This interview on Fox News of a leading Biblical scholar (who happens to be Muslim) isn’t simply embarrassing, it’s downright sinister. One has to watch it to believe it. I fear this tells us something about the state of the US more than it does about Fox News.
We learn very little about Dr Reza Aslan’s book from the interview, but I was happy to hear that he regards the historical Jesus as a kind of Che Guevara figure (without the guns). That’s how I’ve tended to read him too. His message was inevitably a political one as much as, if not more than, a religious one. Once that message started to catch on, the role of establishment churches was to coopt his voice and channel the passions he unleashed into safer directions. That, after all, has always been the role of power: to placate, distract and neutralise.
As an aside, for what it’s worth, my own experience of living for more than a decade in Nazareth – and having conducted some admittedly limited research into the archeological evidence – is that we can trust very little of the traditional accounts of Jesus’ life story. Both the Churches and the Israeli authorities have clearly conspired in covering up findings that challenge orthodoxy. See for example: