Even though Reza Aslan’s new book received a boost in sales and notoriety this week after being featured on Fox News, Christian scholars insist the book is “nothing new under the sun.” The book, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, claims that Jesus was a revolutionary who not only advocated the use of violence, but himself rejected the idea of an incarnate God. Aslan also claims Jesus was condemned and crucified for sedition against the Roman Empire and not for the world’s sin.
But despite the book’s current popularity (it’s in the top 5 on the New York Times bestseller list and a leading Amazon title), prominent Christian scholars say the book shows “nothing new under the sun” when it comes to critiquing the historical Jesus. Philosopher and apologist William Lane Craig said, as was popular in the early 1900s, “Aslan claims that Jesus is historically unknowable and we can never get back to the real Jesus.”
Baylor University professor and writer Alan Jacobs writes in his review, “Aslan makes no new discoveries, and makes no arguments that haven’t already been made — in some cases very long ago.”
Dr. Danny Burk, associate professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College, wrote that Aslan “doesn’t take the testimony of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John as reliable eyewitness testimony … It is bad history to argue that Jesus’ crucifixion means that he must have been an insurrectionist—especially given what we know about the brutality of the Romans and in particular of Pontius Pilate.”
Professor of New Testament at Lancaster Theological Seminary Dr. Greg Carey admits that Aslan is a “spectacular writer” whose portrait of Jesus is “spiritually if not intellectually compelling,” but the author “seems to have bought into an outdated model of Christian development.”
Aslan, who has four degrees in various religion studies, told Fox News that his personal faith journey is recorded in the book, where he found the Bible to be full of contradictions and errors, which compelled him to “discard his faith as if it were a costly forgery I had been duped into buying.”
Read more critiques of the book and Aslan’s comments at The Christian Post.