Aug 192013

Reza Aslan.
Google Books

I saw this book available for review from NetGalley. I always have a hard time reading “Historical Jesus” books, not because they seek to deny much of what I beleive but because they always seem so presumptuous and condescending, explaining why everything we ‘know’ is wrong while, themselves, holding on the to the story arc to keep just enough to justify the reason for a book. Claiming that we, in the 21st century, are so much smarter than people back then and not near as gullible just seems like a weak premise an academic discipline.

Will be interesting to see how this author handles it.

Book Info

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth
by Reza Aslan
Publisher: Random House
Published: 07/16/2013
ISBN-10: 140006922X
ISBN-13: 978-1400069224
Started: 08/19/2013
Source: NetGalley
Reason: Has been a while since I have read a book on the "Historical Jesus", ie everything we know about the Jesus we don't know.
Format: e-book

Publisher Synopsis


From the internationally bestselling author of No god but God comes a fascinating, provocative, and meticulously researched biography that challenges long-held assumptions about the man we know as Jesus of Nazareth.

Two thousand years ago, an itinerant Jewish preacher and miracle worker walked across the Galilee, gathering followers to establish what he called the “Kingdom of God.” The revolutionary movement he launched was so threatening to the established order that he was captured, tortured, and executed as a state criminal.

Within decades after his shameful death, his followers would call him God.

Sifting through centuries of mythmaking, Reza Aslan sheds new light on one of history’s most influential and enigmatic characters by examining Jesus through the lens of the tumultuous era in which he lived: first-century Palestine, an age awash in apocalyptic fervor. Scores of Jewish prophets, preachers, and would-be messiahs wandered through the Holy Land, bearing messages from God. This was the age of zealotry—a fervent nationalism that made resistance to the Roman occupation a sacred duty incumbent on all Jews. And few figures better exemplified this principle than the charismatic Galilean who defied both the imperial authorities and their allies in the Jewish religious hierarchy.

Balancing the Jesus of the Gospels against the historical sources, Aslan describes a man full of conviction and passion, yet rife with contradiction; a man of peace who exhorted his followers to arm themselves with swords; an exorcist and faith healer who urged his disciples to keep his identity a secret; and ultimately the seditious “King of the Jews” whose promise of liberation from Rome went unfulfilled in his brief lifetime. Aslan explores the reasons why the early Christian church preferred to promulgate an image of Jesus as a peaceful spiritual teacher rather than a politically conscious revolutionary. And he grapples with the riddle of how Jesus understood himself, the mystery that is at the heart of all subsequent claims about his divinity.

Zealot yields a fresh perspective on one of the greatest stories ever told even as it affirms the radical and transformative nature of Jesus of Nazareth’s life and mission. The result is a thought-provoking, elegantly written biography with the pulse of a fast-paced novel: a singularly brilliant portrait of a man, a time, and the birth of a religion.

Author Info

Dr. Reza Aslan's bachelor's degree is in religious studies, with an emphasis on scripture and traditions (which at Santa Clara University means the New Testament). His minor was in biblical Greek. He has a master of theological studies degree from Harvard University, in world religions, and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in the sociology of religions. UCSB's doctoral program is an interdisciplinary one that draws from religion, history, philosophy, and sociology, among other fields. Aslan's doctorate in the sociology of religions encompasses expertise in the history of religion. Reza also has a master of fine arts degree from the University of Iowa.

Dr. Aslan is currently professor of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside, with a joint appointment in the department of religion, and he teaches in both disciplines. He was previously Wallerstein Distinguished Visiting Professor at Drew University, where he taught from 2012 to 2013, and assistant visiting professor of religion at the University of Iowa, where he taught from 2000 to 2003. He has written three books on religion.

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Mar 272013

Just bought John Piper’s “50 Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die” for 99 cents on Perfect book to read in this week leading up to Easter.

Book Info

50 Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die: The Passion of Jesus Christ
by John Piper
Publisher: Crossways
Published: 01/09/2004
ISBN-10: 1581346085
ISBN-13: 978-1581346084
Started: 03/27/2013
Source: Amazon
Format: e-book

Publisher Synopsis

WHY? The most important questions anyone can ask are: Why was Jesus Christ crucified? Why did he suffer so much? What has this to do with me? Finally, who sent him to his sdeath? The answer to the last question is that God did. Jesus was God’s Son. The suffering was unsurpassed, but the whole message of the Bible leads to this answer.

The central issue of Jesus’ death is not the cause, but the meaning-God’s meaning. That is what this book is about. John Piper has gathered from the New Testament fifty reasons. Not fifty causes, but fifty purposes-in answer to the most important question that each of us must face: What did God achieve for sinners like us in sending his Son to die?

Author Info
John Piper is the Pastor for Preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and studied at Wheaton College, where he first sensed God's call to enter the ministry. He went on to earn degrees from Fuller Theological Seminary (B.D.) and the University of Munich (D.theol.). For six years he taught Biblical Studies at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and in 1980 accepted the call to serve as pastor at Bethlehem. John is the author of more than 30 books, including Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, What Jesus Demands from the World, and Don't Waste Your Life.

Source: @JohnPiper on Twitter
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Aug 182011

Cover: Cat's Cradle

Not real sure what to make of this book, Cat’s Cradle. Through satire, the author mocks both science and religion yet, in his mocking he also shows their necessity.

To me it seems that:

  • Science is presented as truth but without limits it destroys.
  • Religion is presented as false but without it we are hopeless.

This is book #59 towards my goal of 100 books this year. Chosen because it is on a number of Top 100 Science Fiction book lists.

Would be interested in your take on this book if you have had a chance to read it.