‘We had to separate fact from myth based upon a variety of sources, some of which had their own agendas.’
That is how Bill O’Reilly concludes the Postscript in Killing Jesus; and I think it is helpful to keep in mind as I now review Part III of the book which details Holy Week.
Thankfully, O’Reilly does list the 4 Gospels as one of the many sources he used. However, while he used them, it is not clear that they were always his primary source. Again, much of the focus is on those who are plotting to kill Jesus; the detail on Pilate and Caiaphas and the goings on of Passover in Jerusalem are great, even though it is not always clear as to how O’Reilly came up with these facts.
But when it comes to Jesus, O’Reilly again misses the mark. Part III covers Holy Week; Church tradition agrees that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Sunday and that Monday and Tuesday are ‘quiet days’. For O’Reilly however, he has Jesus in the temple teaching, causing controversy with the religious leaders, who become enraged and begin plotting His death.
The real issue with the O’Reilly Jesus is what is missing: Jesus does not tell Peter that he will deny Him three times; nor is Peter recounted as doing so; even though he makes a point of saying that Peter and John come to watch Jesus’s trial. Nor does Jesus institute the Lord’s Supper; great detail is given of the Passover and of Judas going to the High Priest in order to betray Jesus, but the Lord’s Supper is omitted.
There is also the absence of anything Jesus says while on the cross. All O’Reilly includes is I thirst and It is finished. On his television program, O’Reilly said that the evidence was not there that Jesus said anything else while on the cross; including the discussion between Jesus and the other criminal; between Jesus and John and Mary; and Jesus crying out asking why God had forsaken Him.
Now I suppose if you want to argue that O’Reilly omitted Peter’s denial due to space, I could go with that; although there is a lot of other stuff that could be left out. And I suppose if you want to argue that I would be twice as angry if O’Reilly had described the Lord’s Supper and included some theology; you would be correct. But it is what else O’Reilly left out that is totally inexcusable.
There is no resurrection.
The final chapter ends with Mary Magdelene and Mary approaching the tomb on Sunday; only to find it empty. Worse yet, the book presents the evidence in such a way that there is no clear siding on whether Jesus rose or if the body was stolen. (One could even make the argument from what is presented that Jesus did not even die on the cross, but was merely unconscious.)
I am not sure why O’Reilly would leave the resurrection out, other than that it would fit with the theology of the rest of the book.
There are no miracles. Early in Part III O’Reilly includes as a footnote that there is a legend that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Jesus is repeatedly said to have the power to heal, but no accounts are included of Him healing anyone; including interestingly enough Malchus, who is mentioned as having his ear cut off, but never that it was healed by Jesus.
And this brings up another issue: throughout Part III, Jesus is said to be determined to get to Jerusalem; He knows what is going to happen; He knows the pain and the beatings; He knows what will happen. But O’Reilly’s descriptions leave one to wonder who Jesus is; and if He has refused to describe Himself fully, is Jesus who O’Reilly describes Him as?
Which leaves one to ask: is Bill O’Reilly an adoptionist? Jesus is a very good person, but not the Son of God; and God gives Him a special message and some power, but really Jesus is just an ordinary human being? And now did O’Reilly do this to sell books; or is this what he really believes?
That is the scary part of the book now that I have finished reading it. What has O’Reilly done to Jesus? And how many others think this way as well? It is worth noting that the Trinity is never mentioned; and the absence of a clear resurrection would be in line with some sources, although definitely not the Gospels.
In the end, the source O’Reilly should have started with, the Bible, ended up being just another source judged against a plethora of other sources. That is not a good fight for the Bible; the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God; it contains things that no other book will, and explains things no other book can. So when you try to compare it to other books, it is not going to be a fair fight. The Bible will always win; unless of course, you are not confident in the Bible to begin with.