Ask Reza Aslan Anything: What Do We Know About Jesus?

A reader is asking:

In another video after the jump, Reza gives a fascinating account of the earliest non-Christian evidence of Jesus (followed by several comments from readers):

Here he addresses the Resurrection:

A reader writes:

Lutheran Seminarian here. Regarding Reza Aslan’s video about why Jesus would be confused about ritual of the Catholic Mass, the reading of and commentary on texts would have been part of Jesus’s religious environment. Moreover, the Eucharist, the Mass itself, was instituted by Jesus. Jesus might be confused by the structure of the Catholic Church, but the core of the Mass itself wold probably feel remarkably familiar.


If we assume, as Aslan does, this human being named Jesus, who only speaks a long dead language and doesn’t have any cultural or historic context for a modern church, let alone the cars, the lights, the amplified sound, and all the weird clothes, wanders into a contemporary Catholic church, I don’t think he’d even understand he was in a place of worship. Even if he wandered into even a modern synagog, I think he’d be equally confused. Does Aslan really think Jesus would recognize this as a synagog?

The officials of wherever he wandered into – Catholic church, Protestant church, or synagog – would be confronted with a smelly, oddly dressed man who was babbling in some unknown language. They would likely call the police, who, if they didn’t shoot him or stun gun him, would take him to a hospital, which would be vastly more confusing to Jesus. All told, Aslan’s version of Jesus would likely be admitted to a psychiatric hospital within hours, assuming the police didn’t kill him first.


I’m enjoying the Reza Aslan video thread. I’m going through a prolonged and serious reevaluation of my faith, so his themes play into that well. One point I want to pick up on, and emphasize, is the idea that Jesus’ message is not the same as Christianity. Of course, there is a lot of unpacking to do on that issue, but the short point is that Paul repackaged Jesus’ message into a Gentile/Roman-friendly message. Without that, Jesus’s message would have stopped with the Ebionites.

Of course that means, on some level, I’m denying – or at least seriously struggling – with the miraculous aspects of Jesus’ life.

If you’re just joining the thread, Reza Asland is an Iranian-American writer and scholar of religions. He is the author of No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam and, most recently, Zealot, which offers an interpretation of the life and mission of the historical Jesus. Previous Dish on Zealot herehere and here. Our full Ask Anything archive is here.