Are You a Yook or a Zook?

We’ve all heard the stories about the blood-thirsty Romans holding huge sporting events where poor defenseless Christians were throw to the hungry lions. The stories are somewhat true but the Romans did not reserve this spectacle for Christians only.

It seems that the Romans, a polytheistic society, welcomed the early Christians, allowing the continuance of the Christian monotheism with the only request that the Christians honor the religions of the Romans. Christians, as you might imagine, refused and were sufficiently recalcitrant to have the Roman government consider the Christians to be a subversive organization rebelling against the culture and religion of Rome.

This is where the lions and tigers and bears came in.

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Was Jesus Christ a Roman Fabrication?

Having recently read Reza Aslan’s excellent book, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, I find the suggestion that Jesus was a fiction created by the Romans to keep the Jews in check to be difficult, but not impossible, to accept. Aslan, despite making a strong argument that Jesus was an unsuccessful messiah (one of many) who became the impetus for other more ambitious Romans to base a new religion on, never doubts that Jesus was a real person.

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Zealot: The Story of a Good Story

There is a lot of interest in Reza Aslan’s newest book, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. I have posted comments concerning this book earlier (here, here, and here), but now I have read it for myself and perhaps can offer a simple review.

The premise of this excellent book is that despite all the religious followers around the world, we really don’t know much about the man known as Jesus. Aslan attempts to combine what little we do know about the historical Jesus with the stories developed in the Bible; however, the stories are not uncritically accepted as gospel, but rather are measured and analyzed against the accepted knowledge of the culture and society around the area centered on Jerusalem at the start of the Common Era.

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