WITHIN ONE MONTH of its publication, Reza Aslan’s Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth has managed to achieve a record of sorts: to become one of the new books at once most despised (if you follow Fox News, for instance) and most sought after (if you look, say, at Amazon.com’s best-sellers list). Unless people are buying the book just to burn it, the obvious question is: what is it about this title that causes such a divergent response? In an attempt to find an answer, Los Angeles Review of Books has invited three writers to discuss Aslan’s book: Andrei Codrescu, Kevin Hart and Phillip Maciak. Each reviewer considers the book from a distinct disciplinary and rhetorical angle; while produced independently, these readings complement and enliven each other. We hope that this critical exercise offers the book the serious discussion it deserves.
— Costica Bradatan
Aslan’s Jesus “is not sexy, inspired, or visionary, but does shine with a malevolent light when he speaks of war and bloodshed. Otherwise, he is dour, hidden, engaged in an endless pedantic quarrel with the guardians of the Temple. He doubts himself only when he feels that he’s not zealous enough.” [Read More]
“When we talk about the ‘historical Jesus’ we are talking not about the itinerant rabbi who lived 2000 years ago but about the Jesus who comes into view using the techniques of modern historiography.” [Read More]
“Aslan does not ask, “What would Jesus do?” Instead, he asks, “What would someone like Jesus do?”. . . we ought not ask what Reza Aslan reveals to us about Jesus, but what Reza Aslan’s Jesus reveals about us. Is there some significance, in the age of Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring, to a story about the fall of an unassailable empire and the breaking of the cycle of failed revolutions?” [Read More]