I remember the first time I stumbled across Bill O’Reilly’s book Killing Jesus: A History in a Target store back in the fall of 2013, shortly after it was first released. I picked up the book because books with spiritual and religious themes appeal to me. However, not really knowing much about O’Reilly at the time, I jumped to the conclusion that this was just another one of those secular books attacking the historicity of Jesus, and so I put it back on the shelf and moved on.
A couple of weeks later, my wife Liza saw an interview with the author on a talk show called The View, and it piqued my curiosity, and so I began to research a little more into the author Bill O’Reilly. I discovered that he was the host of a political commentary program called The O’Reilly Factor on the Fox News channel, an author, columnist, and a Catholic.
When I went down to our local small town library to pick up a copy of the book, they didn’t have a copy in yet (being new and all), and so I chose instead to borrow a copy of O’Reilly’s book Killing Lincoln. Although I’m not typically a huge fan of historical or biographical books, I was pleasantly surprised by this one, and decided to get my hands on Killing Jesus at my earliest opportunity. I wasn’t disappointed.
Although it has taken me a little over a year to finish this book (when you have a half dozen to a dozen books on the go at any given time, that’s not entirely unusual), I thoroughly enjoyed the historical research he and co-author Martin Dugard did to the subject of the death of Jesus.
On the inside flyleaf of the book, it states, “Now the anchor of The O’Reilly Factor details the shocking events leading up to the execution of the most influential man who ever lived: 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 people attempt to follow his teaching and believe he is God. In this riveting and fact-based account of Jesus’ life and times, Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Caesar Augustus, Herod the Great, Pontius Pilate, and John the Baptist are among the many legendary historical figures who rise up off the page.”
With a made-for-television movie adaptation of this book coming out this Sunday evening, I thought I would share with you some of my favourite quotes from the book. Although I can’t speak for the movie version of the book itself (as I haven’t seen it yet), if it follows the book, it will present a historically accurate portrait of the death of Jesus. If you see it, or have read the book, let me know what you think!
Killing Jesus: A History:
“To say that Jesus of Nazareth was the most influential man who ever lived is almost trite. Nearly two thousand years after he was brutally executed by Roman soldiers, more than 2.2 billion human beings attempt to follow his teachings and believe he is God.”
“In that belief, there is hope. The hardships of the land and the cruelty of Rome have bred a resurgent faith in the power of the Jewish God, to whom they pray for rescue, power, and relief. This is the world a young Jesus of Nazareth inhabits. These are the prayers he hears poured forth every day. The promise of God’s deliverance is the one shaft of daylight that comforts the oppressed people of Galilee. Someday, in some way, if they just hold on, God will send someone to make things right, just as he did with Abraham, Moses, Daniel, Samson, and David.”
“Jesus will never write a book, compose a song, or put paint on a canvas. But two thousand years from now, after his message has spread to billions of people, more books will be written about his life, more songs sung in his honor, and more works of art created in his name than for any other man in the history of the world.”
“But that prophecy is dangerous. To claim he is the Son of god would make Jesus one of three things: a lunatic, a liar, or a divinity who fulfills Scripture. Few in the crowd believe that Jesus is deranged or a charlatan. But will they make that incredible leap to believe that Jesus is God in the flesh?”
“After the whipping, Jesus is unchained and helped to his feet. He has cried out in pain during his scourging, but he has not vomited or had a seizure, as many do. Still, he is losing a lot of blood, due to his severely lacerated back. The lash marks extend down to the back of his calves. And in addition to the dehydration that has plagued him all night, Jesus is in the early stages of shock.”
On the Cross: “Jesus bows his head. The crown of thorns hangs rigidly. He lapses into unconsciousness. His neck relaxes. His entire body rolls forward, pulling his neck and shoulders away from the cross. Only the nails in his hands hold him in place… The man who once preached in Gospel so fearlessly, who walked far and wide to tell the world about a new faith, and whose message of love and hope reached thousands during his lifetime – and will one day reach billions more – stops breathing.”
(I love the final line of the last chapter of the book):
“To this day, the body of Jesus of Nazareth has never been found.”
The postscript ends with these words:
“In the wake of writing Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy, Martin Dugard and I were excited to take on this project. But putting together Killing Jesus was exceedingly difficult. We had to separate fact from myth based upon a variety of sources, some of which had their own agendas. But I believe we have brought you an accurate account of not only how Jesus died, but also the way he lived and how his message has affected the world.” Amen!
Note: Even though I enjoyed Bill O’Reilly’s book, for its new and fresh historical and critical presentation of the life and times surrounding the person of Jesus Christ, I don’t agree with everything he wrote in his book. For example, in the footnotes on page 103, he writes: ‘The Gospels are a combination of oral tradition, written fragments from the life of Christ, and the testimony of eyewitnesses. This would explain the discrepancy.” Unlike O’Reilly, I personally believe that the Bible is the very inspired word of God, infallible, inerrant, and totally true and reliable.