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Killing Jesus: A 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.

293 pages, Hardcover

First published September 24, 2013

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About the author

Bill O'Reilly

80 books2,724 followers
Bill O'Reilly's success in broadcasting and publishing is unmatched. The iconic anchor of The O'Reilly Factor led the program to the status of the highest rated cable news broadcast in the nation for sixteen consecutive years. His website BillOReilly.com is followed by millions all over the world.

In addition, he has authored an astonishing 12 number one ranked non-fiction books including the historical "Killing" series. Mr. O'Reilly currently has 17 million books in print.

Bill O'Reilly has been a broadcaster for 42 years. He has been awarded three Emmys and a number of other journalism accolades. He was a national correspondent for CBS News and ABC News as well as a reporter-anchor for WCBS-TV in New York City, among other high-profile jobs.

Mr. O'Reilly received two other Emmy nominations for the movies "Killing Kennedy" and "Killing Jesus."

He holds a history degree from Marist College, a master’s degree in Broadcast Journalism from Boston University, and another master’s degree from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Bill O'Reilly lives on Long Island where he was raised. His philanthropic enterprises have raised tens of millions for people in need and wounded American veterans.


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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,527 reviews
Profile Image for Krissie.
96 reviews
October 3, 2013

When I borrowed this book from the library, the guy who checked me out looked like he thought I was weird for getting out a book with such an "interesting" title. It also didn't help much that you don't see a lot of 17-year-olds checking out a book about Jesus written by that Fox News guy whose name may leave a sour taste in some people's mouths.

But don't let the title fool you. This book really is historical. And it's not only about Jesus. It's about political and religious leaders, both Jewish and Roman alike, as they wade through conflicts, rivalries, and fear while trying to figure out what to do with this miraculous, albeit threatening, man called Jesus.

What I liked most about this book is that it depicts Jesus as a real man of intellect with real fear about his impending demise; it follows Jesus throughout his ministry and up to his death but doesn't go so in-depth as to be theological and "preachy". We even get some brief info in the afterword of what happened to the disciples after Jesus' crucifixion, which I enjoyed. The authors really know how to tell a story.

This book was enthralling, and I learned more than I thought I would. I just got schooled by Mr. O'Reilly and Mr. Dugard--and it was pretty awesome.
Profile Image for Jim Razinha.
1,294 reviews67 followers
September 1, 2021
[Edit/update, August 31, 2021... I'm leaving the entire original review for reference because although I've learned a lot more since then, I like to preserve my mindset at the time. For the TLDR crowd, here is the summary:
- O'Reilly and Dugard claimed their entire book was based on facts
- They did not provide any primary sources for any of their facts (because none exist)
- Unsourced, unverifiable claims are opinion, not fact
- I really don't care about O'Reilly...who he is he's not relevant because I hold any author of history to the same standard: cite sources or caveat your work in acceptable disclaimers. David McCullough is a respected author of histories, and the work of his that I have read had no citations, sources, or any references... and so is just opinion.
- It is not incumbent on the reader to "do the research" that the authors did not
- A priori arguments are logical fallacies]

This is a very fast read...if you don't stop to check on the countless elements the authors present as "facts". I got tired researching during the first third, and as it was still a familiar story, I stopped trying for the rest of the book. They get two stars for writing an engaging, imaginative work of supposition, peppered with some actually historical information. They would get one star for sloppy off-handed non-scholarship, but I gave them the extra one for the effort. Disclaimer: I consider Bill O'Reilly to be a pretty smart television personality who has built a popular persona in which he says what he wants to get ratings, bullies his guests and yells louder when they prove him wrong. He's a hack. I have no opinion on Martin Dugard.

In the "A Note to Readers", O'Reilly says "[i]n the writing of this fact-based book..." It takes very little research to call out 15 or 20 questionable "facts" just from the first few pages...there are several even before getting into the book. Example: O'Reilly says "[b]y the way, both Lincoln and Kennedy believed Jesus was God." Lincoln's colleague, friend, bodyguard and biographer Colonel Ward Lamon says he did not believe in the divinity of Jesus. Other accounts differ but that the opposing evidence is neither refuted nor even presented, well, the cherry-picking indicates the standard to which the authors did their research. Standard apologist work: start with a premise, argue for its truth, ignore the clearly contradictory, dismiss dissent.

Their persistent reference to and descriptions of Nazareth are not qualified with respect to there being no scholarly agreement on anything related to Nazareth, or even the references within the Bible. Instead of using qualifiers such as "some agree that", or "most sources indicate that", the entire book is written as "fact". This tells me that the authors started with popular legend and then found corroborating materials...anything close...and disregarded the rest.

In the Afterword, the authors deceptively state "Roman writers of the period referenced his name..." Actually, there are no references in any writings "of the period"...even the Gospels finally voted into the canon 400 years later were not likely written until long after "the period". Pliny the Younger, writing nearly 100 years later, talks about a "Christus", and yet O'Reilly and Dugard claim that as a mention of Jesus.

To be fair, hidden way in the back of the book in that Afterword, the authors finally admit that some of their story is "consigned to legend." Odd that the authors state with such certainty that John the apostle was 94 when he died, having written both the gospel of his name AND the book of Revelation. Modern scholars not only do not feel that the apostle John wrote anything (or that anything at all is certain about him), but that Revelation was written by a completely different author. It is this kind of sloppy reference that screams out to anyone with more than a Sunday school knowledge of the subject.

Now, in the postscript, O'Reilly says they had "to separate fact from myth based upon a variety of sources." There are no primary sources, no secondary sources - even the references in Josephus have been discredited as later editing/insertions. There is only legend and true scholarship would sift the stories for convergence and divergence and attempt to determine when the legends arose, how they spread and how they grew over time. Of course, that would involve access to sources in languages unknown to the authors, and unavailable to the public, but that doesn't seem to have fazed them. O'Reilly makes a living spouting whatever he wants without seeming to care if anyone believes it or questions it. Given his long career, there are numerous instances where he contradicts himself when convenient (whether deliberate or not), regardless of what he said in the past. I expected better from a book on this subject. Silly me.
Profile Image for Brian.
Author 3 books27 followers
September 27, 2013
Imagine going to a baseball game and only being able to see the pitcher and catcher. You'd see them playing catch, throwing hard, discussing strategy, flashing signs, nodding, etc. Much would be confusing, though. Then, imagine you suddenly were able to see the rest of the field, the other players and the opposing team. Everything about what the pitcher and catcher do would make more sense.

To me, that's what this book does. Nothing in here about Jesus' life was new. However, all the historical context suddenly came together for me. The politics of Jews & Romans. Why Herod is who he is. Why the Sanhedrin acts the way it does. Why the apostles don't get so many of Jesus' references while He's still alive.

Reading this book is like getting all the historical context filled in around all the events, stories and scriptures that are so familiar.

Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Carol.
1,370 reviews2,157 followers
May 24, 2016
3.5 Stars

Bill O'Reilly's KILLING JESUS begins with the heading: Bethlehem, Judea.....March, 5 B.C......Morning. "THE CHILD WITH THIRTY-SIX YEARS LEFT TO LIVE IS BEING HUNTED."

This is a violent story set both in Judea and Rome where a condemned man could be killed in a variety of horrific manners including "hanging, burning alive, beheading, being placed inside a bag filled with scorpions, then drowned.....or crucifixion." It follows the life of Jesus as a carpenter to when he first began spreading the word of God, and details many shocking events and historical people of the time right through to the end including the lifestyle, unbelievably disgusting ailments and horrific acts of Herod the Great.

Of the four KILLING books I've read, this is my least favorite, but interesting and informative just the same, with many footnote references and maps enabling the reader to follow his path. Growing up Catholic, I've heard the gospels read many a Sunday in my life, admit to learning a few things about Jesus during this read, and question a few others.

As stated in the NOTE TO READERS, this is not a religious book, but a story about a man who made very powerful enemies while preaching love and peace when emperors were considered gods and high priests were threatened by any adversary.

Profile Image for Cassandra Cantrell.
70 reviews10 followers
September 29, 2013
Political commentators and roman historians should leave biblical scholarship to the biblical scholars. The biggest affront is the Mary Magdalene as prostitute which has been recanted and well known not to be true! Also, nothing new was presented! anyone with even just a bit of biblical education would already know the information presented in this so-called "scholarly" work!
Profile Image for Jason Golomb.
288 reviews28 followers
January 5, 2014
Just so I'm laying my cards on the table: I'm Jewish. I'm not deeply religious, but I was certainly brought up to believe that I was of the "chosen people", and all Christians, no matter the "flavor" were "them", while I was an "us".

And then I married one of "them". And all three of my kids are raised to be "them"...Catholic no less. I'm still Jewish, but I've reconciled the them and us. I even loved visiting The Vatican...TWICE!

I received this book as a Christmas gift this year. The problem with popular narrative fiction is distinguishing between the history and the narrative needed to fill in the gaps of the historical record. I don't feel that this was done successfully nor frictionlessly here. It's hard to strike a balance between interesting and in-depth, and "Killing Jesus" takes a definitive lean towards 'interesting'.

O'Reilly and Dugard have written three very popular histories. O'Reilly’s more known for his tv-based bombast, but Dugard has some serious writing cred. The authors are not out to create a definitive history, nor are they looking to add their voices to the plethora of theological treatise on Jesus.

Context is really what this book is about. Many pages are spent outlining the world Jesus was born into. Julius Caesar had been assassinated, and the Roman Empire was split by back-to-back civil wars. Judaea sat in the middle of that empire, and while was firmly under the thumb of a Roman Emperors; it also enjoyed religious freedom...as well as high taxes.

Like many (all) revolutionary leaders, Jesus appeals to the poor, the downtrodden and he is reviled by the rich and powerful like Herod Antipas, who was installed as a puppet ruler by the Romans in Judea. His growing popularity rubs at the established order: Roman leadership, but also Jewish religious leadership. The characters, as portrayed by O'Reilly and Dugard, are very one-dimensional - they're good, they're bad and there's little nuance in between. The Jewish religious leaders are thinly painted as notorious Roman sycophants focused on maintaining the status quo, including their station and comfort.

"Killing Jesus" is an historical overview. None of the historical elements of the narrative are dealt with deeply. While this is a work of history, any serious reader of history won't last past the first couple of pages. There are a few notations on references at the end of the book, but there are neither references nor annotations.

If you're looking for conversational pocket change, then this book fits the bill. It's straightforward, engaging and an easy historical read. If you're looking for philosophy, detailed history, and theology, you're best off looking elsewhere. And, by the way, I believe the authors of "Killing Jesus" would agree.
37 reviews
September 19, 2013
About twenty pages in, I started treating this book as historical fiction, rather than a serious attempt to delve into the history of Jesus of Nazareth. I think it may very well prove to be popular, but it is very unfortunate timing to be released so close to Reza Aslan's Zealot, a far superior book in terms of research. Even choosing to interpret the book as a novel doesn't stop the many "oh my god, are you serious?" moments. I'm no historian, but it would seem that the Old Testament has been treated as identical to the many and varied Jewish scriptures, and the New Testament has been treated as, well, gospel. Maybe I'm biased (being agnostic), but it really reads like propaganda from conservative Christians.

It did prove to be highly-readable, however. Somewhat like if Lee Child or John Grisham decided to re-write the bible.
Profile Image for Elaine.
312 reviews58 followers
November 30, 2013
Wow! a history of the day that Jesus was murdered! That, I was very interested in, especially since, in my opinion it was the day that changed the entire trajectory of civilization. Since B&N allows prospective buyers to read a sample of the ebooks they're selling, I was reassured, not only by the title, but by Bill O'Reilly's vowing that this was a history, not just a retelling of the Gospels, which I have read. I have also been reading modern translations of the Jewish Bible. These translations are not evangelical. They are translations by scholars familiar, not only with Hebrew and Aramaic, but also other Semitic languages like Assyrian and Babylonian. Robert Alter's fascinating translations are excellent, as is Tanakh, The Jewish Bible, which is also translated from the originals by scholars familiar with the incredible number of commentaries on it from ancient times to now. Rereading both scholarly translations made me even more want to read O'Reilly's book,

It didn't take long to see that O'Reilly's billing this as a fact-based book, not a religious one, is not true. And it promises to tell you that it will teach you things you never knew . Where is this new knowledge? Certainly, not in this book. I've already read the Gospels, and have discussed them with Christians of all stripes. Most of the people I have deep friendships with, and most of my friends and others whom I just know casually, believe in the Gospels. I don't intend to diminish anybody's faith. I don't claim that the Gospels are not holy writ. I grew up with African American Protestants and Irish American Catholics. We all played together and all took part in street corner discussions. Coming from a very religious home as well, I was steeped in the Old Testament, translated from the Masoretic text ,since childhood on.

I knew that O''Reillly's claim to write history, not Catholic doctrine, was misleading by the time I got p. 12 of a 228 page tome. And this is where and why I find this book of no value as a history. After horror stories of Herod, which are probably true, O'Reilly suddenly says that Jewish prophets had claimed that there were five "specific occurrences that will ....confirm the new Messiah's birth." Where these prophecies occur in the Jewsish Biblle, he doesn't say. Nor could he. These five signs are in the Gospels, which were written a century and more after the events they relate in order to persuade pagans to convert to Christianity.

I reread the prophets in the Tanakh, and found no mention of a virgin bearing a child. There is a sentence about a woman bearing a child who was a direct descendent of King David. The word for virgin> is not used, only the word for woman>. This I'd known since I was a child. Moreover, for 37 years I taught at a college run by the Dominican Order of Priests,, known especially as "keepers of the faith " In casual conversations, I was told that the Cahholic hierarchy had finally corrected this translation.

Despite Jesus' simplicity and lack of organization, St. Paul and St.Mark, among others, were writing from oral sources, which are notoriously non-factual, but, more so, they were writing to convince people to join the Church, which early on had formed a hierarchy. The more people who joined and were willing to donate money to the priesthood, the more prosperous the fledgling Church would become. St. Mark is an example. I believe his Gospel was written 350 years after Jesus' death. St. Mark said, "If the Jews are right, Christians are wrong" and vice versa. His Gospel denigrates the Jews, and marks the beginning virulent anti-Jewishness of the Church.

O'Reilly and other Catholics have said that Mary was at risk of being stoned for bearing a baby out of wedlock. However, Jewsish law decrees that if an unmarried woman becomes pregnant by an unmarried man, the two are automatically considered married. No stonings are mentioned. Since men were allowed more than one wife in Biblical times, this rule was extended to a child born out of wedlock if conceived by an unmarried woman. Nor was death by stoning if a young man argued religion with Elders. A bar Mitzvah boy was expected--and is still expected--to critique prior interpretations. Jesus was doing what a boy does in his Bar Mktzvah year.

Another problem arises with the assertion that the Messiah be descended from King David. That problem is that Jesus (whose name in Hebrew is Joshua> can only descend from Joseph. It is he, not Mary, who is in The David line. If Joseph wasn't the father of Jesus, then Jesus didn't come from David's line

If you are looking for a simplified version of the Gospels, and how they explain Christian belief, this is a good book for you. But, if, as I was, you are looking for the facts surrounding the murder of Jesus, forget this one
Profile Image for C.D. Coffelt.
Author 3 books32 followers
September 25, 2013
Initially, I didn’t intend to buy this book. I read and enjoyed the other books by this duo, Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy, but the title of this one made me squirm. Still, I was intrigued after reading the first chapter.

Killing Jesus is historical. Not a religious book. It gives context and sensory texture to the background to the life of Christ, pulling eyewitness accounts from the Bible but also from sources of the day. Historian Josephus and Roman accounts of the times painted a rich scene. The authors used the dust of the roads, taste of the olives, and heat from the sun to give the reader a flavor of the world of Jesus. I learned about the harsh worlds of a soldier, the Roman Senate, and of treachery. The historical accounts of the deaths of the Disciples, of Pontius Pilate, and the high priests provided a satisfactory closure.

This book comes from the point of view of a man, his angers and fears. Insight into his emotion and possibly his thoughts caused me to consider the attributes of Jesus long after I read the last page. It is up to the individual’s faith as to whether the man, Jesus, was also the Son of God. That conclusion is left up to the reader. The authors do not try to sway the reader one way or the other. Again, this is a historical accounting not religious.

Five stars. And put me in the column of Son of God.
439 reviews6 followers
October 20, 2013
Forget, for a moment, that Bill O'Reilly was one of the co-authors of this book. In order to fairly consider the plusses and minuses of Killing Jesus, one must first set aside any strong feelings (positive or negative) that one might have about the Fox News pundit. Only then can we begin to assess the various strengths and weaknesses of the book.

That said, I still give Killing Jesus three stars. Certainly, there are some problems with the book. But there is enough that is good about it to warrant a recommendation of at least "average."

First, the problems. It is very important to keep in mind that Killing Jesus is not a scholarly work... nor does it pretend to be. It is a popular work, written primarily for "person in the pew" laity who are trying to come to a better understanding of who Jesus was, how Jesus lived, and why Jesus was crucified. This, of course, isn't really a "problem;" but it becomes problematic if one tries to turn the book into a serious work of New Testament scholarship. Judged by that standard, the work has serious flaws and would be considered to be quite a failure. But judged by a more popular, and less academic, standard... the book really does have a positive value.

A quick laundry list of some of the text's weaknesses would include:

- A sort of "pick and choose" referencing to all four canonical gospels, in telling the story, not just of the death of Jesus, but of most of His life and ministry. This is problematic, not because the texts cited are somehow in error, but because, since each of the four gospels were written by different people, at different times, for different audiences, under the influence of different social and theological pressures, it is not so easy (or helpful) to simply cobble together an extended narrative from those four sources (without constantly referencing the unique context and perspective of each.) This results in a somewhat uneven, and at times inconsistent telling of the Jesus story.

For example, all four gospels recount Jesus' cleansing of the temple, in which He turned over the tables of the moneychangers and drove out the animals being sold for use as sacrificial offerings. In the Synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke this event takes place near the end of Jesus' ministry, after His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. In John, it takes place near the beginning of Jesus' ministry. Killing Jesus takes this to mean that Jesus actually cleansed the temple on two separate occasions; but the consensus of New Testament scholarship recognizes that this is unlikely, and that John simply included this important event in Jesus' ministry at the start of his gospel for narrative/theological reasons. In fairness, the authors do explain (in a footnote) what I mention above; but it still creates some confusion in the minds readers who have been taught (probably correctly) that Jesus cleansed the temple but once.

- A tendency to mix "traditional" material with "historical/biblical" material, while not always clearly distinguishing between the two. Example: assuming that the four canonical gospels were actually written by the disciples whose names they bear. While not impossible, the vast unlikeliness of this fact is acknowledged by a large majority of New Testament scholars. Ancient Roman and Jewish writers (like, for instance, Josephus) are widely referenced... but not always with an explanation that their works are not always free from tradition, corruption, and political agenda. Another example: assuming as fact that Mary Magdalene was at one time a prostitute. There is no evidence of this in the biblical texts; it is a tradition that has grown up around Mary, and many scholars doubt it. But the book takes it as fact. The gospels tell us that Jesus once exorcized seven demons from Mary Magdalene... but this fact does not make her a prostitute.

- An overemphasis on "taxation" as being one of the root issues behind Jesus' ministry, and the desire of people to follow Him.

These aren't the only problems with the book; but this at least gives you a taste of what I'm talking about.

On the positive side, I would mention:

- The book does a very nice job of presenting some of the background of the Roman Republic and Empire that is helpful in understanding the events portrayed in the gospels. The political/social context of the Roman world is discussed in an engaging and understandable way, which I think most people would easily grasp.

- The book lacks a lot of technical jargon which can be confusing to non-scholars; it's written in a very conversational and understandable style.

- On the whole, the book does provide a wealth of information about Jesus, the first century world, and the overall vision of the gospels, which I think that most laypeople would find beneficial. No, it's not a perfect presentation; but, given the general lack of any kind of biblical understanding which afflicts a growing number of American Christians, anything that helps to fill in the nuances of the New Testament picture is, I think, helpful.

- The discussion/description of crucifixion is interesting and compelling; and adds some good insight to what can be, for those of us who have been in the church for years, and have heard the Passion narratives many times, a rote recitation of that part of Jesus' story.

- There is a very nice "Sources" section at the end of the book; which includes some writers and works that I would highly recommend. For example, the writers mention: Raymond Brown's magisterial work "The Death of the Messiah," "Jesus, the Final Days," by N.T. Wright and Craig Evans, "Jesus Under Fire," edited by Michael Wilkins and J. P. Moreland, and even "Mere Christianity," by C. S. Lewis. Frankly, if you're not keen on reading Killing Jesus, I would very strongly recommend any of the very fine works listed above.

At the end of the day, I think that Killing Jesus does more good than harm. Is it a "must read" book? No, not at all. But at the same time, is it a book that can be helpful, especially to busy believers who would like to expand their understanding of the life and ministry of the Lord? Yes, I think that it is.
Profile Image for Squire.
351 reviews1 follower
October 9, 2013
This is an account of the known (and unknown) facts concerning the way the historical Jesus lived, died and influenced the world. Miracles are mentioned as rumors, accounts of eyewitnesses or not mentioned at all. Great pains are taken to remove any hint of religious fervor in the narration and the result is a very readable account of the life and death of the world's most famous human being.

Virtually all modern historians agree that Jesus existed. The question is "how acurate are the depictions of him in the survivng documents?" Can Roman historians be trusted in their accounts of events? Especially when each presents a different portrait of Jesus? For that matter, how can you objectively trust the accounts of events written by people that are based on the oral histories passed down form generation to generation? Even assuming that the histories were written to the recording standards of the day, these are questions with no hard answers, but O'Reilly and Dugard do an admirable job of attempting to distill the common facts in each account into a very readable history.

Are there more scholarly and bloated works out there on this topic? Undoubtedly.

So is this history or historical fiction? That's for the reader to decide. It reads like fiction, that's for certain.

I guess, in the end, the whole affair does take a little faith after all, despite of the authors' attempt at objectivity.

NOTE: several chapters in this book contain some very gruesome descriptions of punishments, including floggings and crucifixions.
Profile Image for Wayne.
118 reviews
November 12, 2013
This book is number one in the world for a reason. It is a historical account of the most famous man to ever walk this earth. It is a history book, not a religious book. The Romans kept meticulous data on their everyday events and provided a great source of information. So did The Greek scholars. I was brought to tears reading in vivid detail the account of Jesus's crucifixion. Since I am a Christian I know Jesus did this because God commanded it. There is no way we can earn our way to eternal life through our deeds so Jesus bore all our sins so that if we accept his grace we can have everlasting life. God did this because of his boundless love for us. So this book is certainly a must read for all Christians. Non-Christians will be moved by this story and may well strive to learn more about this great man who we believe to be the son of God. In so doing Bill O'Reilly will have done a huge service for mankind.
Profile Image for Patrick Hamblin.
58 reviews5 followers
November 11, 2015
While it is a very easy read, and for the most part historically accurate, there are other books I would recommend on the life and death of Jesus Christ. My main issues with the book were its lack of acknowledgement of God being supernaturally being involved, the authors’ preoccupation with the sexual proclivities of the Roman rulers (that have nothing to do with the focus of the book), and never getting to the point of Jesus’ death, much less the core of His message during His ministry as well as His words from the cross.

Though both O’Reilly and Dugard claim to be Roman Catholics, neither seems to believe there is an all-knowing, all-powerful God. For instance, on pg. 16, they refer to the magi “seeing through [Herod’s] deceit.” The Bible is very clear though in Matthew 2:12 that the magi avoided Herod after being warned in a dream.

The authors, I assume in trying to set the historical context of Jesus life, frequently talk about the sex lives of the Roman emperors, including actions of pedophilia. While the authors’ research is might be accurate, this does nothing to show who Jesus is or shed light on his death, which as the title states, is the point of the book.

Finally, if this is the only book you read about Jesus, you would think Jesus came to spread a message of “love and hope” and to speak against the immoral taxation by the Romans and turncoat Jews with the Sanhedrin in their back pocket. Essentially, Jesus Christ is a first century Ronald Reagan!

Jesus’s message was one of repentance from sin, worship of the one true God, and then obedience to Him as a result of that love for God. The authors even leave out what Jesus said on the cross, which as I learned from a radio interview of O’Reilly’s, is because he believes those words were legends and were not actually said.

The best resource on Jesus’ life is to simply read the four gospels. If one wants to read one book on the death of Jesus, read “The Murder of Jesus” by John MacArthur and Hank Hanegraff’s book on the resurrection (something O’Reilly/Dugard practically ignore, saying only that “Jesus’ body has not been found to this day.”)
Profile Image for Shawn Kass.
Author 11 books13 followers
September 29, 2013
Historical fiction or just plan fiction, just like most of Bill O'Reilly's spots on TV. He says what he wants without a care for truthfulness.
Profile Image for Ruth Hill.
1,115 reviews635 followers
January 19, 2014

As my mom and I continued to listen to the unending debate, we finally decided to give it a try. And so I went into the book with a complete open mind. I figured that even if the book was completely blasphemous, I could handle it. I am a Bible college graduate after all, and I have faced theological liberals in the past, so this would be nothing new.

I have to tell you that from the beginning, I was so immersed in the book that it was hard for me to put it down. I learned more history in this book than four years of Bible college or a lifetime in the church and participation in deep Bible studies. I love the fact that O'Reilly wrote this in an easy-to-read and understandable format. And he held nothing back. There were a few times that the history was so gruesome that I wanted to turn away.

The question I kept asking myself is "Why are Christians complaining about this book?" It is clear that the primary source that was used was the Bible, and although not everything was mentioned within the book, it is clear that the events reported are historically verifiable. In other words, O'Reilly has written a history book about the most important historical figure in all of history. And for the naysayers who say he will be condemned and/or judged for writing this book, I say these people are not coming in with an open mind. They are completely wrong. I can say that as a result of reading this book, I am more certain of O'Reilly's faith than I ever have been before.

I realize that my positive review may cause my faith to be questioned. I believe the Bible one hundred percent, and I can still highly recommend this book. Read it for what it is--a history book. If you read it in the right way, I believe you will think about the person of Jesus Christ in a much different light. I found that I considered things I never thought about before (no spoilers--you need to read it for yourself).

I read this on my own for the Just For Fun 2014 Reading Challenge.
Profile Image for Brian.
19 reviews
December 7, 2013
"Killing Jesus" is very well researched and its story-like format makes for a good read. Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard did well grounding the text in a brief history of the Roman Empire, stretching back to Julius' Caesar's return to Rome and ultimate execution. Also very well done were the histories of Herod the Great, his sons and the interplay with the Chief Priests and Caiaphas in particular. In addition to my study of scripture over the years, I've read several works of history of this period and I've been to the Holy City and surrounding areas several times. I found nearly all of this text to be consistent with my own research and experiences and the wealth of things I learned from this work seemed to fit logically with what I know to be true, further strengthening my take on the book's validity. Perhaps most importantly, the book never strays into matters of speculation or of faith and does well not to invoke or to criticize later interpretations that may not be grounded in fact. As an example, the chapter describing the famous scene at the tomb includes no references to the miraculous and ends simply with "To this day, the body of Jesus of Nazareth has never been found." This treatment makes the book approachable for believers, non-believers and skeptics alike. It is interesting to me that this book has received so much media attention, ranging from over-the-top praise to scathing accusation and I suspect reaction from those extremes is coming mainly from people who have not read it. Fortunately, a terrific book awaits those who do crack the cover to dive into it.
Profile Image for Tamra LeValley.
900 reviews19 followers
September 27, 2013
Historical, eye-opening and heart-wrenching!

This historical non-fiction was so amazing and taught me so much more than I thought I knew that I will have to read it again just so I am sure that I did not miss anything the first time. The authors put what Jesus went through in a historical setting with no religion mentioning. I am a Christian and was not offending in the least by this writing. It put what the bible states into a more realistic view instead of a story view.

This book was written as if the reader were reading a novel yet it was so informative that I had to take notes to write into my bible. Things such as "a brood of vipers" and the actual meaning of it. When I read this line from now on I will truly understand what the actual writers in the bible of this particular line meant.

A must read for Christians and Non-Christians alike. If you love history you will absolutely love this book. It gives in-depth details as to Roman's history during that era and what was happening politically that caused Jesus' death.
Profile Image for Matt.
432 reviews
April 16, 2017
Killing Jesus is a historical retelling of the Crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth. It also details the upheaval and unrest in the Roman Empire during his time. Some of the source materials the authors' used may be questionable for their historical accuracy but it is a well-written book that accomplished its goal of telling this ever fascinating story.

Happy Easter to all my Goodreads friends!

Profile Image for Caroline Mathews.
160 reviews4 followers
October 3, 2013
I don't watch Bill O'Reilly on Fox anymore. You know how he is. Yet, when I listened to him talking about writing his three books Killing Jesus, Killing Kennedy, and Killing Lincoln on 60 Minutes, I was intrigued. After all, I read and enjoyed Zealot by Reza Aslan this summer. I gave it four stars.

This is not a comparison between the two books. The bibliographies are, by necessity, the same. Just so much information on the subject of Jesus and the times in which he lived is available. No more. Unless someone discovers new material, the outcome will always rest on the interpretation, by the author, as to what information is, in fact, truth.

That is where comparison comes in. Aslan tended in his book, Zealot, to regard everything written by the historians of the time of Jesus as accurate. On the other hand, he doubted almost every biblical account in the New Testament, making excuses for why the gospels were inaccurately written.

Yet, the reader should take note. What we all know is that Jesus was crucified. Neither of the two authors are speaking of religion. Aslan was not writing for the "folks" as O'Reilly sometimes calls us. Aslan was talking to scholars, seeking to prove his hypothesis that Jesus might have been a zealot.

Bill O'Reilly knows that it took a zealot and that Jesus most certainly was one. Yet he never uses that work.Instead, he pulls you deep down into the times and final days of the Nazarene.

O'Reilly is dramatic and plain-spoken. He weaves the history of the day, the writings of the historians of the time, and the accounts found in the Bible (both Old and New Testaments) into a cohesive, believable, and heart-felt account of why and how Jesus met his death.

O'Reilly's notes also made good reading and he supplied us with a list of pertinent reading material in case we want to do further research of our own. His own research assistant, Martin Dugard, is extremely thorough and is the co-author of all three of O'Reilly's books.

Three stars for organization of facts and perspective. One star for that factor that is recognisably Bill O'Reilly.
Profile Image for Timothy Boyd.
6,652 reviews35 followers
May 8, 2023
Another great history book in this series. The O'Reilly Killing books are always a good informative read that does not bog down the story while still telling all the important facts. Very recommended
499 reviews3 followers
December 9, 2013
Well... having read some of the reviews of others, it appears that I am in the minority of readers who really liked Bill O'Reilly's non-religious book about the life and death of Jesus, the Christ. I think the book is just what it claims to be: a presentation of whatever facts are known or can be gleaned about the political leaders of the time, the circumstances of the Jewish people, and the events that lead up to the fervor for the death of Jesus. The book is written in O'Reilly's familiar style, is full of description, and presents a clear timeline.
As a life-long Catholic, I have heard / read the Gospel descriptions of events written by the Apostles; even they differ in content and detail about Jesus' life and death, depending on the focus of the writer. Mr. O'Reilly has collected known facts and writings to present (in his words) "an accurate account of not only how Jesus died, but also the way he lived and how his message has affected the world."
Profile Image for Josh Wilson.
62 reviews2 followers
April 18, 2015
This was a great book to read around Easter. There are no extra details to wade through; everything is tight and meaningful. It seems to be a faithful account of the crucifixion, with background details added that would have been familiar to the original writers.
Profile Image for Sarah.
749 reviews132 followers
October 26, 2020
I found this commentary on the life and legacy of Jesus of Nazareth, framed as political history, rather than religious, fascinating.
As an alumnus of a couple of church-affiliated schools, I consider myself reasonably well-versed in the story told through the four Gospels, in particular the sequence of events leading up to the crucifixion. I also have a personal interest in ancient civilizations, so the subject matter was right up my street.
In his signature bombastic style (I listened to the audiobook edition), Bill O'Reilly relates not only the story of Jesus, but a fair degree of background into the Roman empire and Judea, providing far more political context for the actions of the various players than I'd ever previously considered.
That said, Killing Jesus: A History is not, and never aspired to be, an academic treatise. Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard acknowledge the difficulties in weighing the number of, often conflicting, historical sources. It's highly unlikely that any of the (anonymous) authors of the gospels actually witnessed the events themselves, and hence the first four books of the New Testament really have the character of secondary sources - each is a non-contemporary consolidation based on decades of oral tradition and sundry written documents (not always accurately translated) from a variety of sources. Roman and Judean historical records are useful in establishing a reasonably accurate timeline, but also present the information they contain from a specific political perspective. While making the point that this "history" is far from certain, O'Reilly and Dugard have, quite reasonably, made choices as to which specific snippets to include - given that this isn't an encyclopaedic account - explaining the accusations of inaccuracy which abound in other reviews. This is perhaps the most contentious subject matter possible, after all!
While not regarding it as necessarily "gospel" (sorry!), I learned all sorts of interesting new details about the assassination of Julius Caesar, the difficulties faced by Judean governors and the many parallels with abuses of power and tangles in public administration that continue unabated into the present day. Human nature and power structures really don't change much, and I'm more convinced than ever that, if he appeared today, Jesus would be regarded as a radical socialist and would be denounced by the conservative right. More than a little ironic...
An entertaining read (listen) for those with a general, rather than professorial, interest in momentous events in human recorded history.
Profile Image for John.
2 reviews2 followers
December 12, 2013
This was a very disappointing book. 0'Reilly has made a big point to say that this is not a theological book; it is history. Yet there is a lot of theology in it. From the discussion of Jesus' siblings to the Roman Catholic view about the assumption of Mary, it's really filled with a lot of Roman Catholic doctrine. And the history really isn't that accurate. From the first page to nearly the last, the authors have made clear that Jesus was 36 when he died. Not true. He was 33. The Bible never says how old Jesus was when he died, but it's not hard to figure out. He was 30 when he began his ministry (Luke 3:23). When you look at all the events in the Gospels including all Jesus' visits to Jerusalem for Passover, it's clear that his ministry lasted about 3 years. Even the authors admit as much when then talk about the second Temple cleansing on p. 192. They say it was 3 years from the first time Jesus did that. True, so where do you get 36?

There are a lot of things I really wonder about. Why the big discussion in chapters 2 and 3 about Julius Caesar? What did he have to do with Jesus? This is supposed to be about Killing Jesus, not Killing Caesar.

I would also like to know why the cross on the cover is a nonstandard type of cross. That is never mentioned in the book. I've heard Bill say on his program that he and Dugard believe that's what it looked like. Okay, how about some evidence? And if that's true, why do crosses look the way they do now? They've looked like the typical cross for a long time too.

I cannot recommend this book. I would recommend that people read about Jesus in the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. They deal in facts. Not speculation.
Profile Image for Erika B. (SOS BOOKS).
1,290 reviews132 followers
April 11, 2014
Hmmmm....how do I review this book?! First off I would give it like a 3.5 star rating. I read it slower because I knew that eventually I would get to the crucifixion scene and in all honesty I tried to avoid it. I know that's silly! It's inevitable...obviously! It's kind of like the Titanic or Romeo and Juliet where I know what's coming but I'm going to ignore it until it actually happens! It's always been something that is completely creepy, horrifying and sickening to me. And I knew that O'Reilly wouldn't hold anything back in the description of what was carried out by the Roman soldiers in charge of scourging and crucifying Jesus. (I was right...he was very thorough!) Especially the scourging...that always makes me green around the gills. My favorite part about this book was the history. I loved all of the background and politics that were presented. It was fascinating to me to see all of the things that lead up to the climax of Jesus' death. I guess I never realized all of the things that were happening around Jesus because I usually read books where the focus is Jesus' messages and works. That is the part that diminished this book for me. I wanted more emphasis on the spiritual but instead it was like reading a history book. And don't get me wrong, I totally knew that this was the authors' intent. It was just very different for me to think of circumstances instead of the divine and miraculous. All in all it was a very interesting read about a truly amazing person!
Profile Image for Michael Flanagan.
494 reviews23 followers
December 26, 2013
This book was my first foray into the history of the bible and it read like a novel. The authors have delivered history that is accessible to everyone. They paint a picture of what it was like to live in the time of Jesus. Why the author's go to great length to separate myth from fact I found that not much time was spent on the main man himself.

This is what let the book down in my opinion. It would have been a much fuller and richer read if more time was spent on Jesus. That is something I never thought I would be typing. Being not a big fan of religion this book has left me wanting to explore this subject more and that can’t be a bad thing.
Profile Image for Ru.
271 reviews
October 19, 2013
A fast-paced, historical murder plot - no religion here. If you change the names of the people in this book to get away from the religious connotations the name "Jesus" evokes, you still end up with a strong page-turner steeped in history. That, to me, is the first sign it is well-written.

At the core, this is a conspiracy story. Everyone knows the essentials, but this book does a solid job of covering the major players and the events surrounding the murder of Jesus, the man. Another couple of aspects I really liked that this book deals with is greed and power. Jesus is "sold out" for cash, after all. But even before that, he is deemed a threat to the establishment and all they covet. The contrast between Jesus and his enemies is notable.

"Killing Jesus" has topped the New York Times Bestseller List and is currently THE best-selling book in the world - I don't know if I've read a book at its peak before, though I could be wrong. One minor criticism - the book could be longer! It's not that brief but there were aspects I wish had played out more. Of course, one of the difficulties in writing a fact-based historical work is being able to quantify events of the past. The authors do make a note in the prologue of the fact that there is missing data, so to speak, but that it doesn't detract from the overall work. It's hard to disagree.

This is one of those works that people are either going to embrace or not. There is almost no convincing people opposed to reading a "Jesus" book, historical or not, that this is worthy of their time. I won't try to convince anyone, either. I enjoyed it and I'll let that speak for itself.

Profile Image for Donna Craig.
956 reviews42 followers
May 21, 2021
My husband loves Bill O’Reilly’s Killing series, so I read this book for the Popsugar prompt, “a book your best friend would love.” Now I understand Jerry’s love of the books. The history is written in a story style, with dramatic repetitions pulling the reader along at the right pace. Like him or not, Mr. O’Reilly’s techniques really worked for me.

The blending of Biblical and secular history lent a sense of depth and added understanding to the events of Jesus’ life. I’ve read various other accounts of the life and death of Christ, and they’ve also contributed to my understanding of the cultural and historical forces of the era. However, this book really pulled them together into a fast-paced and fascinating package.
Profile Image for Christian Orr.
381 reviews35 followers
October 22, 2019
Bill O'Reilly presents a detailed, fact-filled (in terms of possible political, geographical, and cultural information, as well as the brutal physiological and medical effects of scourging and crucifixion), and eminently readable account of the life and times--and death--of Jesus.


--p. 93: Say WHAT?? Simon (Peter) was a married man?!?! So why have I been taught all along that all of the 12 Disciples were celibate bachelors?? And whatever became of Simon's wife, anyway?
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