A book about Jesus Christ by an Iranian-American scholar of religion continues to be number one on Amazon’s best sellers list after Reza Aslan’s botched interview on Friday with the U.S. news channel, Fox News, went viral.
During the interview, Aslan, author of “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth” was asked by the Fox News anchor how he can write a book about Jesus when he is a Muslim.
While Aslan was taken aback by the question, he defended himself saying: “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. So it’s not that I’m just some Muslim writing about Jesus. I am an expert with a Ph.D in the history of religions.”
Soon after the interview, a YouTube video, called “The Most Embarrassing Interview Fox News Has Ever Done?”, went viral.
Aslan’s new book was selling well before the Fox News interview as the writer was promoting his latest work on national television and radio. However, reports say that the Fox interview has been a great marketing tool for Aslan.
The Atlantic Wire website said that, since Sunday, the book has climbed from being No. 8 to No. 1 in the country’s largest online bookseller, Amazon, knocking out Robert Glabraith, “The Cuckoo’s Calling.”
Meanwhile, the book’s publisher, Random House, told The New York Times, that it had to increase the book’s distribution by 35 percent.
“We had 20K [copies] already scheduled to come in today since the book was selling before the weekend,” London King, the Deputy Director of Publicity at Random House, explained in an email to The Atlantic Wire published Tuesday.
King added: “We just went back for another 50K today because of what happened over the weekend and that will arrive at the end of this week. That brings the total up to 150K in print [as of now].”
Aslan, also known for his best-selling 2005 book “No god but God” on Islam, admitted that the interview has promoted his book.
“There’s no question the FOX News interview has allowed this to be seen by an audience that normally would not have been interested in this,” The Press-Enterprise quoted Aslan as saying on Tuesday.
The writer said he has received a number of emails and messages from people saying that they would not have bought the book if it were not for the interview, which – they said – made them curious as to why it was made to be a controversy by Fox News.
Zealot portrays Jesus as a politically conscious revolutionary Jewish nationalist who was crucified as a state criminal because he was viewed as a threat to Roman leaders.
Reza Aslan (Persian: رضا اصلان; born May 3, 1972) is an Iranian-American writer and scholar of religions. He is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at theUniversity of California, Riverside, a Research Associate at the University of Southern California Center on Public Diplomacy, and a contributing editor for The Daily Beast. His books include the international bestseller No God but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam, which has been translated into 13 languages, andZealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, which offers an interpretation of the life and mission of the historical Jesus.