A child is being persecuted. Heavily armed soldiers from Jerusalem are marching to the small town of Bethlehem, determined to find and kill a child. The name of the child is Jesus. He only has 36 years left to live.
Thus begins Killing Jesus by Bill o’Reilly and Martin Dugard.
A despot named Herod, the current monarch, has ordered the death of every male child under the age of two in Bethlehem. To ensure the extermination of a potential King that would threaten his rule.
It is spring in Judea. The soldiers Herod has sent on this savage errand, sweat profusely under their chest armor, and the bronze helmets that cover their heads.
The soldiers are conscious of the notorious cruelty Herod has shown in the past. His penchant for killing anyone who threatens his throne is legendary. But there is no moral debate on the righteousness, or rather the lack thereof, of massacring infants. The soldiers can hardly afford the luxury, or the courage to question an order which compels them to tears a screeching baby from his mother’s arms and execute him. When the time comes they will follow their orders and do their job, or risk being killed themselves for insubordination.
First a great star will rise.
A baby will be born in Bethlehem.
The child will be a direct descendant of David.
Powerful Men (The Magi) will travel from faraway lands to adore him.
The mother of the child must be a virgin.
What worries Herod is that he knows the first two of these prophecies have already come to pass. Herod first learns about Jesus from travelers who have come to adore the Child. These men are called The Magi, and they visit his castle on their way to pay homage to Jesus.
A furious Herod summoned his religious advisers. Being a secular man, Herod knew little about prophecies. He insists to be told exactly where to find the new king.
“Where is he who has been born king of the Jews?”
Herod sends the Magi on their way. His farewell Royal Decree is that they locate the child, and then return to Jerusalem and tell him the precise location of the child so he may also so forth and adore this new King.
Killing Jesus is a fitting description for the second half of this book, which deals with the torture and crucifixion of the Nazarene. But, given the political and socio-economic situation of the time, the authors make it clear that Jesus of Nazareth was a marked man from birth. However O’ Reilly and Dugard, spend more time discussing the socio-economic environment of Rome as well as the Sanhedrin (the Jewish governing body at the time). That is the substance of this book, the historical context and the events leading up to and including the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth.