Killing Jesus Review
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Unabridged Audiobook: 5 CDs (6 hours)
Read by Bill O’Reilly

In stores, this week is a time for jelly beans and chocolate bunnies and pretty pastel dresses. But there’s more to the Easter story than just sugary treats and spring fashions—and it’s all carefully detailed in Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard’s historical account, Killing Jesus.

The story is a familiar one for many of us—a recap of many of the New Testament’s teachings. O’Reilly and Dugard rely heavily on biblical writings to tell the story of Jesus—starting with his humble birth and the controversy that it stirred throughout the region. Since not much is known about his childhood, the authors then shift their attention to the story’s historical context, offering more information about Rome and its rulers before reuniting with Jesus and his band of disciples as the leader prepares for his final days.

It’s important to point out that Killing Jesus is a historical book—not a religious one. It isn’t really meant to sway opinions or inspire belief—just to tell the story as it’s been passed down through the centuries. Though the authors were raised in Christian homes, they generally set aside their religious views while writing this book, instead using first-hand accounts and other historical writings to piece together the story of Jesus, his life, his teachings, and his crucifixion.

For the most part, the story is the same one that you’ve heard before—especially if you spent your childhood listening to Bible stories in Sunday school. But the authors put it all into historical, cultural, and religious context, explaining why certain parts of the story would be especially significant for people of the time. In the process, they offer a new perspective on the story while giving parts of it new meaning.

Admittedly, though, some of the background information seems unnecessary—especially the detailed explanation of the death of Julius Caesar. While the Roman rule certainly played into parts of the story—and even parts of its significance—the authors seem to go into more detail than necessary when it comes to Roman history. It feels more like a lengthy aside—or even filler—than an important part of the account.

Another distraction, meanwhile, is O’Reilly’s narration. Though his voice is certainly distinctive, his no-nonsense, TV-host tone—seasoned with hints of his Boston accent—sometimes makes for a rather harsh (and occasionally jarring) read.

Still, when the book comes down to its final moments—covering those final days—the distractions fall away. It may be just a historical account, but as thousands of people gather in Jerusalem, preparing to celebrate the Passover, religion and politics collide to tell a gripping story.

In examining the life and death of Jesus, O’Reilly and Dugard have put together a fascinating factual account. And though it has its share of distractions, Killing Jesus is still a captivating (and often moving) audio exploration of the Easter story.

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