Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan
This is a book that has been well researched and cited by the author to argue his point that “Jesus of Nazareth” was the “real, historical” Jesus, versus “Jesus the Christ” which was an “interpretation” of Jesus’s ministry that would sell well to its prime audience which was the Romans, in Rome, and not the Jews of Palestine. “Jesus of Nazareth”, a fire breathing nationalist, was transposed into “Jesus the Christ”, a pacifist, who preached loving thy neighbor and doing good works to enter the “Kingdom of Heaven.”
The chief architect of this interpretation is made out to be Paul of Tarsus, who was called Saul before he converted to Christianity, writing many years after Jesus’s death. As Aslan states: “Two thousand years later, the Christ of Paul’s creation has utterly subsumed the Jesus of history. The memory of the revolutionary zealot who walked across Galilee gathering an army of disciples with the goal of establishing the Kingdom of God on earth, the magnetic preacher who defied the authority of the Temple priesthood in Jerusalem, the radical Jewish nationalist who challenged the Roman occupation and lost, has been almost completely lost to history. That is a shame. Because the one thing any comprehensive study of the historical Jesus should hopefully reveal is that Jesus of Nazareth – Jesus the man—is every bit as compelling, charismatic, and praiseworthy as Jesus the Christ. He is, in short, someone worth believing in.”
Regardless of where you stand on the Divinity of Jesus this is a worthwhile book to understand both Jesus of Nazareth and Jesus the Christ.