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Killing History: Jesus in the No-Spin Zone



Killing Jesus, the bestselling blockbuster by Bill O’Reilly, claims to be a purely historical account of the events in the life of Jesus leading up to his crucifixion. New Testament scholar Robert M. Price (a member of the Jesus Seminar) shows how unfounded this claim is in this critical review of O’Reilly’s work. In fact, he judges the book to be the number one source of misinformation on Jesus today. Ignoring over one hundred years of New Testament scholarship, O’Reilly and his coauthor, Martin Dugard, have produced what Price describes as a Christian historical thriller that plays fast and loose with the facts.

Price goes through the key events of Jesus’ later life as described in the gospels and retold in Killing Jesus, painstakingly showing in each case what scholars know and don’t know. Using humor, down-to-earth analogies, and witty sarcasm–not unlike O’Reilly’s own interview style–Price makes it clear that O’Reilly’s book is more historical novel than a work of serious history. By cobbling together the four gospel stories, ignoring the contradictions, and adding plenty of quasi-historical background embellishments, O’Reilly and Dugard have created a good narrative that resonates with a lot of Christians. Entertaining reading this may be, but history it is not.


“Robert M. Price does in Killing History what he does best: bring immense erudition, sharp critical thinking, and edgy humor to sort through a thorny topic in our public discourse about the Bible. In plain language, but without simplifying, Price expertly dissects the dilettante ‘arguments’ in O’Reilly’s Killing Jesus, exposing it for the pretentious pablum that it is. Along the way, Price serves up a first-rate introduction to the academic historical-critical interpretation of the gospels.”
— Robert J. Miller, fellow of the Jesus Seminar

“Even though serious and hard-hitting scholarship on the historical Jesus has been available for over three hundred years, modern writers continue to publish ‘popular’ accounts of Jesus’ words and deeds, blithely ignorant of what we actually know. In Killing History, New Testament scholar Robert Price shows that among the worst of sinners is Bill O’Reilly and his bestselling but ill-conceived book Killing Jesus. In point after point, Price convincingly and authoritatively argues that O’Reilly has produced a Jesus of his own imagination, rather than the Jesus who emerges from a historically informed study of the gospels.”
— Bart D. Ehrman, James A. Gray Professor, Department of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

“For Robert M. Price, Bill O’Reilly’s heart may sometimes be in the right place, but his head is not. Nor has he any more business writing a ‘historical’ book about Jesus than Sean Penn might to pontificate about foreign policy! Though Price may not believe there was a ‘historical Jesus,’ that does not mean he wants to see him abused and, for Price, that is what is going on in Killing Jesus. Killing History reveals Bill O’Reilly’s claim that Killing Jesus is a ‘historical work’ and not a religious one as blatant spin–so much so that, for Price, O’Reilly qualifies as a whirling dervish!”
— Robert Eisenman, author of James the Brother of Jesus and The New Testament Code

“It is no secret that Bill O’Reilly and I disagree on various issues of church-state separation. O’Reilly told me that Christianity is a philosophy, not a religion, so government actions promoting Christianity are not against the Constitution; I think that’s just a disingenuous attempt to justify favoritism and religious bigotry. Robert M. Price now shows that the master of the ‘No-Spin Zone’ also ‘massages his facts’ in his popular tome Killing Jesus. O’Reilly claims to be looking out for you, but he’d better realize that Price is looking out for the truth.”
— David Silverman, president of American Atheists

This New Testament scholar dismantles the quasi-historical claims asserted in Killing Jesus, by pundit Bill O’Reilly and co-author Martin Dugard. Robert M. Price, with considerable learning and abundant snark, demonstrates O’Reilly and Dugard’s credulous acceptance of the myths, legends, and contradictory accounts filling Acts and the four Gospels. Countering with a lively argument based on biblical Higher Criticism, he encourages readers to accept the pair’s take on the last days of Jesus as speculation rather than any testimony derived from dubious fact. Their bestseller may edify, but it has no place on the shelf alongside the criticism Price and his academic colleagues assemble against it. Grounded in reason, they defend skepticism.
— John L. Murphy, Ph.D., Humanities Professor, DeVry University, Long Beach, CA.