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Colbert on his Hero O’Reilly

OK, this really is my last post on O’Reilly’s Killing Jesus.   It’s not much of one!   But today is the day I normally take “off” from the blog.  Monday’s are my day from hell:  a three-hour undergraduate seminar (“Jesus in Scholarship and Film”) in the morning (today: students compared all the accounts of Jesus’ Passion in the four Gospels, seeing if there were any differences they thought were irreconcilable; we discussed it all; and then we watched four movie clips – Passion scenes from the 1925 silent Ben Hur; the 1959 Ben Hur; the Greatest Story Ever Told; and the 1977 Zephirelli Jesus of Nazareth – in order to see how directors chose what to include, what to exclude, what to do when different Gospels relate different stories, that sometimes really can’t be easily reconciled, etc.   Great stuff) and then a three hour seminar (“Early Christian Apocrypha”) in the afternoon (today: The Coptic Gospel of Thomas - -when was it written? Where? In what language?  Is it dependent on the NT Gospels?  Is it Gnostic?  [...]

Jesus as a First-Century Tea-Partier

I have decided not to provide a full and detailed review of O’Reilly’s Killing Jesus.  It doesn’t really deserve it, and much more of what I have indicated before – on which see my previous posts.  I will say that the book is extremely well written and easy on the eyes.   It is entertaining.  A lot of human-interest material, which is both its strength and its very great weakness, as almost all of this, as I’ve mentioned before, is simply MADE UP, even though it is presented as if were historical fact.   There is page after page after page of that kind of thing.   This is not a research book written by a scholar and his writing buddy -- with, for example, footnotes indicating where they got their information from.  It can’t be that, since almost all of the details didn’t come from ancient sources but from their own fertile imaginations   And since that is the main source for the Gospel according to Bill, and since most of us know what Bill’s imagination spends its [...]

Riled by O’Reilly

OK, I know I promised to read and review Killing Jesus. But I’m not sure I can do it. It’s just so aggravating. Pointing out its flaws is like shooting fish in a barrel. I’ll make one general comment in this post and in the next one mention one of the leading themes of the book to show why its so problematic and then, unless I have a complete change of heart or people ask me pointed questions, I think I’ll just let it go. For now, a general comment. I was one of the 4893 people who wrote a book *about* the Da Vinci Code (Truth and Fiction in the Da Vinci Code: A Historian Reveals What We Really Know about Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Constantine, 2004). The other 4892 people, so far as I know, were religious – usually religious scholars – who were afraid that Dan Brown might lead the faithful astray by his wild claims, and for religious reasons wanted to set the record straight. As an agnostic, that was nowhere [...]

2020-04-03T18:09:31-04:00October 4th, 2013|Book Discussions, Historical Jesus, Religion in the News|

Killing Jesus is Killing Me….

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 [...]

Bill O’Reilly’s Jesus

Several people have (urgently) asked me to write up a review of the new blockbuster hit, Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Jesus.   So, my short answer to the request is that, well, I haven’t read it.   It did just come out after all!   But I see it is – from the get-go – the #1 book (in the world!) on Amazon.  I will obviously have to read it:  just as I have to read Reza Aslan’s Zealot.   The latter I will be reading over the next month or so in conjunction with my course on “Jesus in Scholarship and Film,” since otherwise I won’t be able to grade my students’ book reviews of it!   But I will not be assigning O’Reilly, since it just came out and I won’t be changing my syllabus. I’ve ordered the O’Reilly book (against my wishes; I really don’t want to “contribute  to the cause.”  But I obviously have to read it) and will be able to give an evaluation soon enough.   For now I should make just a couple of comments. [...]

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