Author Topic: "Jesus was a zealot, nationalistic, illiterate, uneducated, poor peasant"  (Read 150 times)

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Offline Skydive

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Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan

To take just one example: the Romans are said to display "characteristic savagery" on page 13 and are "generally tolerant" on page 14. Aslan contends that an illiterate "day laborer" called Jesus was part of an insurrectionary tradition in Israel, and the story of this Che Guevara of the early Middle East was co-opted by the dastardly Saul of Tarsus, aka Saint Paul, who defanged the zealot and turned him into an apolitical metaphysician. Frankly, parts of it are closer to Jesus Christ Superstar than any serious undertaking.


The core thesis of Zealot is that the “real” Jesus of Nazareth was an illiterate peasant from the Galilee who zealously, indeed monomaniacally, aspired to depose the Roman governor of Palestine and become the King of Israel. Aslan’s essentially political portrayal of Jesus thus hardly, if at all, resembles the depiction of the spiritual giant, indeed God incarnate, found in the Gospels and the letters of Paul. While Aslan spills much ink arguing his thesis, nothing he has to say is at all new or original. The scholarly quest for the historical Jesus, or the “Jewish Jesus,” has been engaged by hundreds of academics for the past quarter millennium and has produced a mountain of books and a vast body of serious scholarly debate. The only novelty in Aslan’s book is his relentlessly reductionist, simplistic, one-sided and often harshly polemical portrayal of Jesus as a radical, zealously nationalistic, and purely political figure. Anything beyond this that is reported by his apostles is, according to Aslan, Christological mythology, not history.

(...)

Aslan dismisses just about all of the New Testament’s accounts of the early life and teachings of Jesus prior to his “storming” of Jerusalem and his subsequent arrest and crucifixion. He goes so far as to insist that Jesus’s zealous assault on the Jerusalem Temple is the “singular fact that should color everything we read in the Gospels about the Messiah known as Jesus of Nazareth.” Everything! Aslan goes on to assert that the very fact of his crucifixion for the crime of sedition against the Roman state is “all one has to know about the historical Jesus.” Still, as the New Testament constitutes the principal primary source for these facts as well as for anything else we can know about the “life and times of Jesus,”Aslan has little choice but to rely rather heavily on certain, carefully selected New Testament narratives. 

(...)

"As with every criminal who hangs on a cross, Jesus is given a plaque, or titulus, detailing the crime for which he is being crucified. Jesus’s titulus reads KING OF THE JEWS. His crime: striving for kingly rule, sedition. And so, like every bandit and revolutionary, every rabble-rousing zealot and apocalyptic prophet who came before or after him— like Hezekiah and Judas, Theudas and Athronges, the Egyptian [sic] and the Samaritan [sic], Simon son of Giora and Simon son of Kochba, Jesus is executed for daring to claim the mantle of king and messiah."


In the book you say that Jesus was “very likely” illiterate, and there’s “no reason to think” he could read or write. But a lot of Biblical scholars disagree. In Luke 4:16, we see Jesus reading. [“And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.”] So where do you get that from, saying Jesus is illiterate when in the Bible he is seen reading?

Well, first of all, it may sound shocking to some people, but just because the gospels say something doesn’t mean it’s actually factual. The Gospel of Luke was written 60-70 years after Jesus had died, when Christianity was quintessentially a Roman religion and no longer a Jewish religion and the gospel writers were very interested in making Jesus someone who would appeal to a non-Jewish audience. But the facts of history speak for themselves. And I would say the vast majority of Biblical scholars would agree that the illiteracy rates in Jesus’s world were somewhere around 98 percent. 98 percent of Jesus’s fellow Jews could neither read nor write. The notion that a tekton, as Jesus is referred to in the Bible, a woodworker, which would make him the second-lowest rung on the social ladder in his time just above the slave and the indigent and the beggar, the notion that he would have had any sort of formal education, let alone the kind of education necessary to debate theological points with the scribes and the Pharisees, is difficult  to reconcile with what we know of the history of the time.

But examining the broad sweep of historical trends of a particular time doesn’t necessarily tell you anything about an individual person.

It tells you everything about an individual.

It doesn’t necessarily tell you anything about an individual person. More than 99.999 percent of human beings can’t run as fast as Usain Bolt. You might conclude, given those trends, we couldn’t have a Usain Bolt. And yet we do.

What you are asking me is, is it conceivable that as a poor peasant from the backwoods of Galilee, who grew up a woodworker, a day laborer really, an artisan, in a village that was so small and so poor that it didn’t have any roads, or bathhouses or synagogues, and its name did not appear on any maps, could he have nevertheless been so well educated that he could not only read and write but debate the scriptures, is that possible? Sure. But is it likely? No. It’s the job of the historian to talk about what is most likely.
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Offline xOrthodox4Christx

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My advice: Don't buy it or listen to Reza Aslan.

His book No god but God was riddled with errors. I suspect this book is the same.
"Your children shall become the head, but you... will become the tail of the Church; therefore your judges will be those who have always preserved the Catholic Faith... they will be the Orthodox and true Catholics since they have never accepted heretics... but have remained zealous for the True Faith." (Western Bishops' Response to Pope Vigilius)

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Offline LenInSebastopol

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The last sentence is a statistical phenomena and as is the whole scree being part of those statistics.
I am sure that young punks almost weekly walked into Jerusalem claiming "freedom" and were dispatched by the Romans.
In all those stats there was One, and He is the Son of God who rose from the dead and not only violates death but all stats.
And that fact is unconquerable and indisputable.

But I've a question or two for you. Now that you know that such a Man existed, or did not, what are you going to DO about Him?
Are you going to deny the perfectibility of a human being? Even if He did not live or all that is written in your polemic were true, now that you have heard of Him or read His Sermon on the Mount, can you negate any part that would not work to the betterment of the human condition? In the end, my real question again, now that you know, what are you going to do with Him? Aside from denial I mean.

Lord, forgive me for helping this poor soul in his sin.
Lord, help him to see You and Your Beloved Son, Jesus Christ
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Offline scamandrius

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My advice: Don't buy it or listen to Reza Aslan.

His book No god but God was riddled with errors. I suspect this book is the same.

He's a creative writing professor.  this is not his area, not by a long shot.  HIs book has been debunked any number of times these past couple of years.
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Offline Mor Ephrem

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Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan

To take just one example: the Romans are said to display "characteristic savagery" on page 13 and are "generally tolerant" on page 14. Aslan contends that an illiterate "day laborer" called Jesus was part of an insurrectionary tradition in Israel, and the story of this Che Guevara of the early Middle East was co-opted by the dastardly Saul of Tarsus, aka Saint Paul, who defanged the zealot and turned him into an apolitical metaphysician. Frankly, parts of it are closer to Jesus Christ Superstar than any serious undertaking.


The core thesis of Zealot is that the “real” Jesus of Nazareth was an illiterate peasant from the Galilee who zealously, indeed monomaniacally, aspired to depose the Roman governor of Palestine and become the King of Israel. Aslan’s essentially political portrayal of Jesus thus hardly, if at all, resembles the depiction of the spiritual giant, indeed God incarnate, found in the Gospels and the letters of Paul. While Aslan spills much ink arguing his thesis, nothing he has to say is at all new or original. The scholarly quest for the historical Jesus, or the “Jewish Jesus,” has been engaged by hundreds of academics for the past quarter millennium and has produced a mountain of books and a vast body of serious scholarly debate. The only novelty in Aslan’s book is his relentlessly reductionist, simplistic, one-sided and often harshly polemical portrayal of Jesus as a radical, zealously nationalistic, and purely political figure. Anything beyond this that is reported by his apostles is, according to Aslan, Christological mythology, not history.

(...)

Aslan dismisses just about all of the New Testament’s accounts of the early life and teachings of Jesus prior to his “storming” of Jerusalem and his subsequent arrest and crucifixion. He goes so far as to insist that Jesus’s zealous assault on the Jerusalem Temple is the “singular fact that should color everything we read in the Gospels about the Messiah known as Jesus of Nazareth.” Everything! Aslan goes on to assert that the very fact of his crucifixion for the crime of sedition against the Roman state is “all one has to know about the historical Jesus.” Still, as the New Testament constitutes the principal primary source for these facts as well as for anything else we can know about the “life and times of Jesus,”Aslan has little choice but to rely rather heavily on certain, carefully selected New Testament narratives. 

(...)

"As with every criminal who hangs on a cross, Jesus is given a plaque, or titulus, detailing the crime for which he is being crucified. Jesus’s titulus reads KING OF THE JEWS. His crime: striving for kingly rule, sedition. And so, like every bandit and revolutionary, every rabble-rousing zealot and apocalyptic prophet who came before or after him— like Hezekiah and Judas, Theudas and Athronges, the Egyptian [sic] and the Samaritan [sic], Simon son of Giora and Simon son of Kochba, Jesus is executed for daring to claim the mantle of king and messiah."


In the book you say that Jesus was “very likely” illiterate, and there’s “no reason to think” he could read or write. But a lot of Biblical scholars disagree. In Luke 4:16, we see Jesus reading. [“And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.”] So where do you get that from, saying Jesus is illiterate when in the Bible he is seen reading?

Well, first of all, it may sound shocking to some people, but just because the gospels say something doesn’t mean it’s actually factual. The Gospel of Luke was written 60-70 years after Jesus had died, when Christianity was quintessentially a Roman religion and no longer a Jewish religion and the gospel writers were very interested in making Jesus someone who would appeal to a non-Jewish audience. But the facts of history speak for themselves. And I would say the vast majority of Biblical scholars would agree that the illiteracy rates in Jesus’s world were somewhere around 98 percent. 98 percent of Jesus’s fellow Jews could neither read nor write. The notion that a tekton, as Jesus is referred to in the Bible, a woodworker, which would make him the second-lowest rung on the social ladder in his time just above the slave and the indigent and the beggar, the notion that he would have had any sort of formal education, let alone the kind of education necessary to debate theological points with the scribes and the Pharisees, is difficult  to reconcile with what we know of the history of the time.

But examining the broad sweep of historical trends of a particular time doesn’t necessarily tell you anything about an individual person.

It tells you everything about an individual.

It doesn’t necessarily tell you anything about an individual person. More than 99.999 percent of human beings can’t run as fast as Usain Bolt. You might conclude, given those trends, we couldn’t have a Usain Bolt. And yet we do.

What you are asking me is, is it conceivable that as a poor peasant from the backwoods of Galilee, who grew up a woodworker, a day laborer really, an artisan, in a village that was so small and so poor that it didn’t have any roads, or bathhouses or synagogues, and its name did not appear on any maps, could he have nevertheless been so well educated that he could not only read and write but debate the scriptures, is that possible? Sure. But is it likely? No. It’s the job of the historian to talk about what is most likely.

What are you quoting?  It needs to be cited properly and within the limits allowed by the rules.
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Offline WPM

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I think what we know about Jesus is often based upon speculation and wishful thinking. (Is probably not the real Jesus at all) ...

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The assumption that 98% of first century Jews were illiterate may not be true:

Literacy in the Time of Jesus - Could His Words Have Been Recorded in His Lifetime?
Biblical Archaeology Society ^ | Jul/Aug 2003 | Alan Millard

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/religion/1573658/posts
Your idea has been debunked 1000 times already.. Maybe 1001 will be the charm

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Anyone who claims to have discovered "the real Jesus" after 2,000 years of apostolic teaching, secular scholarship, and historical scrutiny has discredited themselves at the outset.


Selam
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Offline Minnesotan

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Reza Aslan self-identifies as a Muslim to this day.

What I wonder about is whether any of his fellow Muslims have ever taken issue with the things he's been saying. Some of them amount to apostasy, at least from the more hardline theological perspective of the Salafis et al.

Muslims (except for the Ahmadis) believe that Jesus wasn't really crucified, and to suggest that he was is a great impiety. Yet Aslan seems to admit that the crucifixion occurred, just not for the reasons Christians believe it did.

Offline xOrthodox4Christx

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Reza Aslan self-identifies as a Muslim to this day.

What I wonder about is whether any of his fellow Muslims have ever taken issue with the things he's been saying. Some of them amount to apostasy, at least from the more hardline theological perspective of the Salafis et al.

Muslims (except for the Ahmadis) believe that Jesus wasn't really crucified, and to suggest that he was is a great impiety. Yet Aslan seems to admit that the crucifixion occurred, just not for the reasons Christians believe it did.

Reza is a Shi'ite. And there is a lot of leeway for them. Some of them hold to the idea that Fatimah or Hussain are gods.
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Offline TheTrisagion

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Anyone who claims to have discovered "the real Jesus" after 2,000 years of apostolic teaching, secular scholarship, and historical scrutiny has discredited themselves at the outset.


Selam
+1
Quote from: Mor Ephrem
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Offline Jonathan Gress

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Anyone who claims to have discovered "the real Jesus" after 2,000 years of apostolic teaching, secular scholarship, and historical scrutiny has discredited themselves at the outset.


Selam

Would we also insist that a historical portrait of the "real Muhammad" conform to 1,400 years of Islamic teaching?

Offline xariskai

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This thesis was buried decades ago; the final nails in the coffin were hammered by the late great Martin Hengel

NT scholar Larry Hurtardo observes:

Quote from: Larry Hurtardo
One of the things variously amusing and annoying is the re-appearance of ideas and claims in my own area of expertise as if something new, something suppressed (e.g., by us scholars supposedly) and reeeeally racy and sensationally important that are in fact simply re-hashings (or re-packagings) of previous claims that were quite adequately and convincingly discredited years (or even decades) ago. I call these “zombie claims”: No matter how often you kill ‘em off with the facts, they come back again, typically after sufficient years have passed that the news media will have forgotten the previous appearance(s) (and the memory of today’s news media is impressively short).

Indeed, in today’s world of internet and e-communication, such zombie claims get a new life rather quickly, and get buzzed around the world almost overnight. The latest zombie claim to come to my attention (at least in my field) is pushed in Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, by Reza Aslan...

See further  http://www.patheos.com/blogs/bibleandculture/2013/08/25/jesus-the-zealot-retredding-ground-already-buried/
.

Cf. also Hengel's critique http://www.amazon.com/Victory-Over-Violence-Jesus-Revolutionist/dp/1592441440

« Last Edit: Today at 01:20:31 PM by xariskai »

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