Not many people read books when they know the ending. Yet that’s exactly what millions of readers are doing when they pick up Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard’s latest collaborative book, Killing Jesus.

Authors of recent bestsellers Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy, political commentator and newscaster O’Reilly and history author Dugard present a fascinating historical account of the brief life of Jesus of Nazareth. They temper this account with the history of the world around Jesus, including information about important figures like Julius Caesar and Cleopatra.

Killing Jesus is well-written and well-researched. Any fans of the television show “The O’Reilly Factor” will recognize the anchor’s voice through his writing. Informative, intelligent and intriguing, the book is a must-read for anyone who is interested in history or religion. Christians and non-believers alike will enjoy the book, and it has received some great reviews. 

In their introduction, the authors note that the reason behind this book is not to convert anyone to one religion or another.

Instead, it is simply to present a historically-accurate account of one of the most important and influential figures of all time. They write, “To understand what Jesus accomplished and how he paid with his life, we have to understand what was happening around him. […] The incredible story behind the lethal struggle between good and evil has not been fully told. Until now. At least, that is the goal of this book.”

Much of the research for this book is based on the Bible and specifically the four Gospels, which many researchers now agree are historically factual accounts of the day written by actual individuals who were acquainted with Jesus. Other books and information that Killing Jesus uses are highlighted throughout the book and at the end, with commentary on the most useful books and other outlets.

Maps, drawings, paintings and other images help to break up the book as well as to give readers a better idea of the time period and areas talked about. Footnotes provide relevant information as well, about archaeological investigations, religious notes, historical writings and other references.

The book begins with an account of Herod’s determination to murder all first-born sons in the Bethlehem-area in his fear that one of them will overthrow him to become “king of the Jewish people.” It then continues to cover various figures such as Pontius Pilate, Caesar Augustus, John the Baptist, Tiberius and many more. While focused on Jesus, the histories of these other characters help to fill out Jesus’ own life and helps readers to understand the decisions made by him and his contemporaries.

The book reads elegantly; each character is fully developed and described through relevant historical analysis. Though you know how the book will end, with the death of Jesus, you’ve surely never known the whole story of the Roman world around Jesus and his upbringing like this before. For Christians, this book will give you a better context to what you hear in the Gospels every Sunday, and perhaps even encourage you to do a bit of research on your own.

Jesus Christ is one of — if not the most — well-known individuals in world history. O’Reilly and Dugard write in their afterword just how influential this one man has been: “Whether or not one believes that Jesus rose from the dead, the story of his life and message achieved much greater status after his crucifixion. He would go down in history not just as Jesus or Jesus of Nazareth, but as Jesus the Christ, the Messiah. [… He] became a noted personage in the history of Jerusalem and beyond.” 

If you’re looking for a nonfiction book written by two established experts in their fields, then this is the book for you. A skillful telling of the history of Jesus Christ and his contemporaries, Killing Jesus is yet another one of this dynamic duo’s great collaborations.

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