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Reza Aslan was a Christian but converted back to the faith of his forefathers.
-- He has not written a book about Jesus the book has become controversial as it calls into question some of the core tenets of christianity.
And the book is called -- -- the life and times of Jesus of Nazareth and has a joins me now from Los Angeles welcome.
Thank you for having me well this interesting book now I want it clever you're -- Muslim so why did you write a book about the father of christianity.
Well to be clear I am a scholar of religions with four degrees including one in the new testament and flew in -- biblical Greek.
Who has been studying the origins of christianity.
For two decades.
Who also just happens to be a Muslim.
So it's not that I'm just some Muslim writing about Jesus I am an expert with the Ph.D.
in the history of religions.
But what if I had been -- what -- Jesus it's a begs the question why would you be interested in the founder of christianity.
Because it's my job as an academic I am a professor.
Of religion including the new testament.
That's what I do for a living actually so I mean it it would be like asking a Christian why they would write a book about.
You know Islam a man I'm not sure about that but in and honestly.
I've been obsessed with Jesus for really twenty years I've been studying.
His life in his work in the origins of christianity.
Have both an academic environment.
And in a personal level for about two decades and just be clear this is not some attack on christianity my mother is a Christian my wife is a Christian.
My brother in law is an evangelical pastor not anyone who thinks that this book is an attack on christianity has not read it yet.
I -- -- but I want to bring him redo some quotes on fund of some people who are criticizing you one from John Dickerson who has written.
An op Ed piece on boxing's not -- he says them.
It's not -- historians reporter and uses an educated Muslims opinion about Jesus he says its conclusions are long held Islamic claims namely that Jesus was a sales profit.
Type -- who did it it didn't claim to be god.
-- that's actually not.
What Islam claims about Jesus my my book about.
Pretty much everything that Islam also thinks about Jesus as well.
And to be clear I just want to emphasize is one more time.
I am a historian.
I am a Ph.D.
In the history of religions and now this isn't a Muslim opinion.
This is an academic work.
Not about the Christ or about christianity for that matter it's about the historical men who walk the earth 2000 years ago.
In a land -- the Romans called Palestine how how it -- your findings different from what Islam actually believes about Jesus.
Budget is on doesn't believe that Jesus was crucified first of all Islam believes in the virgin birth.
I mean Jesus was most definitely crucified and my book does question the historic city of the virgin birth.
So again I mean I know that we've mentioned this three times now.
I'm not sure what my faith happens to do with my twenty years of academic study of the new testament.
-- just kind of -- out.
What some others are claiming at this point and I want -- to answer to those claims which it well it's pretty clear that there are those who actually do not like the book who are you know unhappy with its.
General arguments that's perfectly fine I'm more than willing to talk about.
The arguments of the book itself but I.
Do you think it's perhaps a little bit strange that rather than debating.
The arguments of the book we are debating the right of the -- -- to actually write it.
Well let me let me give you some let me give you some other quotes from my doctor William lane Craig.
Who is the Christian philosopher and theologian he's written a lot of books and done a lot of debates about science and religion.
And he said Reza how -- that thumb a merely repeats -- claims about the historical Jesus that have since been abandoned and refuted.
What do you -- -- about.
Well I would disagree I have 100 pages of of notes and about -- Thousand books.
That I use in my in my discussions and.
Of course in any scholarly discussion of Jesus as -- any scholarly discussion of any -- to figure.
There are going to be widespread differences.
But my thought my hundred pages of and notes sites every scholar who disagrees with me and every scholar who agrees with me.
And I would suggest that anyone who wants to actually comment on the argument of the book.
-- not just the book but the -- notes and to figure out where -- scholarly.
Argument about Jesus comes from.
What I'm sure you're going to be one winner who disagree with me right exactly what are your eight or we're not talking about -- people who disagree with -- scholars scholars disagree if you as well.
But I I don't want to get into this -- and -- you -- part of -- and what do you what are -- conclusions about Jesus.
Well my conclusions about Jesus start by placing him in the world in which he -- so I start with one fundamental truth that everyone agrees with Jesus.
And that was that he was crucified.
If they understand the crucifixion in first century Palestine with the punishment that -- reserved.
Exclusively for crimes against the state like sedition or rebellion.
The thieves who were crucified alongside Jesus we're not thieves the -- would bless this means -- it.
And -- it was the most common term in jesus' time foreign insurrections.
What I say is that if you know nothing else about Jesus except that you would he was crucified.
You know enough to understand what a trouble maker this guy must've been the movement that he started with such a threat to the political stability of the empire.
That they actually had him arrested tortured and killed for it so -- start with that fundamental fact and I might take.
The claims of the gospels as every single biblical scholar for 200 years has done.
And look at them in light of the history of this world that we know.
And what's interesting about -- world.
Is that we know a lot about it thanks to the Romans who were very good -- documentation.
And the pitcher that arises from this.
Is of a real political revolutionary.
Who took on the religious and political powers of this time on behalf of the poor.
And to meet the dispossessed the marginalized.
Who sacrificed himself in his cause for those who couldn't stand up for himself -- -- but -- my news -- ultimately launched the greatest religion in the world yeah.
I want I want to ask actually there's another attack coming and I wanted to get the -- before we and we in this interview I've Taylor.
Taylor came and just says that's -- your book is written with clear by us.
And you're trying to say it's academic that's like having a Democrat write a book about why Reagan wasn't a -- Republican isn't it just doesn't work well what do you say to them would.
It would be elected Democrat with a Ph.D.
in Reagan who has been studying his life and history for two decades writing a book.
About -- want to -- again the Democrats on one area promote democracy by write about a Republican.
I am I right figure is -- is -- I -- that I just imagine if I had my sentence for a moment please.
I think that the fundamental problem here is that you're assuming that I have some sort of faith based bias in this work that I right.
I read about Judaism I write about Hinduism I read about christianity I write about Islam.
My job as a scholar of religions with a Ph.D.
in the subject is to write about religions.
And one of the religions that I have written about is the religion -- if you're not -- -- -- out of religion from a point of view.
Of I'm an observer I mean a thing about it is is that why you're here it out it's clear you're putting you're -- as a scholar.
And I've interviewed scholars who have written books on the resurrection.
On you know the real Jesus and who are looking -- the same information that you're saying to say that your information is somehow different from various.
Is really not I'm not here Ryan took.
-- my my information is not different from theirs at all.
I'm I'm afraid that it sounds like you haven't actually read my book or.
See what I've said about the resurrection or about Jesus or about his claims I think you might be surprised and what I say.
And there have been thousands of scholars who have written about this very same topic.
Many who disagree with me many who agree with me that's the thing about scholarship is that it's a debate over ancient history.
And I am one of those people making that debate I think it's unfair to just simply as soon.
Because of my particular faith background that there is some agenda on this book that would be like saying that a Christian who writes about Mohamed.
Is by definition.
You know not able to do so because.
He has so we can do a show like this against it and he kindly let me know if you look over the -- have waited it out but I'm semi umbrella that never disclosed that you were a Muslim and I think that's an -- we'll have a the second page of my book the second page of my -- -- -- -- Muslim.
Every single interview I have ever done on TV or on prince says I'm -- Muslim you may not be familiar with me.
But I'm actually quite a prominent Muslim thinker in the United States have written a number of books about Islam.
It's just simply incorrect to say that's media isn't saying that I am a Muslim I would actually encourage you to actually try to find.
Media that doesn't mention.
My biography which by the way again is on the second page of the book.
All right thank you for coming Monica spur debate thank you.
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