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.
The tail end of the story on Jesus death was a fairly known entity for me. But the context around Roman rule and the climate leading up to the ultimate event was absolutely fascinating, well researched and expertly recounted.
O'Reilly is clueless about Roman history and Biblical scholarship. He can't even decide if Pontius Pilot was a Governor or a Prefect and the dim wit seems to think the two titles are interchangeable. The Bible picture books from my youth are more accurate.
I would have liked this so much better had I not listened to "Misquoting Jesus" just before listening to this book. To know that we don't have the original Bible, the copy of the Bible, the copy of the copy of the Bible, and so on for many revisions. To make the issue of originality worse, we know that copies that scribes made were heaped with errors through the many times it was copies. The worst part is to know that leaders of both the church and the people added and removed parts of the Bible to meet their own agenda. To think that we know intimate conversations Jesus and others might habe had is absurd, especially when we have no record of Jesus in literature for nearly 150 after he died.
Could not put it down, OH what Savior.
Thank you for dedication to declaring the truth.
In hope that all men have the opportunity to read or hear this Word.