Zealot Summary

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “A lucid, intelligent page-turner” (Los Angeles Times) that challenges long-held assumptions about Jesus, from the host of Believer
Two thousand years ago, an itinerant Jewish preacher walked across the Galilee, gathering followers to establish what he called the “Kingdom of God.” The revolutionary movement he launched was so threatening to the established order that he was executed as a state criminal. Within decades after his death, his followers would call him God.
Sifting through centuries of mythmaking, Reza Aslan sheds new light on one of history’s most enigmatic figures by examining Jesus through the lens of the tumultuous era in which he lived. Balancing the Jesus of the Gospels against the historical sources, Aslan describes a man full of conviction and passion, yet rife with contradiction. He explores the reasons the early Christian church preferred to promulgate an image of Jesus as a peaceful spiritual teacher rather than a politically conscious revolutionary. And he grapples with the riddle of how Jesus understood himself, the mystery that is at the heart of all subsequent claims about his divinity.
Zealot yields a fresh perspective on one of the greatest stories ever told even as it affirms the radical and transformative nature of Jesus’ life and mission.
Praise for Zealot
“Riveting . . . Aslan synthesizes Scripture and scholarship to create an original account.”The New Yorker
“Fascinatingly and convincingly drawn . . . Aslan may come as close as one can to respecting those who revere Jesus as the peace-loving, turn-the-other-cheek, true son of God depicted in modern Christianity, even as he knocks down that image.”The Seattle Times
“[Aslan’s] literary talent is as essential to the effect of Zealot as are his scholarly and journalistic chops. . . . A vivid, persuasive portrait.”Salon
“This tough-minded, deeply political book does full justice to the real Jesus, and honors him in the process.”San Francisco Chronicle
“A special and revealing work, one that believer and skeptic alike will find surprising, engaging, and original.”—Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power
“Compulsively readable . . . This superb work is highly recommended.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Book Reviews


Great book5 star

I read it twice before and I’m looking for his other books.55


Awesome. Read it! Agree or not. Will get you thinking5 star

Read it!55


Zealot5 star

Loved the book.55


Excellent5 star

A genuine non fiction page turner! Paints as complete a picture as possible, given scriptures and historical context, of the actual figure of Jesus. It also provides important distinctions between the person and the Jesus of religious worship, all while written in captivating prose. A truly great read.55

Willie Y. Willis

Garbage with a Capital Z1 star

I have a bachelor’s degree in history and read history exclusively. This is not history. This book is one-third poorly annotated history, one-third opinion and one-third conjecture. The author constantly slams the accuracy of Gospel writers using Josephus as his “Gospel truth.” The last time I was in school writing history papers, the writings of Josephus were placed alongside those of Plutarch and Suetonius in terms of their level of veracity. You have to look at these authors more as entertainment than history because the “truth” in a lot of what they write cannot be verified. Neither can you find original source material. We have nothing in Josephus’s, or the Gospel writer’s, handwriting. Yet, the author makes pronouncement upon pronouncement as if he is stating or debunking “facts.” He even states that readers of Luke’s Gospel who lived at the time of Jesus would have known that what Luke wrote was factually inaccurate and that Luke knew what he wrote was technically false. That is a bold statement of opinion and not fact in a work of “history.” He quotes Jesus predicting the destruction of Jerusalem saying that these words were “put into his mouth” by the “evangelists” after the fact. Oh, really? The author’s statement, whether true or not, is not supported by facts available to us today. The only people who would know for sure would be the writers and the followers who heard Jesus preach. He calls Jesus’s miracle stories “embellished” and “Christologically convoluted” and that none of them can be historically validated. Based on that logic, neither can the existence of Pontius Pilate be validated. Outside of what was written about him there has been only one contemporary monument discovered with his name on it and even the provenance of that piece has been questioned. He starts one paragraph “It is astonishing that centuries of biblical scholarship have miscast these words” as if he has been somehow enlightened to the truth that centuries of scholars have missed. Sadly, the author misses the point of the bible scholars altogether and then misses the point of the passage with his new “enlightened” interpretation. There is no question that this guy has an axe to grind with his former adopted religion. He is dead set on placing Jesus’s feet firmly on the ground and labeling him a mere “bandit.” Anyone who wishes to denigrate the Bible as inaccurate mythology now has plenty of “scholarly” ammo at their disposal. What in the world made this author think he can write an accurate and definitive “history” of Jesus? He can’t. He tried. And, he failed miserably. Don’t waste your money or your time. Come to think about it, I’m going to ask for my money back!15

Helen Sogoloff

Perfect books, a must read!5 star

This book is written in a casually intellectual style that is simply beautiful. A great read for anyone that is interested in learning the history of biblical times and Jesus of Nazareth from a historically accurate standpoint . Mr. Reza Aslan uses religious document such as the New and Old Testaments to paint an eye-opening and refreshing portrait of the revolutionary peasant who sparked what became one of, if not the most influential movement in global history. Those who argue the conclusions and assertions Mr. Aslan makes in his book, and criticize his knowledge and expertise on the subject because of his religious and cultural positions have very clearly not read his book or drastically misunderstood his message. This book is a must read for anyone curious in the roots of history's most arguably significant person, and the movement he caused. I will recommend this to all my friends and family.55

Bree-zy babii

Unbiased and for thinkers5 star

You have to be completely ignorant if you're offended by this book. Aslan, while of another faith, put time and care into this book with only one intent: to educate. Well done, Sir. You know the difference between faith and truth.55


Good book4 star

Holy hell what an interesting book, the author gives so many details it is at times hard to comprehend because just when you thought you wrapped your head around one fascinating thought he gives you another thing to think about. Also I should mention that this book is probably way beyond my reading level but either way it was a fascinating read45

Pady Ann

The zealot2 star

I enjoyed the historical sense of time and place the author created. He clearly has many facts and history right. Yet, He ruined the book with his haughty, cynical and dismissive writing style. One minute he is exclaiming what Jesus was actually thinking, saying or doing and then in the next paragraph he contradicts himself and heads down another "and Jesus was thinking" road. From page one this book is rife with this problem. He seems to clearly believe Christianity rise is nothing more than a bit of luck. It was insulting to me. One can only imagine the protests in the streets, violence and jihad against the author if he had taken this tone against Mohammad. With Christianity it's no problem to reduce and dismiss its beginnings with a historical shrug. No one gets that mad. Lets see if he has true courage to write about what Mohammad was thinking and doing during Islam's beginning. Wouldn't that be interesting.25


A better understanding of Jesus5 star

The author has brilliantly educated me and offered me a better understanding of Jesus through describing the facts and understood events of that time through studied historical analysis. It is too bad that some modern interpretations of Jesus have lost sight of his true intentions and principles.55

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