The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth

9781908906298 March 2014 Paperback 352pp

About the Book

Sifting through centuries of mythmaking, Reza Aslan sheds new light on one of history’s most influential and enigmatic figures by examining Jesus within the context of the times in which he lived: the age of zealotry, an era awash in apocalyptic fervour.

Balancing the Jesus of the Gospels against historical sources,  Aslan describes a complex figure: a man of peace who exhorted his followers to arm themselves; an exorcist and faith healer who urged his disciples to keep his identity secret; and the seditious ‘King of the Jews’, whose promise of liberation from Rome went unfulfilled in his lifetime. Aslan explores why the early Church preferred to promulgate an image of Jesus as a peaceful spiritual teacher rather than a politically conscious revolutionary, and grapples with the riddle of how Jesus understood himself.

Zealot provides a fresh perspective on one of the greatest stories ever told. The result is a thought-provoking, elegantly written biography with the pulse of a fast-paced novel, and a singularly brilliant portrait of a man, a time and the birth of a religion.

About the Author

Reza Aslan is an internationally acclaimed writer and scholar of religions. His first book, No God but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam, has been translated into thirteen languages and was cited by Blackwell’s as one of the 100 most important books of the decade. He is also the author of Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth (The Westbourne Press), How to Win a Cosmic War: God, Globalization and the End of the War on Terror and God: A Human History, as well as the editor of Tablet & Pen: Literary Landscapes from the Modern Middle East. Born in Iran, he lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two sons.


#1 New York Times Bestseller

‘Aslan’s riveting biography ... synthesises Scripture and scholarship to create an original account’
The New Yorker

‘Zealot is a clear, accessible account of Jesus’s life and a well-written introduction to a fascinating debate among biblical scholars and historians’
Jewish Chronicle

'A lean, fast-paced account of First Century Palestine, often revealing and always finely written, which attempts to locate Christ within his historical landscape.'
Nicholas Blincoe, The Telegraph

'Zealot, a book on the life of Jesus written by a man not only with scholarly credentials but who had for a period of time converted to Christianity before reverting back to Islam, was fascinating.'

‘If little is certain about Jesus’s life, rather more is known about his times, which Aslan evokes with commendable diligence. Zealot becomes, in part, a handy primer of first-century Middle Eastern history. … Aslan clearly admires Jesus, and, at the risk of inflaming the wrath of Fox News, his freedom from any obligation to buy the son-of-God stuff permits fresh and refreshing contemplation … At its core, Zealot is a gentle dispute with the modern notion of Jesus, whom we are generally encouraged to perceive as a forgiving and boundlessly tolerant sort.’
New Humanist

‘A special and revealing work, one that believer and skeptic alike will find surprising, engaging and original.’
Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power

‘Compulsively readable … this superb work is highly recommended’
Publishers Weekly

‘A vivid, persuasive portrait of the world and societies in which Jesus lived and the role he most likely played in both’

‘A book of outstanding research and a gripping read. Page after page of excellent prose offer insight into what it was like to be living under Roman oppression and why there was a multitude of messiahs offering hope and freedom.’
The Middle East in Europe