Monday, February 25, 2013

O'Reilly Book on Jesus to Struggle with Facts

Bill O’Reilly, that always accurate host of a Fox commentary television show, a network known for its “fair and unbiased” lies, is writing a new book titled Killing Jesus.

I thought that meant he was planning to pull out a AK-47 and blaze away, especially considering the gun-control discussion going on in this country.  However, it turns out that O’Reilly – or rather the real writer, his “co-author” Martin Dugard – plan to look at the death of Jesus some 2,000 years ago.

Good luck with that.

In the first place, this is only the millionth time or so someone has done that.  Of course, none have carried Bill O’Reilly’s name before, but none of been accurate either. 

Scene from the Passion movie
That’s because there are no facts to go on.  Mel Gibson must have discovered that when he did his movie on the same topic in 2004, The Passion of the Christ.  He didn’t base it on the accounts in the New Testament. Instead, he relied on the mythical dreams of a 19th century German nun.  No doubt she was right on the mark.

Not even the holy Gospel accounts that most use as a base are accurate.  They simply don’t agree where Jesus died, what happened in at his “trial” or anything else.  They do agree he was crucified.  That’s not much to base a new book on, especially since some historians today even disagree with that claim.  They believe it’s a later addition to the text.

O’Reilly plans to blame the Romans, who, correctly, are the only authorities who crucified anyone in those days.  On the other hand, the biblical accounts of the trial are totally wrong, calling into question that important event. Haim Cohn, an Israeli Supreme Court justice and historian, detailed how inaccurate the stories are in his book The Trial and Death of Jesus Christ.

He is neither the first or last to do that.

Just for starters, the Gospels insist Pontius Pilate met with the crowds outside the courtroom.  However, Roman judges were never seen – they sat behind curtains – and never conversed with anyone.  If Pilate really had asked the crowd for guidance, he would have lost his position as soon as the Emperor heard of it.

The only known records of the trial were supposedly released several hundred years after Jesus must have died and immediately vanished.  Obviously, if they had supported Christian teachings, those records would have been required reading – whether or not they were forgeries.

A variety of real historians have examined all the evidence.  It doesn’t take long.  There isn’t any.  Dr. Albert Schweitzer in his classic 1906 book Quest for the Historical Jesus concluded that all “facts” about Jesus are based on mythology.  Dr. Charles Guinebert’s famed book Jesus also examined every aspect of Jesus’ life and conceded that “he was born, lived, crucified and died.”  Everything else, the late Christian religion professor at the Sorbonne said, is conjecture.

No one can even say when Jesus died.  Historians place the year from 30 to 33 C.E. simply because any other time doesn’t seem plausible.  Pilate, Jesus’ supposed judge, was in power in Judea from 26 to 36.  However, John the Baptist died around 35, and the Gospel insists that John died before Jesus. 

That creates a real timing problem.  Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great and leader of a small part of what was then the Syrian province of Rome, lost a war in 36, which the historian of the day, Josephus, said residents blamed because Antipas had killed John the Baptist.  John then must have died close enough to the end of the war for anyone to make the connection.

As a result, there’s no time for Jesus to have died before Pilate was recalled to Rome in January 37.

Moreover, Passover did not begin on a Friday through the 30s, although three of the Gospels place the trial on a Friday and call it the first day of Passover.  John places the trial one day before Passover starts.

In short, there’s nothing for O’Reilly and his colleague to base a history on.  Maybe that’s why O’Reilly said in a prepared statement that the book "will recount the seismic political and historical events" that made the death of the "beloved and controversial young revolutionary" known as Jesus of Nazareth inevitable.  “Jesus Christ has not walked among us physically for more than 2,000 years, yet his presence today is felt the world over and his spirit is worshiped by more than 2.2 billion people.  His teachings, his legacy, his life as a flesh-and-blood man and his death created the world in which we live.”

If the book focuses on the impact Jesus has had on our world, then O’Reilly is on solid ground.  Of course, he won’t be the first to do that either.  Much of it will have to be made up, too.  Just asked Dr. Paula Fredriksen, whose classic 1988 book From Jesus to Christ reveals how little is known about that era.

O’Reilly will just have to make up his information.  That should be no problem for him.  He does work for Fox after all. 

Long-time religious historian Bill Lazarus regularly writes about religion and religious history.  He also speaks at various religious organizations throughout Florida.  You can reach him at  He is the author of the famed Unauthorized Biography of Nostradamus; The Last Testament of Simon Peter; The Gospel Truth: Where Did the Gospel Writers Get Their Information; Noel: The Lore and Tradition of Christmas Carols; and Dummies Guide to Comparative Religion.  His books are available on, Kindle, bookstores and via various publishers.  He can also be followed on Twitter.

You can enroll in his on-line class, Comparative Religion for Dummies, at

1 comment:

  1. I agree with the majority of this article but attacking Fox makes the author look biased and short-sighted. Stick to the subject and leave the myopic observations to others.