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Five things Bill O’Reilly flubs in 'Killing Jesus'
October 4th, 2013
07:09 PM ET

Five things Bill O’Reilly flubs in 'Killing Jesus'

Opinion by Candida Moss, Special to CNN

(CNN)--Bill O’Reilly’s "Killing Jesus: A History" is the best-selling book in the world right now. But it’s far from flawless.

The Holy Spirit may have inspired "Killing Jesus," but he didn’t fact-check it.

Here are five ways it shows: 

1. Not everything Roman historians tell you is true

Of the first 80 or so pages of "Killing Jesus," only 15 are about Jesus himself. The rest is history, biography, and politics of the ancient Mediterranean. Much of this is gleaned from Roman and Jewish historians like the imperial biographer Suetonius and the Jewish general Josephus.

These are authors that O’Reilly trusts implicitly. Maybe it’s because Suetonius reads like the National Enquirer, maybe it’s because the Romans loved eagles, but whatever the reason, O’Reilly gives them too much credit.

The Romans were fantastic record-keepers but had different standards for their history writing. O’Reilly refers to the acta diurna – a sort of proto-newspaper recording political events, marriages, and divorces that was read aloud in public – as evidence for accuracy in Roman record-keeping.

But he is wrong to see these as transparent statements of fact.

They were propagandistic: the Roman orator Cicero complains that he is misrepresented in the daily reports, and the Roman governor Pliny retells a story he had heard in which a dog jumped in the river after his deceased owner. It’s a little more Buzzfeed than Wall Street Journal.

2. Paul was not a Christian

According to O’Reilly, Paul was “a former Pharisee who became a convert to Christianity.” Paul was not a Christian; he was a Jew who moved from one branch of Judaism to another.

He never uses the word Christian. It seems that the early members of the Jesus movement referred to themselves as followers of “the Way.”

The word Christian wasn’t used until the end of the first century C.E. The first generation of Jesus' followers lived and died as Jews.

3. The Pharisees were not self-righteous bloviators.

The same old caricature of Pharisees as “arrogant,” “haughty,” and legalistic pervades the book. There is biblical support for this view from the Gospels, but O’Reilly and Dugard claim to be writing history and separating ”myth” from “fiction.”

For the past 30 years, scholarship on the Pharisees has shown that the Pharisees were not hyper-legalistic hypocrites. To make things worse, the authors seem to think that John the Baptist told the Pharisees either to burn or be condemned to hell (a rather peculiar reading of Luke 3:17).

The irony here is that our modern stereotypes of the Pharisees are grounded in Protestant critiques of Catholicism. Protestant Reformers saw Catholics as just like the biblical Pharisees, championing faith through works, and lumped the two groups together as legalizers and hypocrites. O’Reilly and Dugard, being Catholic, are actually stereotyping themselves.

4. Jesus was/wasn’t political

Any follower of Internet memes knows that Jesus can be made to say anything. O’Reilly has vacillated between saying (on his television show "The O’Reilly Factor") that Jesus was not political and arguing in his book that Jesus died to interrupt the revenue stream from the Temple and Rome and that "Jews everywhere long for the coming of a messiah ... [because] Rome will be defeated and their lives will be free of taxation and want."

Even though there’s no evidence for a direct financial link between the Temple and Rome, there’s no doubt that Jesus advocated for the poor. But O’Reilly needs to make up his mind. Is Jesus the man of the people seeking to liberate the oppressed from a heavy tax burden, or is he a peaceful man of God just trying to make a difference?

5. History isn’t just a word, it’s a discipline

O’Reilly acknowledges (correctly) that it’s difficult to look past the agendas of his sources and separate the myth from the history.

Historians prefer early sources and events that are documented in multiple (preferably independent) sources. O’Reilly puts all of this aside and cherry-picks episodes from whichever Gospel version he seems to prefer.

He will sometimes omit stories if they seem historically implausible, but he doesn’t do this consistently. He omits Jesus' words, from the Gospel of Luke, as he is being crucified: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  In his CBS interview he explained that it was impossible for people to speak audibly while they were crucified. Fair enough; but then why does he include Jesus’s final words from the Gospel of John: “It is finished”? Is there something about the word “forgiveness” that sticks in the throat?

Apart from the methodological problems, the entire book is written in the style of a novel, not a history book. We hear the thoughts of Herod as he orders the execution of the male children of Bethlehem, for instance. It’s entertaining, but it’s historical fan fiction, not history.

Editor’s Note: Candida Moss is a professor of New Testament and early Christianity at the University of Notre Dame and author of The Myth of Persecution.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Jesus • Opinion • TV

soundoff (2,100 Responses)
  1. Mike P

    The author's objection that "Paul was not a Christian" seems rather silly. Regardless of what Christians were called in the first century, Christians is what they were, not Jews. Especially since Paul wasn't interested in keeping the Jewish law after converting.

    October 6, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
    • rc

      And inaccurate. The Bible (specifically the book of Acts, written by the historian-disciple Luke) states that the disciples were "first called Christians at Antioch". They didn't call themselves Christians, other people did, in Antioch. The "early members of the Jesus movement" were both Jews and non-Jews, but anyone who did and who does subscribe to the belief that Jesus was the Messiah (Hebrew word), the Christ (Greek word) was or is a Christian. The apostle Paul was a Christian, whether he referred to himself as one or not.

      Also, Paul kept Jewish law as long it didn't conflict with Christian teachings. Being an apostle to whom Jesus directly appeared, and who also studied the Christian teachings before becoming an evangelist in his own right, he had very good knowledge of what conflicted and what didn't, especially considering his upbringing which would have included rhetoric and critical thinking. He continually debated and pushed people to reason out their faith rather than blindly believe. What Paul had no interest in following was the extra set of Jewish laws that regional Jewish leaders had set up out of legalism, self-interest, and tradition that added to the teachings of the Old Testament but were taught by them as equivalent as doctrine. That is what Paul, as well as Jesus, blasted.

      October 6, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
      • james

        keep up the good work. j

        October 6, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
      • Don

        Well stated, rc. Hopefully others will read you and better understand.

        October 6, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
      • Julia Gershon

        The term 'Pharisees' means 'reasoners', or those who seek meaning. All Jews today are Pharisees, which is to say, we work at understanding, refining, and re-interpreting the Hebrew Bible. That re-interpretation, or Oral Law, is considered holy also. Is it this which Paul attacked? Because, among the Jews, the only alternative was to accept the Bible literally as written. That's what the Sadduccees did. They died out. We remain.

        October 7, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
  2. Kebos

    Belief in the almighty American dollar is what inspired this book!

    October 6, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
  3. Vic

    Regardless of the semantics, Apostle Paul was a believer in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior; in today's terms, that makes him a Christian.

    Also, according to the Bible, Jesus Christ appeared to Paul (then Saul) on the road to Damascus, and commissioned him to deliver the "Good News" of the "Kingdom of Heaven."

    Galatians 1:1-5
    "1 Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead), 2 and all the brethren who are with me,

    To the churches of Galatia:

    3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil [b]age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen."

    Galatians 1:11-24
    "11 For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

    13 For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it; 14 and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions. 15 But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased 16 to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus.

    18 Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas, and stayed with him fifteen days. 19 But I did not see any other of the apostles except James, the Lord’s brother. 20 (Now in what I am writing to you, I assure you before God that I am not lying.) 21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22 I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea which were in Christ; 23 but only, they kept hearing, “He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they were glorifying God because of me."

    All Scripture Is From:

    New American Standard Bible (NASB)
    Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

    http://www.biblegateway.com/

    October 6, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
  4. Mark

    If you believe God doesn't exist, does all your effort to convince people to believe like you really matter? After you and I die, nothing happens. Science says the sun is going to engulf the Earth in a billion years. It's all going to end for everyone one way or another. Why such passion? Yet, if you believe in God, then everything does matter, in this life and the after life!

    October 6, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
    • Bob

      Mark, I'm saddened for you that you don't have faith.

      October 9, 2013 at 12:08 am |
  5. Toodles

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDEa-vIbujg&w=640&h=360]

    October 6, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
    • Robin

      That was adorable and funny!

      October 6, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
    • Seth

      What's the point? Do you read O'Reilly books?

      October 6, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
      • Robin

        No, Sir! I don't read Bill O'Reilly's or Moss' books.

        I would prefer to read the Bible and apply those principles in life.

        Have you read the Bible? Have you memorized the books of the Bible like this little child?

        October 6, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
        • LP

          Memorization does not imply understanding.

          October 6, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
  6. was blind, but now I see

    2. Paul was not a Christian

    I wonder, then, why Paul opened almost all of his letters with, "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ..."?

    October 6, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
    • UncleBenny

      Because it was still a Jewish sect.

      October 6, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
  7. Mark

    There must be some evolutionary reason for religion. All cultures in all times have had a religion of some sort. Evolution is smarter than all of us so why fight it. So I believe in God!

    October 6, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
  8. was blind, but now I see

    O'Reilly is NOT a Christian. He's a Catholic.

    October 6, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
    • Respondez

      LOL

      October 6, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
    • Respondez

      Very crafty how the Protestants finally rebranded themselves "Christians" when they realized that "Protestant" had negative connotations.

      October 6, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
      • Bibletruth

        When a christian (protestant) is asked. what are you protesting? they should tell the inquirer that protestantism is protesting Roman Catholic perversion which is evident through their entire belief system from the immaculate conception lie to their wafer is the actual body and blood of christ to their indulgences lie to their purgatory lie to their baby baptism lie to their confession to a priest lie to their total gospel perversions and a 100 things within all that. What Roman Catholics believe/say and what the bible says are two opposite things and can never be in harmony, and every bible christian should be boldy protesting the perversions. If protestants knew what being a protestant really meant and living in a free country which freely allows the speaking of such things boldly, think of how many catholics would accept bible truth and follow Christ the Savior.

        October 6, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
      • Hill Topper

        Protestant had no bad comnotations where I grew up. As a matter of fact never heard that anywhere 'til you said it.

        October 7, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
    • Larry Clyburn

      Your'e right. And the author of this piece can't really even call herself that. Notre Dame should be ashamed as she doesn't line herself up with Catholic doctrine but yet they let her teach at their university. Of course, that's no surprise given that they gave Obama an honorary degree. No, neither she nor O'Reilly are Christian. Her arguments are foolish and ill-founded. O'Reilly's accuracy in the book is also a problem, but then what do we expect.

      October 6, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
  9. Anyone notice how this blog has deleted all pro O'Reilly comments?

    Anyone notice how this blog has deleted all pro O'Reilly comments? Funny how censorship seems to be the rule in the Communist News Network. I bet I never see this published.

    October 6, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
    • Sunflower52

      Gee, I guess you could say....you were wrong, since your comment was posted. Are you man enough to do that?

      October 6, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
  10. Sunflower52

    Wait...you mean Obama didn't kill Jesus?!?

    October 6, 2013 at 10:08 am |
  11. Mack Hall

    Re 'It seems that the early members of the Jesus movement referred to themselves as followers of “the Way.”' – Why the unreferenced pronoun and the passive voice?

    Otherwise, I really enjoyed your think-piece.

    Easy, Neal; you'll pop an artery.

    October 6, 2013 at 9:53 am |
  12. ronjayaz

    As my dearly parted, somewhat sainted mother used to say, "O'Reilly is full of apple-crapple."

    October 6, 2013 at 8:28 am |
  13. Reality # 2

    Then there is the following website for those who do not want to waste their money on O'Reilly's "nothing new" book. Aslan's Zealot and also Ehrman's book Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth
    are in the same "nothing new" category.

    Historical Jesus Theories, earlychristianwritings.com/theories.htm – the names of many of the contemporary historical Jesus scholars and the ti-tles of their over 100 books on the subject.

    October 6, 2013 at 7:26 am |
  14. Neal

    Jesus is simply Judeo Christian MYTH! Not a single historical character ever saw him walk the earth!

    October 6, 2013 at 7:17 am |
    • Reality # 2

      A guide to find the historic Jesus:

      Only for new visitors-

      From Professors Crossan and Watts' book, Who is Jesus.

      "That Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate, as the Creed states, is as certain as anything historical can ever be.

      “ The Jewish historian, Josephus and the pagan historian Tacitus both agree that Jesus was executed by order of the Roman governor of Judea. And is very hard to imagine that Jesus' followers would have invented such a story unless it indeed happened.

      “While the brute fact that of Jesus' death by crucifixion is historically certain, however, those detailed narratives in our present gospels are much more problematic. "

      “My best historical reconstruction would be something like this. Jesus was arrested during the Passover festival, most likely in response to his action in the Temple. Those who were closest to him ran away for their own safety.

      I do not presume that there were any high-level confrontations between Caiaphas and Pilate and Herod Antipas either about Jesus or with Jesus. No doubt they would have agreed before the festival that fast action was to be taken against any disturbance and that a few examples by crucifixion might be especially useful at the outset. And I doubt very much if Jewish police or Roman soldiers needed to go too far up the chain of command in handling a Galilean peasant like Jesus. It is hard for us to imagine the casual brutality with which Jesus was probably taken and executed. All those "last week" details in our gospels, as distinct from the brute facts just mentioned, are prophecy turned into history, rather than history remembered."

      See also Professor Crossan's reviews of the existence of Jesus in his other books especially, The Historical Jesus and also Excavating Jesus (with Professor Jonathan Reed doing the archeology discussion) .

      Other NT exegetes to include members of the Jesus Seminar have published similar books with appropriate supporting references.

      Part of Crossan's The Historical Jesus has been published online at books.google.com/books.

      There is also a search engine for this book on the right hand side of the opening page. e.g. Search Josephus

      See also Wikipedia's review on the historical Jesus to include the Tacitus' reference to the crucifixion of Jesus.

      From ask.com,

      "One of the greatest historians of ancient Rome, Cornelius Tacitus is a primary source for much of what is known about life the first and second centuries after the life of Jesus. His most famous works, Histories and Annals, exist in fragmentary form, though many of his earlier writings were lost to time. Tacitus is known for being generally reliable (if somewhat biased toward what he saw as Roman immorality) and for having a uniquely direct (if not blunt) writing style.

      Then there are these scriptural references:

      Crucifixion of Jesus:(1) 1 Cor 15:3b; (2a) Gos. Pet. 4:10-5:16,18-20; 6:22; (2b) Mark 15:22-38 = Matt 27:33-51a = Luke 23:32-46; (2c) John 19:17b-25a,28-36; (3) Barn. 7:3-5; (4a) 1 Clem. 16:3-4 (=Isaiah 53:1-12); (4b) 1 Clem. 16.15-16 (=Psalm 22:6-8); (5a) Ign. Mag. 11; (5b) Ign. Trall. 9:1b; (5c) Ign. Smyrn. 1.2.- (read them all at wiki.faithfutures. Crucifixion org/index.php/005_Crucifixion_Of_Jesus )

      Added suggested readings:

      o 1. Historical Jesus Theories, earlychristianwritings.com/theories.htm – the names of many of the contemporary historical Jesus scholars and the ti-tles of their over 100 books on the subject.

      2. Early Christian Writings, earlychristianwritings.com/
      – a list of early Christian doc-uments to include the year of publication–

      30-60 CE Passion Narrative
      40-80 Lost Sayings Gospel Q
      50-60 1 Thessalonians
      50-60 Philippians
      50-60 Galatians
      50-60 1 Corinthians
      50-60 2 Corinthians
      50-60 Romans
      50-60 Philemon
      50-80 Colossians
      50-90 Signs Gospel
      50-95 Book of Hebrews
      50-120 Didache
      50-140 Gospel of Thomas
      50-140 Oxyrhynchus 1224 Gospel
      50-200 Sophia of Jesus Christ
      65-80 Gospel of Mark
      70-100 Epistle of James
      70-120 Egerton Gospel
      70-160 Gospel of Peter
      70-160 Secret Mark
      70-200 Fayyum Fragment
      70-200 Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs
      73-200 Mara Bar Serapion
      80-100 2 Thessalonians
      80-100 Ephesians
      80-100 Gospel of Matthew
      80-110 1 Peter
      80-120 Epistle of Barnabas
      80-130 Gospel of Luke
      80-130 Acts of the Apostles
      80-140 1 Clement
      80-150 Gospel of the Egyptians
      80-150 Gospel of the Hebrews
      80-250 Christian Sibyllines
      90-95 Apocalypse of John
      90-120 Gospel of John
      90-120 1 John
      90-120 2 John
      90-120 3 John
      90-120 Epistle of Jude
      93 Flavius Josephus
      100-150 1 Timothy
      100-150 2 Timothy
      100-150 T-itus
      100-150 Apocalypse of Peter
      100-150 Secret Book of James
      100-150 Preaching of Peter
      100-160 Gospel of the Ebionites
      100-160 Gospel of the Nazoreans
      100-160 Shepherd of Hermas
      100-160 2 Peter

       4. Jesus Database, http://www.faithfutures.o-rg/JDB/intro.html –"The JESUS DATABASE is an online a-nnotated inventory of the traditions concerning the life and teachings of Jesus that have survived from the first three centuries of the Common Era. It includes both canonical and extra-canonical materials, and is not limited to the traditions found within the Christian New Testament."
      5. Josephus on Jesus mtio.com/articles/bis-sar24.htm
      6. The Jesus Seminar, http://en.wikipedia.o-rg/wiki/Jesus_Seminar
      7. http://www.biblicalartifacts.com/items/785509/item785509biblicalartifacts.html – books on the health and illness during the time of the NT
      8. Economics in First Century Palestine, K.C. Hanson and D. E. Oakman, Palestine in the Time of Jesus, Fortress Press, 1998.
      9.The Gn-ostic Jesus
      (Part One in a Two-Part Series on A-ncient and Modern G-nosticism)
      by Douglas Gro-othuis: http://www.equip.o-rg/articles/g-nosticism-and-the-g-nostic-jesus/
      10. The interpretation of the Bible in the Church, Pontifical Biblical Commission
      Presented on March 18, 1994
      ewtn.com/library/CURIA/PBCINTER.HTM#2
      11. The Jesus Database- newer site:
      wiki.faithfutures.o-rg/index.php?t-itle=Jesus_Database
      12. Jesus Database with the example of S-u-pper and Eucharist:
      faithfutures.o-rg/JDB/jdb016.html
      13. Josephus on Jesus by Paul Maier:
      mtio.com/articles/bis-sar24.htm
      13. http://www.textweek.com/mtlk/jesus.htmm- Historical Jesus Studies
      14. The Greek New Testament: laparola.net/greco/
      15. D-iseases in the Bible:
      http://books.google.com/books/about/The_d-iseases_of_the_Bible.html?id=C1YZAAAAYAAJ

      16. Religion on Line (6000 articles on the history of religion, churches, theologies,
      theologians, ethics, etc.
      religion-online.o-rg/

       17. The New Testament Gateway – Internet NT ntgateway.com/
      18. Writing the New Testament- e-xisting copies, o-ral tradition etc.
      ntgateway.com/
      19. JD Crossan's c-onclusions about the a-uthencity of most of the NT based on the above plus the c-onclusions of other NT e-xege-tes in the last 200 years:
      http://wiki.faithfutures.o-rg/index.p-hp?t-itle=Crossan_Inventory
      20. Early Jewish Writings- Josephus and his books by t-itle with the complete translated work in English :earlyjewishwritings.com/josephus.html
      21. Luke and Josephus- was there a c-onnection?
      in-fidels.o-rg/library/modern/richard_carrier/lukeandjosephus.html
      22. NT and beyond time line:
      pbs.o-rg/empires/pe-terandpaul/history/timeline/
      23. St. Paul's Time line with discussion of important events:
      harvardhouse.com/prophetictech/new/pauls_life.htm
      24. See http://www.amazon.com for a list of JD Crossan's books and those of the other Jesus Seminarians: Reviews of said books are included and selected pages can now be viewed on Amazon. Some books can be found on-line at Google Books.
      25. Father Edward Schillebeeckx's words of wisdom as found in his books.
      27. The books of the following : Professors Gerd Ludemann, Marcus Borg, Paula Fredriksen, Elaine Pagels, Karen Armstrong and Bishop NT Wright.
      28. Father Raymond Brown's An Introduction to the New Testament, Doubleday, NY, 1977, 878 pages, with Nihil obstat and Imprimatur.
      29. Luke Timothy Johnson's book The Real Jesus

      October 6, 2013 at 7:29 am |
      • MennoKnight

        If you think that Jesus was only a myth then why is there so much evidence that he lived? See above.

        October 6, 2013 at 10:35 am |
        • John

          Just like evolution?

          October 6, 2013 at 11:01 am |
        • Rynomite

          Even if Jebus existed, it doesn't mean he was anything other than a man who was executed like a common slave.

          Using Josephus as a source always cracks me up when you consider he also wrote about how Heracles was a real person.

          October 6, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
        • realbuckyball

          The purpose of Josephus' book was to show Vespasian (the emperor who was paying him), was the messiah. The section which Christian monks added (dishonestly) to their copy of Josephus, is an obvious forgery. The oldest copy is in the museum in Milan. The verses in question are pathetically obviously a forgery. Different handwriting, and different ink. The text doesn't flow from the subject that's being discussed. It's junk "evidence".

          October 6, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
      • realbuckyball

        There is no evidence that Jebus ever existed, In fact (see Dr. Richard Carrier's videos on YouTube), are are good reason to think he didn't. There is no reason to accept the statements of "believers" as evidence. They lived in an age of magic, where miracle workers were a dime a dozen, the are self-admitted LIARS.
        http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/forum/Thread-Deception-in-the-early-church?page=2
        There were Jewish historians ON SITE, IN Jerusalem, who talked about far less important things, and NEVER ONCE mentioned the Jebus stuff. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philo
        Sorry. At least there is some evidence for the other messiahs.
        Simon of Perea, (birth announced by Gabriel, died, rose in 3 days,..sound familiar), and Simon bar Kochba.

        October 6, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
        • dmcal52

          Well, I don't know about you bucky, but if I was one of the disciples during the time when persecution and death was taking place for being a follower of Christ, I certainly would not be willing to be persecuted and killed for a lie. The disciples were scattered all over and could have confessed that everything that they had testified about Jesus was a lie, but not one of them did. Instead, they were all willing to die keeping the testimony of Jesus and the gospel, which is the same thing that anyone who calls himself/herself a Christian should be ready to do. If you don't believe in him, then you can tell him that yourself when you stand before him.

          October 6, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
      • realbuckyball

        "And is very hard to imagine that Jesus' followers would have invented such a story unless it indeed happened."

        LOL. I beg to differ. For people with the satndard that "pious fraud" was acceptable, anything is imaginable.

        October 6, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
      • Reality # 2

        As previously referenced: See the following website for a good review of Josephus and his records.

        http://www.mtio.com/articles/bissar24.htm

        An excerpt:

        "Scholars fall into three main camps on the first and longer paragraph on Jesus (18:63) which occurs amid events during Pilate's administration: 1) it is entirely authentic; 2) it is entirely a Christian forgery; or 3) it contains Christian interpolations in what was Josephus' authentic material about Jesus. The first option, held by very few, would seem hopeless: no Jew could have claimed Jesus as the Messiah who rose from the dead without converting to Christianity, and Josephus did not convert. The second position, popular in late nineteenth-century skeptical scholarship, has some minor current support. A large majority of scholars today, however, share the third position (favored in these pages), particularly in view of the newly-discovered Agapian text which shows no signs of interpolation.
        "

        October 6, 2013 at 11:42 pm |
  15. Mirosal

    If Bill O'Reilly is alone in a forest out of earshot of anyone, and he opens his mouth, is he still wrong?

    October 6, 2013 at 7:14 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      Why not you always are.

      October 6, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
  16. Hello

    Check The Web site Caesar's Messiah...

    October 6, 2013 at 5:48 am |
    • Neal

      Yeah, he's got it right. Jesus is a fairy tale! Even gospel writers never saw an earthly Jesus!

      October 6, 2013 at 7:20 am |
      • dmcal52

        Well Neal, there is only one way for you and everyone else to know the truth about salvation through Christ and that will be when you take your last breath and depart from your body. Those who are in Christ when they die, their spirits/souls will depart and go to be in Christ's presense. But for those who die rejecting Christ, they will be taken to Hades where they will stay until the end of the millennium, where they will be resurrected out of Hades and will stand at the great white throne and be judged for every idle word that they spoke while alive, including what you wrote here in this blog, that is of course unless you receive Christ before you take that last breath, then this and everything else will be forgiven, otherwise you will be accountable for it.

        October 6, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
  17. jarhead333

    You speak like you know the Bible, but if you did, you would realize that the people did expect Jesus to be the King of Earth. That was kind of the point.

    October 5, 2013 at 11:44 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      jarhead333,

      Is that why something like 99% (+/-) of the Jews living in that location at the time the alleged Jesus preached (and allegedly did all sorts of wowie zowie miracles 'n stuff) did NOT believe it - even as much as they yearned for the 'Messiah'?

      Heck, even Joseph Smith did a more effective job of promoting his schtick. 150 years after Jesus's time there were relatively few believers - Mormonism hit about 14 million adherents all over the world in a similar time frame.

      October 6, 2013 at 12:09 am |
      • jarhead333

        Nothing you said actually pertained to my post. In fact, I bet all of what you stated was made up too.

        October 6, 2013 at 12:24 am |
        • A Frayed Knot

          jarhead,

          Frankly, your post was pretty va.gue. Who is "you"? And who is "the people"?

          You can look up the estimated number of Christians in the 2nd century and the number of Mormons now (150 yrs post-founding)... percentage-wise, ol' Joe's flock spread much faster.

          October 6, 2013 at 2:18 am |
      • dmcal52

        A Frayed Knot, the reason that much of the Jewish population didn't believe, especially the Pharisees and the teachers of the law was because of the following prophecy against them:

        "9He said, “Go and tell this people:

        “ ‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ Make the heart of this people calloused;
        make their ears dull and close their eyes.a Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
        hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”

        Jesus quoted the above from Isaiah and that is why they didn't believe in him. Further more, Jesus said that the Phariseesj,the chief priests and the elders did everything to be seen by men, because they loved their religious positions, to be greeted in the market place, to have the seats of honor at feast, etc. and Jesus' threatened all of that.

        Whoever has the Son has life, but whoever does not have the Son does not have life.

        October 6, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
        • jpherling

          The reason Jewish people have never believed that Yehoshuah ben Yosef was neither a messiah, nor a god, nor a son of a god, is that they knew him during his own lifetime, they knew exactly who and what he was and wasn't, and passed that sure knowledge down to their descendants.

          October 6, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
  18. jpherling

    1) Everything that Josephus wrote about events that occurred before he was born, and that includes the first thirty three years A.D., are suspect, because he wasn't a historian in the modern sense of the word, and it cannot be taken for granted that he used modern techniques in assembling his narrative. 2) Paul of Tarsus didn't start out as a Christian, but he became the first Christian in our understanding of that term. In fact, he was the founder of Christianity, having fabricated the doctrines that make Christianity a distinct religion. 3) O'Reilly doesn't go far enough in describing the extent of the rebellion of Yehoshuah ben Yosef (the name of the person usually referred to as Jesus, if he ever really existed). Positing his actual existence, it's safe to say that, being a Jew, he thought what Jews thought, felt what Jews felt, and wanted what Jews wanted. In my opinion, he did in fact believe, and induced a lot of other people to believe, that he was the Messiah, in the Jewish sense of the word – a man anointed by God to deliver the Jews from their earthly oppressors, the Romans, and establish the kingdom of God in Jerusalem during his own lifetime. In fact, he believed he would be the king of that earthly kingdom. He was a splendid teacher of morality, but a miserable failure at inciting the rebellion against Rome, which he attempted at the Temple, and paid the price for that failure.

    October 5, 2013 at 11:36 pm |
    • guest

      ."... In fact, he believed he would be the king of that earthly kingdom." How can you make this a statement of fact when earlier you show doubts that Jesus even exited? Jesus told Pilot that his kingdom was not of this world. The kingdom that Jesus taught about was a spiritual kingdom.

      October 6, 2013 at 1:52 am |
      • jpherling

        I did say "positing his existence". It's also positing some degree of historical accuracy in the highly dubious accounts of the Synoptic Gospels, which were based entirely on oral tradition.

        October 6, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
      • jpherling

        Pilate is said to have asked him "Are you the king the Jews?" to which Yeshosuah ben Yosef answered "yes", so that made him a king of this world, in his opinion, didn't it? If you want to consider the two accounts contradictory, that could be explained by the fact that both are oral tradition, not being recorded and written by any witness to the actual events (if there were any actual events).

        October 6, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
    • guest

      If you have any reply to this reply I'll read it tomorrow.

      October 6, 2013 at 1:57 am |
    • Colin

      The picture you paint of Jesus is much more likely accurate than the simple, fairytale version taught in most Sunday schools today.

      October 6, 2013 at 6:18 am |
    • Julia Gershon

      JPherling makes a very important point. The Jewish concept of messiah NEVER implied divinity; in this, it differs hugely from the Christian idea of messiah. The Jewish Messiah was believed to be someone who would lead the Jews to victory over their oppressors, and a peaceful existence in their homeland. When Jesus was executed, it was clear to the Jews that he was definitely not that.
      Only then was the concept of a resurrection invented - to sort of revise the job description of 'messiah'.

      October 7, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.