News of Note: “New Biography on Jesus Written By Dr. Reza Aslan Causes Controversy”; UPDATED: New Testament Scholar Dr. Craig A. Evans Reviews Dr. Aslan’s book

Zealot (2)

1. New Jesus biography by Reza Aslan causes controversy (UPDATED: 8/13)

“Reza Aslan Tells an Old Story about Jesus” – New Testament scholar, Dr. Craig A. Evans’ review of Aslan’s book (Christianity Today)

“There are numerous problems with Zealot, not least the fact that it heavily relies on an outdated and discredited thesis. But it also introduces a number of its own novel oddities and implausibilities. Aslan has canvassed much of the responsible scholarship in the field, but he does not always choose his options prudently. He often opts for extreme views and sometimes makes breathtaking assertions. I cannot help but wonder if Aslan’s penchant for creative writing is part of the explanation. Indeed, Zealot often reads more like a novel than a work of historical analysis.” – Dr. Craig A. Evans, Christianity Today

“A Response to Zealot by Reza Aslan” – Gary Manning Jr’s response to Reza’s Aslan’s book. (The Good Book Blog)

“Since (Dr. Reza) Aslan is a Muslim, some have responded to Zealot as if it is a Muslim look at Jesus. This is simply not the case; Zealot does not present traditional Muslim views of Jesus at all. Zealot is instead typical of other modern skeptical approaches to Jesus. Aslan is strongly influenced by (among others) John Dominic Crossan, the Jesus Seminar author who has written a number of books presenting Jesus as a peasant social revolutionary. The central argument of Zealot is this: Jesus, like other messianic figures of his day, called for the violent expulsion of Rome from Israel. Driven by religious zeal, Jesus believed that God would empower him to become the king of Israel and overturn the hierarchical social order. Jesus believed that God would honor the zeal of his lightly armed disciples and give them victory. Instead, Jesus was crucified as a revolutionary. Early Christians changed the story of Jesus to make him into a peaceful shepherd. They did this for two reasons: because Jesus’ actual prediction had failed, and because the Roman destruction of rebellious Jerusalem in AD 70 made Jesus’ real teachings both dangerous and unpopular. Paul radically changed the identity of Jesus from human rebel to divine Son of God, against the wishes of other leaders like Peter and James.” – Gary Manning Jr., “The Good Book Blog”

“Return of the Jesus Wars” – Ross Douthat reviews Dr. Reza Allan’s book “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth”. (New York Times)

“Instead, Aslan’s book offers a more engaging version of the argument Reimarus made 250 years ago. His Jesus is an essentially political figure, a revolutionary killed because he challenged Roman rule, who was then mysticized by his disciples and divinized by Paul of Tarsus. The fact that Aslan’s take on Jesus is not original doesn’t mean it’s necessarily wrong. But it has the same problem that bedevils most of his competitors in the “real Jesus” industry. In the quest to make Jesus more comprehensible, it makes Christianity’s origins more mysterious. Part of the lure of the New Testament is the complexity of its central character — the mix of gentleness and zeal, strident moralism and extraordinary compassion, the down-to-earth and the supernatural. Most “real Jesus” efforts, though, assume that these complexities are accretions, to be whittled away to reach the historical core. Thus instead of a Jesus who contains multitudes, we get Jesus the nationalist or Jesus the apocalyptic prophet or Jesus the sage or Jesus the philosopher and so on down the list.” Ross Douthat, New York Times

“Why I’m not reading Reza Aslan’s book” – Denny Burk explains why he is not reading Reza Aslan’s book. (

“After listening to Aslan’s interview, it became very clear that his book was a retread of material that has appeared in numerous works over the last century. It would be a reconstructed Jesus that attempts to get behind the canonical accounts rather than listen to them. As I told the reporter, Aslan is selling a historically reconstructed Jesus, not the Jesus that appears on the pages of scripture. And that’s the bottom line here. The author doesn’t take the testimony of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John as reliable eyewitness testimony.” – Denny Burk,

“Controversy Erupts Over Best-Selling Muslim Book Claiming Jesus Was ‘Man of Profound Contradiction’” – Controversy is caused by new book written by Muslim, Dr. Reza Aslan who claims that Jesus is not God, but an illiterate, marginal Jew who fought for the rights of the poor. (Christian News)

“‘Zealot’ (Reza Aslan’s book: “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth”) is written with the self-assumed authority of groundbreaking revelation from a historian. In reality, it is a religious person’s opinion about Jesus—from an adherent to the religion that has been in violent opposition to Christ for 1,400 years,” wrote Pastor John S. Dickerson of Arizona in an op-ed entitled Liberal Media Love New Jesus Book ‘Zealot’, Fail to Mention Author is Muslim. “Aslan informs us that we cannot trust the Gospel of Mark–because it was written 40 years after Jesus’ death. He then chides us to trust his new book, written almost 2,000 years later.” “If apostles didn’t believe it to be so, they hardly would have let themselves become martyrs for a lie,” Dr. Dennis Burke, associate professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College, told reporters. “To ignore the central claims of the eyewitnesses is to ignore the testimony of those closest to the historical Jesus.” – Heather Clark, Christian News

“Reza Aslan Misrepresents His Scholarly Credentials” – First Things reports that Reza Aslan has misrepresented his scholarly credentials. (First Things)

“None of these degrees is in history, so Aslan’s repeated claims that he has “a Ph.D. in the history of religions” and that he is “a historian” are false. Nor is “professor of religions” what he does “for a living.” He is an associate professor in the Creative Writing program at the University of California, Riverside, where his terminal MFA in fiction from Iowa is his relevant academic credential. It appears he has taught some courses on Islam in the past, and he may do so now, moonlighting from his creative writing duties at Riverside. Aslan has been a busy popular writer, and he is certainly a tireless self-promoter, but he is nowhere known in the academic world as a scholar of the history of religion. And a scholarly historian of early Christianity? Nope.” – Matthew J. Franck, First Things

2. “What are areas of common neglect in a pastor’s life?” – 3 common areas of neglect in a pastor’s life. (Practical Shepherding)

3. “I Am Not a Monster”— Ariel Castro as Sinner and Sociopath” – Al Mohler on the trial of Ariel Castro. (

4. “World leaders should unite to end anti-Christian persecution, Vladimir Putin says” – Russian President Putin states that he wants an end to anti-Christian persecution. (LifeSite News)

5. “Charismatic Ecumenism” – Fred Butler responds to Michael Brown’s criticisms of John MacArthur and the upcoming “Strange Fire Conference”. (Hip and Thigh)


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