Bill O’Reilly, failed reporter, failed theologian @oreillyfactor @natgeo

I heard about this a few days ago when, while listening to Martin Bashir. His theology, well Reformed, was nearly as distasteful to me as Bill’s molestation of Jesus. So, when this started popping on my newsfeed, I thought I might take this time to respond.

First, watch.

Bill O'Reilly
Cover of Bill O’Reilly

Second, we all know Bill is writing a book on who killed Jesus. Now, NatGeo is going to produce a special on it. His previous “who killed who” books have been dismissed by historians and even by the facts. In his book on JFK, he claims to have been in one crucial spot when he really wasn’t. Bill O’Reilly is no historian. He is a poor mimic at best.

So, Bill is claiming that the situation then is like now. How quint. Bill misses more than a few things — such as Jesus was most likely seen as a leveler. Leveler’s, as you know, were more socialist than capitalist. It wasn’t about taxes — it was about the oppressive oligarchy. Ugh. I hate anachronism and here I am, doing it.

Jesus didn’t die because of taxes. At no point either in the Gospels or Paul do we see a Jesus who was a member of the Tea Party. For the life of me, I cannot understand why NatGeo would unabashedly produce such tripe. Will they even seek another opinion? I know a bunch of scholars ready to state the truth.

Wonder if I could send NatGeo my book?

Color me disgusted.

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Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

10 thoughts on “Bill O’Reilly, failed reporter, failed theologian @oreillyfactor @natgeo”

  1. O’Reilly is not being dumb, he is promoting his book. I’m not a fan of his but I would wait to see what the book says before making a decision. A case can be made that tha Roman oppression (taxes) was involved in the unrest that threatened the Jewish leaders that were comfortable under Roman rule as long as peace was maintained. They must have seen Jesus as a threat to the peace and their comfort. This is outside of any theology in my opinion.

    1. A case can be made, but not a realistic one. What came first? Taxes or unrest? The Romans weren’t stupid and they new how to manage their provinces. This is no exception.

      Based on previous books, Bill is going to be a bit bombastic and based only on subjective readings of history.

  2. I agree that O’Reilly’s anachronisms are dubious, but at the same time, I don’t think it can or should be ignored that one of the accusations leveled at Jesus in Luke 23:2 is that he encouraged the Judeans not to pay taxes to the Empire. Granted, the context and traditional interpretation suggest it’s a trumped up charge at best and an outright lie at worst (given the episode regarding the denarius in Luke 20:26). Still, there’s enough there to suggest that political economics played a role at least in the condemnation of Jesus.

    Again, not agreeing with O’Reilly. Just saying that he’s far from right, and not far from wrong, as it were.

    1. Joshua, I’m not saying economics didn’t play a part, but the Reverse of what we see Bill saying is more likely to be true. The social bandits of the age were not tea party nuts, but those who opposed the powerful elite, the oligarchy.

      However, each evangelist has an agenda. The only thing we see about taxes opposed by Jesus is in this portion of Luke. The other times, Jesus is all about civil obedience.

      Bill is proof texting like a baptist.

      1. True dat. If we’re gonna go with the anachronism thing like Bill, a better analogy might be that Jesus was closer to the Occupy Movement. He already had the beard, the homelessness, and the body odor thing down…

        And as an Anabaptist who attends a baptist seminary, I take umbrage at your last remark, sir! I was once a United Methodist, but I grew out of it when I became a Christian.

  3. Joel,
    I sometimes wish you would take a second to include a salutation. What came first was conquest, taxes and unrest followed closely I suspect though I wasn’t there. As I understand it Romans were successful by letting local leaders lead and prosper as long as they followed the Roman edicts thus shifting much of the unrest away from them. Of course this is an oversimplification but explains a lot. I have been almost certainly sure of many things throughout the years only to find out things weren’t so certain.

    1. Skid, Romans were invited in, actually. Unrest was limited to a small few – the social bandits at first. The cause of the social bandits weren’t taxes, but the view of the OT. At the end, before the Revolt broke out in earnest, they were even turning on other Jews. The idea that this was about taxes is wildly anachronistic and doesn’t purport well with the social situation of Palestine at the time.

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