Mr. Aslan’s thesis is not as startling, original or “entirely new” as the book’s publicity claims. Nor is it as outlandish as described by his detractors. That Jesus was a Jewish peasant who attempted to foment a rebellion against the Romans and their Jewish clients has been suggested at least since the posthumous publication of Hermann Samuel Reimarus’s “Fragments” (1774-78).
The review notes that while Aslan generally writes well—which is an opinion I share, after reading his book on Islam, No god but God a couple years ago—his research is lacking and he is often conclusory. This plagued No god but God, I felt. Perhaps thanks to a viral interview with Fox News, the book has received a considerable amount of attention. Although I’ve not read it yet, I wouldn’t be optimistic—and suspect that, judging by this review, readers interested in the historical Jesus are probably better served by reading accounts such as E.P. Sanders’ The Historical Figure of Jesus.