It’s clear. If an author wants his book to become one of the top sellers all he needs to do is appear for an interview on Fox News to promote his book. Well, that’s exactly what happened to Reza Aslan’s controversial new book about the historical Jesus. Mr. Aslan’s book, ‘Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth’ which was published by Random House on July 16, went from the No. 8 spot on Amazon.com to No. 1 soon after he appeared on Fox News.
On Friday, the 26th, Mr. Aslan appeared on Fox News for an interview with host Lauren Green from “Spirited Debate,” a weekly Fox News webcast. Throughout the interview, which lasted about ten minutes, Ms. Green made every effort to discredit Mr. Aslan as a true historian simply because he is a Muslim.
“You’re a Muslim, so why did you write a book about the founder of Christianity?” Ms. Green asked.
“Well, to be clear,” Mr. Aslan said, “I am a scholar of religions with four degrees, including one in the New Testament, and fluency in biblical Greek, who has been studying the origins of Christianity for two decades, who also just happens to be a Muslim.”
Mr. Aslan further alluded to the fact that there are many Christian scholars who have written about Islam. In other words, why does the faith of the scholar matters when the only expertise needed is a strong academic background in religious studies? It’s actually quite amusing that Ms. Green would insinuate that Mr. Aslan wrote his book from a purely Muslim bias when there are many outspoken critics and opponents of Islam, such as, Robert Spencer and Pamella Geller, whom Fox News would consider experts on Islam while neither of them are Muslims.
No sooner had Mr. Aslan appeared on Fox News that a surge of news coverage about the embarrassing interview took over the Internet. Many of these articles were in favor of Mr. Aslan’s biography about Jesus. In her blog on the Washington Post’s On Faith page, Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, Professor of Theology at Chicago Theological Seminary and its former President, was astonished as to “how little Green actually seems to know about Christianity, and in particular, Jesus. Jesus of Nazareth was not the ‘founder of Christianity.’ Jesus of Nazareth, a first century Jewish teacher, healer, and reformer, was Jewish his whole life.”
Perhaps, Ms. Green is not aware of many Biblical scholars who have written about the historical Jesus and have come to the kind of conclusions which Mr. Aslan has arrived at. Westar Institute which was created for the purpose of religious literacy has a group of scholars who have been studying the historical Jesus and its impact on Christianity for many years. This list includes, Karen Armstrong, John Dominic Crossan, Llyod Geering, Marcus Borg, and John Shelby Spong, to name a few. Many of these scholars have argued against some of the central tenets of Christianity including the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection. Would Ms. Green be interested in interviewing one of these scholars who happen to be on the same page with Mr. Aslan?
Well, thanks to Fox News and Lauren Green’s ‘Spirited Debate’, Reza Aslan’s, ‘Zealot’ will be sitting on the best sellers’ No. 1 spot for quite sometime.