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Was Jesus a Political Zealot or Grassroots Activist? Specialists to Face Off in Fielding Discussion

Fielding Graduate University is proud to present the first of five free and open to the public Fielding Educational Series presentations featuring two prominent specialists on the historical Jesus, Reza Aslan and Jean-Pierre Isbouts, who will square off on this exciting panel discussion over the question: Was Jesus a political zealot or a grassroots social activist?

Reza
Reza Aslan

This discussion will be facilitated by Rich Appelbaum from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 7 at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort, 633 E. Cabrillo Blvd. in Santa Barbara. The Fielding Educational Series features select presentations that are timely and relevant to current social issues from the scholarly fields of human and organizational development, psychology, and educational leadership and change.

Click here for registration and other information.

Reza Aslan

Dr. Reza Aslan, an internationally acclaimed writer and scholar of religions, is author of the No. 1 New York Times bestseller Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. He is the founder of AslanMedia.com, an online journal for news and entertainment about the Middle East and the world, and co-founder and chief creative officer of BoomGen Studios, the premier entertainment brand for creative content from and about the Greater Middle East.

Aslan's degrees include a bachelor of arts degree in religious studies from Santa Clara University (major focus: New Testament; ninor: Greek), a master's degree in theological studies from Harvard University (major focus: history of religions), a Ph.D. in the sociology of religions from UC Santa Barbara, and a master of fine arts degree from the University of Iowa, where he was named the Truman Capote Fellow in Fiction.

An adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, he is also a member of the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities and the Pacific Council on International Policy. He serves on the board of directors of the Ploughshares Fund, which gives grants for peace and security issues; Narrative Four, which connects people through the exchange of stories; PEN USA, which champions the rights of writers under siege around the world; and the Levantine Cultural Center, which builds bridges between Americans and the Arab/Muslim world through the arts.

Aslan's first book is the international bestseller No God but God: The Origins, Evolution and Future of Islam, which has been translated into 13 languages and named one of the 100 most important books of the last decade. He is also the author of How to Win a Cosmic War (published in paperback as Beyond Fundamentalism: Confronting Religious Extremism in a Globalized Age), as well as editor of two volumes: Tablet and Pen: Literary Landscapes from the Modern Middle East, and Muslims and Jews in America: Commonalties, Contentions, and Complexities.

Born in Iran, he lives in Los Angeles with his wife (author and entrepreneur Jessica Jackley) where he is an associate professor of creative writing and cooperating faculty in the Department of Religion at UC Riverside. His previous academic positions include the Wallerstein Distinguished Professor of Religion, Community and Conflict at Drew University in New Jersey (2012-13) and visiting assistant professor of religion at the University of Iowa (2000-03).

Jean-Pierre Isbouts

Jean-Pierre Isbouts is a bestselling author and award-winning screenwriter and film director. A humanities scholar, his research has been devoted to biblical archaeology, Renaissance Florence and 19th century Europe. He also serves as graduate professor in the doctoral programs of Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara.

Jean-Pierre Isbouts
Jean-Pierre Isbouts

Isbouts was born in Eindhoven, Holland, and studied Attic Greek and Latin before continuing in archaeology, art history and musicology at Leyden University. He completed his doctoral research on the 19th century architectural firm of Carrère & Hastings at Columbia University in New York. He then joined the American Council for the Arts in New York City, active in a number of federally funded arts programs.

In the 1990s, he founded the ArtSpace studio in Los Angeles, a unit of American Interactive Media, and produced a number of programs on Renaissance and 19th century art as part of the Great Art Series; many of these were subsequently translated in seven languages. He later served as managing director of Philips Interactive Media Europe, a joint venture with Polygram, from its head offices in London, United Kingdom.

As a musicologist, Dr. Isbouts has produced recordings of Bach, Corelli, Handel, Tchaikovsky, Satie, Franck and Debussy with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, and other soloists and ensembles.

An award-winning filmmaker, Isbouts has directed stars including Leonard Nimoy, Charlton Heston and Dick van Dyke, working with Hollywood studios such as Disney, Castle Rock Entertainment, Hallmark and Agamemnon Studios. His TV programs have been broadcast on ABC, A&E, CNBC, History Channel, Hallmark Channel and PBS stations, as well as scores of television networks in Europe and Asia.

His first book, Charlton Heston's Hollywood, was published in 1998. Based on many hours of interviews with Heston, the book chronicles the astonishing transformation of post-war American cinema through the eyes of the only actor whose career spanned from Cecil DeMille to James Cameron.

In 2007, National Geographic Books published his first major work, The Biblical World, which became a worldwide bestseller, and the first of several books for National Geographic Society. The success of Biblical World was followed by the 2012 publication of In the Footsteps of Jesus, which sold over a 100,000 copies in the first eight weeks of release — an unprecedented record for a large hard-cover book at a $40 price point.

In 2013, Isbouts wrote his in-depth study of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa ("The Mona Lisa Myth"), written with Dr. Christopher Brown, and began a new work on the history of Christianity. In November, National Geographic Books will publish Isbouts's Who's Who in the Bible, a major reference work comprising over 2,000 men and women in the Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament.

Isbouts is represented by Global Lion Intellectual Property Management, a literary agency based in New York, Los Angeles and Florida. He is a graduate professor in several doctoral programs at Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara. In his spare time (or what's left of it), he likes to discover new places in Asia and the Middle East with his wife, Cathie, a production executive at Pantheon Studios.

— Hilary Edwards is the manager of university relations for Fielding Graduate University.

 

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