Zealot (Aslan)

Discussion Questions
Use our LitLovers Book Club Resources; they can help with discussions for any book:

How to Discuss a Book (helpful discussion tips)
Generic Discussion Questions—Fiction and Nonfiction
Read-Think-Talk (a guided reading chart)

Also, consider these LitLovers talking points to help start a discussion for Zealot:

1. Begin with a discussion about the many ways Jesus has been presented throughout the ages—as itinerant preacher, faith healer, lover of peace, charismatic teacher, moral philosopher, Jewish rabbi, apocalyptic prophet, Messiah and the son of God. Do you have a particular way of seeing Jesus that predominates over others?

2. Overall, what is your opinion of Aslan's portrait of Jesus? Do you take issue with it? If so, what in particular do you find problematic? Or...do you find Aslan's book enlightening? Has it altered or made you rethink your ideas of who Jesus was? Or...does Zealot basically reaffirm your previous understanding?

3. In what ways does Aslan's portrait of Jesus add to, contradict, and/or confirm what others have said and written about Jesus?

4. Aslan claims that Jesus was a provocateur, that he entered Jerusalem in what was construed as a royal entrance. Do you accept the idea that Jesus was a "politically conscious Jewish revolutionary,” whose kingdom is rooted in this world, not the next?

5. Much has been made of Aslan's academic background. Does he have, in your opinion, the credentials as an historian and/or theologian to write this book?

6. What do you think of Aslan's own religious background: a conversion to Christianity followed by reconversion to Islam? As a non-Christian, can he rightfully claim credibility when writing about Christianity? Is he writing about Christianity...or is he writing about an historical figure? Is there a difference?

7. How and why did early Christians attemtpt to discredit John the Baptist and diminish his stature?

8. How does Aslan describe first-century Palestine, it's economic, political, and religious life? Who in this society consorted with whom...and at whose expense? In other words, who were the winners and who were the losers?

9. In what way was the Temple more than a place of worship? When Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers, why were Jews and Romans alike enraged?

10. How does Aslan describe the spread of Christianity?

11. The author insists that it was unthinkable for Jesus in his time to have been unmarried. Other recent scholarship has overturned that assumption. Perhaps you might do some research to explore the issue of marriage in first-century Palestine.

12. Follow-up to Question 11: What other current scholarship challenges or supports Aslan's book? How much of any Biblical scholarship, inlcuding Aslan's, is backed by evidence and how much is speculative?

13. One could say that Zealot is not a work of academic scholarship; it was written, instead, to appeal to a wider audience. If this was indeed Aslan's intent, has he succeeded in engaging you?

14. Talk about the parts of the New Testament about which Aslan is skeptical. Which Biblical narratives does he question...and why?

15. Have you read Bill O'Reilly's Killing Jesus, also published in 2013? If so, compare the two books: what do they have in common and what are their differences? What other Biblical histories or works of textual analyses have you read? How do they compare with Reza Aslan's Zealot?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online or off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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