Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
Good Housekeeping • Booklist • Publishers Weekly • Bookish
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.
Praise for Zealot
“Riveting . . . Aslan synthesizes Scripture and scholarship to create an original account.”—The New Yorker
“A lucid, intelligent page-turner.”—Los Angeles Times
“Fascinatingly and convincingly drawn . . . Aslan may come as close as one can to respecting those who revere Jesus as the peace-loving, turn-the-other-cheek, true son of God depicted in modern Christianity, even as he knocks down that image.”—The Seattle Times
“[Aslan’s] literary talent is as essential to the effect of Zealot as are his scholarly and journalistic chops. . . . A vivid, persuasive portrait.”—Salon
“This tough-minded, deeply political book does full justice to the real Jesus, and honors him in the process.”—San Francisco Chronicle
From the Hardcover edition.
to be read as a literal number. In the Bible, “forty” is a byword for “many,” as in “it rained for forty days and nights.” The implication is that Jesus stayed in the wilderness for a long time. I disagree with Rudolf Otto, who claims that “John did not preach the coming of the kingdom of heaven, but of the coming judgment of wrath”; The Kingdom of God and the Son of Man, 69. It is Otto’s point that John was concerned chiefly with the coming judgment of God, what he calls “the Day of Yahweh,”
in Jerusalem seems to suggest that it was the procedure of the trial they objected to, not the verdict. However, I agree with John Painter who notes that “the suggestion that what the group objected to was Ananus taking the law into his own hands when Roman authority was required for the imposition of the death penalty (see John 18:31) does not fit an objection raised by ‘the most fair-minded … and strict in the observance of the law’.… Rather it suggests that those who were fair-minded and
their meals on temperate evenings, and where, in the hot summer months, they roll out their dusty mats and sleep. The lucky inhabitants have a courtyard and a tiny patch of soil to grow vegetables, for no matter their occupation or skill, every Nazarean is a farmer. The peasants who call this secluded village home are, without exception, cultivators of the land. It is agriculture that feeds and sustains the meager population. Everyone raises their own livestock, everyone plants their own crops: a
rebels and sympathizers were crucified en masse. A short time later, Herod Antipas arrived and immediately set to work transforming the flattened ruins of Sepphoris into an extravagant royal city fit for a king. Jesus of Nazareth was likely born the same year that Judas the Galilean—Judas the failed messiah, son of Hezekiah the failed messiah—rampaged through the countryside, burning with zeal. He would have been about ten years old when the Romans captured Judas, crucified his followers, and
crowd to give Jesus up. As Pilate hands him over to be crucified, Jesus himself removes all doubt as to who is truly responsible for his death: “The one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin,” Jesus tells Pilate, personally absolving him of all guilt by laying the blame squarely on the Jewish religious authorities. John then adds one final, unforgivable insult to a Jewish nation that, at the time, was on the verge of a full-scale insurrection, by attributing to them the most foul,