Reza Aslan Interview with Salon

This is a really good interview by Salon with Reza Aslan, the author of “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth.”

Put your politics (yup, I said politics) aside and read it.

There are 2 billion Christians in the world. Reza Aslan, the author of “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth,” is not one of them, as the entire Internet learned last summer. But Aslan has a lifelong fascination with Jesus, and a PhD in the sociology of religions, too. And now, thanks to “Zealot,” which looks beyond those familiar stories of birth and resurrection and into the historical world that Jesus inhabited, Aslan may be the world’s most famous living biographer of Jesus (the most famous dead biographers, of course, go by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).

Aslan’s fame owes little to his historiographical methods — which are far from unique — and much to the accessibility of his prose, and to the number of people whom he seems to enrage. After all, Aslan is a Muslim who questions the historicity of the New Testament. Where some sense the ordinary workings of detached scholarship, others hear the echoes of a holy war.

In an appearance on Fox News last year, Aslan endured 10 minutes of questioning about why, exactly, a Muslim would want to write about Jesus. “I am a scholar of religion,” Aslan explained again and again to an increasingly frustrated Lauren Green. The video went viral, and “Zealot” climbed the bestseller lists.

Green’s intuition wasn’t entirely wrong: there is a culture-war flavor to Aslan’s work. It just has nothing to do with Islam. Instead, what distinguishes “Zealot” from other accounts of Jesus’s life is Aslan’s forceful, timely insistence that Jesus was not the apolitical, mild-mannered, “leave unto Caesar” figure that we’ve come to know, but instead a revolutionary partisan — in short, a zealot, raging against a stultifying elite.

With Easter this weekend, I reached Aslan by phone in Boston, where he was in the midst of a three-part global book tour. We spoke about resurrection, right-wing pundits and whether Congress should raise the minimum wage in order to celebrate Easter.

Here is the article:

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