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February 26, 2013 2:17 am
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Jesus, Bill O’Reilly, and the Romans

avatar by Bernard Starr

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A depiction of the crucifixion of Jesus. Photo: wiki commons.

The question of who killed Jesus or who was primarily responsible for the crucifixion has been debated by scholars, biblical experts and ordinary people for 2000 years. For my part, I hoped to put the issue to rest in my recent article, “God Killed Jesus: That’s What the Gospels Say.” I pointed to definitive citations in the Gospels and other parts of the New Testament that unequivocally state that the crucifixion of Jesus was commanded by God, Jesus’ father, as part of God’s plan for the salvation and redemption of mankind. And as I argued in the article, and more extensively in my book, Jesus Uncensored: Restoring the Authentic Jew, if the crucifixion was God’s plan, then accusing anyone else is the greatest of blasphemies against God and Christianity. It denies God’s will, God’s power, and God’s plan. From this Christian perspective all the other players were props in a divinely orchestrated plan.

So it’s no wonder that I was surprised when I opened my New York Times (2-21-13) to a full-page ad announcing the forthcoming publication of Killing Jesus, by Bill O’Reilly, and hailing it as “this Year’s Most Anticipated Book.” The ad gave no hint about the book’s contents. But given Bill’s celebrity and his success with two other “killing” books (Lincoln and Kennedy), the media was all over the announcement, and the Internet buzzed with commentary. Although O’Reilly is keeping tight-lipped, he leaked one revelation on his T.V. show: “We’ve uncovered some interesting things about the execution of Jesus of Nazareth,” he said, “and how it all ties into Roman power.” This disclosure suggests that he’ll be weighing in on the “who did it” debate — and perhaps offering new evidence that the Romans were the primary culprits. His publisher, Henry Holt, confirmed that in a press release.

If so, O’Reilly will be in good company of others who blame the Romans: Professor John Dominic Crossan, author of Who Killed Jesus?; Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, author of Kosher Jesus, to name just two.

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But will new evidence make a difference in popular perceptions? I doubt it, since despite divided opinions about culpability, Jews have historically been the ones blamed, and, significantly, only Jews have been persecuted for the crucifixion. Moreover, blaming the Romans is problematic for Christians–and possibly for Bill O’Reilly, a practicing Catholic. If the Romans initiated and pressed for Jesus’ crucifixion, it would have been for one and only one reason: that Jesus was an armed insurrectionist and a “Rambo” like rebellion leader who was a threat to Roman authority — not the Lamb of God or the Prince of Peace and Love as Christians maintain.

According to the Gospels, the Sanhedrin, the ruling body of Judaism, charged Jesus with blasphemy against Judaism — the only realm (Jewish affairs) that the Sanhedrin had authority over. Blasphemy against Judaism was a charge that the Roman’s couldn’t give a hoot about. From the Jewish perspective, the Roman pagan temples and gods were blasphemies against Judaism. The Romans were in the picture because they were the only ones who could carry out the execution if Jesus were convicted by the Sanhedrin. But if the Romans initiated the action it’s an entirely different story — and not a Christian one.

So for me, the New York Times ad is correct: Bill O’Reilly’s book is “most anticipated.” I hope you have a good story, Bill!

Bernard Starr is a psychologist, journalist, and college professor. He is author of Jesus Uncensored: Restoring the Authentic Jew, which is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other major outlets.

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  • Paul Ringo

    The scriptures say that Jesus laid his life down of his own volition. It was the Father in him leading him to make that sacrifice for all mankind. The purpose is for the Reconciliation that he has accomplished and is no longer imputing sin. We can all come to him by his grace to receive freely of his life in his name. 2 Cor 5:17-21 is a short exposition on this reconciliation (restoration) that has already been done.

  • SARA K.: WHY? IT DEPENDS ON WHAT ISLAND YOU LIVE ON.
    If you live on a deserted island youre right, you dont need to know anything. If you live with other nations then you shld know who the potential threats come from.
    Take xtian missiopnaries in Israel who converted 20,000 Jews who also thoughth they lived on AN ISLAND AND DIDNT BOTHER TO LEARN TORAH WHICH IS THE ONLY ANTIDOTE AGAINST THESE THEIVES OF JEWISH SOULS.
    tAKE bROOKLYN NY where they open churches disquised as shuls with hebrew writings on the building tricking island dwellers to enter and get their brainwash to ”accept jesux” who by the way brought wars and destructions to the world and not peace.

    SARA ARE YOU SO COMFORTABLE ON THAT ISLAND OF IGNORANCE OR DO YOU THINK YOU MAY LEAVE SOON AND JOIN A TORAH ORTHODOX WOMANS CLASS TO LEARN ABOUT THE ANTIDOTE AGAINST THESE EVILS?
    SARA,I didnt intend to be diplomatic. I did intend to hit you with facts in your face. you are old enough.

    i am rude arent I…hmmm well sara baby..tough,its time you wake up.

    • Rosario Osorio

      Is there something wrong with your computer keyboard? I can hardly discern what you’re talking about in the middle of all rant and raving. Thank you.

  • Sara K

    I would like to know why this story happens to be in a Jewish paper.

    • Bernard Starr

      Why shouldn’t it be in a newspaper that focuses on Jewish issues. The Charge “Christ Killers” has been lethal for Jews for two thousand years–and still reverberates today. My position, based on explicit documentation in the Gospels, is that God Killed Jesus and that, therefore, the historic charge indicting Jews is not only absurd but should be condemned by the Church as extreme blasphemy against Christianity. Bill O’Reilly’s book will apparently indict the Romans, which, if so, resurrects the age old debate–this may inadvertently place Jews back in the lineup as potential perpetrators of the crucifixion. Looking the other way on this issue has never benefitted Jews

      • Rosario Osorio

        I agree.The whole thing about assigning blame is pointless. We don’t even know if all of this really happened! The Gospels say the Jews instigated the Romans to crucify Jesus, but as you point out the Romans and Jews were the instruments to carry out what was already written. By the way, I don’t think the charge “Christ Killers” has been the only lethal issue for Jews for 2,000 years.

  • IF YOU MR AUTHOR USE SCHMUELY BOTEACH AS A REFERENCE SOURCE, THEN YOU WOULDN’T BE SO CREDIBLE EITHER

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