Essential Pittsburgh
2:38 pm
Thu September 12, 2013

Reza Aslan on The Life & Times of Jesus of Nazareth

Credit RezaAslan.com

Religious scholar and best-selling author, Reza Aslan challenges many long-held assumptions about the leader of the Christian religion in his book Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth.

He has received criticism for his frank examination of the 1st century Jewish leader because he does not paint Jesus as a celestial “deity on earth.”

Instead, Aslan has illustrated the political and social importance of his life. “When you’re ushering in the rule of God, you’re ushering out the rule of Caesar,” he explains.

Aslan says that Jesus was primarily interested in the principles of social order and his message was very much rooted in the existing state of affairs. His beatitudes, which praise the attitude of the meek and humble over the pious and wealthy, serve as a vehicle for upward social mobility.

While he applauded the trials of the Jewish people, however, Aslan says Jesus often criticized the wealth of the Roman Empire. When explaining the crucifixion of Christ, for example, Aslan points out that this method of execution was reserved for criminals charged with sedition or treason.

In Rome’s eyes, Jesus was seen as a large threat to the political and religious stability of the state because in that time, there was no division of politics and religion.

“This is a man worth knowing, regardless of what you think about him,” says Aslan, adding that his position as a former Christian as well as religious scholar provided him with a unique perspective when authoring the novel.