Question: When does National Public Radio fawn over a book about Jesus? Answer: When it attempts to undercut just about every basic tenet of Christian faith.
NPR calls Reza Aslan’s new book, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth (Random House), “meticulously researched.” That’s exactly what it is not, unless Aslan took half of his research and meticulously ignored it.
Aslan states as fact, not theory, that “the gospels are not, nor were they ever meant to be, a historical documentation of Jesus’ life. These are not eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ words and deeds. They are testimonies of faith composed by communities of faith written many years after the events they describe.”
That’s what theologically liberal commenters propose, but Aslan either skipped or banished from his consideration the theologically conservative half, which states that Matthew, Mark, and Luke reported eyewitness accounts and emerged during the lifetimes of other eyewitnesses.
Luke, for example, gets right the complicated Roman bureaucracy at the time of Jesus, titles and all: Easy to do as a contemporary, very difficult to do many decades later, especially since Luke didn’t have Wikipedia to consult.
Many books explain this well: One is Tim Keller’s The Reason for God, which was WORLD’s Book of the Year in 2008.