Author and theologian Reza Aslan speaks at the Westminster Town Hall Forum in downtown Minneapolis. He's the author of the best-selling books "No god but God: The Origins, Evolution and Future of Islam" and "Zealot: The Life and Times and Jesus of Nazareth."
The latter book got an accidental boost from an interview he did last fall with FoxNews.com anchor Lauren Green. In the interview, which went viral on the Web, Green asked Aslan why a Muslim would write a book about Jesus:
Learn more about Aslan:
• Reza Aslan calls Jesus 'most interesting person who ever lived'
Aslan interprets biblical accounts of Jesus through the lens of known history about Palestine under Roman occupation. Seen in that light, for example, the Beatitudes are not mere "abstract ethical principles," but "remarkable statements about the reversal of the social order." (The Daily Circuit)
• Christ in context: 'Zealot' explores the life of Jesus
Writer and scholar Reza Aslan was 15 years old when he found Jesus. His secular Muslim family had fled to the U.S. from Iran, and Aslan's conversion was, in a sense, an adolescent's attempt to fit into American life and culture. "My parents were certainly surprised," Aslan tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. As Aslan got older, he began his studies in the history of Christianity, and he started to lose faith. He came to the realization that Jesus of Nazareth was quite different from the Messiah he'd been introduced to at church. "I became very angry," he says. "I became resentful. I turned away from Christianity. I began to really reject the concept of Christ." (Fresh Air)