In the week since Reza Aslan’s Fox News webcast interview, his book, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth has become the number one best selling title on Amazon and reached the top of the New York Times Best Seller list. In Zealot, Aslan argues that Jesus of Nazareth would have borne little resemblance to the Jesus of the Gospels. Jesus of Nazareth, was, in Aslan’s view, a political incendiary, a dissident who railed against Roman rule and actively encouraged sedition. The early church, he suggests, subsequently “transformed Jesus from a revolutionary zealot to a Romanized demigod.” For all of the controversy surrounding Aslan and his book, the work follows in a long tradition of study of the historical figure of Jesus—a subject that has provoked vigorous debate in The New York Review’s pages over the decades.
more from Christopher Carroll at the NYRB here.