Killing Jesus by Bill O Reilly and Martin Dugard
Well, long ago it seems I read "Killing Lincoln". And in short
succession now I read "Killing Kennedy" followed by "Killing Jesus".
After just finishing the book "Killing Jesus", I have to say that I am
Now all of us humans are different. But even though I have been a
Catholic all of my life I have never sat down and read the bible.
Perhaps there is more information in there. But I did spend two years in
a religious monastery of sorts thinking I was going to be a Catholic
Teaching Brother. So one would think I should know something. But as I
now know, I was hopelessly stupid.
The O Reilly books compliments the Church teachings, but for my tastes
the two are entirely different. And so when some people accuse O Reilly
of just doing the bible thing, I agree with O Reilly, they seem on the
wrong page and likely never read "Killing Jesus". So where is the
difference? For my tastes the differences could not be more obvious. The
Church dwells on Christ's teachings and for my tastes, give none of the
geography, history or logic. The O Reilly book does about the opposite,
and has almost no teachings, but covers the history, geography, and
logic according to written histories of the day. So, they do, in my
opinion, two very different things. One could argue, that for
understanding, doing both would be a good plan. One could also argue,
that only having one side is half of the information you might want. But
then .... you may well be smarter than me.
So, why do I like this book?
Call me stupid or dense if you will but it seems to me that Christian
services are all into the lesson. But when they speak of Caesar, which
one? How did Herod get there? What is this Samaritan stuff and where are
those people from? Why were there money changers in the Temple? What is
Hellenism? And do you really know a Sadducee from a Pharisee from a
Samaritan? I did not. It also seems that if you just listen to gospels
that Jesus almost wanders aimlessly and things just happen to him. And
it seems to me that gospel writings tend to assume we know who the
Pharisees are and all of that, and I did not.
Well, the O Reilly book clears that up mostly. It begins not at all with
Jesus but with the beginnings of Rome and a who is who analysis. Which
one was Julius Caesar, Caesar Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Nero,
Octavian? And why are two of those names the same person? How does
Cleopatra and Marc Anthony enter in? Who was Herod and what did he do?
Pontius Pilate does what and what were his concerns? Where did Jesus
live when he was not preaching? And with all of the O Reilly book,
finally, finally comes the logic of why Jesus was in this town or that
town and when and why. The book also tells why Palm Sunday comes before
Christ's death and the significance of all of that. It also tells why
the crowd wanted Barabbas instead, something I always thought was odd.
As for the book saying Jesus was God, not sure O Reilly ever said that.
But it is clear from written history that Jesus was beyond a remarkable
person. No, he was not in this town or that town by accident. It was
clear that Jesus saw his life in three phases - quiet beginnings,
preaching, and death, and Jesus seems to have orchestrated precisely
where to be and what to say to do that. I get the feeling that this very
smart Man played the Jews and Romans like one would play a fiddle. He
knew their reactions. He always said and did the right thing at the
right time to move forward with His plan - but on His own timing - not
theirs. And as O Reilly says - it is quite odd that this poor man with
no kingdom, army, organization, political helpers became the best known
person in world history.
Anyway, as a Catholic I found this book a "must" for me to read. Now I
feel, I understand some of the players, their motives, and who was where
and why. And as O Reilly says, this is a totally different feel from
Christian gospels. But I say, it is one of the two parts of a puzzle
that some more than me may find interesting - and explains things they
never understood before. I even found myself wanting to know more. So
yes, I did look up Sadducee and Hellenism, although he explains them a
little as I recall.
I highly recommend reading the book.
So, then, the bible writers were bad writers?
No. I believe any writer makes assumptions about their readers at the
time of their writing. Recall that much of the bible was written before
or during the first century. That was a long time ago. The writers would
assume that their readers understood the history, geography, leadership
and customs of the area.
Let me give an example. If someone wrote a book about the US today, they
would assume that their readers know that day follows night and that we
are on the third planet from the sun. They would likely also assume that
everyone knows Canada is to North of the US, Mexico to the South, and
South America below that. They would assume that all know that there are
50 states and that those states have governors that essentially are part
of an overall federal government. And the writer might also assume that
the reader would know why people from Mexico often want to enter the US.
These are valid assumptions for our day and time, but not valid
assumptions perhaps for 2000 years from now - especially if we have
visitors from outer space. At 2000 years from now the geography might be
quite different, likely few people would know exact histories of 2000
years ago, and certainly many people might not understand how the
In other words, we have a "natural problem" here. Writers write for a
time, but things change. And so at least for a person like me, one
should start out with a good understanding of the times where the
Should Christians do anything different and now include brief History
and Geography and customs at some point in their teachings- at least as
an option? I am not sure. I found this all helpful. But then again,
perhaps the average Christian is smarter than me.
Ronald J. Plachno
November 1 and 2, 2013
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