Killing Jesus: A History; co-written by Martin Dugard was an interesting book. Quite readable and not very long. Dugard and O’Reilly did an okay job of using the Gospels and Old Testament to create a narrative. One that fleshed out, with other historical writings and some modern archeology, the historical Jesus. This book isn’t going to change anyone’s mind about Jesus but it does a good job of placing him in his times. Times that were brutal and paranoid. It may be the theme of the book: history has not changed people.
Excerpts From My Kindle
I picked these as examples of politics. Whether this week or 1980 years ago..
But the religious leaders would be rendered impure if they murder the Nazarene in cold blood. They cannot pay someone to run him through with a sword or to wrap their hands around his throat and strangle him in his sleep. No, the Pharisees must play by traditional rules, and this means killing Jesus for a public violation of religious law. In search of such an offense, a select team of Pharisees and scribes now travels from Jerusalem to Galilee to observe Jesus in person. They are men well versed in Scripture. If anyone can find fault with the Nazarene, it is they.
It is a status the Temple priests have enjoyed for almost six centuries. Since the time of the Babylonian captivity, when the last true Jewish king was toppled from the throne, a power vacuum has existed among the Jewish people. Holy men such as the Pharisees have filled that void by strictly interpreting the laws of Moses. They gained respect from the Jewish people by adding hundreds of new commandments and prohibitions to Moses’s original list of ten, then passing them on through an oral history known as the Tradition of the Elders.
Few ever question these laws, especially not the uneducated peasants of Galilee. But now Jesus, through his actions and teaching, has shown many of these mandates to be absurd and the behavior of the Pharisees and Sadducees to be even more so. The time has come to move against the Nazarene.
This year, tensions are running even higher, and the finger of blame can be pointed only at Pilate. He had the ingenious idea of building a new aqueduct to bring water to Jerusalem, but he faltered in this act of goodwill by forcing the Temple treasury to pay for it. The Jewish people were outraged about this use of “sacred funds,” and during one recent festival, a small army of Jews rose up to demand that Pilate stop the aqueduct’s construction.
But Jesus has committed a grave offense: he interrupted the flow of funds from the Temple to Rome when he flipped over the money changers’ tables. The pipeline is the personal responsibility of Annas. Anyone interfering with the profit taking must be punished. That, of course, includes Jesus and every single one of his disciples. Annas is determined that this will be a cautionary tale for anyone who considers challenging the authority of the Temple courts.
If the Nazarene’s followers had any plans for trouble, there is no sign of it. The disciples have proven themselves timid, still stunned that their messiah is dead. They have gone into hiding and pose no threat to Rome. Pilate is relieved. Soon he will be on his way back to Caesarea, there once again to govern without the constant interference of the Temple priests.