Bill O’Reilly has completed his trifecta of historical failure. After Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy, both of which were panned by historians, O’Reilly and his ghost writer Martin Dugard have produced Killing Jesus.
It’s not as bad as you think it is. It’s worse.
Albert Schweitzer once said something to the effect of every Jesus scholar is looking down a well, and the man they see at the bottom is actually a distorted reflection of themselves. This is true for the Raza Aslan’s anti-imperialist zealot or John Dominic Crossan’s revolutionary. You can argue that Schweitzer does the same thing in reverse: looking for a Jesus that would be unacceptable to the pious, he finds an apocalyptic Jesus.
But the reason that a scholar is attracted to a theory has to be separated from the arguments and methodology they use to construct the theory. If the arguments are sound and the methodology is consistent, then they are at least playing the game of history the right way.
O’reilly creates a populist anti-tax demonstrator Jesus – a teaparty Jesus. His projection is painfully obvious, his arguments are flawed and his methodology is non-existant. A number of historians have stepped forward to review and reject O’Reilly’s arguments.
Aaron Adair, author of the upcoming The Star of Bethlehem: A Skeptical View., focuses on O’Reilly’s treatment of that one episode. O’Reilly is wrong on the history and wrong on the science.
Simply put, there is nothing here beyond an attempt at agenda-driven drivel produced for the lowest common denominator. I wish I had my day back
Anthony Le Donne is working on a full review. Until he’s finished, he’s posted ten passages from the book that show exactly how badly it stinks:
“With a dark beard covering the tip of his chin and a thin mustache wreathing his mouth, Antipas resembles a true villain.” p. 88
“Julia was a great beauty, which made it easier for her to indulge her base instincts.” p. 113
… the hell?
The increasingly ubiquitous Candida Moss has pieces at The Daily Beast and CNN. Following the Daily Beast article, in which she stated that “Killing Jesus has all the critical rigor of your local church’s Nativity play,” Moss was invited to the O’Reilly Factor: