Bill O’Reilly is a polarizing figure, to say the least. Most opinions of him will fall into one of two categories, those who love him, and those who love to hate him. Most recently he has been seen making the rounds, branding himself as an expert on the life and death of Jesus Christ. This, of course, is a byproduct of his writing the book Killing Jesus. Although I have not read the book, (and more than likely will not), I have heard enough coming from O’Reilly himself to ascertain that the writing isn’t without its inaccuracies, and what I would consider, a little right-wing spin. I know, spin coming from Bill? It’s hardly inconceivable.
According to an interview by NBC’s Today Show’s, Matt Lauer, O’Reilly makes the claim that what will be revealed in the book is,
…startling, because it is not the traditional, ‘what you know about Jesus’.
Setting aside the fact that it is almost impossible to construct a grammatically correct sentence from this ‘authors’ own words, I am intrigued. What could O’Rielly’s revelation about Jesus’ life and death bring to light that thousands of years of Biblical study, and scholars worldwide have not yet have discovered themselves?
As Mr. O’Reilly states in the interview, Jesus did not die for your sins, “He died for money.” More specifically, according to Bill, Jesus died for taxes, or rather the disgust he had for taxes. This book is suggesting that Jesus died because he stood up against the taxation of the people. Using the two instances where Jesus grew angry with the money changers and threw them out of the temple as the basis for his conclusion. The most quoted instance of this happening is found in Matthew 21:12-13.
Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and benches of those selling doves.
It is widely accepted belief that this is the circumstance that led to Jesus’ crucifixion. The money changers went to those in power and demanded his death. That is no revelation on Mr. O’Reilly’s part. However, what Bill does not seem to understand, or just did not feel suited his stance, is that the money changers had really nothing to do with the collection of taxes. They were actually independent business owners of sorts who capitalized on the temple tax.
It is pretty easy to decipher what Jesus was upset about when he drove out all who were buying and selling in the temple. Those who sold doves did, so that the poor widows could afford a sacrifice, but Jesus was not happy with the marketplace being inside the temple of God.
Secondly, he seemed particularly angry with the money changers, showing his only act of aggression in the Bible by turning over their tables. O’Reilly would have you believe this was an act of defiance to the taxes placed on the Jews during this time. However, very little research into the true nature of that situation reveals something that would actually be the antithesis of what O’Rielly seems to cherish; Capitalism.
O’Rielly speaks to Matt about how the Jews were charged a Temple tax, and yes they were. However, Jesus was not upset that they were charged a tax, at least it was not mentioned, he was upset because of the profiteering practices that resulted from the tax. I will explain it very simply just in case Mr. O’Reilly is listening.
Jews were coming in from far and wide for Passover, and upon arriving at the temple, would pay their temple tax. During that time, the only acceptable piece of currency to offer God was the half-shekel. It was a pure silver piece that bore no image of a pagan Emperor. The problem arose when there was a shortage of the coin due to money changers taking ownership of most of them. The money changers would then sit in the temple and sell the half-shekels to the Jews at an exorbitant amount in true capitalistic style. This is what truly angered Jesus, causing him to turn over their tables and proclaim they had turned the temple into, “a den of thieves.”(Matthew 21:13)
Although do not fret Bill, Christ did make himself clear on how he felt about taxes in Mark 12:14-17.
14 They came to him and said, Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?
15 Should we pay or shouldn’t we?
But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. “Why are you trying to trap me?” he asked. “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.”
16 They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?
“Caesar’s,” they replied.
17 Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.
And they were amazed at him.
It should also be noted that during that time the wealthy were exempt from most taxes. If Jesus was against taxation, it would only be because the people who were carrying most of the burden were the poor.
Nothing disgusts me more than someone who would twist and spin Jesus’ word in order to line their own pockets, but of course we know now that Bill O’Reilly is a clown who will say and do anything to gain the spotlight. However, he is only making a stronger case for the progressives of the world, so keep up the good work Bill, we couldn’t have asked for a more sufficient example of Jesus Christ contempt for greed.