Michael Bresciani
Review: Bill O'Reilly's 'Killing Jesus'
By Michael Bresciani
October 3, 2013

O'Reilly has taken on many conservative causes and his work for the Wounded Warrior Project and Megan's Law are nothing to scoff at, and it is easy to stand with O'Reilly's positions on most things even though at times he seems like a pompous crusader mounted on a great steed and charging into battle. He is always likable, but at times, is a royal pain in the posterior, good causes notwithstanding.

The inspiration for KJ – according to Bill O'Reilly

Bill said he got the inspiration to write KJ in the middle of the night. Then he said since he was a Catholic, that meant it was the Holy Spirit that spoke or impressed him to write the book. This writer is in total amazement that Bill would take it upon himself to draw the Holy Spirit into the matter. Some news outlets are already mocking him and we can only wonder why he would put himself in the place where terms like "self-appointed," "self-proclaimed," and "prophet" will be leveled at him endlessly.

I have had a giant's share of extra-biblical revelation and I have both presented it with an explanation of how it came down to the scrutiny of the Bible and subsequently to the public, none of which has kept the scoffers from using terms like "self-proclaimed prophet." Frankly, I could care less what they decide to call me, since I will have to answer for my calling to the one who gave it. O'Reilly is a newsman, always in the public view not a preacher, prophet or theologian – it will be a lot harder for him.

Equating being a Catholic with automatic Holy Spirit inspiration is a bit of a stretch since we are still wondering where the Catholics got the inspiration to conduct the inquisitions.

The thousands of slaughtered French Huguenots, Waldensians and Albigensians by Papal armies, along with the torture of protestant reformers like William Tyndale, who was burned at the stake, will never help much with the idea that Catholics are always inspired by the Holy Spirit. Like America's history of slavery these things must be left to the Great Judge on the last day, but assuming that Catholic equals Holy Spirit inspired – is absurd.

In fairness, since neither I nor anyone else can say that Bill did not hear from the Holy Spirit, we can only examine the book itself. It is there the litmus test is applied. If the O'Reilly-Dugard effort passes the test we cannot go beyond what the ancient Pharisees concluded when examining the Apostle Paul.

"We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God." (Ac 23: 9)

Good promise – bad premise

About a year before KJ was released, Bill began to say that he and co-author Martin Dugard had chosen to bypass the Bible itself and refer only to historical records to write KJ. This writer cringed because it seemed that if you were going to critique one of the most important historical events in the history of the world, you should not discount the basic source for that event.

Bible scholars are not the only ones that would tell you that no history – Josephus, Tacitus, Roman history, et al – is any more accurate than the New Testament. O'Reilly and co-author are skirting very close to full-blown nonsense by saying otherwise. The best equivalent I can think of would be if I wrote this review without ever reading or referring to O'Reilly's book at all, but if I did refer to it I would make sure I told you that other sources and reviews about Killing Jesus were far more trustworthy than the book itself. What?

Is the testimony of twelve chosen men with varied background – the synoptic (parallel) gospels that reveal their three-year-long attendances to his every word and whim – not on the same level as the meanderings of some historian? Can only historians be objective and report without emotional bias? Not a very sound premise for writing a book about the Savior of mankind.

Remember this, when these twelve men started on their journey with Jesus, they did not know who he was, or what he was going say or do – until he actually did it. This is the assurance of objectivity and is to be fully respected, even more than the highly educated historians of that day who were not eyewitnesses of anything.

First chapter, first sentence – this horse stumbles right out of the gate

KJ says in Chapter one, sentence one, "The child with thirty-six years to live is being hunted." No one is certain about Jesus' age, but almost every scholar of New Testament history agrees that he started his public ministry exactly at the age allowed for all pharisaical priests, 30 years of age. That he had three years of public ministry described as the "year of inauguration, the year of popularity, and the year of resistance" is a foregone.

Dugard and O'Reilly take the road less travelled and decide he was 33 at the beginning of his public ministry using the most spurious historical record in existence for that conclusion.

We are already stumbling at the gate, but to be fair, let's move along.

Dumb plugs and other goofy stuff

It seems that the worst plugs for O'Reilly's book come from Bill's own mouth and have raised doubt and the ire of those whose lives are solidly anchored on the Bible's accounts of the life of Christ. It is hard to believe our humble servant, Harvard grad, has not engaged a PR firm instead of bloviating about his own book, it could only help.

One example is when O'Reilly stated that Jesus may not have actually said, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." (Lu 23: 34) Bill thinks that Christ would not have breath enough to say those words and even if he did the hearers would be pushed too far back by the Roman soldiers to hear them.

This seems totally silly when it is seen that Jesus' mother and his disciples were close enough to him to hear the instructions Jesus gave to the apostle John on taking care of his mother in the future. He spoke these words only moments before his death. To wit:

"When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home." (Jn 19: 26, 27)

Next our steed bogs down in overstated histories

Bill was careful to state clearly and often that KJ would be a book based on history. The initial chapters not only prove that he meant business, but they bog down a bit in the muddy waters of overstatement.

The protracted history of the Roman emperors and then of Israel's Herod may for a while leave the reader to wonder if O'Reilly forgot where he was going.

A lot is known about Herod, but after his slaughter of about two hundred babies in Bethlehem, we hardly need to know that he also suffered from the rotting (gout and or gonorrhea) of his own testicles. While not inaccurate, the demise of Herod is no high point in the entire narrative.

A remarkable recovery in the stretch and an amazing victory in the end

Although many of the private conversations between Jesus and his mother, for instance, are no more than historical embellishments or fiction, the narrative as a whole is true to the Bible record.

In fact, it may be that O'Reilly may have pulled off one of the most amazing feats in modern times. In this day when media is shutting out the gospel and with major evangelistic forces like the aging Billy Graham and the late D. James Kennedy no longer influencing the nation, O'Reilly and Dugard may have just pulled off a coup d'état of enormous proportions in the resistant, almost antichrist atmosphere of today's media.

Whether it was done wittingly or unwittingly, one thing is clear, O'Reilly will be responsible for millions of people reading the gospel message even though they would never pick up a Bible in their entire lifetimes. This is no small feat!

Maybe the Holy Spirit did call O'Reilly to write this one!

'Killing Jesus' yes! – but why

It must never be confused. Jesus Christ did not die by mistake; he was not the victim of religious jealousy, political upheaval or just plain stupidity.

When Pontius Pilate reminded Jesus that his life was in his hands, Jesus reminded Pilate that he came into the world for the very purpose of dying for the sins of the world. (Jn 18: 37) Pilate was a pawn in the will of God and little more.

God the Father had determined long before this world began that Christ would be sent to die for the sins of fallen man. His love for mankind long proceeded the days of our present suffering and difficulty.

"Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain." (Ac 2: 23)

The miracle being performed in the death of Christ was the redemption of man. Now, anyone who will, may come to the fountain of life and partake of the full effect of that miracle.

"To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation." (2Co 5: 19)

Killing Jesus was for the good, but what is next?

One beautiful stallion at the head and millions of equally majestic horses will come across the great finish line of history with Christ in the lead. This is prophecy, it fills about one quarter of the Bible and it is pre-written history. This is what noted commentator and radioman Paul Harvey would have called "The rest of the story." To wit:

"And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS." (Rev 19: 11–16)

Note: Mr. O'Reilly's book is generally on point, but my best advice for anyone who wants to know more about Jesus Christ is to go directly to the Bible, starting with the gospels. Michael Bresciani


'Killing Allegory' – A New York Times Bestseller?

Mr. O'Reilly, Wise Up – 'Bible Thumper' is a derogatory term

© Michael Bresciani


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)


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