The following script is from "Killing Jesus" which aired on Sept. 29, 2013. The correspondent is Norah O'Donnell. Producer Robert G. Anderson.
Bill O'Reilly has reigned as the king of cable TV news for more than a decade. But it's his new role as the author of history books that has also made him a publishing powerhouse. His last two books, "Killing Lincoln" and "Killing Kennedy," sold more than 5 million copies. And now O'Reilly is adding to his opus with a new book -- that's likely to be his most popular and divisive of all -- called: "Killing Jesus."
Although he's a devout Catholic, he didn't write a religious book. He doesn't call Jesus "the Son of God" or "the Messiah." O'Reilly admits that some of his facts directly contradict the Bible and he stands by them. And he also tells us his inspiration for "Killing Jesus" is nothing short of divine.
Bill O'Reilly: All of the ideas come to me in the middle of the night. And one night, I just woke up and I went, "Killing Jesus." And I believe because I'm a Catholic that comes from the Holy Spirit. My inspiration comes from that. And so I wrote "Killing Jesus" because I think I was directed to write that.
Norah O'Donnell: You believe the Holy Spirit directed you to write "Killing Jesus"?
Bill O'Reilly: Yes, I believe that.
Norah O'Donnell: And why would the Holy Spirit choose you?
Bill O'Reilly: You're asking me to speculate about the deity--
Norah O'Donnell: Well, you are suggesting that you are the chosen one, Bill.
Bill O'Reilly: I'm not the chosen one. I'm just one of many who have been given gifts. I can write. I can bloviate on TV. So I'm trying to use the gifts in a positive way. And I believe that's all directed. And that's why I'm here on the planet.
Being chosen pays well -- more than $10 million for this book -- almost unheard of in publishing. He shares it with his co-author Martin Dugard. And O'Reilly who once taught high school history, hired Dugard, a history writer, to do the research, which included a visit to the Holy Land to replicate Jesus' return to Jerusalem and his final walk.
Bill O'Reilly: And I say, "This is where we want to go. Find me the greatest stuff you can find me." Then he gives me the research in a narrative form and then I take that, I start from scratch, and I mold it in my way.
[Bill O'Reilly writing: Are you with me? You see where that is...]
With O'Reilly in New York and Dugard in California, they work together on the books by computer and over the phone. Hard to believe but they wrote "Killing Jesus" in just eight months.
[Bill O'Reilly in office: The way we have it now is perfect!]
Norah O'Donnell: In the book you don't refer to Jesus as the Son of God. Why?
Bill O'Reilly: 'Cause it's not a religious book. There's no religion in the book, nothing. It's all about history.
He trumpets his books as easy-to-read fast-paced thrillers.
Bill O'Reilly: I just want to write about important things in a very entertaining way. That's the formula.
Norah O'Donnell: The title "Killing," using killing, a bit sensationalist?
Bill O'Reilly: Of course. Of course it's sensationalist. That's who I am. I'm a sensationalist. I'm a big mouth. I get attention. In this world you have to--if you want a mass-market presentation, you have to get attention.
Norah O'Donnell: What did you find that you think people will be surprised to learn about Jesus?
Bill O'Reilly: That he was a regular guy; very afraid. Very afraid.
Norah O'Donnell: What do you mean very afraid?
Bill O'Reilly: Scared to die. Scared to be put on a cross. And that he got angry and that he was a little violent and that he was a man.
Norah O'Donnell: Explain how he was violent.
Bill O'Reilly: Well, when he went into the temple and overturned those moneychangers he was absolutely livid. He was personally insulted that the temple was being used as a place of commerce. And not only that, but they were stealing from the folks.
Norah O'Donnell: He was upset with people of his own faith.
Bill O'Reilly: Absolutely. He was, he was upset that the Jews were taxing, overtaxing, and extorting the folks.
Norah O'Donnell: And that story is important to tell because it explains why so many people wanted him dead?
Bill O'Reilly: That's the crux of the "Killing Jesus" theme, is that there was a reason he was executed. Not that he was saying he was God. Droves of people said they were God. But now when you interrupt a money flow -- now you're into territory where they gotta get rid of him.
"Killing Jesus" examines the final days and final hours before Jesus was crucified. O'Reilly writes Jesus was just 36 years old.
Norah O'Donnell: You go in great detail to describe Jesus' crucifixion in gory detail.
Bill O'Reilly: Uh-huh.
Norah O'Donnell: Why?
Bill O'Reilly: It's important to, you know, understand the brutality of the day and what they did to this guy who did absolutely nothing. And life was cheap.
According to O'Reilly depictions like this are wrong -- that Jesus was not nailed to the cross through his hands because his hands would not have held the weight of his body. So, Jesus was really nailed through his wrists. And O'Reilly says there was usually a seat on the cross, but soldiers took it off this time because they wanted Jesus to die faster.