."

By the way, I was surprised to see that Reza Aslan is the 6th most popular author on Amazon.

17 comments:

traditionalguy said...

Nice Anti-Christ work done by a Muslim Scholar,

Just take the Son of God anointed as Jewish Messiah and subtract the power of the Holy Spirit that attested to His claims to be Son of God and that resurrected Him from the dead and voila: we are left with an interesting man that lived and died before Mohammed got his revelation in a cave that is the essence of Islam that GOD HAS NO NEED OF A SON.

Mark Trade said...

"Historical biography."

Maybe he'll finally earn his degree in history for writing it.

William said...

It's impossible to isolate Christ from the traditions he inspired. The spirit that inspired St Francis is more real than the historical Jesus....I know that he has written about Islam, perhaps even skeptically, but my spidey sense tells me that he did not write skeptically about the Prophet.

Kaja said...

I was surprised to see that Reza Aslan is the 6th most popular author on Amazon.

Put it down to the power of Buzzfeed and a video that went viral: Fox News interview propels sales of Reza Aslan's 'Zealot'

Paddy O said...

His book must be really good!

wildswan said...

Historically, Islam has said that Isaiah was a prophet, Jesus was a prophet and Mohammed was the last prophet with the full and final revelation and this is pretty much what Reza Aslan is saying. Read Al-Ghazli, the great Islamic philosopher.

Liberals like to say that Jesus was great man and in a Christian culture this is an attack on Christian belief. But it is not that in Islamic culture, it is what they always have said. What would make this book stand out in Islamic culture, I think, is the discussion of authority - who holds it? can a person, like Jesus, who is defined as a prophet really call for an attack on authority?

Robert Cook said...

I guess I shouldn't be surprised and dismayed to see the knee-jerk bigotry on display, but I am. Have any of you read Reza Aslan's work? This book? If not, you have no basis to presume anything at all about him or this book.

For the record, I had never heard of the guy until the recent typical Fox News stupidity. I have no idea what his point of view may be, whether he has any axes to grind or religious prejudices that color his work. Therefore, I do what prudent people do: I don't offer an opinion, as I have none. I have no basis to have one.

cubanbob said...

For the record, I had never heard of the guy until the recent typical Fox News stupidity. I have no idea what his point of view may be, whether he has any axes to grind or religious prejudices that color his work. Therefore, I do what prudent people do: I don't offer an opinion, as I have none. I have no basis to have one.

Guess what Bob, you just offered an opinion on something as per your observation you don't know enough about to opine on.

Mitch H. said...

Robert, the book is titled "Zealot". It doesn't take a close reading to draw from that fact the supposition that the book will be an elision of the historical Christ within some sort of political-social study of the first century Zealot movement. That's roughly equivalent to the islamophobic practice of calling the prophet Mohammad a pedophile - not made up out of thin air, but deeply offensive and misleading at best.

Sharkcutie said...

I am currently reading the book. First, either you believe Jesus is the Son of God or you don't. What I have read so far does not try to challenge the belief that Jesus is the Son of God. There is no proof either way. For those who believe in the literal truth of the canonical Christian Bible, the book might be a challenge to those beliefs. It is, however, extremely interesting and has made me want to learn more about that part of the world in the time of Christ.

Mitch H. said...

OK, I just read a review, and apparently Aslan goes beyond just putting the historical Jesus in the context of his Zealot contemporaries (and in at least one case, a Zealot apostle) - and claims that Christ was a violent revolutionary. That's tendentious on its face. For one thing, if he *had* been a failed revolutionary, St. Paul's contemporary Josephus would definitely have mentioned that fact in his Jewish War; as it is, Christ and his relations James "the brother of Jesus" and John the Baptist are mentioned in the Antiquities instead.

Robert Cook said...

cubanbob said:

"Guess what Bob, you just offered an opinion on something as per your observation you don't know enough about to opine on."

Uh, no. I opined on the assumptions by a few posters that the book must be some sort of biased portrait of Jesus, given the author is a Muslim. Unless they have read the book, they cannot know if the book is biased for or against Jesus Christ.

For that matter, simply because the author may present a view of Jesus that doesn't comport with one's own is not necessarily proof that the author is biased. Even among Christians there are conflicting views of Jesus Christ.

Robert Cook said...

"Robert, the book is titled 'Zealot'. It doesn't take a close reading to draw from that fact the supposition that the book will be an elision of the historical Christ within some sort of political-social study of the first century Zealot movement. That's roughly equivalent to the islamophobic practice of calling the prophet Mohammad a pedophile - not made up out of thin air, but deeply offensive and misleading at best."

First, you assume as a given that there was a historical Christ. This is still in dispute.

Second, given that you haven't read the book, how do you know how the author even means for the title to be taken?

Mitch H. said...

First, you assume as a given that there was a historical Christ. This is still in dispute.

Do you feel that there is, or ought to be, a dispute about the historical existence of oh, I don't know, Pythagoras? Or Confucius? Or Siddhartha? The contemporary or near-contemporary material on all of those are much less well-sourced than that for the historic Christ.

Revenant said...

Do you feel that there is, or ought to be, a dispute about the historical existence of oh, I don't know, Pythagoras? Or Confucius? Or Siddhartha? The contemporary or near-contemporary material on all of those are much less well-sourced than that for the historic Christ.

There is no contemporary material on any of the four men, and the near-contemporary material isn't sourced. E.g., we don't know who wrote the Gospel of Mark or where he got his information from.

In each case there was quite probably a man at the root of each of those religious movements, but whether he bore any resemblance to the man described by his later followers is anybody's guess.

Revenant said...

That's roughly equivalent to the islamophobic practice of calling the prophet Mohammad a pedophile

No, because the Zealot movement wasn't clearly bad. The Romans thought they were, as did the Jewish leadership of the time. By modern standards, though, fighting tooth and nail for political freedom from a rapacious invading empire is the kind of thing that puts you in the "good guy" column.

Mitch H. said...

There is no contemporary material on any of the four men, and the near-contemporary material isn't sourced. E.g., we don't know who wrote the Gospel of Mark or where he got his information from.

I was referring to the gospels, Paul's letters (would you dispute the authorship of those letters?) *and* the few references in Josephus's Antiquities under the rubrick of "near-contemporary material". Anti-religious folk like to exaggerate the lack of provenance of the historical narratives of religious figures - I was fooled by the "no Conquest-era references to Mohammed" before I came across this yesterday. And Mohammed *was* a political figure, a conquering warlord. Still, the first sourced mention of him only dates from years after his death.

BTW, I think we can safely attribute the authorship of the gospel of Mark to someone called "Marqos", "Marcos" or "Makabi".