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Buy Killing Jesus: A History by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
Buy Killing Jesus: A History by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard

Bill O'Reilly, author of Killing Jesus: A HistoryBill O'Reilly is the anchor of The O'Reilly Factor, the highest-rated cable news show in the country. He also writes a syndicated newspaper column and is the author of several number-one bestselling books.

Martin Dugard, author of Killing Jesus: A HistoryMartin Dugard is the New York Times bestselling author of several books of history. His book Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley and Livingstone has been adapted into a History Channel special. He lives in Southern California with his wife and three sons.

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Killing Jesus: A History by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard Killing Jesus: A History by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
Killing Jesus: A History by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
Killing Jesus: A History by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
Killing Jesus: A History by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard

Note to Readers from Bill O'Reilly

In the Beginning . . .

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. That includes 77 percent of the U.S. population, according to a Gallup Poll. The teachings of Jesus have shaped the entire world and continue to do so.

Much has been written about Jesus, the son of a humble carpenter. But little is actually known about him. Of course we have the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, but they sometimes appear contradictory and were written from a spiritual point of view rather than as a historical chronicling of Jesus’s life. Who Jesus actually was and what exactly happened to him are emotional subjects that often lead to contentious discussion.

In the writing of this fact-based book, Martin Dugard and I do not aim to suggest that we know everything about Jesus. But we know much and will tell you things that you might not have heard. Our research has uncovered a narrative that is both fascinating and frustrating. There are major gaps in the life of Jesus, and at times we can only deduce what happened to him based upon the best available evidence. As often as possible, we relied on classical works. Our primary sources are cited in the last pages of the book. As we did in our previous books, Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy, we will tell you when we don’t know what happened or if we believe the evidence we are citing is not set in stone.

The Romans kept incredible records of the time, and a few Jewish historians in Palestine also wrote down the events of the day. The problem is that it wasn’t until the last few months of Jesus’s short life that he became the focus of establishment attention. Until then, he was just another Jewish man struggling to survive in a harsh society. Only his friends paid much heed to what Jesus was doing.

But those friends did pass much along verbally, and so we have the narrative of the Gospels. But this is not a religious book. We do not address Jesus as the Messiah, only as a man who galvanized a remote area of the Roman Empire and made very powerful enemies while preaching a philosophy of peace and love. In fact, the hatred toward Jesus and what happened because of it may, at times, overwhelm the reader. This is a violent story centered both in Judea and in Rome itself, where the emperors were also considered gods by their loyal followers.

Martin Dugard and I are both Roman Catholics who were educated in religious schools. But we are also historical investigators and are interested primarily in telling the truth about important people, not converting anyone to a spiritual cause. We brought this dedication and discipline to Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy, and in these pages we will do the same with Jesus of Nazareth. By the way, both Lincoln and Kennedy believed Jesus was God.

To understand what Jesus accomplished and how he paid with his life, we have to understand what was happening around him. His was a time when Rome dominated the Western world and brooked no dissent. Human life was worth little. Life expectancy was less than forty years, and far less if you happened to anger the Roman powers that were. An excellent description of the time was written—perhaps with some bombast—by journalist Vermont Royster in 1949:

There was oppression—for those who were not the friends of Tiberius Caesar . . . what was man for but to serve Caesar?

There was persecution of men who dared think differently, who heard strange voices or read strange manuscripts. There was enslavement of men whose tribes came not from Rome, disdain for those who did not have the familiar visage. And most of all, there was contempt for human life. What, to the strong, was one man more or less in a crowded world?

Then, of a sudden, there was a light in the world, and a man from Galilee saying, Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.

And the voice from Galilee, which would defy Caesar, offered a new kingdom in which each man could walk upright and bow to none but his God . . . so the light came into the world and the men who lived in darkness were afraid, and they tried to lower a curtain so that man would still believe that salvation lay with the leaders.

But it came to pass for a while in diverse places that the truth did set men free, although the men of darkness were offended and they tried to put out the light.

And these men succeeded (at least in the short term). Jesus was executed. But 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. Thank you for reading it.

Bill O’Reilly
Long Island, New York

About Killing Jesus: A History by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard

Millions of readers have thrilled to bestselling authors Bill O’Reilly and historian Martin Dugard’s Killing Kennedy and Killing Lincoln, page-turning works of nonfiction that have changed the way we read history.

Now the anchor of The O’Reilly Factor details the events leading up to the murder of the most influential man in history: 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 human beings attempt to follow his teachings and believe he is God. Killing Jesus will take readers inside Jesus’s life, recounting the seismic political and historical events that made his death inevitable – and changed the world forever.

Read an excerpt from Killing Jesus by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard

Read an Excerpt from Killing Jesus: A History by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard

Download this excerpt as a PDF

Book I
The World of Jesus

Chapter One

Bethlehem, Judea
March, 5 b.c.
Morning

The child with thirty-six years to live is being hunted.

Heavily armed soldiers from the capital city of Jerusalem are marching to this small town, intent on finding and killing the baby boy. They are a mixed-race group of foreign mercenaries from Greece, Gaul, and Syria. The child’s name, unknown to them, is Jesus, and his only crime is that some believe he will be the next king of the Jewish people. The current monarch, a dying half-Jewish, half-Arab despot named Herod, is so intent on ensuring the baby’s death that his army has been ordered to murder every male child under the age of two years in Bethlehem.* None of the soldiers knows what the child’s mother and father look like, or the precise location of his home, thus the need to kill every baby boy in the small town and surrounding area. This alone will guarantee the extermination of the potential king.

It is springtime in Judea, the peak of lambing season. The rolling dirt road takes the army past thick groves of olive trees and shepherds tending their flocks. The soldiers’ feet are clad in sandals, their legs are bare, and they wear the skirtlike pteruges to cover their loins. The young men sweat profusely beneath the plates of armor on their chests and the tinned bronze attic helmets that cover the tops of their heads and the sides of their faces.

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