Killing Jesus

A review by Wanda Swenson

When I picked up the book Killing Jesus by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard a few weeks ago, I didn’t realize that the religious season of Lent was coming so soon. Sometimes the coincidences of life are surprising, meaningful and should not be ignored.
I am not a fan of Bill O’Reilly; his political views are not mine and his rhetoric can become irritating. However, a couple people had shared with me that this book was a very quick read that had something to say, so I buried my animosity and read it.
This book is the story of Jesus Christ from his birth to his crucifixion, and O’Reilly, being the political animal that he is, approached the telling of this story from that perspective. I learned much about the political atmosphere and the unscrupulous power of the leaders during the time Jesus lived. There was much dissension between the Roman government and the Jews, and those in power had a difficult balancing act to keep both sides satisfied. Jesus upset that act as he preached against the morals and beliefs of the Romans and pled for the compassion of Christian doctrine.
The reader walks with Jesus as he grows and matures into the Savior, enduring the injustices and problems he was born to correct. We become familiar with his disciples with all of their flaws and weaknesses, and in the afterword, the authors share what happened to each of them after Jesus’ death.
The telling of the trial and execution of Jesus is very descriptive and hard to read. Those condemned to crucifixion endured a scourging where they were methodically beaten and flogged almost to the point of death before they were forced to carry the upper crossbeam of the cross to their execution site. It is evident that the authors had carefully researched the physical and mental effects of crucifixion on the human body, which was used a great deal by the Romans.
In fact, the entire historical account was deeply researched as noted by the long list of sources at the end of the book, and the citations and footnotes in the text. There were many Biblical references, but most were found in the Gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These guys did their homework to make this book historically correct.
O’Reilly’s and Dugard’s premise in the book is that Jesus was “the most influential man that every lived,” not only in his own time, but throughout history and into modern times. His story is still being told, and many of the things he stood for are still being debated today. Their intention was not to write a religious book or promote any kind of religious doctrine, and I think they succeeded. However, for anyone who believes Jesus was the Son of God and came to save all people from sin will be reassured that He did indeed exist and His influence is still changing the world.

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