First the Josephus Code – Now the O’Reilly Code?

Posted By on October 18, 2013

First it was the Josephus Code. Now I’m getting emails about Bill O’Reilly’s new book, Killing Jesus.

Let’s take a deep breath. O’Reilly’s book is just another book on Jesus written by someone who doesn’t know much about the academic study of the gospels. Neither O’Reilly nor his co-author are biblical scholars, so what should we expect? That’s about the nicest thing one can say after reading that O’Reilly thinks Jesus went to the cross over taxes. That’s astonishingly ignorant, especially coming from a Catholic. Nothing like using one’s political predilections as a hermeneutical tool (but that’s where the Gog = Russia nonsense derives from, too; plenty of hermeneutical twaddle out there in evangelical land).

Anyway, here are some reviews of O’Reilly’s book — mostly from people who know more about Jesus and the gospels than he does. Hope readers find them useful.


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5 Responses to “First the Josephus Code – Now the O’Reilly Code?”

  1. kennethos says:

    Right about now, I’m curious to see if O’Reilly’s previous “Killing Kennedy” and “Killing Lincoln” were actually any good. I’ve no doubt O’Reilly can write about politics, and maybe a bit about history (recent, probably). Ancient history, and religion, are different things, though, so….

  2. aeneas says:

    I feel somewhat divided about this post. I like O’Reilly’s show and think he’s done a great deal of good with it. Not only does he try to be fair in his coverage of political and social matters of today, he also contributes a great deal to charity. Much of the money he makes off his website and his books go to charities. However, I agree that he is not a scholar; instead, he is an experienced news analyst. He should stick to doing the latter, in my opinion. On the other hand, I think I what he’s trying to do with his writings about historical figures is to get people interested in history and complex ideas about history. He’s trying to win people away from focusing on the inconsequential distractions of the present so that they might be better prepared to engage in serious matters that face our country. And let’s face it, most regular folks are not going to read the Word Biblical Commentary or probably not even something by a Darrell Bock and Gary Habermas.

    So, in his imperfect way, O’Reilly is trying to get folks interested in larger matters. But having said that, I don’t like it when he talks about the Bible on his show because he says embarrassing things. Here’s a good example. He has said more than once that much of the Old Testament can’t be taken literally because then we would have to believe things about God that just can’t be true—like God endorsing slavery for instance. For some reason, O’Reilly can’t work out that God was trying to set down laws about having a relationship with Him and not trying to change every custom—no matter how objectionable we might see today—that existed in those times. To put it simply, O’Reilly has a hard time separating out theology from history, and that is probably why his book on Jesus is so uneven in its presentation. But here’s the thing, the folks he is writing to probably see things in the same way. I don’t think in the writing the book, he’s trying to be a huckster, like Dan Brown for instance. I just think he is innocently ignorant and believes he is doing a service by getting the folks to pay attention to bigger issues than technology and football.

    I read and listened to each of the reviews about the book linked on this post and was surprised that all of the reviewers—even his harshest critic, John Byron—had some good things to say about the book. Indeed, Darrell Bock and Gary Habermas actually seem to think it was pretty good. Not having read it, I can’t rush to any real judgments myself. I will say though that I don’t appreciate guys like Byron who imply that O’Reilly is publishing the book for money. O’Reilly already has lots of money, so it is a silly comment on Byron’s part. Also, he obviously doesn’t know all the good O’Reilly has done with his money. But then Byron identifies himself right away as being a political cool aid drinker when he calls O’Reilly a “conservative news pundit.” Obviously Byron is about as ignorant of politics as O’Reilly is of theology.

  3. aeneas says:

    True enough. He would be better sticking to recent history, as kennethos writes above. His heart was in the right place but he’s just out of his league. Sinatra rapping is a good analogy or how about John Wayne playing the centurion in Greatest Story Ever Told: Well, pilgrim, you’d better believe this was the son of God or you’re dead where you stand!!

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