Book Review of Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth
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I picked up this book because the author was interviewed on The Daily Show, and I was interested in learning about the cultural environment of first century Palestine, in which Jesus was born. I would say that this author does an adequate job of presenting that history. But, as a Christian, I was constantly wrestling with the author's verbiage ("Jewish cult")(references John the Baptist as Jesus' "Master") and disregard for anything that would show Jesus did miracles. His healings? According to the author, many people roamed the land providing healings and exorcisms, for a fee. When the people learned that Jesus would do it for free, they flocked to him. Was his walking on water, or calming the weather, not documented anywhere else but in the gospels? The author also does a persistent job of telling us how the 4 gospel books cannot be accepted as historical truth, but rather theological enhancement and flat-out fabrications. He also says that the resurrection is not a historical event, but a matter of faith, so it was not included in this book. He is also persistent about telling us how the book of Mark did not even include that account, though! It was added later.

The best summary of this book is in the last paragraphs. Jesus was a revolutionary zealot who walked across Galilee gathering an army of disciples with the goal of establishing the Kingdom of God on earth, the magnetic preacher who defied the authority of the Temple priesthood in Jerusalem, the radical Jewish nationalist who challenged Roman occupation and lost.

I'm not sure I could recommend this book to anyone. His notes section was more interesting to me, and showed me how much literature is out there regarding the cultural environment of the first century. I would probably enjoy those many books better than I did this one. If you are not firm in your belief in Jesus Christ as God incarnate, then this book will probably muddy the waters for you. But, that is just my opinion.