Aslan claims that Jesus actually was a nationalistic revolutionary who encouraged violent overthrow of Rome’s occupation and rule over the Jewish people. He asserts that Jesus offered himself as a political king. It was, he says, this message that got Jesus crucified by the Roman authorities. He goes on to claim that it was the followers of Jesus, in particular Paul the apostle, who reinvented Jesus as a messenger of grace and a loving Savior who gave himself on the cross to rescue the human race and rose from the dead. This is not a new theory. It is the reworking of ideas proposed by a man named Herman Reimarus back in the late eighteenth century.
I will suggest a few examples that demonstrate the problems. One of the most significant is that he uses a methodology often employed by conspiracy theorists. He highlights and puts a particular spin on whatever he thinks supports his theory but ignores or explains away evidence that would contradict his idea. He dismisses some of Jesus’ words as recorded in the gospels calling them “fabulous concoctions” of later writers and therefore not part of his authentic message, while at the same time accepting other quotes from Jesus as being “beyond dispute.” Historian John Dickson of McQuarrie University says of Aslan’s method of determining which parts of the gospel are authentic “the only rhyme or reason I can detect is whether a passage fits with the story he wishes to tell.”
Aslan claims that the Romans reserved crucifixion for those who fomented insurrection against Rome. This, he says, is evidence that the Romans saw Jesus as being a political revolutionary. The problem with this is it simply isn’t true. History tells us the Romans used that method of execution as a deterrent, and that they used it against many different kinds of people they deemed criminals. It is helpful to remember that the gospels claim that Jesus himself was put on a cross alongside two thieves, not two rebels. There are other factual problems in the book, such as the strange comment that Paul wrote the “bulk of the New Testament” when he actually wrote between a quarter and a third of it. Hard to see how that constitutes the bulk of it. Aslan maintains that Paul desperately tried to convince people he was an apostle but that even his sidekick Luke did not call him an apostle. However in Luke 14:14 Luke refers to Paul and Barnabus as apostles.
Again I will quote historian John Dickson. He says, “there is overwhelming positiveevidence that Jesus, far from being a closet zealot, directed his teaching against that tradition. That his message focused on love and, in particular, love of the unlovely and the enemy, is richly attested across the historical traditions left behind by those closest to them.”
There will always be attacks on the Christian faith appearing in intellectual guise such as this one and the DaVinci Code blip a few years back. In the harsh light of reality they prove to be smoke and mirrors. Just thought you might like to know.