Reza Aslan  

Before I saw Reza Aslan on TV this morning, I had never heard of him. 
I was very impressed! 
I was so impressed that I wanted to share him with my friends.

He was born May 3, 1972, in Iran.  In 1979 his family fled to the United States to escape the Iranian revolution.  He grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area.  He spent the summer of his sophomore year at an evangelical youth camp in Northern California. There he found Jesus and became an ardent follower.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts' degree in religions from Santa Clara University, a Master of Theological Studies' degree from Harvard Divinity School, a doctorate in the sociology of religions from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a Master of Fine Arts' degree from the University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop.  He is an excellent writer.
His latest book is entitled Zealot.  It is an attempt to answer the question, "What can we really know about the actual historical Jesus?"  Historians have been wrestling with that question since the early 19th century.  However,  Doctor Aslan brings a fresh new approach that I found very interesting.  I think you will, too.

I downloaded the free sample from Amazon this morning.  I couldn't wait to share a few excerpts with my friends. I hope it excites you enough to download the free sample and enjoy it yourself.
from:  Aslan, Reza. Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

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]

The more I probed the Bible to arm myself against the doubts of unbelievers, the more distance I discovered between the Jesus of the gospels and the Jesus of history— between Jesus the Christ and Jesus of Nazareth. (Kindle Locations 105-106)

The bedrock of evangelical Christianity, at least as it was taught to me, is the unconditional belief that every word of the Bible is God-breathed and true, literal and inerrant. The sudden realization that this belief is patently and irrefutably false, that the Bible is replete with the most blatant and obvious errors and contradictions— just as one would expect from a document written by hundreds of hands across thousands of years— left me confused and spiritually unmoored. (Kindle Locations 107-111)
Ironically, the more I learned about the life of the historical Jesus, the turbulent world in which he lived, and the brutality of the Roman occupation that he defied, the more I was drawn to him.  Indeed, the Jewish peasant and revolutionary who challenged the rule of the most powerful empire the world had ever known and lost became so much more real to me than the detached, unearthly being I had been introduced to in church. (Kindle Locations 116-119)
Add to this list the Essene sect, some of whose members lived in seclusion atop the dry plateau of Qumran on the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea; the first-century Jewish revolutionary party known as the Zealots, who helped launched a bloody war against Rome; and the fearsome bandit-assassins whom the Romans dubbed the Sicarii (the Daggermen), and the picture that emerges of first-century Palestine is of an era awash in messianic energy. (Kindle Locations 162-165
The problem with pinning down the historical Jesus is that, outside of the New Testament, there is almost no trace of the man who would so permanently alter the course of human history. The earliest and most reliable nonbiblical reference to Jesus comes from the first-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (d. 100 C.E.). (Kindle Locations 170-173)
The passage proves not only that “Jesus, the one they call messiah” probably existed, but that by the year 94 C.E., when the Antiquities was written, he was widely recognized as the founder of a new and enduring movement. (Kindle Locations 180-182)
Paul may be an excellent source for those interested in the early formation of Christianity, but he is a poor guide for uncovering the historical Jesus. (Kindle Locations 192-193
These are not eyewitness accounts of Jesus’s words and deeds recorded by people who knew him. They are testimonies of faith composed by communities of faith and written many years after the events they describe. Simply put, the gospels tell us about Jesus the Christ, not Jesus the man. (Kindle Locations 198-200)
In the end, there are only two hard historical facts about Jesus of Nazareth upon which we can confidently rely: the first is that Jesus was a Jew who led a popular Jewish movement in Palestine at the beginning of the first century C.E.; the second is that Rome crucified him for doing so. By themselves these two facts cannot provide a complete portrait of the life of a man who lived two thousand years ago. But when combined with all we know about the tumultuous era in which Jesus lived— and thanks to the Romans, we know a great deal— these two facts can help paint a picture of Jesus of Nazareth that may be more historically accurate than the one painted by the gospels. (Kindle Locations 224-228)
Rudolf Bultmann liked to say that the quest for the historical Jesus is ultimately an internal quest. Scholars tend to see the Jesus they want to see. Too often they see themselves— their own reflection— in the image of Jesus they have constructed. (Kindle Locations 273-275)

Listen to the TV segment.

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