Bill O’Reilly is the largest obstacle to overcome in this book. His name is front, centered, and enlarged on the cover. His author profile reads like a bunch of cockabull (my word, don’t bother looking it up): “He is perhaps the most talked about political commentator.” I’m not really feeling this one. Mr. Martin Dugard, whose history includes several historical books, seems like he deserves a bit more credit.
The other obstacle is the footnotes—I read them all. Most everything comes from the Dead Sea Scrolls (Gospels) and the writings of Jewish historian Josephus, but even then the reader isn’t clear on what is author supposition and what is historic fact.
The authors include further reading in the back of the book, but none of it is linked to specific passages of their own writing. They mention specific events and what reading correlates to which event, but they don’t specifically connect it with their own book’s writing. They also have an interesting follow-up on the aftermath of the key players, including each of the disciples and the end of their lives.
Christians may be a bit disappointed in reading this because of the decreased focus on miracles and the salvation message. Anyone—believer or not—will appreciate the introduction to this key historic period. It’s quick; it’s not too preachy; and it does a good job bringing history to life. I enjoyed the alternating perspectives of Roman history and Jesus-specific history. The dinner parties of Tiberius Julius Caesar Augustus and the cornering of Jesus on the cliff (two separate events) were the standouts in my reading—excellent writing with lifelike description.
Overall, this was a quick-read that was enjoyable, but lacked the properly cited firepower of its genre equivalents. Make it longer, add more citation, and then it’ll rock.