Bill O'Reilly's bestselling book "Killing Jesus" is more than a history book about the shocking events which led up to the execution of the most influential man who ever walked the face of the earth. The brilliance of Jesus is revealed in the Fox news anchor's masterpiece which presents strong evidence as to why 2.2 billion people believe he is God almost two thousand years after the Bible tells us he rose from the dead and ascended into heaven.
The brilliance of Jesus is shown in the book by Christ's repeated victories over the religious establishment Pharisees in a series of debates, all of which he clearly won. O'Reilly's depiction of these debates in detail provides strong evidence that Jesus was simply too smart to be a normal human being and was God in human form.
How else was he so easily able to defeat these religious leaders who had spent their entire lives studying the teachings of Moses and adding hundreds of laws to the original Ten Commandments? One of the main themes running throughout the book is how the wealthy Pharisees feel threatened by Jesus and are constantly trying to destroy him.
In one exchange O'Reilly quotes a Pharisee taunting Jesus by saying, "Why don't your disciples live according to the traditions of the elders instead of eating their food with unclean hands?"
Jesus and his disciples have just purchased "a meal in the marketplace and have retired to enjoy it. Soon a circle of Pharisees gathers around to condemn them for not engaging in the ceremonial washing of hands. This ritual includes a pre-meal cleansing of cups, plates, and cutlery, and is far more suited to the Temple courts than a Galilean fishing village. Of course, the famished disciples are in no mood to indulge in such a lengthy process," according to O'Reilly's book at p. 158.
Jesus responded to the criticism bluntly, saying, "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites. These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men."
O'Reilly's book further reads on p. 159, "Jesus is fearless. The force of his words carries out over the crowd. There is a deep irony in his lecture, for while the Pharisees have come here to judge Jesus, the tone of his voice makes it clear that it is he who is judging them. 'You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men,' he scolds his accusers."'
That Jesus has clearly won this debate is illustrated by the fact the Pharisees beat a hasty retreat by walking away before He can further undermine their authority in front of the crowd of onlookers.
O'Reilly refers to a later debate which results from the Pharisees being threatened by some of Jesus' miracles. A chief priest confronts Jesus as He enters the Temple courts by saying, "By what authority are you doing these things (healing people)?"
The goal of the chief priests on this occasion is to use their intellectual prowess to make Jesus appear stupid. Another priest asks him, "And who gave you this authority (to heal people)?"
Jesus responds, "I will ask you one question. If you answer, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things."
The question Jesus poses to the holy men is, "John's baptism. Where did it come from? Was it from heaven or from men?"
The holy men are suddenly on the defensive as they huddle among themselves as to how they should answer the question. Finally, after a lengthy discussion they answer, "We don't know."
Jesus then presents his closing argument which stuns the priests into silence, saying, "I'll tell you the truth. Tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show the way of righeousness, and you did not believe him. But the tax collectors and prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him."
News of Jesus intellectual victory over the most learned holy men the Pharisees can send out against Him, spreads quickly through the Temple courts among the pilgrims who have gathered there.
Once again the Pharisees are forced to retreat. They don't give up though, and send out some of their minions to trap Jesus which leads to an exchange which will live down through the ages.
They try to frame Jesus by using the power of Rome, saying, "Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?"
"Why are you trying to trap me?" Jesus replies. He asks for someone to hand him a denarius and holds the coin up as he asks them whose portrait is on it.
"Caesar's," they answer.
"Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's, " Jesus fires back at them.
Once more the crowd of pilgrims is impressed by Jesus' brilliance. O'Reilly writes, "Although Caesar is a feared name, the Nazarene (Jesus) has marginalized Rome without directly offfending it."
These are only a few of the debates O'Reilly quotes in his book which show Jesus' intellectual superiority over the sharpest minds of Israel's religious establishment.
Although readers will readily recognize O'Reilly's speech patterns throughout the words in this book, he was assisted in this fascinating mastepiece by Martin Dugard, who is a bestselling author in his own right, having written several books of history which have also landed him on the bestseller list more than once in the New York Times.
The two bestselling authors also combined to write "Killing Lincoln" and "Killing Kennedy."
When asked by one interviewer why he thought "Killing Jesus" has sold so many copies, O'Reilly said he thought it was a combination of providing new information to readers in an interesting manner and also the fact he was already well known in his role as anchor of "The O'Reilly Factor."
In this account of Jesus's life and times, Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Caesar Augustus, Herod the Great, Pontius Pilate and John the Baptist are also legendary figures whose role in history around the time of Christ's crucifixion are chronicled in a fascinating manner.
If the history books in our schools were only as interesting as this one, a lot more students would become historians.
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