Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

October 4, 2016
The title is a heartbreaker, but book about Jesus is insightful

Editor’s note: “Matters of faith” is a column that provides local religious leaders a place to write about how their respective faiths provide hope, courage and strength in these modern times.

The title harshly strikes at the soul.

One of the authors reminds me of bagpipes. He is OK for a short time, but I can only deal with him in small doses — make that miniscule droplets.

However, “Killing Jesus,” the 2013 book by television news interviewer Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard proved to be a rapid page-turner filled with historical insight and enlightening facts.

If  “Tell me something I don’t know,” is your standard when selecting non-fiction books and you enjoy learning about the historical details surrounding the life of Jesus of Nazareth, then you will find “Killing Jesus” insightful and intriguing.

During the past year, I read “Killing Lincoln” and “Killing Kennedy,” both written by the O’Reilly-Dugard tandem. I found both books perceptive and informative of two of our nation’s most tragic and important events.

But those two events occurred recently and continue to be examined and written about by scores of people from countless angles. What could O’Reilly’s most recent book possibly have to offer on events leading to Calvary that occurred over 2,000 years ago?

Plenty, is what I discovered.

“Killing Jesus” sheds light, background and historical facts on the life and death of the most important Man to walk earth’s surface.

I love studying and reflecting on the life of our Savior. The 178 pages of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John certainly hold enough truth and light for a lifetime of reading, pondering, and implementing.

I supplement my study of the four Gospels by reading James E. Talmage’s “Jesus the Christ,” first printed 101 years ago.

While “Killing Jesus” comes nowhere near a substitute for what we learn in the New Testament, nor does it offer the scriptural and spiritual insight of Talmage’s “Jesus the Christ,” it does broaden one’s perspective.

By sharing knowledge gleaned from dozens of credible sources, the writers give context of the Roman Empire, Judean politics, and Jesus in a historical setting.

The four Gospels served as starting points for the authors “and then demanded new levels of deeper research to tell the story in as much detail as possible.”

For example, to come as close as possible to explain what it was like to suffer death by crucifixion, the authors studied the type of wood used in the crucifix, the nature of the killers, the physiological effects on the body, and the origins of this ruthless form of punishment.

I was enthralled by the historical details provided on Herod’s slaughter of innocent infants, the baptism of Jesus, the Last Supper, and our Lord’s illegal trial and arrest.

I now better understand the historical settings that surround key events leading to His death and resurrection.

Pilate’s refusal to accept custody of Jesus is an example. “There is no sign of the peasant pilgrims from Galilee or of any of other poorer class Jews, for they have no reason to be wandering through this wealthy neighborhood at such an early hour.”

Be aware, however, that there are times when the authors are explicitly graphic in their descriptions, especially when detailing the crucifixion and other forms of violence.

I strongly recommend either buying “Killing Jesus” or checking out a copy at the Tooele City Library. Satisfaction guaranteed.

Roberts is a former LDS bishop of the Tooele 6th Ward.

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