A faithful history of Jesus

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In his new book “Killing Jesus,” Bill O’Reilly presents a historical look at the life, times and death of Jesus Christ from a most unusual point of view – that Jesus Christ was the Son of God.

The phrase “historical Jesus” is contemporary cultural code for “Jesus wasn’t really the Son of God.” It has become a common yet dreadful genre of written and video material typically dedicated to pooh-poohing and undoing the truths of the Gospels and the church about the perfect, coexistent humanity and divinity of Jesus.

TV productions and print publications commonly herald newly-minted “truth” about the “historical Jesus.” Somebody has found Jesus’s bones over here or unearthed evidence of Jesus’s marriage and progeny over there.

Whether propagated by a cable channel documentary or a new Dan Brown novel, in recent decades it has been rigorously out of bounds for mainline, popular and especially academic thought to purport that Jesus is exactly who He said He was, fulfilling the exact divine mission He said He was on. It’s simply not institutionally hip to look at the history of Jesus Christ, the most impactful and famous person in the history of humanity, and not intellectually ridicule His Godly identity and purpose.

Funny, that’s what the Pharisees and Romans did 2,000 years ago.

“Killing Jesus,” currently the top-selling book on the planet, does not preach a sermon or teach the Bible. Importantly, and somewhat uniquely, neither does it attempt to debunk Gospel truth. It illuminates the historical goings on in and around the culture, religion, politics, personalities and scandals of the BC/AD era Roman Empire, Jewish nation, and especially Jerusalem.

It’s educational. What was the deal with the Caesars? The Herods? Pontius Pilate? Caiaphas? The beheading of John the Baptist? All very enlightening. How bad was crucifixion? Really really bad.

I had never before understood that the “money changers” in the Temple, who were Jews, were bilking Jewish pilgrims by charging exorbitant fees to exchange Roman “denarius” coins for Hebrew “shekels.” Outside commerce was done with the denarius, but only shekels could purchase a Passover lamb. Ergo, Jews ripping off other Jews for worship is what upset Jesus. Jesus interrupting the flow of Temple income is what upset the Jewish elders.

There is a spiritual quality about reading the Bible unmatched in secular histories, including this one. With faith and prayer, the Bible’s mystery and truth can be grasped if not entirely understood. O’Reilly and co-writer Martin Dugard, both Roman Catholics, provide welcome perspective by animating the living-color context of the life Jesus lived without insisting that Jesus is a lie.

Walters (rlwcom@aol.com) applauds O’Reilly for invoking, on “60 Minutes,” the Holy Spirit’s inspiration. It befuddled the secular media.


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