Controversial Jesus Christ Book 'Zealot' to Be Adapted by Harry Potter Producer

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(Photo: Random House)Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, published by Random House in July 2013, was authored by Reza Aslan.

Zealot, the controversial book about Jesus Christ written by Muslim author Reza Aslan, is set to be made into a movie by David Heyman, the producer behind the "Harry Potter" series.
 reported on Monday that Heyman, who is also behind 2013's critically-acclaimed "Gravity," will produce the movie alongside Jeff Clifford. Focus Features Chief James Schamus will be writing the adaptation.

"Sifting through centuries of mythmaking, Dr. Aslan sheds light on one of history's most influential and enigmatic characters by examining Jesus through the lens of the tumultuous era in which he lived," Lionsgate, which acquired the rights for the title in December, said.

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, drew controversy in 2013 after several scholars responded to the work, which depicts what it says is the historical Jesus, but leaves out much of the divine inspiration found in the New Testament.

"Aslan has offered nothing new under the sun when it comes to offering a critique of the historical Jesus," William Lane Craig, a philosopher of religion and a Christian apologist, said in response to the book. "In fact, he is attempting to revert scholarship back to the early 1900s by echoing Albert Schweitzer's book, The Quest for the Historical Jesus. Like Schweitzer, Aslan claims that Jesus is historically unknowable and we can never get back to the real Jesus."

American Conservative writer and Baylor University professor Alan Jacobs added that Aslan's work follows closely along the lines of biblical scholar John Dominic Cross's 1994 title, Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography.

"Aslan makes no new discoveries, and makes no arguments that haven't already been made — in some cases very long ago," Jacobs wrote, and suggested that is partly the case because "Reza Aslan is not a New Testament scholar."

"In Zealot, he is writing well outside his own academic training. This does not mean that his book is a bad one, or that he shouldn't have written it, only that it is primarily a sifting and re-presenting of the work of actual NT scholars."

Aslan defended himself in a Fox News interview in 2013 from accusations that his personal faith journey overshadowed his academic objectivity.

"Well, to be clear, I am a scholar of religions with four degrees, including one in the New Testament, and fluency in biblical Greek, who has been studying the origins of Christianity for two decades, who also just happens to be a Muslim," he said.

"It's not as if I'm just some Muslim writing about Jesus. I am an expert with a Ph.D. in the history of religions."

The author added that his objective in writing the book was to "illuminate the life of Jesus in a humanistic, as opposed to religious, context."

A director and cast for the movie have yet to be announced.