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7/18/13 9:16 AM
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770mdm
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I don't watch the Jon Stewart show for my politics but I do watch it because it's pretty funny. The other night there was an interview with Reza Aslan who wrote a book on Jesus and after watching the interview I can say this is the Jesus that would make sense to me and that I would study.
7/18/13 9:18 AM
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770mdm
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The second part of a 3 part interview

7/18/13 9:23 AM
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770mdm
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The 3rd part.  I'd like to get some Christian reaction & thoughts to this guy.  It seems as though there is this effort by Jews and now Non-Jews to understand Jesus as the man he was as opposed to the god he is thought to be by fundamentalists.  I think this Jesus is relatable and has much much more to offer humanity than people who speak in tongues or handle snakes. 

7/19/13 8:46 AM
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770mdm
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I think I posted the 2nd segment twice.  This should be the 3rd segment.

7/19/13 9:06 AM
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770mdm
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This last segment really crystalizes some major differences.  The Scriptures were written not as truth imperically verified but truth in a much broader deeper sense.  So we can spend all this time debating weather or not the earth is 5772 years old, play with snakes, speak in tongues or realize that the philosophies and deeper truths to teach.  If it wasn't for religion the scriptures themselves would just be irrelevant because their deeper truths would just be missed.  If it wasn't for priests & Rabbi's ferver - regardless of how wacky - we'd just miss it.  Especially in our ADHD super fast paced society.  Even athiests should appreciate looking at scriptures in this way. 

7/19/13 11:49 AM
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gord96
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So we can spend all this time debating weather or not the earth is 5772 years old, play with snakes, speak in tongues or realize that the philosophies and deeper truths to teach.


Indeed. Reminds me of a quote I heard...

"those that take the Bible literally, don't take the Bible seriously."
7/19/13 3:20 PM
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770mdm
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Interesting.  Thank you

7/28/13 8:41 PM
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770mdm
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Clearly here the interviewer is outmatched.  But more important - It's the sentament that this guy is a fraud and has no business writing books like this.  I'm figuring the interviewer is a lot like many devout Christians here.  Aslan is saying that his book doesn't take away from the notion Jesus is the Massiah he's just saying that his interpretation is about the man Jesus in Palistine under Roman rule.  What do Christians have to say about works like this?  I'm interested -

7/29/13 8:46 AM
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Kung Fu Joe
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I've just begun reading Zealot. I'm only 16 pages in-- not even through the introduction, yet-- and he's already stated two big points with which I strongly disagree. The first is in regards to the value of the Minor Testimony of Flavius Josephus, while the second is in reference to how one should regard pseudepigraphical writings.

Still, the book is short enough that I should plow through it. I'll give a fuller review once I'm done. Phone Post
7/29/13 1:10 PM
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770mdm
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I'm still waiting for my copy from Amazon. Since I have no other real point of reference I'd like to hear your review when your ready Phone Post 3.0
7/29/13 2:29 PM
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Kung Fu Joe
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770mdm - I'm still waiting for my copy from Amazon. Since I have no other real point of reference I'd like to hear your review when your ready Phone Post 3.0
I'll definitely let you know. I've made it through the first 5 chapters, now. So far, I tend to be in agreement with the major point and focus of the book, but I find issue with a number of Dr. Aslan's lesser points and statements. Phone Post
7/30/13 3:05 PM
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770mdm
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It's pretty amazing how much I'm seeing this guy fly through the internet.  Everywhere from him being interviewed on the Jon Stewart show to the totally botched Fox News Interview.  Here is another piece done on him by The Forward, I believe the largest American Jewish online news source:

http://forward.com/articles/181074/separating-jesus-the-man-from-the-myth/?p=all

Separating Jesus the Man From the Myth

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth
By Reza Aslan
Random House, 336 pages, $27

Is it possible to change the tenor of public debate on a subject with a piece of writing? Is it conceivable that the “general reader” still exists, that judgment-suspended individual who picks up a book because she or he is interested in the topic and wants to know more, and not — as so often seems to be the case on the Internet — out of a desire to have prejudices confirmed or to be irritated by the “obviously wrong”?

Can we imagine that in a religious landscape as polarized as today’s, with fundamentalists and atheists ranged against each other with seemingly no points of commonality, we could calmly attempt to separate out the historical truths and convenient fictions behind the world’s most famous man?

The only real concern over “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth,” Reza Aslan’s masterful investigation of the historical Jesus, is whether there is still an audience open-minded enough to be able to read and take onboard its messages.

For the Jesus he finds when the accreted layers of centuries of worship are scraped off is rather different from the one we might be used to, and all the more interesting, human and relevant for that.

“Zealot” is a work of tremendous scholarly synthesis. Aslan, an Iranian born scholar, surveys the literature around Jesus — what we might know of a man of his time, what the Gospels tell us of his life, what we can discover from contemporary writings and archaeology — and weaves together this material into a highly convincing account of Jesus the man.

It is “in a word, preposterous” that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. A census was indeed taken in the year 6 BCE in Judea, but Aslan demolishes in a few swift sentences the idea that the never-inefficient Romans would have had people tramping over the country to their place of birth to be counted.

This, along with several other provable falsehoods in the Gospels, is explicable because they were written largely for a non-Jewish audience that wouldn’t have known it was inaccurate.

It is unlikely, Aslan points out, that Jesus would have been able to read or write. He was a follower of John the Baptist, who took over that man’s ministry after he was executed. Aslan shows how each chronologically succeeding Gospel downplays the role of John a little more, trying to make the case for Jesus’ uniquely divine status.

But Jesus’ followers begin to follow him only after John was arrested. It was John who spoke first of the Kingdom of God. Jesus’ message about a God who cares most of all how we treat others comes from Jewish tradition and from John. “Jesus even addresses his enemies… with the same distinct phrase John uses for them: ‘You brood of vipers,’” Aslan writes. Jesus, in Aslan’s convincing reading, is a disciple himself, who carries his master’s message and expands it into “a movement of liberation for the afflicted and oppressed… founded on the promise that God would soon intervene.”

One of the greatest challenges of researching this period is separating the lies, which have been inserted because they would have been expedient at the time, from the elements, which are probably true. Since Jesus repeatedly denies being the chosen Messiah — where it would have been more convenient for the Gospel writers, many of whom never met Jesus, for him to have accepted the title enthusiastically — we can presume that the historical man really did reject the title of Messiah. He calls himself instead the “son of man.” Aslan convincingly suggests that Jesus very strongly associates himself with the phrase “son of man,” meaning that he is a human king, not a godly Messiah.

And why, Aslan asks, was Jesus crucified? “If one knew nothing else about Jesus of Nazareth save that he was crucified by Rome, one would know practically all that was needed to uncover who he was and why he ended up nailed to a cross…. His offence… was etched upon a plaque and placed above his head for all to see: Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. His crime was daring to assume kingly ambitions.”

In the closing chapters of “Zealot,” Aslan focuses on how the Jesus movement grew after the death of Jesus. Jesus’ brother James leads a group of followers who obey the Jewish laws and see no conflict between being a follower of Jesus and a Jew. But it’s Paul — a man who almost certainly never met Jesus and had persecuted his followers — who triumphs. He takes his idea of Jesus, a divine incarnation, more God than man, to a non-Jewish audience and there finds the converts to Christianity. And thus begins the modern age.

Nothing in “Zealot” will come as a surprise to anyone who has studied the period in any detail. Aslan’s triumph is not in original research or speculation. This is a deft, concise, respectful and accessible summary of — dare I say it? — the truth. It’s a summer afternoon’s read that explains, essentially, how Western civilization came to take the pattern we see today. And it’s hard to think of anyone, really, who wouldn’t benefit from reading it, if willing to accept its message. What’s most surprising is that a story so well accepted by scholars should still come as such a shock to us.

Naomi Alderman is a prize-winning novelist. Her most recent novel, “The Liars’ Gospel,” is published by Little, Brown.

7/30/13 8:43 PM
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TheHawker
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Is it that time of the year already? Every year we get another ground-breaking book about who the real Jesus was.

The only thing interesting about this guy or his book is that he is a Muslim who accepts that Jesus was crucified. The Quran says someone else was crucified in his place, and they believe it was Judas.
7/30/13 9:52 PM
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770mdm
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I may not be current on all the books that have come out but I've seen a common theme - Jesus the man as opposed to Jesus is god.  It was his humanity that made him who he was and that he was an actual person living in an actual time.  That he was forshadowed in the Torah or OT, or that he was hidden in it. 

8/3/13 3:58 PM
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paradigmer
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Kung Fu Joe -  I've just begun reading Zealot. I'm only 16 pages in-- not even through the introduction, yet-- and he's already stated two big points with which I strongly disagree. The first is in regards to the value of the Minor Testimony of Flavius Josephus, while the second is in reference to how one should regard pseudepigraphical writings.

Still, the book is short enough that I should plow through it. I'll give a fuller review once I'm done. Phone Post

I just started "Zealot", and I found this statement by Dr. Aslan in the introduction very interesting:

     "There are a few things to keep in mind before we begin our examination. For every well-attested, heavily researched, and eminently authoritative argument made about the historical Jesus, there is an equally well-attested, equally researched, and equally authoritative argument opposing it." 

It's commendable that at he least he acknowledges that there are authoritative, opposing views.  He seems more respectful than say Erhman, who just casually dismisses anyone else with an opposing opinion. 

It would be great to see Carrier and Aslan do a debate.  Instead of the typical Christian Historicity vs Mythological Historicity debate we would see a Secular Historicity vs Mythological Historicity debate.  

9/3/13 10:54 AM
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770mdm
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So, I've been reading this book & I am about 1/2 way through it.  I have 3 kids and it's difficult to find the time.  So far Aslan has explained that virtually everyone in the priesthood and liason to Rome was compromised by Rome in some way.  The king, the high priest & the Sanheidren were all proxy in some way to Rome diluting Judaism so to speak.  It seems also that the Samaritans and Galeleans both have a disdain for the Temple practices.  But at least the Galeleans had a sense of value for it whereas the Samaritans outright were indifferent to it. 

So far Jesus seemed to be drawn by John the Baptist's teachings, so much so that he traveled and learned with him for a period of time.  So changed was Jesus after he came home his village ostracized him.  Understandible considering the areas history with Rome.  I guess he wasn't a Zealot but was observant to a sort of Chassidic degree of piety.  Very internal, only worshiping God etc.  I do wonder what Azlan will say about the things that differentiated Jesus from the other self proclaimed Massiahs - what set him apart.  What was John the Baptist teaching that drew so many people to him?  So far I can't tell.  So if John the Baptist was teaching Judaism - which is what he must have been doing it seems the Rabbi's disregarded everything acceptible in that entire era. 

Azlan also says that he doesn't believe Jesus was so concerned with Roman occupation.  I do find that hard to believe but maybe he'll explain it later in the book - along with what differentiated his teachings from everyone elses and also what John the Baptist was teaching. 

I think Azlan believes Christianity was Judaism before Paul - He really universalized Judaism in way's I always thought.  John the Baptist must have doned Tefillin & ate Kosher & observed the Jewish Holidays etc.  Paul made Judaism available to the world by not imposing all the Halachic rules.  Had Paul never been, Jews may have learned much earlier that it was our internal conflicts that allowed for Rome and other nations to overwhelm us.  When we weren't compromised & when we were unified that's when we were the strongest.  But I don't believe Israel was meant to be so exclusive.  I think Jesus' message of being good to each other was more about unifying Jews from such fractious factions. 

There's a difference between Moses confronting Pharoh and Jesus confronting Ciaphas.  But I'll wait till I read the rest of Azlans work to try and figure it all out. 

It's a hard read for me.  On the Jewish day of T'isah B'Av we read Lammentations which are writings describing life during the sack of Jerusalem.  Gruesome.  Very sad and hard to take in.  The cruelty was almost unparalleled unless you learn about the Holocaust or maybe even the Babalonyan exile or the Spanish Inquisition it's just tough to deal with. 

I'm excited to learn more.  If I were to learn anything from Jesus so far it would be about the importance of Jewish unity - these factions were and still are pretty destructive. 

10/31/13 2:57 PM
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770mdm
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Having kids and trying to get through this book isn't easy.  I am on the 3rd & final section.  But It's quite a relief to find someone who see's the absolute absurdity in the behavior of the Jewish people like me in this book.  So much so, that Azlan throw's virtually all their behavior out the window and calls it a fabrication to avoid Roman persecution.  I'm sure many of you will disregard his book but it's comforting to me that there are legit scholars out there who see what I see which is ALL the problems concerning the NT (Not to say I KNOW the NT well at all but from the debates on this site and things learned from living amongst Christians) - or Jesus' Jewishness, or the Jewish peoples behavior in the NT is total Hogwash!  Azlan may be making assumptions or claims what have you but he backs everything up with some convincing facts. 

My only real question is - if all of Azlan's claims are true - is why?  Why did the NT writers write it to remember 1 of the several self-proclaimed Massiahs?  I'm hoping he will answer that in this last section. 

12/14/13 8:56 PM
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770mdm
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I finally finished Zealot today.  It took long enough although a very interesting read.  Aslan show's the inacurate translation of the virgin birth but interestingly seems to not be totally against the resurection.  He can't explain why no one discounted the resurrection upon impending death.  No one, not one person discounted the resurrection.  He does a wonderful job illistrating why Christianity went the way of Paul instead of Peter or James.  After the fall of Jerusalem his game was the only one in town regarding Christianity.  The story is very exciting to read and try and follow.  So much was going on.  Pure chaos.  Especially after the Crucifiction.  Everyone scrambling for legitimate Christianity.  I believe we'd have a different Christianity had Jerusalem survived or didn't get burned to the ground.  It would have been more Jewish in nature.  The man Jesus was very different than the Pauline Christ.  I think I'd like to learn more about James and Peter - I think Paul was dillusional.  Anyway, I learned a lot and more apt to appreciate a type of Christianity rather than Christianity itself.  There are a lot of God fearing Christians out there who are good people.  I appreciate them too. 

12/16/13 10:08 AM
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Kung Fu Joe
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770mdm -

I finally finished Zealot today.  It took long enough although a very interesting read.  Aslan show's the inacurate translation of the virgin birth but interestingly seems to not be totally against the resurection.  He can't explain why no one discounted the resurrection upon impending death.  No one, not one person discounted the resurrection.  He does a wonderful job illistrating why Christianity went the way of Paul instead of Peter or James.  After the fall of Jerusalem his game was the only one in town regarding Christianity.  The story is very exciting to read and try and follow.  So much was going on.  Pure chaos.  Especially after the Crucifiction.  Everyone scrambling for legitimate Christianity.  I believe we'd have a different Christianity had Jerusalem survived or didn't get burned to the ground.  It would have been more Jewish in nature.  The man Jesus was very different than the Pauline Christ.  I think I'd like to learn more about James and Peter - I think Paul was dillusional.  Anyway, I learned a lot and more apt to appreciate a type of Christianity rather than Christianity itself.  There are a lot of God fearing Christians out there who are good people.  I appreciate them too. 

While I'm glad you enjoyed the book, I'll have to warn that many of Aslan's claims and premises upon which his argument is built are simply false.

For example, Aslan makes several claims about the Romans expelling the Jews from Jerusalem in 70 AD. However, these claims are entirely baseless. The Romans didn't expel the Jews from Jerusalem until after the Bar Kochba revolt, well into the second century.

Dr. Bart Ehrman, a rather noted expert on the historical Jesus, has been posting a critique of Zealot on his blog. Incidentally, Dr. Ehrman's book, "Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium," is a much better treatment of the historical Jesus. Phone Post 3.0
12/18/13 1:30 PM
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770mdm
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It's liberating for me to read works where the Jews aren't depicted as the bad guys.  Learning what the NT says about us I wonder what good Christians think of me when they learn I'm a serious Jew.  My way of life is so meaninglessly detested that even my reasoning is passed over.  When I debate on this forum it's no wonder why I feel like banging my head against the wall. 

I'm sure many of Aslans claims are speculative but my concern is mostly that a noted scholar has written such a work - paving the way for more.  Learning about Jerusalems demise through a Christian lense is prompting me to learn more. 

I'll check out Dr. Bart Ehrman.  Thank you!

12/19/13 8:49 AM
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gord96
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770mdm -

It's liberating for me to read works where the Jews aren't depicted as the bad guys.  Learning what the NT says about us I wonder what good Christians think of me when they learn I'm a serious Jew.  My way of life is so meaninglessly detested that even my reasoning is passed over.  When I debate on this forum it's no wonder why I feel like banging my head against the wall. 

I'm sure many of Aslans claims are speculative but my concern is mostly that a noted scholar has written such a work - paving the way for more.  Learning about Jerusalems demise through a Christian lense is prompting me to learn more. 

I'll check out Dr. Bart Ehrman.  Thank you!

The Jewish perspective is sadly overlooked by so many Christians. You have a people who have worshipped G-d a particular way for a few thousand years and then someone comes along and says they are doing it wrong. It's not surprising that the Jewish nation rejected Jesus as the messiah, as Jesus didn't really fit the idea of the messiah according to the Hebrew Scriptures. Phone Post 3.0

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