Coincidentally, I recently read Reza Aslin’s bestseller, The Zealot, and O’Reilly’s book pales in comparison. Aslin’s book is about historical Jesus, and although it relies heavily on the Gospels, the book is quick to reject passages in the Gospels that don’t jibe with their in-depth historical context. By contrast, O’Reilly’s book, which is self-described as “a history,” is not much more than a narrative consolidation of the Gospels put in a superficial historical context.
An example of the different approaches of Aslin and O’Reilly concerns the birthplace of Jesus. O’Reilly assumes the birthplace was Bethlehem because that is what the Gospels say. Aslin, however, based on a variety of factual issues, concludes that Jesus was actually born in Nazareth. He suggests that the Gospels misstated this fact so that the location of birth conformed to some earlier biblical prophecies.
O’Reilly recently wrote an illustrated children’s version of Killing Kennedy. Killing Jesus already fits that mold, with light, popular reading, but it provides almost nothing in terms of in-depth thinking or insights.