The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth

Aslan, Reza

Book - 2013
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
This work presents a meticulously researched biography of Jesus that draws on biblical and historical sources to place his achievements and influence against the turbulent backdrop of his time. Sifting through centuries of mythmaking, the author sheds new light on one of history's most influential and enigmatic characters by examining Jesus Christ 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.

Publisher: New York :, Random House,, 2013.
Edition: First Edition.
Copyright Date: ♭2013.
ISBN: 0679603530
Characteristics: xxxi, 296 pages ;,24 cm


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Jan 29, 2015

Before I attempted to write my comments on the book, I read the ones already posted. I found them very thoughtful, and they covered the ground I was to tread.

As a person who has been indoctrinated in, and has studied the Bible on my own for much of my life, the most revealing thing to me was that Jesus had no intention of starting a new religion. He was a revolutionary and a reformer. What I don't understand is how, after all my independent study, I could have missed it.

He said many times that he was the son of man, not the Son of God. He said several times that he came for the Jews, not the gentiles. He said that he came not to change a jot or a tittle of the word, what we call the Old Testament. All of these themes strike me as anathema to Christianity as we know it today. The latter comment is meant as an observation only, and not a criticism.

The beatitudes took on a new meaning for me read in light of this new knowledge, that Jesus was a revolutionary and a reformer. You could almost say a socialist. He was not alone.

Jan 06, 2015
  • kianting rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

This is a good book it tells me the state of affairs during Jesus time, I cannot get the same details reading the bible. This allows me to appreciate and understand the actions that is being done in the bible.

Nov 15, 2014

Aslan does an acceptable job of providing vital historical information around Jesus' ministry as well as the situation in Jerusalem around the time of the second temple. He does, however, oddly dismiss the many miracles, Jesus' willingness to put himself into such danger, and the continuing influence of Christianity without a second thought. I liked it, but I wouldn't base my faith on it. There are in truth two Jesus', the historic and the divine.

Nov 08, 2014
  • SeattleSaul rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

As other note, there is "nothing new here," but given the enormous influence of this one man and his followers, it is perhaps worth a once-in-a-generation review. I do wish though that the chronology would have been more sequential. Also Aslan dismisses the miracles performed by Jesus and others without enough explanation. The faith of believers may not be shaken much by reading this book, nor is it likely to win converts to Christianity, but it should be read to expand and clarify the events that led to one of the world's great religious movements.

Nov 01, 2014
  • damurrelet rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

Excellent critical reviews here:




Soundbite: "There is little here that is new. The ablest presentation of this line of interpretation was made by the British scholar S. G. F. Brandon in 1967. Few followed Brandon then; virtually no one does today. I doubt very much that Aslan's fresh take on it will win a following—at least not among scholars."


Soundbite: "The persistent problem permeating Aslan’s narrative is that he never provides his readers with so much as a hint of any method for separating fact from fiction in the Gospels, a challenge that has engaged actual scholars of the New Testament for the last two centuries. "

Sep 13, 2014
  • Chidad rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

This is first-rate scholarship, witty, and learned and captures, what has been standard stuff in the more progressive seminaries, and theology programs. Brimming full of the latest biblical scholarship, Aslan gives us an eye into the real character of Jesus the man, and how his actions were shaped by the political and socio-economic events of his day, and debunks much of what has been only legend, and reveals a fierce, passionate and devoted Jew, hell-bent on reforming a religion that he, like others, felt had lost its way in the protection of the poor, and the purity of the voice of the prophets. A must read for the layman!

Aug 30, 2014
  • Luvgoodreads rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

A long slog that keeps flipping back on itself and repeating what's already been said. I kept waiting for clarity, and didn't really find it until the last few pages. I found the voluminous notes section to actually be more interesting and informative (and more enjoyable) to read than the rest. Confirmed what I've always thought - the bible is comprised of exaggerated stories written to forward a certain political agenda.

Aug 15, 2014
  • rafavallina rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

I'm surprisingly disappointed. I was looking forward to this book after I read all the reviews praising it, but it did not deliver to my expectations.

Although many of the historical elements it mentions are really interesting and informative, I found lots of contradictions and apparent omissions in the book: the author affirms that a specific point is "more complex than it seems" in one chapter and then moves on to base a whole chapter on it; he also uses the Bible extensively as a source for the arguments, but seems to only use those texts that fit his thesis.

I guess the media coverage made me expect quite a bit too much from it...

Aug 03, 2014
  • snooker56 rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

Says nothing new and says it very badly.

Apr 13, 2014
  • AEPowers60 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Very informative history of the politics of first century Judea. Also very enlightening regarding religious terminology and what words like "messiah" meant to someone living in that region and time versus how they are commonly understood now. This book can be enjoyed by historian and spiritual reader alike and contains thought provoking commentary in each area.

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Dec 30, 2013
  • SEBoiko rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

And the more the movement was shaped by these new 'pagan' converts, the more force fully it discarded its Jewish past for a Graeco -- Roman future.

Dec 30, 2013
  • SEBoiko rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Yesus ho Xristos

Dec 30, 2013
  • SEBoiko rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Little by little over the following decade, the Jewish sect founded by a group of rural Galileans morphed into a religion of urbanized Greek speakers.

Dec 30, 2013
  • SEBoiko rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

God has granted us the power to die bravely, and in a state of freedom, which was not the case for those who were conquered unexpectedly.

Dec 30, 2013
  • SEBoiko rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

No lord but God!

Dec 30, 2013
  • SEBoiko rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

What Pilate was best known for was his extreme depravity, his total disregard for Jewish law and tradition, and his barely concealed aversion to the Jewish nation as a whole.

Dec 30, 2013
  • SEBoiko rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Crucifixion was a punishment that Rome reserved almost exclusively for the crime of sedition.


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