“One of the things variously amusing and annoying is the re-appearance of ideas and claims in my own area of expertise as if something new, something suppressed (e.g., by us scholars supposedly) and reeeeally racy and sensationally important that are in fact simply re-hashings (or re-packagings) of previous claims that were quite adequately and convincingly discredited years (or even decades) ago. I call these “zombie claims”: No matter how often you kill ‘em off with the facts, they come back again, typically after sufficient years have passed that the news media will have forgotten the previous appearance(s) (and the memory of today’s news media is impressively short).
Indeed, in today’s world of internet and e-communication, such zombie claims get a new life rather quickly, and get buzzed around the world almost overnight. The latest zombie claim to come to my attention (at least in my field) is pushed in Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, by Reza Aslan.
Aslan (a PhD in Sociology of Religion, and with his own marketing firm, and with a university connection in creative writing, but no training or demonstrated expertise in ancient Judaism, early Christianity, Roman history, or any of the subjects relevant to the book in question) pushes in sensationalist prose the supposedly shocking idea that Jesus was actually a political revolutionary who advocated an armed struggle against Roman occupation of his homeland. Apparently, since a recent Fox TV News interview, sales of the book have gone through the roof . . . .” says Larry Hurtad0 on Ben Witherington’s blog.