Friday, August 23, 2013

Reza Aslan

Reza Aslan is the author of Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. From his Q & A with Alyssa Bereznak for The Barnes & Noble Book Blog:

How did you go about researching [Zealot]? It’s incredibly detailed and well-written.

I’ve been researching this really since my undergraduate days at Santa Clara University. I did my undergraduate degree there in the New Testament. I did a thesis on the Messianic Secret in Mark, which is a topic I talk about in the book. This is an attempt by certain scholars to get at this nearly impossible-to-decipher puzzle over who Jesus himself thought he was. By beginning my work there, I think that was the introduction for this book. Right then and there I knew that one day I was going to expand this into a book-length project, and continued working on the research for it after I graduated and during my Ph.D. work. When it came time to actually sit down and work on it, I had this fount of research that I could rely on. At that point it was just a matter of immersing myself deeply into the topic, which I often do regardless of what book I’m trying to write.

Did you have a road map for how you wanted to structure it?

The methodology of the book is based on the fact that, while we know nothing about Jesus outside of the New Testament, we know everything about the world in which he lived. The argument is that if you place Jesus into the time and place in which he lived, then his words and his deeds start to make more sense, a clearer picture of who he is can arise. I began by fully immersing the reader into the social, political, and religious world of first-century Palestine. This may be the first biography of Jesus in which Jesus doesn’t show up until page 80 or 90. I wanted people to...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue