On Bill O’Reilly’s “The Killing of Jesus”

Posted: September 30, 2013 in Personal Evangelism

   I must begin this article stating that I have been a fan of “William James “Bill” O’Reilly, Jr. He is an American television host, author, syndicated columnist and political commentator. He is the host of the political commentary program The O’Reilly Factor on the Fox News Channel.” He recently had a book published entitled, “The Killing of Jesus.”  He and author/researcher Michael Dugard wrote this work.

I have watched his program for years and have agreed with him for the most part. I respect his work and his stance on political issues. I must say that his work in the political commentary field is exemplary. However, his recent book “The Killing of Jesus” is an attempt to tamper with the historical person Jesus, and reject the most reliable ancient book of Sanskrit is atrocious.  

Let me make myself clear, that I have not read the book “The Killing of Jesus.” But after watching Mr. O’Reilly on 60 minutes and then this morning on Fox news, he restated his opinions that lack the professional and scholarly attempt to debunk Jesus and the Bible. His writing is not based not on the most reliable books of ancient Sanskrit or historical documents including those outside of Jewish and Christian influence.

As a student of the Bible and having an earned Masters of Divinity in Biblical Languages, and studied “Textual Criticism”, the science of studying how the manuscripts were written, materials, inks, forms and scientific process for copying the ancient documents, it is obvious that Mr. O’Reilly did an inferior work in crafting “The Killing of Jesus.” The effort reflects research from a political standpoint.

On the news program “60 Minutes” and on Fox News, Mr. O’Reilly stated twice that Jesus as killed because he turned over the money tables in the Temple, disrupting the flow of money. “You start messing with the money and that will get you killed,” said Mr. O’Reilly. As a student and Teacher of the Holy Scriptures, Bill is grossly incorrect. The Bible which is the most reliable book of ancient Sanskrit, is a documentation by eye witnesses, by those who were with Jesus, and heard Him during His three years of proclaiming God’s Kingdom.

By the way, the Bible has more ancient documents validating the New Testament. Over 5,000 different manuscripts have been examined, studied under intense scrutiny and collated. To help the reader the validity and accuracy of the Bible, the next document with the second highest number of manuscripts is “Homer’s Iliad” and of the almost 750 manuscripts the majority has gross inconsistencies.  One Scholar wrote “that if you were to put the Bible on end of a table and all other ancient literature on the other end the gap between the two stacks would not give justice to the vast distance between the two in accuracy.”

Again, let’s examine the question asked by CBS’s reporter O’Donnell of O’Reilly why was Jesus killed? He stated that “Jesus went the Temple and overturned the money tables, and you start messing with the money and that will get you killed.” But the most reliable book of ancient Sanskrit declares in the New Testament, in the Gospel of John 5:16-18 that He was making Himself equal with God.

         (5:16) “For this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath. (17) But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.”  

        (Jesus’ Equality with God)

        (18) “For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.” [1]

 For Jesus to make such a profound statement, that “God was His Father” was either He spoke literally or as a lunatic.

 As good researchers let us examine another historical piece of information. Later in the same book, in John 8:58-59, we read that some of the Jewish religious leaders wanted to kill Jesus by stoning, which was the most common Jewish method for capital punishment.

          (58)  Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.”

         (59) Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple. [2]

 Here is what one of many scholarly works comments on John 5:58:

          Before Abraham was, I am—The words rendered “was” and “am” are quite different. The one clause means, “Abraham was brought into being”; the other, “I exist.” The statement therefore is not that Christ came into existence before Abraham did (as Arians affirm is the meaning), but that He never came into being at all, but existed before Abraham had a being; in other words, existed before creation, or eternally (as John 1:1).[3]

 We must examine two statements in this scholarly work: (1) The statement therefore is not that Christ came into existence before Abraham did and (2) but that He never came into being at all, but existed before Abraham had a being; in other words, existed before creation, or eternally (as John 1:1).

 Statement number one is a reference to a prior existence by Jesus. In John 5:58, Jesus used the phrase, “Before Abraham was, I am.” The “I am” is the same meaning or carries the identical meaning as that used by Yahweh/God in Exodus 3:14, when Moses asked God, “Whom should I say sent me? And God answered, “I am Who I am” or “I am Who Lives. Jesus was emphatically stating He was God.

 The second statement above from the Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, states, “He never came into being at all, but existed before Abraham had a being; in other words, existed before creation, or eternally (as John 1:1).”

 Again, from the most reliable book of ancient Sanskrit, one of the men who was an eye witness who saw and heard Jesus for three years as he followed Him, later wrote John, the Son of Zebedee. In the first chapter of his Gospel account of the Life and Teachings of Jesus, he wrote about Jesus:

          (1) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

         (2) He was in the beginning with God.

         (3) All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.

         (4) In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. [4]

 What is the eye witness and Gospel Writer John saying about Jesus? Let’s look at another source a New Testament Greek study, A.T. Robertson’s Word Pictures of the New Testament. He quotes another Greek Scholar, “But Westcott notes that here John carries our thoughts beyond the beginning of creation in time to eternity. There is no argument here to prove the existence of God any more than in Genesis. It is simply assumed. Either God exists and is the Creator of the universe as scientists like Eddington and Jeans assume or matter is eternal or it has come out of nothing.”[5]

The Gospel writer John also used the verb “was” in reference to the “Word” or “Logos.” Three times in this sentence John uses this imperfect of eimi “I am” to be which conveys no idea of origin for God or for the Logos, simply continuous existence. Quite a different verb (egeneto, became) appears in verse Genesis 14 for the beginning of the Incarnation of the Logos. See the distinction sharply drawn in John 8:58 “before Abraham came (genesqai) I am” (eimi, timeless existence).

 So was Jesus God? There are several recorded statements by Jesus and by one of the staunchest persecutors of the Jesus followers, Saul of Tarsus. He was a member of the Sanhedrin Council, a Pharisee of Pharisees and was present when the first Christ follower was executed by stoning, Stephen, Acts 7:54-60. Paul testified that he held the cloaks of the ones who stoned Stephen, Acts 9:20. After his conversion Saul became Paul and began to proclaim Jesus was God and the Messiah (Hebrew), the Christ (Greek).

 There were other questions that Mr. O’Reilly asked “how did a man who had no Public Relations man, no use of promotional materials, no money, and no campaign manager, have such a massive number of people to follow him to the back waters?” Obviously the authors of the book do not understand the historical nature and the culture of the Jewish people of the day. These two authors also fail to mention the miracles of Jesus. “Even though there are the “written and documented reports of Jesus performing miracles,” said Mr. O’Reilly, we do not mention them in our book.

 I am sure there will be plenty of conversations on blogs to come and maybe some books rebutting the lack of ancient historical content in the book. I am only dealing with this one point on the deity of Jesus and His claim to be God. I pray that Mr. O’Reilly with Dugard will see their errors and make a revision in the near future. But most importantly that they come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. This is the most important issue at hand.  


[1] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[4] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.


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