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A Reading Vocation

"I Must Read, Read, and Read. It is my Vocation." - Thomas Merton

This is where I chronicle my reading life.  I also blog about writing at Lacey's Late-night Editing.


Book 100/100: Zealot by Reza Aslan

Zealot. The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth - Reza Aslan

[last book of 2015!]


So, this book took over a year for me to listen to because I was listening to it with my husband, which means we only moved forward on it when the following stars aligned: 1) We were together on a long drive; 2) neither of us wanted to sleep; and 3) my husband was not using drive time to work. Usually on long drives, I drive and he works, which means I listen to whatever I want. So times when we are both mentally and physically present to listen to the same book is reduced to once every few months -- and then my MP3 player that had this audiobook on it bit the dust, and I had to download it onto a new one, etc. etc.

All this is to say, this will be a less coherent review than if I had listened to or read this book in a more efficient manner. Still, this book's overall thesis was easy enough to pick up even after months away. This book bore a lot of similarities and even overlapped some theory/research with [book:How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee|20149192], except in this book the focus was not on whether Jesus' first followers believed him to be divine but on what Jesus and his first followers believed his mission to be. Aslan presents a Jesus who was concerned primarily with justice for the oppressed in Israel at a time of great political turmoil and corruption. It posits that Jesus was indeed a "Zealot" desirous of the overthrow of Roman occupation, but that this message became more and more muddled as the Gospel writers evangelized to the very people Jesus struggled against -- namely, the Romans. Thus, the message was transformed from one of political fervor to one of learning to live in peace alongside those who oppressed or opposed you.

While Aslan makes a convincing argument, to do so he must "cherry pick" from scripture, presenting some of it as if it is historically accurate and blatantly ignoring other passages. That was probably the biggest frustration for me in this book. Still, overall it offers an intriguing portrait of who Jesus the man could have been, as well as an insightful chronology of how we came to see him as someone potentially very different.