O’Reilly Factor “Killing Jesus”

The O’Reilly Factor is asking Churches around the country to promote their movie “Killing Jesus” on the National Geographic Channel tomorrow night at 8 PM. I will do so with a bit of hesitation. First I think you will find that the actual content is historically sound. However what is omitted is done so simply because O’Reilly is a bit naive in certain areas.

For example Bill omitted Jesus’ conversation with the thief on the cross; saying “I am not certain it actually happened. First it is only mentioned in one Gospel and secondly crucifixion results in suffocation which would likely make such a conversation impossible.”

What Bill O’Reilly fails to realize is the difference between crucifixion as it was first conceived by the Carthians as opposed to how the Romans updated it. It is true that hanging from one’s hands will ultimately close off the respiratory system and that initially resulted in death in the first 6 to 7 minutes. However the Romans sought to prolong the suffering so they placed a foot ledge at the bottom and bent the knees so that their victims could push up and breathe. This is why the soldiers said that Jesus appeared dead at the sixth hour – He has ceased to push His knees up.

Secondly the fact that this is recorded in only one Gospel is irrelevant; particularly since Luke is the author who does record it. The latter went to great lengths to record the authenticity of his account by interviewing various eyewitnesses of each event including the crucifixion.

Matthew recorded his own perspective, initially in Aramaic and wrote to the Jews. Mark apparently had access to the Aramaic Matthew and, according to Papias, recorded it with Peter, an eyewitness, looking over his shoulder. Mark, in writing to the Egyptians, apparently also referred to a now lost text likely composed by John the Baptist as the passages unique to Mark parallel certain texts found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. John wrote later on to combat the Gnostic heresy which had invaded the Church as he and Andrew were the only remaining disciples at the time.

However Luke, who also had access to Aramaic Matthew, went around to a vast assortment of eyewitnesses including John himself (likely the reason that John chapter 8 is seen in early manuscripts of Luke rather than John), Mary the mother of Jesus and the other women at the cross (who quite likely are the source for the conversation with the thief) and another lost text by a man named Cleopas who together with a friend encountered the risen Christ on the road to Emmaeus. The Jewish historian Josephus apparently cites from this text also. So O’Reilly’s reasoning here is quite erroneous.

I should also note that the actor who portrays Jesus in the film is in real life a Muslim. Now the great majority of Muslims today reject both the divinity and crucifixion of Christ. There is however a small sect of Islam, known as Messianic Muslims, who do in fact accept both the Old and New Testaments and feel that both doctrines square quite nicely with the original intent of the Quran.

So again I can recommend the movie with some hesitation. The actual content should prove to be historically accurate and it is rather nice to see a secular news reporter showing so much interest in the life of Christ and to be unashamedly sharing his perspective with some eight million viewers; the most of any cable TV program.

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