Killing Jesus: A History

Killing Jesus: A History

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by Bill O'Reilly, Martin Dugard

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Millions of readers have thrilled to bestselling authors Bill O'Reilly and historian Martin Dugard's Killing Kennedy and Killing Lincoln, page-turning works of nonfiction that have changed the way we read history.

Now the anchor of The O'Reilly Factor details the events leading up to the murder of the most influential man in history:

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Millions of readers have thrilled to bestselling authors Bill O'Reilly and historian Martin Dugard's Killing Kennedy and Killing Lincoln, page-turning works of nonfiction that have changed the way we read history.

Now the anchor of The O'Reilly Factor details the events leading up to the murder of the most influential man in history: Jesus of Nazareth. Nearly two thousand years after this beloved and controversial young revolutionary was brutally killed by Roman soldiers, more than 2.2 billion human beings attempt to follow his teachings and believe he is God. Killing Jesus will take readers inside Jesus's life, recounting the seismic political and historical events that made his death inevitable - and changed the world forever.

Editorial Reviews

Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard's 2011 Killing Lincoln and 2012 Killing Kennedy have been on coast-to-coast bestseller lists, often simultaneously. Now the emphatically opinionated O'Reilly Factor star and history specialist Dugard combine their talents to recreate arguably the most fateful killing of all time: the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth. For nearly two thousand years, that history-changing event has been discussed and debated. Now its story is retold in telling detail. Certain to be a bestseller.

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The child with thirty-six years to live is being hunted.

Heavily armed soldiers from the capital city of Jerusalem are marching to this small town, intent on finding and killing the baby boy. They are a mixed-race group of foreign mercenaries from Greece, Gaul, and Syria. The child’s name, unknown to them, is Jesus, and his only crime is that some believe he will be the next king of the Jewish people. The current monarch, a dying half-Jewish, half-Arab despot named Herod, is so intent on ensuring the baby’s death that his army has been ordered to murder every male child under the age of two years in Bethlehem.* None of the soldiers knows what the child’s mother and father look like, or the precise location of his home, thus the need to kill every baby boy in the small town and surrounding area. This alone will guarantee the extermination of the potential king.

It is springtime in Judea, the peak of lambing season. The rolling dirt road takes the army past thick groves of olive trees and shepherds tending their flocks. The soldiers’ feet are clad in sandals, their legs are bare, and they wear the skirtlike pteruges to cover their loins. The young men sweat profusely beneath the plates of armor on their chests and the tinned bronze attic helmets that cover the tops of their heads and the sides of their faces.

The soldiers are well aware of Herod’s notorious cruelty and his penchant for killing anyone who would try to threaten his throne. But there is no moral debate about the right or wrong of slaughtering infants.† Nor do the soldiers question whether they will have the nerve to rip a screaming child from his mother’s arms and carry out the execution. When the time comes, they will follow orders and do their jobs—or risk being immediately killed for insubordination.

The sword’s blade is how they plan to dispatch the babies. All soldiers are armed with the Judean version of the razor-sharp pugio and gladius preferred by the Roman legions, and they wear their weapons attached to the waist. Their method of murder, however, will not be restricted to the dagger or sword. Should they wish, Herod’s soldiers can also use a skull-crushing stone, hurl the baby boys off a cliff en masse, or just wrap their fists around the infants’ windpipes and strangle them.

The cause of death is not important. What matters most is one simple fact: king of the Jews or not, the infant must die.

✝ ✝ ✝

Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, King Herod gazes out a palace window toward Bethlehem, anxiously awaiting confirmation of the slaughter. In the cobbled streets below him, the Roman-appointed king sees the crowded bazaars, where vendors sell everything from water and dates to tourist trinkets and roast lamb. The walled city of some eighty thousand residents packed into less than a single square mile is a crossroads of the eastern Mediterranean. With one sweep of his eyes, Herod can see visiting Galilean peasants, brightly dressed Syrian women, and the foreign soldiers he pays to wage his battles. These men fight extremely well but are not Jews and don’t speak a word of the Hebrew language.

Herod sighs. Back in his youth, he would never have stood in a window and worried about the future. A great king and warrior such as he would have ordered that a bridle be thrown over his favorite white charger so that he might gallop to Bethlehem and murder the child himself. But Herod is now a man of sixty-nine. His massive girth and incessant medical problems make it physically impossible for him to leave his palace, let alone mount a horse. His bloated face is wreathed in a beard that extends from the bottom of his chin to just below his Adam’s apple. On this day, he wears a royal purple Roman-style mantle over a short-sleeved white silk tunic. Normally Herod prefers soft leather leggings that have been stained purple. But today even the gentlest bristle of fabric against his inflamed big toe is enough to make him cry out in pain. So it is that Herod, the most powerful man in Judea, hobbles through the palace barefoot.

But gout is the least of Herod’s ailments. The king of the Jews, as this nonpracticing convert to the religion likes to be known, is also suffering from lung disease, kidney problems, worms, a heart condition, sexually transmitted diseases, and a horrible version of gangrene that has caused his genitals to rot, turn black, and become infested with maggots—thus the inability to sit astride, let alone ride, a horse.

Herod has learned how to live with his aches and pains, but these warnings about a new king in Bethlehem are scaring him. Since the Romans first installed him as ruler of Judea more than thirty years ago, Herod has foiled countless plots and waged many wars to remain king. He has murdered anyone who would try to steal his throne—and even executed those only suspected of plotting against him. His power over the locals is absolute. No one in Judea is safe from Herod’s executions. He has ordered deaths by hanging, stoning, strangulation, fire, the sword, live animals, serpents, beating, and a type of public suicide in which victims are forced to hurl themselves off tall buildings. The lone form of execution in which he has not engaged is crucifixion, that most slow and humiliating of deaths, where a man is flogged and then nailed naked upon a wooden cross in plain sight of the city walls. The Romans are the masters of this brutal art, and they almost exclusively practice it. Herod would not dream of enraging his superiors in Rome by appropriating their favorite form of murder.

Herod has ten wives—or had, before he executed the fiery Mariamme for allegedly plotting against him. For good measure, he also ordered the deaths of her mother and of his sons Alexander and Aristobulus. Within a year, he will murder a third male offspring. Small wonder that the great Roman emperor Caesar Augustus was rumored to have openly commented, “It is better to be Herod’s pig than to be his son.”

But this newest threat, though it comes from a mere infant, is the most dangerous of all. For centuries, Jewish prophets have predicted the coming of a new king to rule their people.‡ They have prophesied five specific occurrences that will take place to confirm the new Messiah’s birth.

The first is that a great star will rise.

The second is that the baby will be born in Bethlehem, the small town where the great King David was born a thousand years before.

The third prophecy is that the child must also be a direct descendant of David, a fact that can easily be proven by the temple’s meticulous genealogical records.

Fourth, powerful men will travel from afar to worship him.

Finally, the child’s mother must be a virgin.§

What troubles Herod most deeply is that he knows the first two of these to be true.

He might be even more distressed to learn that all five have come to pass. The child is from the line of David; powerful men have traveled from afar to worship him; and his teenage mother, Mary, swears that she is still a virgin, despite her pregnancy.

He also does not know that the child’s name is Yeshua ben Joseph—or Jesus, meaning “the Lord is salvation.”

Herod first learns about Jesus from the travelers who have come to worship the baby. These men are called Magi, and they stop at his castle to pay their respects en route to paying homage to Jesus. They are astronomers, diviners, and wise men who also study the world’s great religious texts. Among these books is the Tanakh,¶ a collection of history, prophecy, poetry, and songs telling the story of the Jewish people. The wealthy foreigners travel almost a thousand miles over rugged desert, following an extraordinarily bright star that shines in the sky each morning before dawn. “Where is the one who has been born the king of the Jews?” they demand to know upon their arrival in Herod’s court. “We see his star in the east and have come to worship him.” **

Amazingly, the Magi carry treasure chests filled with gold and the sweet-smelling tree resins myrrh and frankincense. These priests are learned, studious men. Theirs is a life of analysis and reason. Herod can conclude only that either the Magi are out of their minds for risking the theft of such a great fortune in the vast and lawless Parthian desert or they truly believe this child to be the new king.

A furious Herod summons his religious advisers. As a secular man, he knows little about Jewish prophecies. Herod insists that these high priests and teachers of religious law tell him exactly where to find the new king.

The answer comes immediately: “In Bethlehem, in Judea.”

The teachers whom Herod is interrogating are humble men. They wear simple white linen caps and robes. But the bearded Temple priests are a far different story. They dress elaborately, in white-and-blue linen caps with a gold band on the brow, and blue robes adorned in bright tassels and bells. Over their robes they wear capes and purses adorned in gold and precious stones. On a normal day their garb distinguishes them from the people of Jerusalem. But even in his dissipated state, King Herod is the most regal man in the room by far. He continues to hector the teachers and priests. “Where is this so-called king of the Jews?”

“Bethlehem, in the land of Judah.” They quote verbatim from the words of the prophet Micah, some seven centuries earlier. “Out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.”

Herod sends the Magi on their way. His parting royal decree is that they locate the infant, then return to Jerusalem and tell Herod the child’s precise location so that he can venture forth to worship this new king himself.

The Magi see through this deceit. They never come back.

So it is that time passes and Herod realizes he must take action. From the windows of his fortress palace, he can see all of Jerusalem. To his left rises the great Temple, the most important and sacred building in all Judea. Perched atop a massive stone platform that gives it the appearance of a citadel rather than a simple place of worship, the Temple is a physical embodiment of the Jewish people and their ancient faith. The Temple was first built by Solomon in the tenth century B.C. It was leveled by the Babylonians in 586 B.C., and then the Second Temple was built by Zerubbabel and others under the Persians nearly seventy years later. Herod recently renovated the entire complex and expanded the Temple’s size to epic proportions, making it far larger than that of Solomon’s. The Temple and its courts are now a symbol not just of Judaism but of the evil king himself.

So it is ironic, as Herod frets and gazes toward Bethlehem, that Jesus and his parents have already traveled to Jerusalem twice and paid visits to that great stone fortress, built atop the site where the Jewish patriarch Abraham nearly sacrificed his own son, Isaac. The first visit came eight days after Jesus’s birth,†† so that he might be circumcised. There the child was formally named Jesus, in keeping with the prophecy. The second visit came when he was forty days old. The baby Jesus was brought to the Temple and formally presented to God, in keeping with the laws of the Jewish faith. His father, Joseph, a carpenter, dutifully purchased a pair of young turtledoves to be sacrificed in honor of this momentous occasion.

Something very strange and mystical occurred as Jesus and his parents entered the Temple on that day—something that hinted that Jesus might truly be a very special child. Two complete strangers, an old man and an old woman—neither of whom knew anything about this baby called Jesus or his fulfillment of prophecy—saw him from across the crowded place of worship and went to him.

Mary, Joseph, and Jesus were traveling in complete anonymity, avoiding anything that would draw attention to them. The old man’s name was Simeon, and he was of the belief that he would not die until he laid eyes upon the new king of the Jews. Simeon asked if he might hold the newborn. Mary and Joseph agreed. As Simeon took Jesus into his arms, he offered a prayer to God, thanking him for the chance to see this new king with his own eyes. Then Simeon handed Jesus back to Mary with these words: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul, too.”

At that very moment, a woman named Anna‡‡ also approached. She was an eighty-four-year-old widowed prophetess who spent all her waking hours in the Temple, fasting and praying. Simeon’s words were still ringing in Mary’s and Joseph’s ears when Anna stepped forth and also praised Jesus. She loudly thanked God for bringing this very special baby boy into the world. Then she made a most unusual claim, predicting to Mary and Joseph that their son would free Jerusalem from Roman rule.

Mary and Joseph marveled at Simeon’s and Anna’s words, flattered for the attention as all new parents would be, but also unsure what all this talk about swords and redemption truly meant. They finished their business and departed from the Temple into the bustling city of Jerusalem, both elated and fearful for the life their son might be destined to lead.

✝ ✝ ✝

If only Herod had known that Jesus had been so close—literally, less than six hundred yards from his throne room—his torment could have been relieved. But Jesus and his parents were just three more bodies making their way through the noisy bazaars and narrow, twisting streets en route to the Temple that day.

It is a temple that will stand forever as a monument to Herod’s greatness—or so he believes. Ironically, he is barely welcome inside its walls, thanks to his utter lack of devotion or faith and his ruthlessness in subjugating the Jewish people.

Beyond the Temple, on the far side of the Kidron Valley, rises the steep Mount of Olives, where shepherds tend their flocks on the grasses of the limestone-flecked hillsides. Soon will come the Passover feast, bringing with it tens of thousands of Hebrew pilgrims from all around Herod’s kingdom, eager to pay good money to purchase those sheep for a sacrificial slaughter in the great Temple.

In many ways, the slaughter of the babies in Bethlehem is no different. They are being sacrificed for the good of Herod’s rule—which is the same as saying they are being murdered in the name of the Roman Empire. Herod is nothing without Rome, a puppet who owes his kingdom completely to that brutal and all-powerful republic. It is his right and duty to propagate its oppressive ways. For Herod’s kingdom is different from any other under Rome’s iron fist. The Jewish people are an ancient civilization founded upon a belief system that is at odds with Rome’s, which worships many pagan deities instead of the one solitary Jewish god.

Herod is the intermediary in this precarious relationship. The Romans will hold him accountable for any problems caused by an alleged new king of the Jews. They will not tolerate a ruler they have not themselves chosen. And if the followers of this new “king” foment revolution, it is certain that the Romans will immediately step in to brutally crush this voice of dissent. Better that Herod handle it himself.

Herod cannot see Bethlehem from his palace, but it is roughly six miles away, on the far side of some low green hills. He cannot see the blood flowing in its streets right now, nor hear the wails of the terrified children and their parents. As Herod gazes out from his palace, he does so with a clean conscience. Let others condemn him for murdering more than a dozen infants. He will sleep well tonight, knowing that the killings are for the good of his reign, the good of Judea, and the good of Rome. If Caesar Augustus hears of this slaughter, he will surely understand: Herod is doing what must be done.

✝ ✝ ✝

Jesus and his family barely get out of Bethlehem alive. Joseph awakes from a terrifying dream and has a vision of what is to come. He rouses Mary and Jesus in the dead of night and they escape. Herod’s soldiers arrive too late. They butcher the babies in vain, fulfilling a prophecy made five hundred years earlier by the contrarian prophet Jeremiah.§§

There are many more prophecies about the life of Jesus outlined in Scripture. Slowly but surely, as this child grows to manhood, those predictions will also come true. Jesus’s behavior will see him branded as a revolutionary, known throughout Judea for his startling speeches and offbeat teachings. He will be adored by the Jewish people but will become a threat to those who profit from the populace: the high priests, the scribes, the elders, the puppet rulers of Judea, and, most of all, the Roman Empire.

And Rome does not tolerate a threat. Thanks to the examples of empires such as those of the Macedonians, Greeks, and Persians that came before them, the Romans have learned and mastered the arts of torture and persecution. Revolutionaries and troublemakers are dealt with in harsh and horrific fashion, in order that others won’t be tempted to copy their ways.

So it will be with Jesus. This, too, will fulfill prophecy.

All of that is to come. For now, Jesus is still an infant, cared for and loved by Mary and Joseph. He was born in a stable, visited by the Magi, presented with their lavish gifts, and is now on the run from Herod and the Roman Empire.¶¶

* There were actually two cities named Bethlehem, and both can make a claim for being the true site of the Nativity. The city of King David’s birth is located just a few miles from Jerusalem. Archaeological investigations have shown that it was either a very small village or relatively uninhabited at the time of Jesus’s birth. The second location is in Galilee, four miles from Nazareth. Supporters of that site believe that Mary’s full-term pregnancy would have made it very difficult for her to walk a hundred miles to the other location. Supporters of the traditional site point to the biblical prophecy that Jesus would be born in the City of David, which is the Bethlehem located near Jerusalem. The fact that Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem eight days after his birth, and then again on the fortieth day, would seem to tip the scales in favor of the traditional site.

† Genocide was replete throughout the Classical world. “He slits the wombs of pregnant women; he blinds the infants,” goes an ancient Assyrian poem. Genocide often was considered ethically justifiable if the killing was done to inflict revenge or thwart an aggressor.

‡ The Jewish homeland was first known as Israel, a “promised land” that God offered to his followers. The northern portion of this kingdom fell in 722 B.C. to the Philistines, while the Babylonians later conquered the southern half. The Roman conquest in 63 B.C. led to the area around Jerusalem being referred to as Judea. The whole region, including Galilee, was administratively part of the Roman province of Syria, and the terms Israel and Palestine were not used in Jesus’s time. Israel was once again put into use when the independent Jewish state was founded on May 14, 1948—almost four thousand years after the first Jews crossed into the Promised Land.

§ In order, the prophecies are Numbers 24:17, Micah 5:2–5, Jeremiah 23:5 and Isaiah 9:7, Psalms 72:10–11, and Isaiah 7:13–14.

¶ There are three dominant texts in the Jewish tradition: the Tanakh, the Torah, and the Talmud. The Tanakh constitutes the canonical collection of Jewish Scriptures and appears to have been compiled five hundred years before the birth of Christ. The Tanakh is also known as the Jewish Bible, while Christians refer to it as the Old Testament. The Torah is comprised of the first five books of the Tanakh: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The Talmud was written almost six hundred years later, after the fall of the Temple in A.D. 70. Rabbinical teachings, commentaries, and philosophies were compiled so that they might be passed on in written, rather than oral, form.

** In 1991, The Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society (volume 32, pages 389–407) noted that Chinese astronomers had observed a long-tailed, slow-moving comet in their skies during March of 5 B.C. This sui-hsing, or “star,” hung in the Capricorn region for more than seventy days. This same comet would have been visible in the skies over Persia, home of the Magi, in the hours just before dawn. Due to the earth’s orbital motion, the comet’s light would have been directly in front of the Magi during their journey—hence, they would have truly followed the star.

†† The month of March coincides with Gospel descriptions of shepherds tending their flocks on the hillside, as this is also lambing season. December 25, which we now celebrate as the date of Jesus’s birth, was chosen and named Christmas—a shortening of Christ’s Mass, or the mass in honor of Jesus’s birth—by the Romans once their empire became Christian in the fourth century. For the Romans, that date was once the conclusion of an orgiastic pagan holiday known as Saturnalia. Once they set aside their more lascivious ways, it made sense to replace that celebration with a day commemorating the birth of their new savior.

‡‡ Anna is referred to as a “prophetess” in the Gospel of Luke. This makes her the only female in the New Testament so honored. This designation meant she saw things that were hidden from ordinary people. This also means that she held a higher calling than Simeon, who is merely praised by the same author as being “righteous and devout.” Luke also mentions the name of Anna’s tribe, that of Asher, which makes her a rarity among New Testament characters.

§§ The exact number of years that Jesus lived is widely debated, but the conclusion that he was born sometime in the spring of either 6 or 5 B.C. is based on clear historical evidence, as Herod the Great died in 4 B.C. The date of Jesus’s death was on the fourteenth day of Nisan. The annual start of Passover is dependent upon lunar charts, so his death can be pinpointed to have occurred on a Friday in the years a.d. 27–30. History shows that Jesus was executed when Pilate and Caiaphas both ruled in Judea, which occurred A.D. 26–37, making the date of A.D. 30, and his age at the time of death, logical—though still the subject of great discussion.

¶¶ The most insightful facts, quotes, and stories about Jesus that we know come from the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Many today challenge these writings, but thanks to scholarship and archaeology, there is growing acceptance of their overall historicity and authenticity. Many scholars believe that Matthew was written in Greek by the disciple and former tax collector, sometime between A.D. 50 and 70. Mark was written by John Mark, a close friend of Peter’s who most likely learned of Jesus through the preaching of Peter. Matthew and Mark are incredibly similar, leading many to wonder if Matthew used Mark as a reference—or vice versa. Luke was a friend of Paul, the former Pharisee who became a convert to Christianity and preached even more zealously than the disciples. The Gospel of Luke was written for a Gentile audience, with a theme of salvation at its center. John was written by the disciple, and its focus is evangelism. John’s Gospel is written in Greek, and is long believed to have been the last Gospel written. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as the Synoptic Gospels, due to the many ways in which they agree with one another. All four Gospels together are known as the Canonical Gospels, as they form the essential canon of the Christian faith. John wrote independently of the other Gospel writers, using his unique eyewitness testimony in the same manner as Matthew. If he did, indeed, write his Gospel last, then John would have had the final say on the life of Jesus—not just confirming what the others had written but adding the definitive chronology and sequence of events. The fact that John not only was there at every pivotal moment in Jesus’s ministry, and thus able to describe many scenes with vivid first-person imagery, but was also Jesus’s closest confidant among the disciples (“the disciple whom Jesus loved,” he boasts in John 20:02, in yet another example of the disciples grappling for prestige and power in the eyes of their leader) only adds to the power of his narrative.

Copyright © 2013 by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard

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Killing Jesus: A History 3.8 out of 5 based on 4 ratings. 694 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read the book before writing a review. This book is about a man who said he was the son of God. The book is not about democrats, republicans or anyother political party. O'Reilly & Dugard notate Bible passages, they use acient historian Josephus and Roman records. I do not like the title but that's what the Jewish leaders did. I did use my Bible and the complete works of Josephus to make sure what I read was correct. The only thing I could not find is that "Herod prefers soft leather leggings that have been stained purple" I'm not so worried about his choice of legging as I am about the main idea of the story, the death of Jesus. If you believe that the Bible is the Word of God you will like this book.
Diwms More than 1 year ago
I have read part of this book but I haven't finished it yet but I can tell it is well researched and written in a manner that makes non fiction enjoyable. I always read the reviews first, as I do with every book i buy, and when i see reviews that call him a white racist who hates democrates and nothing about the book, then i realize that these people aren't reviewing. They are just spewing their hatred and probably couldn't get through a book like this. It also is indicative of the split in this country and of the attitude that if a person's views differ from yours, then they are racist, stupid etc.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Like they did in the other two "Killing Books" , O'Reilly and Duggard do an excellent job of weaving together familar facts we know with new material and providing the historical continuity to present a very readable and enjoyable book. I especially enjoyed the detailed narrative of the final week of Jesus' life and his ultimate death. Another topic: It is truly sad to read the one sentence reviews and single star ratings, noting nothing more than their dislike of Bill O'Reilly. I am sure few, if any, of these "reviewers" have actually read the book. Unfortunately, they seem to be achieving their singular goal of driving down the ratings. A truly sad expression of their hatred and quite opposite the message Jesus brought us.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anyone that brings up the fact that it has to do with being a member of a particular government group has obviously not read this book. This book DOES however share a very unbiased look at the real life of Jesus. No matter what denomination you are (or if you even have one), it is a very insighful, very well written, and enjoyable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It has been a long time that I read a book that I didn't want to put down. In the beginning of the book they clearly state that they are not trying to prove the deity of Jesus. What they did was take the events of history in that time and make then come to life. I did learn a lot in a way that was easy and exciting to read. I wish they would have elaborated in some area, but realize that they can't cover every event that happened. Very good book and would recommend reading it, wether you are a Christian or someone that just wants to know more about history.
SharynR More than 1 year ago
Everyone needs to read this book, the history of the times is not always known. O'Reilly is great with the facts. If you are a student of the Bible you know what the scripture tells but I think it is important to hear others who wrote about this incident at the time. I recommend Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy if you enjoy history.
Barbara2 More than 1 year ago
I have read the two other "Killing" books by Bill O'Reilly and thought they were great. I was a little disappointed in this book, but I realize this is a very sensitive and difficult subject. They did a very good job as far as giving the history of the times, but it was very hard to get to know the real Jesus as he did not say that much or let himself be known. The discussions on the crucifixion and the barbarous way that people were treated in those days was very well researched. I know that Mr. O'Reilly is a Catholic, but he did not come to any definite conclusion as to the validity of the resurrection. All in all, a very interesting read.
MystiqueoftheSnake More than 1 year ago
Bill O'Reilly is a man of integrity and grit. He writes the best books in the market today. His books are page-turners keeping readers on their toes and hungry for more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a professional book critic and amateur biblical historian, I was looking forward to Mr O'Reilly's latest installment, "Killing Jesus". How, after finishing it, I was greatly disappointed. I was expecting a historical interpretation of the gospels and other available sources, but what I got was as often down book chalk full of Christian mythology and mistranslations (for example, as every first year theological student should be able to tell you---Joseph was described as a tekton; that is, a builder, and Mary Magdalene was not a "prostitute". That was a misreading which theologians acknowledged and usually try to correct. There are others). While I'm not knocking his faith, it seems there is more "bible" and less history in this latest work. As a historical fiction work, however, the book is generally well written and entertaining.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book made me cry... it was so bad. This is a diatribe for a particular view of Jesus, and it isn't pretty. There is far too much 'history' of the Roman Empire, none of which has scholarly citations, and there are unnecessary portraits of the sexual habits of the Roman royalty: Why was that important>? The 'author' attempts to reconstruct the 'historical Jesus' but without the authority of actual scholars. There is no bibliography, nor notes to verify his statements, and too many of his statements are over simplifications, and just plain bad theology. The narrator's voice is snide, openly shares his opinions as facts, and makes general statements like "traditional teaching.." when there is no citation at all. Old opinions of false teaching do nohing to bolster his view of Jesus. The actual gospels are manipulated, mashing Jesus' life together in a way that misrepresents the truth of the gospels. He also misquotes the Hebrew scripture and cherry picks prophets and 'proof texts.' This was excruciating to finish, and this would not convince me of any scholarship, his view of 'history Jesus' nor of his faith. Sadly, too many people who don't/won't study the scripture think this book is good. Sad the state of education in this country, but sadder still the state of people who think this 'book' explains the life of Christ. This appears to be a narcissistic exercise to crank more cash from an unsuspecting public. Do not buy this book... want to know Jesus? Read the gospels..
tractorman More than 1 year ago
Very well written and unbelievably interesting to read. Great insight to the times and conditions surrounding the times of Jesus. Am very pleased to have purchased and read. Helps prove that Jesus existed and..... was God. Thanks Bill and Martin
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this an interesting read. Learning about the politics of the time added to the story of Jesus's crucifixion, and what was going on around him.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great story teller is one who can tell you a story you already know and still keep you engaged;  wanting to hear more . O'Reilly and Dugard are great story tellers. My guess is that the people who hate this book are those who already  hate O'Reilly's politics and probably haven't taken the time to read Killing Jesus Get it, read it and enjoy it.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really like the writing style. It is history written so all can comprehend. The chapters are short and to the point but with enough details to draw all readers. All three of the "Killing... books are fast reading factual historical accounts. Highly recommended. Another excellent historical novel on the Nook is "The Partisan" by William Jarvis. Both books deserve A+++++
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow...seventeen pages and I am interested; great introduction that pulls a reader right in. The Tau Cross on the cover is a surprising and historically-accurate choice; I like it. Definitely wondering from whence all the medical records for Herod stem.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved Bill O'Reilly's and Martin Dugard's other books, Killing Kennedy and Killing Lincoln but that's because I took everything I read as absolute truth. I trusted that the information given was 100% correct. I don't know that it wasn't but if I base it on Killing Jesus I know that that information is not all correct in that book, nor all inclusive. The first major omission was no mention of the first communion given to the Apostles on Thursday, the evening of the last supper. Oh yeah...what about the fact that Jesus was resurrected Sunday morning and was seen by others walking and talking. The book states that the stone was rolled away and the tomb was empty. If you're going to recite some portions of the Bible then what happened to these two blaring omissions? Another thing, you state in the book April 4th., Thursday, was the last supper. That should make the day Jesus was crucified Friday, April 5th, but you say April 7th and state that Sunday was April 9th. Something is wrong there, I don't know which dates are correct if any at all. All in all I expected more and was very disappointed with the conclusion of the book. I respect Bill O'Reilly greatly, and know he has a Christian background so I don't know why he chose not to include this information. I also question the conclusion of the book when he talks about the locations of the Apostles at the time of their demise.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Disappointed in the book, if you know nothing of Jesus or the Church, it's a good beginners book for minimal knowledge, not accuracy. Other than that, I would not recommend this book.
hittman More than 1 year ago
I haven't had a chance to finish it yet but am about a third of the way thru and am really enjoying this book. There is so much that I didn't know and am learning with every page.
SusanThies More than 1 year ago
We all know the ending BUT I wish the authors would have written separate books of the various individuals in the book so more details could have been given. 228 pages certainly were not enough space for the information we were given. This book is comparable to KILLING KENNEDY. We were there when both men lived their lives & also there when their lives ended so violently. Question, who will be the next book be about & promise to make it just as intriguing?
Keyman1017 More than 1 year ago
The concept of modernizing the story will make it easier than reading the biblical version. I recommend it for anyone who would like to know more background but are uncomfortable with the bible itself.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book is interesting but is not historically accurate in that it perpetuates the myth the Mary Magdalene was a prostitute. This is completely untrue and is an invention of the Catholic church designed to minimize to role of women in early Christianity. Also, the Romans are portrayed as moral degenerates and sinister thugs who kill anyone who opposes the Roman Empire. The first part of the book that describes the historical context of the time is well done and adds insight into the rest of the story. Anyone who reads the book should be aware of these inaccuracies.
western_coyote More than 1 year ago
Bill O’Reilly says Killing Jesus is a history book, but you have to wonder what he considers a historical writing. A history book or account is one that is based on the writings or other evidence taken from a certain period and analyzed for factuality. Usually political ethnic, national, religious advocacy is not necessarily considered factual. Of course the religious view is that the accounts given by the apostles Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John, are factual in addition to promoting a religious message. But O’Reilly takes much of his biographical narrative of Jesus life from the gospels and to call his book historical must be based on his conviction that the gospels are factual. I purchased the book in the expectation of learning of hard to find material about the time that Jesus lived. O’Reilly does sprinkle the biography of Jesus with random facts about Roman practices but these observations are not exactly important for the story except perhaps to emphasize the brutality of Roman rule and practice. I was skeptical of the idea that there is biographical material for Jesus outside of the gospel accounts, and reading of the book confirms this skepticism. As far as I know there is no source for this material other than the gospels. The Jewish writer, Josephus, a contemporary of Jesus, does mention a person that is looked upon as a messiah by many persons of the time. I have never come across a non-gospel confirmation of the Jesus story from his contemporary times other than this. Of course Romans had much to say about Jesus in the centuries to follow, but they were all inspired by the gospels. So I would say there is not much new here. If a person is not familiar with the gospel accounts of Jesus life, it could be a good buy, otherwise, not so much.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very well-researched book. Excellent historical references to events and places. Hard to believe the cruelty that the ruling class wielded on those who were their subjects. I now have a totally new appreciation for the times in which Jesus lived and the impact He had on that world, and subsequently on ours.
Doc--K More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent read. Absorbing and enlightening. A must read for all.
Cyndy3 More than 1 year ago
O.Reilly and Dugard take the synoptic Gospels as history. They aren't. If you are looking for an entertaining read as to how it MIGHT have goen down, this may be for you. If you are looking for an understanding of the historical Jesus, you should read "Zealot" by Rezan Aslan. I'm a practicing Christian but I find the authors presenting materail as "fact" when we have no way of knowing to be disturbing. In the Kennedy and Lincoln books, there was some decent research underlying their tale, but here the research seems faulty (see some of the other revies for more on this topic).