O’Reilly Round-up

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.

Joel Watts has written a multipart review: Chapters 1-4, Capter 5, Chapter 6-7, Chapters 8-11 and the rest. With his few surviving brain cells, he scraped together a summary:

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:


A number of folks have reacted positively to Moss’ appearance and provided some commentary. Among them are Chris Keith, “Peje Iesous” and Fred Clark.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    O’reilly creates a populist anti-tax demonstrator Jesus – a teaparty Jesus.

    Wuffuh? “Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s” (Matt 22:21, Mark 12:17, Luke 20:25)

  • GubbaBumpkin

    I watched the video. Moss does a decent job of handling O’Reilly by putting him off guard with compliments and ignoring some of his dumber schtick. Her constant head-bobbing is not good for TV. Looking at content, they both make statements about “historical fact” and “evidence” that are unsupportable, although O’Reilly is much wronger than Moss.

  • Pofarmer

    I consider myself pretty fiscally and socially conservative and I don’t see how anyone concludes anything other than O’Rielly is a doofus.

  • Gilgamesh42

    Thank you for the link share. Much appreciated.

  • LesterBallard

    I can’t even imagine trying to read this, or any other book, from that asshole.

  • evodevo

    It’s not agreed upon among exegetes whether Jesus actually might have said the render unto Caesar thingy, or whether it was inserted later by Christian apologists trying to deflect Roman wrath after the two failed Jewish uprisings. That said, O’Really has really twisted it up into a TeaBagger homage. He could have written a really revolutionary look at the Scriptures, and highlighted some of the scholarship from the last 200 years that his dittoheads are ignorant of. That, however, would have involved real research and the courage to put it in print for his benighted followers.
    Wasn’t gonna happen.

  • Msironen

    So basically O’Reilly didn’t get that Al Franken’s Supply Side Jesus was satire but instead good enough idea to expand into a book?