New Book 'Zealot' Receives Criticism for Author Having Muslim Agenda

A new book exploring the life of Jesus on earth has received criticism from some who argue the author, Reza Aslan, is a Muslim and therefore should not be considered an authority on Jesus' life.

Aslan, who has previously written No god but God, claims to have used historical sources to meticulously compose his new book, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, which he describes as a biography of Jesus' life in Nazareth, years before his death and resurrection as the son of God.

The book paints an image of Jesus as a zealot and a violent revolutionary leading a revolt against Rome, and often contradicts the teachings found in Scripture, as well as the teachings of Christianity.

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The author wrote in an excerpt of his new book that although he was born Muslim in Iran, he was raised in a "motley family of lukewarm Muslims and exuberant atheists," and he was "was Muslim in much the way I was Persian. My religion and my ethnicity were mutual and linked."

Aslan reportedly converted to evangelical Christianity at the age of 15 upon moving to America, but later recommitted to the Muslim faith in his adult years.

The author writes that while one of the tenants of Christianity is to believe the truth of the Scripture, he did not believe wholly in all of the bible's stories, and therefore sought to research and compare historical sources to trace what he believed to be the life events of Jesus.

"Two decades of rigorous academic research into the origins of Christianity has made me a more genuinely committed disciple of Jesus of Nazareth than I ever was of Jesus Christ," Aslan wrote in his book's excerpt.

Following the book's release, many have criticized Aslan's approach to Scripture as being unfounded, arguing that he is not a historical scholar but rather regaling a Muslim opinion of Jesus' life through his new book.

John S. Dickerson of Fox News argued that Aslan's book, which was released in mid-July and is now listed as number two on Amazon's Bestseller list, has been inaccurately portrayed by media sites as a historical account of Jesus' life.

"His book is not a historian's report on Jesus. It is an educated Muslim's opinion about Jesus -- yet the book is being peddled as objective history on national TV and radio," Dickerson wrote.

Zealot is a fast-paced demolition of the core beliefs that Christianity has taught about Jesus for 2,000 years. Its conclusions are long-held Islamic claims-namely, that Jesus was a zealous prophet type who didn't claim to be God, that Christians have misunderstood him, and that the Christian Gospels are not the actual words or life of Jesus but 'myth,'" Dickerson added.

The book has also received a handful of comments on its Amazon page decrying Aslan's writing as being extremely biased towards the Muslim religion, and omitting many other sources that contradict his writing.

The author has sought to defend himself, with his media company, Aslan Media, tweeting that those who have not read the book and made assumptions about its connection to Islam are "Islamophobic trolls."

Aslan also tweeted a response to Dickerson's Fox News column in which he argued that the "assumption that my faith affects my scholarship is ignorant and offensive.'

A review by The Economist argues that Aslan's statements regarding Jesus do not leave room for doubt or discussion.

"The trouble is that neither narrative-the familiar one or [Aslan's] alternative-can be established as incontrovertible, so Mr. Aslan's tendency to make pronouncements with blithe certainty can grate. Only periodically does he throw in an appropriate expression of doubt," The Economist review reads.

Still others have argued that although Aslan's book is written from a Muslim perspective, they can still enjoy it as an interesting read.

"I'm a committed Christian--he's a committed Muslim […] we are obviously going to disagree on who Jesus is. It's a good read," commenter R. Dallimore wrote on the Amazon website.

Dallimore went on to add that although Aslan "makes the good marketing statement that he can follow Jesus without being a Christian," he believes one must fully believe in the Christian tenants of faith to call themselves Christian.

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