I received the book Killing Jesus by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard for Christmas. It approaches Jesus and his death from a historical approach rather than a religious. To be quite honest, I did not expect much from this book but I was pleasantly surprised for two reasons.
First, there is much written about Jesus that is myth and legend—see last week’s blog about Jesus being born in a stable. These myths arise because Christians take their interpretation of the Bible as true and then use “faith” to justify those beliefs—if the Bible says it so, it must be true. Looking at Jesus from a historical perspective can help us identify those myths and correct them.
Second, Killing Jesus is very good in detailing the political, religious, and historical events that “made Jesus’s [sic] death inevitable.”  It is obvious that God had planned Jesus’ death and resurrection for our sins for some time (see the prophecies concerning Jesus’ death in Matthew 27:35, Mark 15:28, and John 19:36-37. Also see Mark 1:15 and Galatians 4:4) but we fail to discuss how God made that happen. This book shows that God worked through the existing structures of our world (political and religious) to accomplish his purposes. Not everything God does is a miracle.
O’Reilly and Dugard ask one question in their Postscript and I have not seen a satisfactory answer anywhere. They ask: Why did thousands of common people in Jesus’ time seek him out?  Why do millions currently seek him? Jesus had no PR firm, no publishing industry, no internet, no Facebook or Twitter to get his message across. He left no written word. All he had was 12 disciples, most of whom deserted him in his hour of need. Will Durant gives us a start in identifying why Jesus attracts so much attention when he notes Jesus’ “so powerful and appealing a personality, so lofty an ethic and so inspiring a vision of human brotherhood.”  I think this deserves more attention that it has received.
 Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, Killing Jesus, New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2013, cover.
 O’Reilly and Dugard, p. 271.
 Will Durant, The Story of Civilization: Caesar and Christ (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1944), p. 557.