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View Diary: Books Go Boom!   Making Magic Real (175 comments)

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  •  As always, Brecht, a delightful contribution (7+ / 0-)

    for/to those of us who read about reading.
    Although my current object of perusal does not seem even vaguely relevant, I have just come to the chapter discussing magic in Reza Aslan's current offering, Zealot.
    I had some knowledge of the gaggle of contenders for the messiah slot in first century Palestine but none at all that healers, miracle workers, etc., were ubiquitous as well.
    Considering the rather fantastic story of Jesus, maybe the book does, indeed, suit the category after all.

    •  We know he gives a good interview, and that he's (6+ / 0-)

      done loads of research into Jesus' life - so I expect it's informative. Is it also a pleasure to read? Does he make his language and story dance for you?

      As for the relevance, my diaries are intended to get your mental cogs turning - but you can bring your own conversation. Happy to see you here, 714day.

      "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

      by Brecht on Fri Oct 04, 2013 at 11:33:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Glad to be here, Brecht, and to have laid (3+ / 0-)

        eyes on the vehicle that houses your lovely mind.
        Aslan does have an engaging style to my way of thinking. His presentation of the firmament in which the Nazarene traveled is extremely vivid. This, ultimately, his objective. Since he freely admits there is little to no historical evidence of this remarkable fellow, he paints for us the historical reality of the place and time in which he was spawned. It is this that he believes is the only way to get an accurate portrait of this Jewish man, and even a correct understanding of the supposed reportage of the gospels.
        For example, in describing the place of burnt offerings of blood sacrifice at the Temple in Jerusalem (operating 24 hours a day to accommodate demand) we read:

        This is as close as you will ever get to God. The stink of carnage is impossible to ignore. It clings to the skin, the hair, becoming a noisome burden you will not soon shake off.
        Without a doubt, I get his picture.
        •  Perhaps Zealot manages to take us closer to Jesus' (4+ / 0-)

          actual world than any previous book. If you read the gospels again, after Zealot, they may spring more vividly to life in your mind, now that you have so much background sketched in.

          This is another kind of marriage of realism with magic - though, in Jesus' case, the mystery is essential, too. It seems to me that much of the power of Jesus, as an icon, a symbol, a paradigm of Good Man, rests on the sparse historical record. We have the things he said, which echo their wisdom and love down through the ages. And we have a handful of stories. Which leaves us, the readers, free to project all of our hunger for someone to believe in, and all our dreams of what humans free of sin might become, onto this thin historical record.

          The Church, artists, writers and architects, have built legends and cathedrals in his name, so that he's far more than just the gospels now. Christianity was lucky that he left enough traces to see a credible human being, but so few that we could pour our myriad hopes and dreams into the holes in his biography.

          "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

          by Brecht on Sat Oct 05, 2013 at 11:26:56 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I stopped reading books on religion (6+ / 0-)

      in the mid-80s, but Zealot has piqued my interest. I have listened to several interviews and read a few reviews and despite myself I am still interested.

      Are you recommending it?

      •  I would highly reccomend it. (4+ / 0-)

        I love reading well researched histories and this, it most assuredly is. His access to primary resources was clearly broad and he has accessed the opinions of historical savants with bailiwicks in that era in the middle east, too. He also has a reasonable grasp of ancient Greek and Aramaic.
        This is solid stuff.
        Please see my response to Brecht upthread. Aslan hits his mark with the you-are-there angle.

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