Reza Aslan's Misrepresentation of the Apostle Paul
Prior to getting into a detailed review of the many inaccurate claims found in Reza Aslan’s book Zealot: The Life and times of Jesus of Nazareth, I’ll mention what I questioned Aslan about at Powell’s bookstore last week. I don’t like to slander people’s character. Many times that is what people do when they themselves feel insulted by someone else. Yet Aslan holds high in defending his credentials and says that his book was a matter of academic pursuit with two decades of research. I don’t doubt the amount of years it took him to research for this project, but I do (and I did at Powell’s) question him on his academic honesty on the research as found in this book.
“He insists he is far superior to all the other apostles.”
Aslan says that the Apostle Paul insists that he is superior to all the other apostles. And he further misquotes Paul, by making up his own translation (as he admits to doing in the Author’s Note at the beginning of the book). He quotes Paul as saying “I am a better one” in the context of being better than the twelve apostles.
Aslan wrote that Paul holds contempt for James, Peter, and John, making a mockery out of them as "so-called pillars of the church" (Galatians 2:9). Aslan continues to add that Paul says of these three apostles of Christ, “Whatever they are makes no difference to me...those leaders contributed nothing to me" Galatians 2:6).
Aslan portrays Paul as an egomaniac. He colors him as a prideful man that believes he is better than the other apostles because Jesus gives him secret instructions solely for his own ears.
Aslan mentions that Paul, in an effort to prove his superiority over the other apostles, insists that the other apostles only got to walk and talk with Jesus-in-the-flesh. That he himself got to know the divine Jesus. Aslan says that Paul uses the terminology “Jesus-in-the-flesh” in a dismissive manner.
With these five misrepresentations showing up primary on one page (p.185) of Aslan’s book, it appears that this is a research project that is catastrophic at best. Are these misrepresentations intentional or unintentional? In his speech at Powell’s he tried to play things off as if there may be various interpretations about any passage of the scripture text. Yet it is obvious to me that this is not a case of difficult and various interpretations. The scripture texts are very plainly stated, and they don’t mean what Aslan taught them to mean. This book appears to purposefully twist and manipulate the text to give a portrayal of Jesus that is inaccurate. Here in particular it is giving a portrait of the apostle Paul that is false and not true to the very text that he supposedly quotes. You be the judge and leave a comment. Are these misrepresentations intentional or simply poor research that may have been unintentional? Or do you not think there is any misrepresentation at all?