Tags: muslim | author | fox | interview

Questions Surface About Muslim Author's Claims in Fox Interview

Monday, 29 Jul 2013 04:03 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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While reaction is growing about an interview between Fox News' Lauren Green and author Raza Aslan, information is surfacing that questions some of the academic claims Aslan made during the segment.

Aslan, the Muslim author of the best seller "Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth," appeared on Green's online program "Spirited Debate," Friday to promote his book, but ended up defending himself against an onslaught of questions that dealt more with his faith than about the book itself.

Aslan answered her questions with a laundry list of his academic qualifications to write a book about Jesus Christ.

"Well, to be clear, I am a scholar of religions with four degrees, including one in the New Testament, and fluency in biblical Greek, who has been studying the origins of Christianity for two decades, who also just happens to be a Muslim," Aslan said. "So it’s not that I’m just some Muslim writing about Jesus. I am an expert with a PhD in the history of religions.”

And later in the video, he said it's his job to speak of Jesus, as he is a "professor of religion, including the New Testament," also adding "I am a historian. I am a PhD in the history of religions."

Writer Joe Carter, on his New Religion blog, questions Aslan's claims, however.

"For starters, he does not have a PhD in the history of religions. Aslan has four degrees: a Bachelors of Religious Studies from Santa Clara University; a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School; a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Iowa; and a PhD in sociology of religions from the University of California, Santa Barbara (his dissertation was on 'Global Jihadism: a transnational social movement')," claims Carter.

He also points out that Santa Clara does not offer a degree in the New Testament, but Harvard Divinity School does have a focus on the New Testament and early Christianity.

Carter also asks how Aslan became a professor of Islam in Iowa armed with a Master's degree focusing on the New Testament.

Further, Carter pointed out, after Aslan left the University of Iowa to concentrate on writing, he "became a fellow at the University of Southern California Center on Public Diplomacy and then moved to the University of California at Riverside, where he is an associate professor of creative writing."

Aslan has also taught courses on religion and politics in the Middle East at Drew University, Carter said, but, "when exactly has Aslan taught classes on the New Testament? And as a scholar, has he published peer-reviewed academic articles on Jesus?"

Green's questioning, and the Internet's reaction to what Buzzfeed.com mocked as being "The Most Embarrassing Interview Fox News Has Ever Done" — may have led to Aslan's book becoming a best seller, reports The Atlantic Wire.

"Zealot" debuted in the number two spot on The New York Times' best seller list on Monday and is at the top of the best seller list on Amazon.

While the interview has been called "absolutely demented" by the New Yorker's Emily Nussbaum on Twitter, Aslan's book isn't getting rave reviews, either, from Amazon visitors who join in to criticize the book for being written by a Muslim and not following along with the Bible.

The visitors did not indicate whether they read Aslan's book, but were prepared to slam its writer.

"The author doesn't know anything about Jesus," one Amazon visitor wrote. "He is a Muslim and not a historian. I highly recommend reading The Holy Bible to find out more about Jesus or the books One God One Message and All That The Prophets Have Spoken, again if you are truly seeking the truth about who Jesus is, why He came and what He did for you."

Other visitors, though, praised the book as being "riveting" and an "outstanding historical view of Jesus."

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