As an ordained clergyman and fan of Bill O’Reilly I was eagerly anticipating his newest work, Killing Jesus. It is an entertaining and informative work of historical fiction, or at least fictionalized history. O’Reilly claims that this is not a religious book, but that is like saying his works on the assassination of President Lincoln and President Kennedy were not political books. One cannot write about the person and work of Jesus, especially about His death, without it being a religious book. Even the attempt to do so is in fact a religious decision.
One such decision, and the greatest flaw of the book in my opinion, is that O’Reilly often favors secular historical accounts and “known” common practice over the account given in the New Testament. Also, the authors conclude that the motivation for the killing of Jesus was that He interfered with the money flow between the people and the religious and political leaders. While following the money is often a good idea in seeking out motive, it is clear that in an effort to be “non-religious” the authors have overstated their case. They missed the religious fervor behind the Pharisees, Sadducees, Chief Priests, Scribes, and elders who believed that by claiming to be the Son of God Jesus was a blasphemer and so worthy of the death penalty.
The book is filled with historical details and color that likely will add much to the television movie already in the works. It does a good job setting the events of Jesus into the historical context of the first Century and in pulling together the political and religious events that surrounded the life of Jesus. It also graphically describes the gruesome nature of crucifixion. While leaving out any of the appearances of the resurrected Jesus the authors do point to the fact that the tomb was indeed empty on Easter morning and that the body of Jesus has never been found. They also point out how many eyewitnesses gave their lives in defense of their accounts of having seen the risen Jesus and how even now, some 2000 years later more than 2 billion people believe that Jesus died for their sin, rose from the dead, has ascended to heaven and will come again. This story, His story, is history and while O’Reilly and Dugard have written another best seller, if you want to know the truth about Jesus I suggest reading the bestselling book of all time – it’s called The Holy Bible.
Posted by Jim Ritter, Library Clerk