Patricia Hofer

Aslan’s “Zealot”

I’m enjoying Reza Aslan’s Zealot. But it certainly isn’t surprising to me that Mary’s child was perhaps born out of wedlock. Joseph’s existence, or lack thereof, is really not integral to the Christian narrative at all. What Aslan shows about Nazareth is remarkable though—even if his interpretation makes little sense. If Jesus wasn’t the son of Joseph, why does Aslan assume he’s a poor peasant carpenter’s son???

What is interesting to me is that Nazareth was “a day’s walk from one of the largest and most affluent cities in Galilee—the capital city, Sepphoris” (18). And Jesus lived during the time when Herod Antipas was rebuilding the city, drawing in laborers and artisans from all of the surrounding regions. It was already a trade center. Instead of being an illiterate peasant, Mary could have been the daughter of an affluent and educated Jew from Sepphoris, put away in Nazareth until she had her child.  Works for me.

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