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Reza Aslan to Give UCSB Talk on ‘The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth’

UCSB Arts & Lectures will present New York Times bestselling author and UCSB sociology Ph.D. (2009) alum Reza Aslan in a public talk titled “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth” at 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2 at Campbell Hall.

Reza Aslan
Reza Aslan (Malin Fezehai photo)

The internationally renowned author and religious scholar (No god but God) rocketed into the media spotlight this summer when he appeared in a controversial interview with Fox News that went viral.

His “compulsively readable” (Publishers Weekly) book, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth (July), presents a provocative new take on one of history’s most influential and enigmatic figures. Challenging long-held assumptions, Dr. Aslan examines Jesus through the lens of the tumultuous era in which he lived – first-century Palestine, an age of fervent nationalism.

Balancing the Jesus of the Gospels against historical sources, Dr. Aslan re-envisions Jesus as a politically conscious revolutionary, describing a man full of conviction and passion, yet rife with contradiction.

A 2009 graduate of UCSB, where he earned a Ph.D. in Sociology with a focus on religions, Dr. Aslan returns to offer his striking perspective on a man, a time — and the birth of a religion.

“I am delighted to be returning to Santa Barbara as a featured speaker this fall,” Dr. Aslan told the UCSB GradPost. “Santa Barbara shaped who I am as a scholar and thinker, particularly its focus on interdisciplinary work and study, which is something that is sorely missing in other academic institutions. UCSB doesn't just instill a commitment to academic rigor into its students; it encourages students to break through the ivy walls and take an active part in the public marketplace of ideas.”

Dr. Aslan’s lecture is presented by UCSB Arts & Lectures, with the Orfalea Foundation as the Community Partner. Books will be available for purchase at the event, and a book signing will follow the talk.

Tickets are $15 for the general public and $10 for UCSB students with a current student ID. For tickets or more information, call UCSB Arts & Lectures at 805.893.3535 or purchase online by clicking here.

About Dr. Reza Aslan

Aslan is a scholar of religions and the internationally acclaimed author of No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam (2005), which was named by Blackwell Publishers as one of the 100 most important books of the last decade, and How to Win a Cosmic War (2009) (published in paperback as Beyond Fundamentalism: Confronting Religious Extremism in a Globalized Age). He is also the editor of two volumes: Tablet and Pen: Literary Landscapes from the Modern Middle East and Muslims and Jews in America: Commonalties, Contentions, and Complexities.

Aslan 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 in religious studies (New Testament; minor in Greek) from Santa Clara University; a master of theological studies (history of religions) from Harvard University; a Ph.D. in sociology (focus on religions) from UC Santa Barbara; and a master of fine arts 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.

Born in Iran, he lives in Los Angeles with his wife (author and entrepreneur Jessica Jackley) and is associate professor of creative writing in the Department of Religion at UC Riverside. His previous academic positions include the Wallerstein 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).

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