by Bill O’ Reilly and Martin Dugard
First sentence: “The child with thirty-six years to live is being hunted.”
Content: It’s “history” (or at least vaguely historical) so there’s some talk about sex, and it’s violent. But I suppose anyone who wants to read it, no matter how old, will. (I also suppose, given what he’s done in the past, O’Reilly will make a kids’ version of this.)
I am not a Bill O’Reilly fan (at. all.), and that may have influenced how I thought about this. I should probably also say that I’m coming at this from a curiosity about the history surrounding Jesus, but an extreme lack of knowledge. I do know some, after reading Zealot, but I’m no Biblical scholar. In that way, I’m like most of O’Reilly’s readers.
But I just couldn’t deal with this book.
It wasn’t the subject matter: I’m pretty familiar with the life of Jesus, and even if I’m not a Biblical scholar, I do know about the history, both the Biblical version as well as the scholarly version. And I picked this up because right now I’m interested in learning the life of Jesus. But there was no scholarly information to be had. While this followed the life of Jesus, and brushed with history, it lacked the scholarship. There were no source notes for the chapters (there were some source recommendations, but nothing cited), and the footnotes were barely explanations of Hebrew terms. That, combined with their use of B. C. and A. D. (instead of the more scholarly BCE and CE) served to make me distrust what the authors were writing.
Which brings me to my second critique: the book was written in the present tense. Perhaps they meant to do this to lend a sense of immediacy to the history, but all it did was tick me off. But sentences like “The Son of God thinks himself immortal.” and “‘You brood of vipers,’ John screams at the Temple priests who have come to the river to question him. and “But nothing matters more than silencing Jesus.” just made me cringe. It’s bad writing. It’s presuming an authority that doesn’t exist. And it’s just lame.
So, about halfway though I’d had enough, and bailed on it.
I’m still interested in the life of Jesus, and there are other books out there still left to read. Hopefully, they’ll be better.