Another Note from Reza Aslan

The historical Jesus?

I am currently making my way through Reza Aslan‘s recent volume Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. Rather than offering a review his book (I instead direct the reader’s attention to the reviews offered by Stephen ProtheroStuart KellyCraig A. Evans, Greg Carey, and Allan Nadler), I wanted to call attention to this line offered by Aslan at the beginning of the book.

There are a few things to keep in mind before we begin our examination. For every well-attested, heavily researched, and eminently authoritative argument made about the historical Jesus, there is an equally well-attested, equally researched, and equally authoritative argument opposing it.

(Reza Aslan, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth [New York: Random House, 2013], xx.)

Indeed, one could swap the words “the historical Jesus” out with “the historical Joseph Smith,” “the Book of Mormon,” “the Book of Abraham,” “Mormon history,” etc.

Such has been the fairly typical experience in my study of these topics.

Which is why it is wise to be highly skeptical of those treatments of Mormon history or scripture that purport to be the final, sole, and incontrovertibly authoritative work on the topic.