During Lent, I like to read a book concerning religion. This year, I decided to reread a book I found interesting the first time I read it. The book is called "Killing Jesus," by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Duggard.
When I first saw the title of the book, I thought it was blasphemous, but as I read the book, this was further from the truth. The book concerns itself with the background events that led up to the crucifixion of Christ.
In this book, I also learned:
• In a footnote, it stated there were two cities named Bethlehem, both claiming to be the true site of the nativity: the city of King David's birth located a few miles from Jerusalem and the second location in Galilee, four miles from Nazareth.
• The disciple Judas was a thief. He stole from the disciples' meager finances as his role of treasurer.
• John the Baptist condemned Herod Antipas for divorcing his wife and marrying his brother's wife (an act of abomination to the Jewish people) and in doing so has condemned his new wife Herodias — who won't forget what John has said about her. Herodias gets her revenge later when her daughter, Salome, dances for her stepfather's guests. The guests were so enchanted with her dancing, Antipas tells her, "Ask me for anything you want and I'll give it to you." Salome goes to her mother asking, what should she ask for? Herodias sees her chance for revenge; she tells her daughter to ask for the head of John the Baptist.
• Jerusalem is rules by the local aristocracy and the Temple High Priests.
• Caiaphas, the temple high priest, at this time has amassed wealth and power through temple taxes, profits from the money changers and the temple concession for sacrificial lambs.
• During Passover, some 4 million Jews make their way to Jerusalem. This means more income for shop owners, innkeepers, also the temple priests and their Roman masters who get their profit through taxation and money changing.
• The money changers demand unfair exchange rates for turning local money into shekels (the temple form of currency). If the peasant needs help paying taxes, the interest is exorbitant. Those who cannot repay suffer the loss of home, land and livestock, eventually living the life of debt slave or membership in the unclean class. This is the reason Jesus went into the temple and upset the money changers' tables and took the whip to scatter the sacrificial animals.
• The real reason Jesus was arrested: he interrupted the flow of funds from the temple to Rome when he flipped over the money changers' tables.
• Caesar Tiberius has ordered Pilate not to meddle in the matters of Jewish law. This is the reason Pilate washed his hands when Jesus came before him.
CONNIE BROWN, of Sheridan, is a former member of the Write Team. BOOKMARKS is a column open to all readers to recommend book titles, discuss authors, or chat about books and reading in general. To submit a Bookmarks column, email firstname.lastname@example.org.