Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth

So last night I was watching Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show”. The guest for July 17 was Reza Aslan, author of “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth”. I found the interview compelling. Click here for the video. So, off to Amazon to download the sample of the Kindle edition.

Then I bit the bullet and bought the Kindle edition for $14. I always been struggling to understand more about the life and times of Jesus. Somehow, just reading the Bible doesn’t quite give one the complete picture of the how’s and why’s of Jesus’ life.

The book does an excellent job of giving life what it was like in the Middle East 2000 years ago. After reading the following quote from the prologue, I thought to myself “Oh, I get it now.”

Consider This: Crucifixion was a punishment the Rome reserved almost exclusively for the crime of sedition. The plaque that the Romans placed over Jesus’s head while he writhed in pain – “King of the Jews” – was called a “titulus” and despite common perception, was not meant to be sarcastic. Every criminal who hung on a cross received a plaque declaring the specific crime for which he was being executed. Jesus’s crime, in the eyes of Rome, was striving for kingly rule (i.e. treason), the same crime that nearly every other messianic aspirant of the time was killed. Nor did Jesus die alone. The gospels claim that on either side of Jesus hung men who in Greek are called “lestai”, a word often rendered in English as “thieves” but actually means “bandits” and was the most common Roman designation for an insurrectionist or rebel.

Back when I was a lad, the good Jesuits never quite explained it this way. I haven’t quite finished the book, but so far I am enjoying it immensely. So, go take a look at the interview video and then download the book.


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4 Comments on “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth”

  1. chicagoja Says:

    Aslan’s on the right track (Jesus, the zealot and revolutionary) but I like my story a lot better than his.

  2. I read Aslan’s “No God But God”. Oddly, this was one of the books that piqued James’s interest in the Middle East. He is a Shiite Muslim, says Wikipedia, so that might offer an interesting perspective.

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