Here is my second post on Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Jesus from many years ago. As you’ll see, I was no happier about the book once I started reading it than when I was anticipating doing so. But here at least I give some reasons that show my fears were starting to be confirmed. Confirmation bias? Yeah, maybe. But well, in this case, I don’t think so….
I will say, though, I was much feistier eight years ago when I wrote this thing….
I received my copy of Killing Jesus in the mail today and started to glance at it. I know I said I would read it, but I’m just not sure I can bring myself to do it.
The opening “Note to Readers” makes one’s heart sink. We are told that this will be a “fact-based book.” Oh, that’s good, the reader thinks: it won’t be biased but will be objective, based only on facts. Until you begin to read the opening page of ch. 1
“Heavily armed solders from the capital city of Jerusalem are marching to this small town, intent on finding and killing the baby boy. They are a mixed-race group of foreign mercenaries from Greece, Gaul, and Syria….”
Oh dear. So, for our FOX historian of antiquity writing this account – the Gospel according to Bill – who is giving us only “facts,” it turns out that the “slaughter of the innocents” in Bethlehem, taken from Matthew’s infancy narrative, is a factual, historical account. We not only know it happened, we know which soldiers Herod sent forth for killing the Christ-child (foreign mercenaries: and we know which countries they came from! I’m surprised he doesn’t tell us how many there were and what their names, ranks, serial numbers!).
Anyway, back to the Note to the Readers. We are assured that Bill-and-buddy-co-“author” have based their information “on classical works.” That sounds good – no modern, biased accounts, but only ancient accounts will be used. And then we are told how that is possible. This is an actual quote (so are my other quotes, but this one is so hard to believe that I have to assure you, they say it!): “The Romans kept incredible records of the time, and a few Jewish historians in Palestine also wrote down the events of the day.”
And so that’s how we will have a fact-based account, based on classical works. OK, so let’s start with the second half of that statement first. How many “Jewish historians…in Palestine…of the day” do we actually have that they can base their narrative on? Well,
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