Thursday, June 11, 2015

More History than Jesus

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth 
By Reza Aslan, PhD

A slight detour from my usual staple of historical fiction to the realm of historical non-fiction brought me upon this rather controversial book by a rather controversial academic, Reza Aslan from the University of California, a man with about two decades of scholarship in religious studies. For those who see religion as the absolute truth, this book is actually rather boring, because it hardly questions the scriptures at all. Rather, it uses a very academic approach to put the stories in the scriptures into a historical context. And therein lies the beauty as well as the boredom.

This book is great stuff for academics who take their profession very seriously, seriously enough to actually apply the scientific method to everything that they believe in, including and most importantly, religion. Of course, it does have a lot of speculation, but that is unavoidable in the historical context. It is not an attack on religion, as detractors like to make out, but a historical assessment of Christianity. And indeed, not everybody agrees with it either, which is why there are over a hundred pages of notes in the end, as any scholarly work should contain.

Overall, very good reading, if you have the patience and well... the courage. 

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