Just read "Zealot - The Life And Times Of Jesus Of Nazareth"

by EdenOne 15 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • EdenOne

    So, keeping in mind that Mrs. Eden isn't so comfortable with english, I have been searching for books on the subject of the historical Jesus and who wrote the Bible, and I got very frustrated because there's not a lot of those in my native language. Most of what I read in english simply hasn't been translated, which is a shame. In any case, I managed to get two: Bart Ehrman's "Misquoting Jesus" and Reza Aslan's "Zealot".

    I've just finished reading "Zealot" in just one day. It's simple and easy to follow, at some points I find it a bit superficial. But seems to me a good introduction book for someone wanting to know more about the historical Jesus. It's useful to debunk the devotional reading of the gospels and the wrong notion that the NT displays a united church of the followers of Christ.

    I recommend it, but as I said, it keeps things on a relatively accessible level, but for more in-depth research, there are better works. Have you read it?


  • Viviane
    I have, it was quite a good book, I thought. Like you, I also thought it was a bit superficial in places. I also recommend "How Jesus Became God" by Bart Earhman.
  • TimDrake1914
    I follow Bart Ehrman on his blog, and it just so happens that he had an entry about Reza's book Zealot. I actually read Zealot before any of Bart's books and was also quite impressed with it. However, Bart didn't look too favorably on Reza's book, probably because he doesn't feel Reza isn't really well qualified to talk about early christianity. Having read Bart's books, I can see why he would think that, since all of his work is about early christianity. Bart seemed to view Zealot as more of a fictionalized account of Jesus, rather than an actual scholarly take on Jesus. Nevertheless, it was an easy and entertaining read, even if it's not totally accurate. If you want on something scholarly on the Hebrew scriptures, see if you can find Richard Friedman's Who Wrote the Bible. It's a pretty easy and fascinating read. For something on the historical Jesus, Bart has another book called How Jesus Became God. I haven't finished reading it, but I'm pretty sure it will have a lot of info on the historical Jesus. Another book I would recommend from Bart is Jesus, Interrupted and Forged. Two great books that I really enjoyed that talk about how the new testament came about and how it was corrupted, and which books in the bible were probably not written by who we think they were.
  • cofty
    How about Richard Carrier's "On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt"
  • sparky1

    If you enjoy the work of Bart Ehrman , you can find much of it on DVD,CD or video and audio download at www.thegreatcourses.com. When their material goes on sale, it is very reasonably priced.

  • StephaneLaliberte

    When I was in the JW, I thought that they had the ultimate knowledge of the environment in which Jesus must have dwelled. However, upon reading this book, I have noticed that there are significant details that are overlooked by the watchtower. Once you know these things, it becomes apparent that they are deliberately overlooking these things as they would go their way. It is far, very far from being objective.

    For instance, the fact that Nazareth was very small and that Jesus likely had to work in a nearby city. How the high priest worked hand in hand with Pilate and that Pilate was not afraid of the Jews to such an extent that he stole money from the temple. Or the names of the various known messiahs in and about Jesus’s time. Why didn’t John stop his baptizing work to follow Jesus? That Jesus was likely killed due to throwing money changers out of the public area of the temple with his disciples. Have you ever seen a picture drawn in a watchtower where the disciples of Jesus were also throwing the money changers out? Anyways… This book opens up a whole different perspective of things that I had not envisioned before. I love it.

  • Magnum
    Thanks EdenOne for the info. And thanks to all others for their recommendations and input. Threads like this are really beneficial to me. I have one of Ehrman's books (haven't read yet), but none of the others mentioned. Will look into getting tonight.
  • JWdaughter

    I think Ehrman and Aslan are both interesting writers and pretty honest in what they present (unlike some religiously oriented types we have all read that will say anything to support their (current) teaching or belief.

    They have different perspectives. Erhman is more theological, Aslan is more oriented to the historic. They both wander into the realm of the other pretty comfortably, but they are essentially focused on different things. I think that they both have good information to offer. Both are easy reads in some cases. Ehrman has some more scholarly works out, I think and Aslan might fairly be construed as more of a writer for the common man. I like them both a lot. Both are in my library.

  • fulltimestudent
    EdenOne: I recommend it, but as I said, it keeps things on a relatively accessible level, but for more in-depth research, there are better works. Have you read it?

    I have not read it, although I understand the general position that Ehrman takes. Of course, there may be better books, but I think that Ehrman may have written for a wider audience. A really scholarly analysis of any topic will likely lose most readers who are not part of the academic community. (And some books-papers may even lose the academic community - grin).

    There's a really intriguing book named, The Imperial Cult and the Development of Church Order: Concepts and Images of Authority in Paganism and Early Christianity before the Age of Cyprian, by an Allen Brent, in which Brent argues that the way that early Christianity was organised, was as a response to the Imperial Cult, (Emperor worship). But having tried to read it, I suggest that most people wont go past a few pages.

    Brent btw is an excellent scholar. His wikipedia entry reads:

    The Rev. Prof. Allen Brent is a scholar of early Christian history and literature. He is a Fellow of St Edmund's College, Cambridge, formerly Dean (2012-2013), was an Affiliated Lecturer in the Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge in 1998-2010. At present he is Professor in Early Christian History and Iconography at King's College London where he is joint researcher (with Professor Markus Vinzent), on a two year BARDA project: Early Christian Epigraphy and Iconography after Dölger. He is also Professore Invitato at the Augustinianum (Lateran University), Rome. He was formerly Principal Lecturer in Philosophy at University of Huddersfield, and has previously been Professor of History at James Cook University. He was ordained a deacon for the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham on 28 April 2011 and a priest on 15 June 2011. His webpage ishttp://www.allenbrent.co.uk.

    All of which doesn't make him correct, but does demonstrate that he may know a little more about Christian history than the average elder, and, I think there's a possibility that he's correct in some of his ideas.

    Certainly, the organised church that Constantine accepted as an alternative to the Imperial Cult, fitted easily into the slot previously occupied by the Imperial cult.

    A more readable book, in which Brent presents some of his arguments, and that may interest readers on this site, is: "A Political History of Early Christianity."

    An editorial review quoted by Amazon describes the book:

    'Allen Brent is one of the boldest and most seminal historians currently writing about Christianity in the ancient world. In his works on Hippolytus and Ignatius, he has already displayed his magisterial learning and his ability to shed new light on the history of ideas by the investigation of social and cultural backgrounds. If he is not one to be carried away on a bandwagon, he is also not one to neglect a theory merely because it is difficult or because it has become dangerously fashionable in other disciplines. His aim in the present book is to examine the relation between metaphysical theories and their political contexts, with a broad remit in the interpretation of the terms "metaphysical" and "political". The introduction promises an astute engagement with such figures as sociologist Peter Berger, intellectual historian Quentin Skinner and the virtuoso of the social sciences, Max Weber. In his opening chapter he plunges dauntlessly into the thickets of New Testament scholarship, doing ample justice to the arguments of those who deny an eschatological character to the original preaching of Jesus, but showing at the same time that their attempts to cast Jesus as an ascetic teacher for the present world exaggerates the significance of non-canonical texts and is patently motivated by contemporary interests. The writing is characteristically lucid, the scholarship impeccable, the argument brisk but incisive; if this chapter is an augury of the rest, we can expect another distinguished addition to a corpus of scholarship that is already impressive.' — Mark Edwards, Christ Church, Oxford, UK.

  • EdenOne
    I also recommend "How Jesus Became God" by Bart Earhman.

    I have it as an e-book, but haven't read it yet.

    How about Richard Carrier's "On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt"

    I never found compelling arguments against the historicity of Jesus, from what I've read in several articles. But I'll keep that in mind when I decide to read something more in-depth to that effect.

    he doesn't feel Reza isn't really well qualified to talk about early christianity.

    I don't agree with Ehrman. Aslan was raised a Muslim, lived in a liberal muslim family and converted to evangelical christianity on his late teens. He then had a scholarly path much similar to Bart Ehrman's. I don't think that the islamic roots of Aslam per se disqualify him from doing a scholarly work on the historic Jesus. It's actually a bit inelegant to claim so.

    Brent btw is an excellent scholar

    I'll keep an eye for an opportunity to look into his works.


    Btw, some more recommendations (in english):

    "The Authentic Gospel Of Jesus" - Geza Vermes

    "Paul and Jesus - How the Apostle Transformed Christianity" - James D. Tabor (Highly recommended!!)

    "James the Brother Of Jesus" - Robert Eisenman (Extremely dense book, not for the faint of heart ...!)

    "Jesus, Interrupted" - Bart Ehrman

    "A History of Christianity" - Diairmaid MacCulloch (For a comprehensive historical overview of the development of Christianity until the the XX century.)


    Finally, one of my favorites. It's a scholarly article (Book? Thesis?) about how the first Christian gatherings.I have found it a fascinating reading. I found it very useful when I had to research for an article I wrote about shunning.


    by Valeriy Alexandrovich Alikin


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