Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly’s highly anticipated book “Killing Jesus: A History” was released on Sept. 24, and has received mixed reviews so far.
The book tells the life and death story of Jesus of Nazareth and details the political and historical events leading up to his death.
O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, authors of two other books detailing the deaths of notable historical figures — “Killing Lincoln” and “Killing Kennedy” on Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy, respectively — approached this latest book from a historical perspective, rather than a spiritual one, according to USA Today.
And USA Today’s review, written by Bob Minzesheimer, wasn't positive. The book is built as if it’s heading toward a dramatic climax, but “they have nothing original to say about Jesus or the Jewish leaders who pushed their Roman rulers to execute the young troublemaker and blasphemer," he wrote.
Minzesheimer also wrote “Killing Jesus” had little to no suspense, save for one line of foreshadowing when O’Reilly writes, “Jesus chooses Judas as one of his twelve disciples and refers to him openly as a friend. One day that will change.”
The book received a more favorable review by The Washington Times, where writer Wes Vernon wrote that the book’s narrative flows very well, despite “the huge cast of characters in what is billed as the true story of ‘the execution of the most influential man who ever lived.’ ”
Vernon complimented O’Reilly and Dugard for their “pinpoint accuracy” as they excluded “some scriptural quotes that more modern scholars have questioned.” They also tinkered with some ambiguous and questionable quotes to avoid offering their interpretation of controversial issues, Vernon wrote.
But it’s Joel Watts of The Huffington Post who slammed “Killing Jesus” on multiple levels. Watts, who live-blogged his reading of the text over the course of a day, said afterward, “I wish I had my day back.”
In Watts’ recounting of the book, he explained some historical inaccuracies O’Reilly and Dugard made, as well as his belief on why they decided to write the book in the first place.
“Simply put, there is nothing here beyond an attempt at agenda-driven drivel produced for the lowest common denominator,” Watts wrote.
Like Minzesheimer’s review, Watts said the authors don’t present anything new.
“Further, at no point in their book do they tell the story completely,” he wrote. “They leave out details that might otherwise hurt their credibility in the conservative punditry community.”
On Tuesday night's episode of O’Reilly’s political commentary show “The O’Reilly Factor,” the host responded to his critics. He said the biggest issue people have with the book, which will be adapted for a made-for-TV movie, is they consider it to be a theological book and not a historical one.
The book is available for purchase at all major outlets and is currently ranked third on Amazon's best-sellers list.
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company