Killing Jesus

Killing Jesus by Bill O'Reilly
Killing Jesus by Bill O’Reilly

This book by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard is the perfect companion book to Bible Study Fellowship’s study of Matthew.

In Killing Jesus, we follow the life and times of Jesus, complete with historical perspective that puts us back in Jesus’ time.  Bill O’Reilly makes it clear this is not a religious book but a historical book.  Therefore, the term Christ and Messiah are never applied to Jesus as it is left up to the reader to decide that.

However, the Bible is quoted quite frequently and it follows our study so far to the T.  From the birth of Jesus to the temple scene at age 12 to John the Baptist and Jesus’ baptizing, it’s all there.

In explaining why Jesus stayed behind at the temple, worrying his parents, O’Reilly says this:  “The need to dig deeper into the meaning of God overwhelms every other consideration.”

Wow.  If only that were true for us all.

This book has some of the best maps I have ever seen of Jerusalem and Judea, Samaria, and Galilee.  MANY MAPS (and you all know I’m a map person).  The map of the Jewish temple where Jesus stays to listen to the Jewish scholars is unparalleled.

Pictures of Roman emperors and famous paintings of Jesus enhance this book to give us a complete visual.

The information on Roman rulers is awesome and the cruelty of the Roman Empire is laid out vividly so the reader can picture just how violent first century AD truly was.

Chapter 7 is on Tiberius, the Roman ruler after Augustus, where we learn the reason behind his cruelty:  he is forced to divorce the true love of his life in favor of a political marriage.  After this, he degenerates into debauchery, prostitution, and a penchant for killing that truly begins the slow decay of the once great Roman civilization.

Bill mentions how you could hear Latin, Greek, Aramaic, Egyptian, and Hebrew all in Jerusalem.  That would have been cool to hear!

I also like how on P.222 Bill writes some, “are willing to believe parts of his (Jesus’s) teaching but they cannot accept the dark side of his message.”  He writes this with regard to the disciples who don’t believe Jesus will die but I saw myself and all of mankind in this quote.  It reminded me of how everyone loves the “Loving God” but ignores the “wrathful God.”

The book goes into detail about what it’s like to be executed on the cross.  It talks about the guards who were commissioned to do this.  It talks about how they pierced his hands in just the right spot so the prisoner would stay on the cross (P. 248).  I’m assuming Romans learned this the hard way–by trial and error.

Furthermore, the book goes into detail about the political dance played by Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin and by Pontius Pilate to have Jesus legally executed.  Fascinating…

This is a historical book.  It is not a religious book.  It’s an attempt to trace Jesus’ life but not say either way if he was the Messiah or not.  Thus, it is secular and meant to present just the facts as much as is known about Jesus’ life.  The rest is for the reader to decide.

This is a book not to be missed, especially if you want to go deeper historically.  Highly recommended!

30 thoughts on “Killing Jesus

  1. Just be aware the Bill OReily does not take the scriptures literally -his words.

    Sent from my iPhone Joe Griffin


  2. Thanks for your thoughts – I’ve heard Bill O’Reilly talk about this book for the last weeks and can’t wait to get it. Now, I’m really anxious to read it.

  3. My husband started reading this book last week and he told me I should read it too, that it would complement this year’s BSF study.We were watching Bill O’Reilly’s interview of a Notre Dame theology professor, who was claiming Jesus was a Socialist. Bill had to make it clear several times that this book was a historical work, not religious. The professor was trying to bring her liberal views within the context of a religious perspective. Bill would have none of it (thankfully.)

    Thanks for your review, I’m looking forward to reading it!

  4. No thanks, I don’t have need of Bill’s book. The Bible is all I need. I don’t agree with him in this subject.

  5. It seems this is quite an interesting book (which I will endeavor to read), but it also seems there is no explanation for what Jesus’ death on the Cross does for us. Therefore, the whole point of the story is left out! Yes, it happened as they record it, but why?

    Here are a few comments from Tim Challies, who reviewed this book:
    “…However, Jesus’ life is not mere history. Yes, he was a real man who lived a real life and died a real death, but that is not all he was and all he did. He also claimed to be God’s Son and his followers claimed that in his life and death he had done something unique and, literally, world-changing. The same Bible that describes Jesus’ life, also interprets and explains it. And this is the story the authors do not tell.

    Any author who writes a narrative account of Jesus’ life will find it difficult to do justice to both his humanity and his divinity (and we saw, for example, in Anne Rice’s series on Jesus). These authors err far to the side of his humanity. It becomes quickly apparent they will not focus on Jesus’ miracles. While they mention a few of the wonders he performed, and especially the ones involving healings, they do not commit all the way and tend to present these as events Jesus’ followers believed had happened as much as events that had actually taken place….

    But O’Reilly and Dugard do not ever explain what happened there at the cross between Jesus and God the Father. Of all Jesus said on the cross, each word laden with meaning and significance, they mention only two. They do not explain the cross as substitution, where Jesus went to the cross in place of people he loved; they do not explain the cross as justice, where Jesus was punished as a law-breaker; they do not explain the cross as propitiation, where Jesus faced and emptied the Father’s wrath against sin; they do not explain the cross as redemption, where we now need only put our faith in Jesus in order to receive all the benefits of what he accomplished.
    Killing Jesus is not so much a bad book as an incomplete book….”

  6. The book may be historical but has no meaning to those who already believe the Jesus was the Son of God and died for for our sins.

    1. I found the historical aspect interesting. There were tidbits here and there that I did not know previously. I don’t think it’s meant to ‘convert’ anyone, only to provide more information than the Bible does with regard to what else is going on in and around Jesus’ life. A few details the Bible doesn’t reveal which have nothing to do with believing or not. More information is not a bad thing.

  7. O’Reilly says this: “The need to dig deeper into the meaning of God overwhelms every other consideration.” O’Reilly says that because it is a history book. Were it about the deity of Jesus, then O’Reilly would not have been able to answer the question so easily. Jesus did not need to dig deeper into the meaning of God. Jesus IS God and, therefore, wrote the entire Old Testament!!

  8. Radio show giving excellent synopsis of O’Reilly’s book and how inaccurate it is. Bill and his sidekick decided what was true and what wasn’t. For example, they say Jesus never would have been heard saying from the cross, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do”. He says because of suffocation on the cross, he would not have had the voice to say that and be heard. In other words, Bill and company have made themselves the experts here. Don’t waste your money on this garbage. I don’t know how long these shows stay up, I think maybe just 10 days.

  9. If he’s not willing to admit that Jesus is the Christ or the Messiah, then I’m not willing to read it. I don’t need Bill O’Reilly or anyone else to supposedly explain Jesus to me. The Bible tells me what I need to know.

      1. I agree. It provides insight to the customs of the area the Bible doesn’t cover. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

  10. Thanks for sharing. I was moved by your last post. I hope God gives you and your kids some peace and support, facing this new situation. I feel not equipped to give you advices but… trust the Lord to answer your prayers about your call in (his) time… I always read your posts and BSF lessons answers with a lot of interest. I learn a lot from your work! Don’t feel like you are useless!

    Thanks again.



    Sent from my iPad

  11. Atozmom, your the greatest, I appreciate all u have done in helping not only myself, but many others in our pursuit for wisdom and understanding of the Word of God. In doing so it has given me a understanding and knowing of God I never had accomplished before. Also I have the book killing Jesus, could not put it down until I finished it. Wow were they brutal or what? Used to complain about how hard life is today, but they really had it hard. Good luck in all u do and more importantly…God Bless and keep u His forever.

  12. After what you said about maps, etc, above, I ordered it. Waiting with anticipation. Thank you for all you share. Prayers you have peace about your family life. Uneasiness stirred up in one’s soul can be frightening or irritating but is always good…it brings us to His feet in earnest, deep seeking that He always rewards. =o)

  13. “Killing Jesus” by Bill O’Reilly is neither a theological nor historical account of Jesus life and culture. It is closer to historical fiction. The writing style and vocabulary are at approximately 8th grade level, although some of the topics addressed are not suitable for young readers such as the detailed descriptions of violence and sexual aberations.

    Glaring mistakes are made in both the historical claims and the Biblical interpretations. Research on this book must have been non-existent. The author is obviously writing his own interpretation of events and not relying on the many great works of scripture or historical scholarship available from both Protestant and Catholic sources.

    Don’t bother with “Killing Jesus” it contains too much misinformation based only on the author’s imagination.

    Then I watched O’Reilly discuss his book last night on the Dave Letterman show. Couldn’t believe my ears with all the inaccuracies he told. Don’t waste your money and/or time on this book!

    1. Just finished Bill O’Reilly’s book “Killing Jesus” and must definitely agree with Maria above! Time would be better spent on reading the Biblical accounts on the last week of the life of Jesus or reading the Gospel of Matthew and doing the questions on the study that BSF is conducting on that book. O’Reilly’s “Killing Lincoln” was great but unfortunately Bill should stay away from theological topics. The historical aspects of the Roman Empire was interesting, but once he got into the life of Jesus, the human authors can’t compare with the Divine Author in writing and accuracy. If one is led to read it, borrow the book from someone or the library but don’t spend your hard earned money on it. Give it to a worthy charity instead!

    2. I completely agree with you. I became more and more critical the further I got into the book. About a third of the way in I started over and began annotating errors, omissions, etc. I wound up with four pages of notes. A believer obtains nothing from this book. Anyone investigating the faith will come away with a lessened and untrue understanding and appreciation of Jesus. The book diminishes him in every way. It is an insult to the faith and amounts to false teaching. I also agree with your comment that it is amateurishly written. Reading the book was a waste of time. I am just so thankful that I have the solid faith foundation I’ve obtained from BSF studies, so that my belief in and understanding of Jesus wasn’t polluted by O’Reilly’s drivel.

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