Saturday, August 17, 2013



ZEALOT THE LIFE AND TIMES
OF JESUS OF NAZARETH

The following are the last two lines from the book - and in effect the theme of the book.

"Because the one thing any comprehensive study of the historical Jesus should hopefully reveal is that Jesus of Nazareth - Jesus the man - is every bit as compelling, charismatic, and praiseworthy as Jesus the Christ.  He is, in short, someone worth believing in." p. 216

In preparing for this book review I chose to read other book reviews.  The one which appears at Salon.com shocked me.  Whatever book this guy read, it was not this book.  Although Marx lived some nearly 2000 years later he tried to demean Aslan's take on Joshua [aka Jesus] by invoking images of Joshua being the Marx of his day.  Equality is not new.  Class differences are not new.  , attempt to  throw in Marx and Lenin only served to destroy any credibility in his review.  Before I proceed with my review here are two quotes from .

"Still, he’s Jesus from Nazareth, the “historical” human, so let’s see how he got so grim. He began, one assumes, conflicted, like any human, so one can follow him along the lines of his declaration, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth. I have not come to bring peace but the sword,” (Matthew 10:34); or go the opposite direction with his Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
Guess which one makes the Aslan cut."

My note:  Actually both are in the book - but you would not know it from 's, review of the book.

"On the cross, he cried out in the Aramaic of his village, “Eli Eli lama sabachthani?” (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) (Matthew 27:46), which implies, at the very least, that his execution was not part of his deal with God. Did he die for the wrong reason?"

Source:  Salon.com

My note:  what gives this turkey the right to say "which implies, at the very least?"  - did he walk with Joshua?  These two above quotes are typical of his review - outright fabrications of what is in the book to outright arrogance to presume he knows better the meaning of Joshua's words than anyone else.

Here is an alternative view of  Joshua's last words on the cross - he was human - he had doubt - he had fear - do I know this for sure?  No, of course not - but it fits the view he was human.  But I certainly would never presume to imply with any certainty what Joshua meant by his last words.

Unlike Andrei Codrescu, Reza Aslan, the author of "The Zealot" gives you the reader an endless contrast of the views held of Joshua by his various disciples - with a very clear picture of the differing views held by James, Peter, and John (all of whom walked with Joshua) versus Paul (who never met Joshua and who received his calling through a vision from Joshua himself).  You the reader are left to decide for yourself who to believe.

The first 56 pages of the book were hard on me - I almost did not finish the book.  The author simply tries to give the reader a backdrop to the period.  In the history he presents there is nothing new.  The History of the Israelites is just so violent it is hard to read so much of it in just 56 pages.  It almost came across as anti-Jewish.  But as the book proceeds you come to realize the author had no such intent.  He was doing exactly as he said he was doing - providing his readers with a historical backdrop to the period when Joshua was born.

And for the record, the Muslims and Christians such as the Israelites invoked gods name to justify the bloodshed they brought on the world during their conquests.  My personal bias is, when religions claim god has given them permission to slaughter their fellow humans, you are being played.  But  remember religion is politics - not god - to judge one is to not judge the other.

Aslan takes you as the reader  through the endless  contradictions in the gospels - I will say he is less then forthright when he deals with Paul the Apostle.  His quotes from Paul concerning the Ten Commandments are less then complete.  Quotes out of context are always misleading.  In this regard, Aslan diminishes his message.

But for those of us who have studied Jewish history and studied all of the gospels, we know there are endless contradictions.  There is no one story.  No one view of who Joshua was or was not.  But no one disputes he was a man of compassion, love and commitment to his fellow man.

What we know for sure is, the Messianic message as we understand it today is not the same as when Joshua lived.  Aslan does a good job with this contradiction.

It is through his demonstration of the endless contradictions within the gospels themselves, and the battles of faith between James, Peter, John and Paul, that you as a reader get a more complete picture of Joshua.

In the end, one thing and only one thing matters.  Do you believe in the message and live by it, or do you believe that by professing you can only be saved through Jesus [intentional non-use of Joshua] you have met your obligations?

It is really easy to run to confession to avoid living the message.  It is a lot harder to believe salvation is through living the message.  Those of us who live by the message have no confessional to run to. 

It is a lot more difficult to believe in Joshua the man over Jesus the Christ.  The former requires more than faith in Jesus as the savior - it requires you live a life of compassion and love and commitment to your fellow man.

I will end my review as I began it.

"Because the one thing any comprehensive study of the historical Jesus should hopefully reveal is that Jesus of Nazareth - Jesus the man - is every bit as compelling, charismatic, and praiseworthy as Jesus the Christ. He is, in short, someone worth believing in." p. 216

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Can't wait to read this book. Thank you