Gospel according to Bill O’Reilly: Jesus died for your taxes
Bill O’Reilly has described the life and teaching of Jesus in a new book, and it turns out the Messiah is a lot like himself.
The Fox News pundit and frequent writing partner Martin Dugard on Tuesday released Killing Jesus: A History, the latest in their series on doomed historical figures such as John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln.
In her review of the book for The Daily Beast, religious history expert Candida Moss said O’Reilly and his co-author seem to suggest that Jesus was killed because of taxes.
“The basic argument of the book is that Jesus died because he interfered with the taxation-heavy Roman revenue stream,” Moss writes. “The reason the Jews eagerly anticipated the Messiah, writes O’Reilly, is, ‘When that moment arrives, Rome will be defeated and their lives will be free of taxation and want.’”
Moss, a professor of New Testament and early Christianity at the University of Notre Dame, notes that most Jews at the time of Jesus were poor and oppressed under the Roman occupation.
She also points out that, under the system that Jesus died protesting, wealthy citizens were exempt from most taxes altogether and non-citizens paid a flat-rate poll tax regardless of income – both of which resemble suggestions by present-day American conservatives.
“It’s not like the Romans did anything obscene like tend to the poor,” Moss notes dryly.
Moss wonders how O’Reilly could have attempted a retelling of Jesus’ life so comprehensive that he repeats some events without covering what she considers to be one his most important messages.
“The single most consistent social teaching in the New Testament is that Christians must support the poor, widows, and orphans, but this hardly gets a mention in Killing Jesus,” Moss writes.