If there's one thing my lapsed Catholic self is always going to jump on, it's a book that compares the historical facts about the life of Jesus to the religious beliefs that surround him.Like most academic books, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth is dense with information. This isn't a quick read, and I don't think author Reza Aslan intends it to be. As the introduction notes, the author was raised Muslim, embraced Christianity after a camp experience, and finally developed a more academic approach to religion.For those raised to appreciate the Bible as a literal report, Zealot will be a difficult book to internalize. We're taught to believe that the Gospels are pure fact, that there is no confusion about Jesus' intentions, that certain tenets of the faith are indisputable. Aslan cites historical knowledge about the region and culture at the time Jesus would have lived, and compares it to Biblical verses, showing ways in which Christianity may have been molded to better fit the political climate it found itself in at the time.For those willing to look at Christianity with an open mind and interested in its evolution, this is a can't miss read, and far more preferable to the inanity of a Dan Brown novel.This book was provided by the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.