Edit: I published this article early by accident. Some spelling and phrasing has been changed.
Reza Aslan has endured all manner of shoddy reporting on his work since his now-infamous interview with Lauren Green. Conservatives published near-endless articles that trashed Aslan’s Zealot despite knowing almost nothing about the argument his book was making. Even liberals and Aslan’s fellow religious studies professors have been dismissive of him.
But as it turns out, Aslan had yet to endure the strangest article about him. In what is surely the most bizarre take on the Reza Aslan controversy yet, HuffPo Journalist and Professor Bernard Starr, after a clumsily-written five paragraph summary of Aslan’s life, offered a strikingly odd argument as to why Reza Aslan really should be Jewish,
“Well, if you reject the virgin birth, Jesus’ divinity, and the resurrection — as Aslan does — what remains is Judaism. So I can only say to Aslan: As a professed disciple of Jesus the man and Jew, why aren’t you a Jew?”
Starr’s argument is as fallacious as it is strange. First of all, Judaism isn’t the only religion with a claim to Jesus “the man.” Islam views Jesus in a different light that Judaism, but they also contend that Jesus is not a God. Also, plenty of atheists and secular humanists are fans of Jesus “the man” despite not believing in his divinity. My main man Kurt Vonnegut among them. Also, as I pointed out in my last article of Aslan, everybody who undertakes a secular study of Jesus considers Jesus “the man”. So the obvious answer to Starr’s question is that almost every religious or non-religious person on the planet has their own opinion about Jesus, and many of them line up with Aslan’s.
I was confused as to why Starr’s article was even given a platform. It feels like something that was thrown together in thirty minutes by a high school student using Wikipedia. It’s so profoundly odd that he felt like it was something that needed to be published.Suggesting that Reza Aslan should be Jewish is more like a bad party joke. Or perhaps it was simply a poorly conceived advertisement for Starr’s own book on early Christianity.
It may seem strange to give this seemingly ephemeral article another thought, but Starr’s piece bothers me because it’s the kind of Beliefnet crap that clutters religion websites around the web. This is what actual coverage of religious matters is up against: whimsical, pointless filler articles. This sort of thing is all too common in the religion blogosphere.