Two weeks ago we noticed that Reza Aslan’s scholarship seemed to be about 20 years out of date. He was simply recycling claims made by Bart Ehrman and the Jesus Seminar with seemingly no knowledge of the numerous scholarly rebuttals that have come out over the past decades. As it turns out, there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for Dr. Aslan’s oversight: he isn’t actually an advanced student of 1st century history or Christian origins. Rather, he is a specialist in sociology and creative writing!
Now, one of our beliefs at TCI is that emphasizing specialization and making it a litmus test for credibility is very often a bad thing, and that it is no disqualification at all for a scholar to work “outside his field” and to attempt a renaissance comprehension. Unfortunately, Dr. Aslan gave no evidence that he was doing anything like that either. Instead, he was selling an odd combination of, well, sociology and creative writing. Such is his right, of course, as it will likely prove a more successful publishing venture than history. He just needed to have been up front about it all. And NPR certainly should have conducted itself better. As it stands, we’ve learned a bit about their competency as well.