As a long-time book publicist, I know only too well the value of controversy
in selling books. However, I also know the difference between honest
controversy and the kind of controversy that's stirred up through lies and
distortions. One is a solid marketing tool. One is (at best) an
Sadly (from that perspective), the #2 "non-fiction" (I use that term
loosely) book on Amazon today is "Zealot - The Life and Times of Jesus of
Nazareth." It has risen to the top not based on literary or scholarly
merit, but because of controversy. The author (and his publicist) are
apparently masters of creating controversy based on falsehoods to sell a
I'd heard about the controversy - it's been all over the Social Networking
news sites - and after just the slightest bit of checking, I found that:
The author got a degree in the history of religion
The author got a degree in creative fiction writing, one in sociology, and a
couple in religion - but none of them in religious history
The author is a professor of religious history
The author is a professor of creative fiction writing at one California
university, and he does something with a center on "Diplomacy" at another
California state university . he isn't even in the Religion department, let
alone a professor of religious history
The author is a "disciple of Jesus"
The author is a practicing and professing Muslim - his last book was "There
is no god but God" - beyond that, he doesn't believe in any of the tenets of
the Christian faith - no virgin birth, no crucifixion (hence no
resurrection), no "son of God," no divinity, no salvation. Taking all that
away, how could he be a "disciple of Jesus" - what is there left to follow?
Beyond that, I'd have to get into the book to find out if the text was as
dishonest as the hype. If anything it was more so. I bought the book (I
now wish I'd checked it out at the library, as I've helped to enrich this
master of deceit), and began finding more. Much more.
For instance, this guy is a straight-up, in-your face anti-Semite - in the
beginning of the book's prologue (P.3), he calls Judaism "an ancient cult"
and said that, in the time of Jesus, the Temple's ceremonies were a huge
con-job, a massive fraud perpetrated by the high priests (for a piece of the
action they cynically called the "tithe"). The temple ceremonies were a
very profitable profit-making scam, nothing more. Clearly he was playing
off the despicable slander at Jews that they are con-job merchants out to
make a buck, with no scruples.
And this was one of the nicer things I found in the "Author's Note," the
"Introduction" and the "Prologue."
Seriously, all of this, and I wasn't out of the prologue yet.
So I wrote the first in a series of blogs about the book, based only on what
I could find in the book itself (except his career and academic background,
widely available on unbiased sites online). Here's the link to it, and if
you care about the impact of dishonest book promotion (or any dishonest PR),
or if you want to find out what all the hoopla's about, check it out.
I plan to write a series of blogs as I read on. So far, the next one
focuses entirely on how he takes biblical passages completely out of context
to make exactly the opposite point that the passages were meant to mean.
It's easy enough to find this out - all you have to do is look up the
passage, and read it and its context. It's like removing the word "not"
from a Jury's finding: "He's (not) Guilty, Your Honor ." Again, don't take
my word for it. If distorting the bible to make a point is a problem for
you, get Aslan's the book out of the library and look up the biblical
passages for yourself. If you don't have a bible, there are lots of copies
online - search Google for chapter (not chapter-and-verse, as the context
comes from placing the quoted verse with the rest of the chapter).
OK, I'm off my high horse for the moment. Have a good weekend, one and
Ned Barnett, APR
Marketing & PR Fellow, American Hospital Association
Barnett Marketing Communications
420 N. Nellis Blvd., A3-276 - Las Vegas NV 89110
702-561-1167 - cell/text
> www.barnettmarcom.com - twitter @nedbarnett
05-6-16 BMC Logo
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