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Scholar v. Blowhard on Jesus (Or: Candida Moss Shows How Shockingly Ignorant Bill O’Reilly Actually Is)

October 3, 2013

Last night my wife heard me chuckling from the other room around 11:00 PM and wanted to know why I hadn’t yet come to bed. I told her that I was watching an online video where Bill O’Reilly was discussing the historical Jesus with Candida Moss, Professor of New Testament at Notre Dame. O’Reilly recently wrote a book (read: put his name on a ghost-written book) about Jesus. Candida was among a number of NT scholars to offer an immediate critique of the book. She was invited on the show to give something of a counterpoint. Back to my scoffing…..a few things made me laugh in this exchange. First, O’Reilly presents himself as learned on the subject of Jesus but ultimately shows himself to be a buffoon. He tells Candida several times that she is incorrect and then proceeds to “correct” her with what can only be described as rambling rooted in a very narrow reading of the NT. Second, O’Reilly is confused (I think, greatly) over the difference between “history” and “theology.” Historical elements Candida attempts to introduce into the discussion are summarily dismissed with the line, “well that’s theology.” Probably the thing that made me laugh hardest was when Candida uses the term “anachronistic,” to which O’Reilly responds, “what does that mean?” He even mispronounces the same word later in the interview. He is such an expert on all-things-history that he doesn’t even know an everyday term used by those who do historical research. It was entertaining, indeed, though probably not for the reasons Bill had hoped.

Take a few minutes to watch this interview. I think you will be shocked at how ignorant O’Reilly comes off…..especially for a guy who (supposedly) just wrote a book on Jesus. I’m sure, however, that O’Reilly’s ultra-right-wing constituency will be thrilled that he stuck it to the pinko-commie-liberals who connect Jesus with socialism. (I was also surprised to learn that Jesus disapproved of the Soviet Union).

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