The Life and Times of
Jesus of Nazareth
By Reza Aslan
The author seeks to balance the Jesus of the gospels with the “historic Jesus.” It is important for readers to know this, as it impacts the possible reception of the book.
As a believer in Christianity, I hold the words of the Bible in high regard, believing scripture to be true. “All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)
On the other hand, the author of this book is forced to quote scripture in attempting to discredit it, in favor of what he calls the “historical” version of events.
Due to the fact that most of the writings about Jesus that have survived from antiquity are canonized in the Christian Bible, this presents a problem for academics such as the professor authoring this book. Even non-canonical works from the period of the early Christian church are problematic for the professor, as they are infused with spiritual mysticism that most assuredly is not written as contemporary views of history seek to do.
To his credit, Aslan acknowledges these shortcomings early on in his book, preparing the reader for his slicing and dicing of scriptural references.
Due to a worldview that is substantially different from that of the author, it gets annoying having him denounce parts of the Bible as “outlandish,” “patently absurd,” “troublesome,” and “inaccurate.” However, despite my annoyance with his treatment of what I consider Holy Scripture, he presents some information I found fascinating.
Other men, both contemporaries of Jesus Christ, and those that came before and after him, are mentioned as claiming to be messiahs. One known only as “The Egyptian,” another as “The Samaritan,” Hezekiah, Simon of Peraea, Judas the Galilean, Menahem, Simon son of Giora, and Simon son of Kochba are all written about in this book as having messianic ambitions.
Those wishing to know more about the religious views of Jews at the time of Jesus will find something to learn by reading this book.
I rate it 3 stars out of 5.
I read this book as an advanced reader’s copy uncorrected proof. This review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.