A religion scholar delivered a cutting retort to a Fox News presenter who quizzed him on how he could write a book on Christianity, as a Muslim.
"You're a Muslim, so why did you write a book about the founder of Christianity?" Fox News' Lauren Green asked academic Reza Aslan, author of Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, on Friday.
Aslan, a professor at the University of Califorinia responded: "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.
"I am not just some Muslim, I had a PhD in the history of religion."
The answer did not seem to satisfy Green, so Aslan added, "Because it's my job as an academic. I am a professor of religion, including the New Testament.
"That's what I do for a living, actually. So it would be like asking a Christian why they would write a book about Islam.
"I have studied Jesus' life and work, in a academic and in a personal capacity for around two decades."
The interview drew a heated response on Twitter:
Tell me, *Doctor* Tyson, you live on earth, but you obsessively study the stars. Is that because you have some kind of agenda? @rezaaslan— Yastreblyansky (@Yastreblyansky) July 27, 2013
I wrote a book on Africa. I'm American. No one treated me like @rezaaslan is being treated for Zealot.— Jonathan Berman (@Jonathan_Berman) July 27, 2013
Green continued to press Aslan on his faith throughout the 10-minute interview. Pastor and author John Dickerson accused the "liberal media" of concealing Aslan's faith when discussing the book, in an editorial on Fox News.
"My biography, which mentions I'm a Muslim, is on the second page of my book."
"You are assuming I have some kind of faith-based bias in the work that I write," he continued. "I write about Judaism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam. My job as a scholar of religions is to write about religions, and one of them is the religion that Jesus launched."
"But you're not just an observer," Green said, adding that many scholars had different interpretations to Aslan.
"Why would you say that?" Aslan replied. "My information is not different to theirs at all. It sounds like you haven't read my book. There have been thousands of scholars who have written on this topic, many agree with me, many disagree. That's the thing about scholarship."