Bill O'Reilly: 'Killing Jesus' Best Available Evidence on Crucifixion

Sunday, 29 Sep 2013 09:03 PM

By Greg Richter

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Bill O'Reilly didn't become the most popular personality in cable television news by being noncontroversial. And he told CBS's "60 Minutes" on Sunday that he wasn't afraid to spark controversy in his new historical thriller, "Killing Jesus."

Though he used the New Testament's four Gospels as source material, he left out parts he doesn't believe happened as written.

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For instance, Jesus didn't say, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do" from the cross, the Catholic O'Reilly maintains. It wouldn't have been physically possible, he said.

"You die on a cross from being suffocated," he said. "You can hardly breathe. We believe Jesus said that, but we don't believe he said it on the cross because nobody could have heard it."

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People have a right to take the Bible literally, he said, but in the case of "Killing Jesus," he was trying to be historically accurate. He never says in the book that Jesus was the Son of God because his book is not intended to be religious.

"So is this the Gospel according to Bill?" asked "60 Minutes" correspondent Norah O'Donnell.

"This is best available evidence according to Bill," O'Reilly responded.

The most important thing he learned while writing the book was that Jesus of Nazareth became the most famous human being who ever lived, yet he had no infrastructure. He had no government, no public relations expert, no money and no structure, O'Reilly said.

"It's never been done."

"Killing Jesus," follows two other best-sellers by the former high school history teacher, "Killing Lincoln" and "Killing Kennedy," about two U.S. presidents assassinated a century apart. He writes the books with a co-author who does extensive historical research. O'Reilly uses the material to rewrite a fast-moving, compelling story.

He admits the titles are sensational, but explains that's the only way to be heard in the marketplace.

"I just want to write about important things in a very entertaining way," he said. "That's the formula."

While the book isn't religious, O'Reilly is. He says he was inspired to write "Killing Jesus" by the Holy Spirit. He says he just woke up in the middle of the night and thought, "Killing Jesus."

Asked by O'Donnell why the Holy Spirit would mark him as "the chosen one," O'Reilly denied any such title. Instead, he said, he is "just one of many who have been given the gift. I can write and I can bloviate on TV."

O'Reilly now makes more than $20 million a year through Fox News Channel's "The O'Reilly Factor," a syndicated column and a live tour he does with comedian Dennis Miller. Two of O'Reilly's third-grade classmates told O'Donnell he used to get the whole class in trouble by arguing with the nun who taught the class.

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"Ain't America great?" O'Reilly responded. "I was a little thug, and now I'm getting paid millions of dollars for being a big thug."

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