A new book "Zealot - Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth" by Reza Aslan. He converted to Christianity from Islam at 15 and journey to study the life of the Jesus, and the vast disparity between the historical Jesus and the evangelical Jesus.
A couple of the points he touches on in the interview (link below):
Flaws in the nativity story...one being the census had nothing to do with Galilee and there is no documentation of such. He says Luke knew of the flaws in the story and as well as the readers of the account which was several generations later. They knew no one had to go the place of their father's birth to be counted.
Interesting excerpt surrounding the temple cleansing and the paying taxes:
ASLAN: Well, I suppose the perfect example of this is the famous story of the cleansing of the temple. This is a story that of course is told in, you know, every Sunday sermon. Children read about this story in their kids' version of the Bible. It's an incredibly climactic moment in which Jesus is attacking not just the business of the temple but the temple authorities and indeed the Roman authorities, because the two are inextricably linked at the time.
And then something remarkable happens. The Jewish authorities come up to Jesus and they try to trick him, the Gospels say. They show him a coin, a denarius coin, and they say tell us, rabbi, is it lawful to pay tribute to Caesar or not.
Now, this is not a simple question. This is in fact the quintessential test of zealotry in Jesus' time. The zealots being deeply anti-Roman refuse to pay tribute to Rome. The tribute was seen as an abomination. It was sort of proof that the land belonged to Rome instead of God. And so by asking Jesus this question, should we pay the tribute or not, what they were really saying is, are you or are you not a zealot.
Jesus' answer, of course, has been famously understood throughout the centuries as render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and render unto God what is God's, and this has been interpreted as this kind of milquetoast compromise on Jesus' part, neither the priestly position of yes, we should pay tribute, nor the zealot position of no, we shouldn't pay tribute.
But you know, an attempt to say don't worry about the things of this world, focus on the things that matter: worship and obedience to God. But historically speaking, that's not at all what's taking place here. The word that Jesus uses - (speaking foreign language) - doesn't mean render, it means give back. And it's used in Greek as a means of paying someone back that which they owe.
In other words, what Jesus is saying when he looks at the coin and he sees the image of Caesar on here, is perhaps the most obvious example of precisely where Jesus falls in this question of whether it is lawful or not to pay tribute. He deeply is in the zealot camp.
Also interesting thoughts on Pilot and the crucifiction, the destruction of Jerusalem, the Gospels writings, and the Jews and Christians viewed as cults.
Anyway, I found Reza's journey interesting...loss of faith and going back to Islam. I love the history of it all. There is a link to the transcript as well as the audio interview below.