Where’s the Interfaith Love?
Barbarians at the Gates(±)
Skinner House Calls it Right
A recent interview on Fox News has gained notoriety for the apparent religious intolerance of the interviewer who had difficulty accepting that a Muslim could write a scholarly book about Jesus. Reza Aslan, author of “No God But God” and “Beyond Fundamentalism” was interviewed by Fox News about his new book, “Zealot: the Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth“, which has been described elsewhere as a “meticulously researched biography that challenges long-held assumptions about the man we know as Jesus of Nazareth.”(2) On its Facebook Page Skinner House applauded Reza Aslan “…for his graceful handling of this interviewer’s questions. As a Unitarian Universalist press, we believe that respectful, fact-based study of any faith tradition by anyone is never out of line.”
10 Minutes of Banter
After establishing Aslan’s credentials, the interviewer cites a comment (also by a Fox News contributor) describing the book as “the opinion of an educated Muslim.” Aslan reminds her, “I am a historian. I am a PhD in the history of religions.” The interviewer remains unconvinced, prompting Aslan to add, “I know we’ve mentioned this three times now, but I’m not sure what my faith happens to do with my 20 years of academic study of the New Testament.”
Despite the demonstration of religious intolerance of the interviewer’s persistent challenge to Aslan’s legitimacy as an historian because of his faith, the interview is fun to watch (and Aslan seems to be enjoying himself, despite his exasperation). When the interviewer insists that Aslan’s history of Jesus in not accepted by everyone, he answers, “That’s the thing about scholarship… it is a debate over ancient history, and I am one of those people making that debate.” He goes on to state, “It is unfair to simply assume because of my particular faith that there is some agenda on this book.”
Ironically, the intolerant attitude of the Fox interviewer brought additional attention to the book, propelling it from number 8 on the Amazon bestsellers list to number over the weekend. Aslan describes his work as, “…about a historical man who walked the earth 2,000 years ago in a land of the Romans called Palestine.”
Read or like the Skinner House statement on Facebook here.
Read the New York Times article, Odd Fox News Interview Lifts Reza Aslan’s Biography on Jesus.
Watch the interview and read Reza Aslan’s explanation of his qualifications here (Huffington Post).
Learn more about Reza Aslan.
Learn more about Reza Aslan’s books.