Homer's Travels: Book: Reza Aslan's "Zealot"

Monday, June 02, 2014

Book: Reza Aslan's "Zealot"

I decided to fit in one more book before we fly to Africa.  Not being very religious, I decided to read Reza Aslan's "Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth".  The book came out recently surrounded by a Fox News driven controversy, namely: How dare a man with a Muslim sounding name write about Jesus?  The fact that the author was an Iranian who fled the revolution and dabbled in evangelical Christianity before becoming a religious scholar seems not to be important to the talking heads on Fox News.

When it comes to religion, I fall somewhere in between being an Agnostic and an Atheist on a part of the spectrum I like to call "being an Engineer".  This book attracted my attention as it was trying to document Jesus of Nazareth historically and not Jesus the Christ, the religious figure.  I soon found out that, when stripped of the religious trappings, we know very little about the man from Bethlehem Nazareth.

Most of the author's source materials are religious texts such as the Bible.  This was out of necessity since Jesus is mentioned very little outside of these religious documents.  This was a bit disappointing for me  I was hoping to learn more about the man that has changed the world so much the last two millennia.  What I came away with was that it is amazing how someone that hardly anyone knew anything about could be elevated to such heights and could be so influential.

The author, navigating the gaping holes and utter inconsistencies of the historical records, gives his interpretation of how this humble man was transformed into the Christ that inspires so many people worldwide.  I'm sure there are thousands of interpretations out there that either support or totally contradict the one in the book.  His interpretation is as good as any I've heard.

In the end the book didn't change how I think.  I'm still a stubborn engineer grounded is science and fact living in a natural world full of wonder.

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