Zealot is the New York Times bestseller that promises to narrate “the life and times of Jesus of Nazareth.” If you’re wondering how a book about Jesus Christ made it to the top spot on the NYT list, there are two answers. First, the author has no interest in Christ. He rejects that whole idea. Second, author Reza Aslan is a Muslim. His real purpose is to romanticize Jesus of Nazareth as an illiterate peasant, very much like his real hero Mohammed.
Consider this excerpt explaining how an adolescent born to a Muslim family walked away from a fleeting interest in Christianity to be confirmed in his beloved Islam. “And so, like many people in my situation, I angrily discarded my faith as if it were a costly forgery I had been duped into buying. I began to rethink the faith and culture of my forefathers, finding in them as an adult a deeper, more intimate familiarity than I ever had as a child, the kind that comes from reconnecting with an old friend after many years apart.” That’s right. He concluded early on that the Christian faith is a forgery bought and sold by fools who have been duped. Don’t expect much truth about Jesus here.
If you’re looking for the historical Jesus, a subject that is much the rage today, start by reading one of the Gospels. Mark writes with the urgent tone of a novelist, except that he’s telling a true story. Luke narrates powerful parables and recalls revealing details. Matthew cites all the Old Testament prophecies Jesus fulfilled. John sees Christ in all his majesty as the Son of God. But if you’d like more analysis after reading one of the Gospels, I recommend Tim Keller’s book, “Jesus the King.”
Timothy Keller is admittedly devoted to Christ, but he is also a scholar. He has considered the evidence and shares quite a bit of it, along with insightful anecdotes and quotes. Consider Keller’s comment after explaining that the term “gospel” predated Jesus Christ, and was also used to describe the feats of Caesar Augustus and the Greek victory at Marathon:
“Right there you can see the difference between Christianity and all other religions, including no religion. The essence of other religions is advice; Christianity is essentially news. Other religions say, ‘This is what you have to do to connect to God forever; this is how you have to live in order to earn your way to God.’ But the gospel says, ‘This is what has been done in history. This is how Jesus lived and died to earn the way to God for you.’ Christianity is completely different. It’s joyful news.”
If you’d like to know more about Jesus Christ, consult somebody who actually knows him. Jesus the King is written by a wise man who recommends the Gospel and writes in a way that reminds me of C.S. Lewis.
Lift up the Cross!