Only someone who is interested in 1st century life... not the life of Jesus from a religious perspective.
O'Reilly makes a lot of assumptions theologically that ultimately negate the possibility (as outlined in his own faith's canon) for salvation and clearly views Jesus as a man who discovers he is God's son rather than Gods soul assuming the flesh of a mortal and subject to its pains. That aint too Catholic Billy.
I do very much like the historical background of the time period. The politics, historical heroes forgotten in Jewish culture. He lays a great ground work for an understanding of the politics and time of Jesus. BUT, then again is not all that original either because all he is doing is rehashing Josephus in a more modern tone. Actually, the Jewish War is pretty compelling. and this book (in parts) is the abridged form of that book.
sure...for background history. There is another book on audible that does a great job too...Life in 1st century Jerusalem...or some similar title. It did a better job for giving me a visual feel for the place. Again though, just pay attention to the history and cultural aspects. The religious stuff is all fodder for anyone who has spent a great measure of time studying with scholars and archeologists. For example, Asserting Mary Magdalene was a poor woman and was a prostitute cannot be backed up. We only know that she was cleansed of 'several demons'... that could have been insanity. Assuming history is not writing history. This is were Bill falls short. When he does not have Josephus or or a Roman scholar like Tacitus to fall back on to prove his outlooks... he is writing fiction. Shallow fiction. He treats Mary and Joseph, when Jesus is lost in the temple, as though they, at that point, do fully understand the magnitude of who their child is. This again is a far jump from what any real scholar of the bible would call legit. Its the worst part of the book... and its what the book strives to be about.
Stick to the facts you can back up Bill. You do a great job with documented history, and culture. Theologically... I am sorry man... you're a 'pin head.' Just my 2 cents and I am welcome to them.
a must read
history of the Jews and the roman empire
his expression and how he read the book . i get a lot more out of it
kind of sad really. Hard to believe the cruelty then. Just awful. Makes me realize how lucky we really are.
Just an all around great history book.
Bill O'Reilly claims to be writing history here, but he really isn't. What he presents is an awkwardly harmonized (and often lightly fictionalized) retelling of the Gospel story, decked out with tidbits gleaned from history and archaeology (for example, the kind of sandals that would have been worn by the Syrian mercenaries who carried out Herod's slaughter of the innocents).
The scholarship on display here is shallow at best. One key example is O'Reilly's discussion of the authorship of the Gospels. Matthew was written by the tax collector, he says; Mark by John Mark, Luke by the physician Luke, and John by the "beloved disciple," the brother of James son of Zebedee. O'Reilly claims that there is "growing agreement" among scholars as to these attributions. But he couldn't be more wrong, and you needn't go any further than the discussion of the same subject in the notes to the recent revision of the (Catholic) New American Bible to see how wrong he is.
As a harmonizer of the Gospels, O'Reilly leaves something to be desired. A prime example here is the cleansing of the Temple. In three Gospels, it appears at the end of Jesus' ministry, and helps precipitate the final crisis; in John, the last to be written, it appears at the beginning, and seems to be Jesus' way of launching his challenge. The solution, for O'Reilly? Jesus cleanses the Temple twice. This unlikely version of events is a direct result of his insistence on taking John not as a spiritual meditation on the meaning of Jesus, but as a literally true account by an eyewitness who, in O'Reilly's view, should be given "the last word" about chronology. This flies in the face of virtually every scholar who has written on the historicity of the Gospel of John in the last hundred years.
Some of his historical digressions are baffling. One of the longer sections in the book is an account of the reigns of Julius, Augustus, and Tiberius Caesar. O'Reilly is clearly in his element here, and relishes the stories of the financial, political, and sexual corruption of Rome. As fascinating as this material is, it feels like padding: really, in a book about Jesus, the point could have been made in a couple of paragraphs.
As a narrator, O'Reilly is brisk and engaging. He uses his years of experience hectoring people on TV to good purpose. But does he deliver what he claims to deliver in this book? Not by a long shot. He seems blissfully unaware of the massive amounts of scholarship that have focused on how to use the Gospels as historical sources - some of it by eminent Catholic scholars like the Jesuit priest John Meier - and chooses instead to take the Gospels at face value as historical accounts.
(I know that many people of faith will take issue with my opinion on this. But I think what I've said fairly characterizes recent scholarship on the Gospels. For an authoritative account, check out Bart Ehrman's lectures on "The Historical Jesus" in the Great Courses lecture series.)
If O'Reilly admitted that he was writing a faith-based account, I wouldn't argue with his approach. But he doesn't; he claims to be following the scholarship, and he isn't.
Someone once said to Alexander Pope, regarding his translation of The Iliad: "It is very pretty, Mr Pope, but you must not call it Homer." This is very pretty, Mr O'Reilly, but you must not call it history.
Amazing, interesting, informative
The birth of Jesus. The book really helped me understand the history and the events surrounding his birth.
The killing of Jesus. I've been through the story of Jesus so many times, but this was the first time I was really moved to tears and also the first time I really understood the events surrounding his death..
So many of the historical events were just bits and pieces in my mind, gained from church, the bible, movies, and Shakespeare. This really brought things together for me. I. am sure I will listen to it again.
Have known this story for years but learned more about Rome's ways and Jewish customs
Wonderfully inspiring and educational story describing the life, history and teachings of Jesus Christ. Truly a way to understand the ways of the past and appreciate the modern day blessings that we are presented with every day.
I liked the book. I have been a student of the Bible since I could read, so much of the book was not new to me. However, if you have not studied the life of Christ, this is a wonderful place to begin. Mr. O'Reilly's commentator voice was not the one I would have chosen to read the book, but it still held my interest throughout, esp. where historical records were used and cited.