Few books about religious history generate as much publicity as Reza Aslan’s Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. An immediate bestseller, it kindled a wildfire of controversy after Fox news host Lauren Green questioned why a Muslim would write a book about Jesus.

Much of the commentary and debate afterward focused on Reza Aslan’s biography, or on topics such as Islamophobia and why Muslims care about Jesus. Unfortunately, the tendency has been to ignore the book’s depth of content.

Reza Aslan wrote this book after a lifetime of interest in Jesus, and a professional immersion in Jesus studies. At ILLUME, we decided to engage the author in an in-depth discussion of the book’s thesis and argument. While paying attention to the biographical element, we wanted to get at the heart of the book’s ideas.

Topics we covered:

  • What inspired Reza Aslan to write this book about Jesus?
  • What does he think about the surprising amount of controversy it generated?
  • Reza says he’s not a Christian, but still a follower of Jesus- what does he mean by this?
  • How does Reza’s book fit in with previous scholarly literature on Jesus?
  • How does his book distinguish between the Jesus of history and the Christ of faith?
  • Why is the Crucifixion so central to his book’s argument?
  • Why was Jesus’ mission a political one—and why does he believe Christianity emerged from a political failure?
  • What does he think about the critical reaction from some Muslim quarters to his views on the Virgin Birth and the Crucifxion?

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