Monday 29th August 2016

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

A Book Review . . . A Fatally Flawed Portrayal Of Jesus

December 29, 2013 Frontpage 1 Comment

By JAMES LIKOUDIS

Killing Jesus: A History, by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard. Henry Holt and Company (New York: 2013); 304 pages.

The authors of this bestseller are the well-known TV pundit of The Factor on Fox News, Bill O’Reilly, and screenwriter Martin Dugard who have collaborated on the bestsellers Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy. In Killing Jesus, they confess themselves Catholics who were educated in religious schools and say they are “historical investigators” who have written a “fact-based book” on Jesus of Nazareth, having sought, moreover, to “separate fact from myth” (p. 273) in the life of “the most influential man who ever lived” (p. 1).
They declare: “We have the narrative of the Gospels. But this is not a religious book. We do not address Jesus as the Messiah, only as a man who galvanized a remote area of the Roman Empire and made very powerful enemies while preaching a gospel of peace and love” (p. 2).
O’Reilly and Dugard state: “Much has been written about Jesus, the son of a humble carpenter. But little is actually known about him. Of course, we have the Gospels of Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John, but they sometimes appear contradictory and were written from a spiritual point of view rather than as a historical chronicling of Jesus’ life” (p. 1). They confess to be “interested primarily in telling the truth about important people, not converting anyone to a spiritual cause.”
The book contains some startling material describing, in stark and gripping terms the historical context where emperors and other important people ruled a decadent and cruel Roman Empire, were disdainful of human life, and were celebrities awash in debauchery and brutality. The corrupt political and religious leaders of occupied Israel who would come into sharp conflict with Jesus and sought His life are not spared.
There are various errors and inaccuracies in the book. Peter was not “Jesus’ first disciple” (p. 13); his brother Andrew was “the first-called.” Contrary to what is stated on page 263, the Basilica of St. Peter is not the Cathedral of Rome. The authors strangely comment that “Somewhere in the twelfth century, these supernatural happenings (the ‘signs and wonders’ recounted in the Gospels) will come to be known as miracles” (p. 156). Actually, the word “miracle” was used in the fourth century for such supernatural happenings in the famous Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible by St. Jerome.
The reader will find disconcerting the authors’ sometimes imposing their own imaginative fancies into Gospel texts. For example, one reads: “Why are you trying to trap me? Jesus seethes” (p. 204). The reader may wonder how the authors knew that “Judas carries a walking stick to fend off the wild dogs of Galilee, just like the rest of the disciples” (p. 161). But there are other matters which are far more serious and where Catholic teaching is at stake.
On page 80 the authors repeat the ignorant canard so often refuted of a “pregnant and unwed Mary.” Good historians of Jewish law and tradition would have known that Mary’s betrothal to Joseph already signified legal marriage. She was a married woman when she became pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit. As Pope John Paul II noted in his apostolic exhortation Guardian of the Redeemer: “Before he lived with Mary, Joseph was already her husband. Mary, however, preserved her deep desire to give herself exclusively to God” (n. 18).
If the accusation of the Blessed Virgin Mary being an “unwed pregnant” mother were not blasphemous enough for readers to swallow, our authors appear to question the perpetual virginity of Mary as a truth with a biblical foundation in New Testament texts and believed as a doctrine “handed down” after the death of the last apostle (John).
The Catholic Church has always believed that the Blessed Virgin Mary was “Ever-Virgin”: a virgin before giving birth to Christ, a virgin in giving birth to Christ, and a virgin perpetually after giving birth. Our authors, however, write: “The doctrine [of Mary’s perpetual virginity] was first put forth 4 centuries after Jesus lived, by an early leader in the Church named Simon” (p. 80). Who that mysterious “Simon” might be will baffle patristic scholars.
The truth is that Mary as “Ever-Virgin” was explicitly taught as early as the second century by such distinguished teachers as Clement of Alexandria (+215) and Origen (+253), and upheld in the popular devotion of the faithful. By the fourth century the great theologians of the Catholic Church had met whatever hesitations and doubts circulated by heretics and skeptics. St. Basil, the great fourth-century Greek Father of the Church, gave voice to the Church’s belief when he declared, “The friends of Christ do not tolerate that the Mother of God ever ceased to be a virgin” (Homily on the Birth of Christ, n. 5).
The value of the book lies in its reinforcement of the historical truth recounted in the Gospels that Jesus of Nazareth was a real human individual who lived, suffered at the hands of His enemies, and died being crucified on a cross (this last, by the way, denied in the Muslim Koran). He really lived and was killed. Those naysayers who think Jesus was a mythical figure have to come to grips with the fact that one cannot be killed who never lived.
Our authors admit that in the Gospel accounts “Jesus is once again claiming that he is who John publicly proclaimed him to be: the Messiah.” They note that there are miracles reported and believed by Jesus’ earliest followers. Moreover, they admit that Jesus made “personal claims of divinity and acts of divinity” (p. 76). They report that Jesus’ followers soon believed He had been raised from the dead.
What is disturbing is that the authors do not pronounce on the authenticity of the supernatural miracles mentioned in the Gospels or in the truth of the Resurrection affirmed by the same Gospel writers. Did such events actually occur? Our Catholic “historical investigators” are selective in the Gospel accounts they accept. They have no trouble in accepting the historical validity of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, the visit of the Magi, the flight into Egypt.
Other events which highlight the supernatural in the life of Christ such as the Temptation in the desert by the Devil and the Transfiguration are studiously avoided. Doubt is cast on the credibility of the Gospel writers with regard to events they record, as the Gospels are treated as only partly reliable witness accounts. The key question is not resolved: Is the Gospel writers’ affirmation that Jesus is both Messiah and God true?

“Reductive Christology”

The fatal flaw in O’Reilly-Dugard’s presentation of the historical Christ is their “de facto” reduction of Christ to the actions of a mere “human being.” They write that Jesus is “the most famous human being” in history, but Christ is not a “human being” or “human person.”
One sees that Christ’s divinity has, in fact, been effectively detached from His human mature. The two natures in Christ are severed, the human from the divine. Like modernists and liberal Protestants they have engaged in the “Reductive Christology” denounced by the Church’s Magisterium. Catering to American society’s popular belief in a “fully human Jesus” stripped of the mystery of His Divine Personality, one views again in a best-seller the splitting of Jesus into the “Jesus of History” and the “Jesus of Faith.”
Our authors’ historical methodology can only give us a “Jesus of History” that falls short of the real God-Man portrayed in the Gospels, that is, the Word made Flesh. Our authors have presented us with two Christs, One of History and One of Faith. They do not dispute such dogmatic teachings as that Christ is God, or the Immaculate Conception, perpetual virginity, and heavenly Assumption of Mary, but for them as “historical investigators,” such dogmas do not have Gospel support and are rather embellishments of the Church giving us a “Jesus of Faith.”
Lastly, not only is there a radical undermining of the solid grounding of the Gospel narratives in history, but a separation of their excessively humanized Christ from the Church He actually established and which alone can give us the Whole Christ.

+    +    +

(James Likoudis is president emeritus of Catholics United for the Faith [CUF].)

Share Button
  • http://jjhayes.bandcamp.com J.J. Hayes

    Jesus is a human being is he not? He is a human person is he not? Isn’t that the incarnation? I am confused. I understand that the teaching is that there is “one Christ” but to fault people for stating one truth but not another as if that constitures denial of the second umentioned truthseems unjust. Heaven help me, I’m defending Bill O’Reilly!

2016 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Video: Biological males can stay overnight with female, but parents can’t be told, school officials say

NewsGenderThu Aug 25, 2016 – 2:22 pm EST ANNAPOLIS, MD, August 25, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – A Maryland school district will allow members of one biological sex to sleep in the bedrooms of the opposite sex during school activities – and…Continue Reading

Two Catholic nuns found murdered in Mississippi home

Two nuns who worked as nurses and helped the poor in rural Mississippi were found murdered in their home Thursday, and there were signs of a break-in and their vehicle was missing, according to officials. The nuns were identified as…Continue Reading

Life isn’t black and white – teach priests to discern the gray, Pope says

Vatican City, Aug 25, 2016 / 04:18 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In a conversation with members of the Jesuit order from Poland, Pope Francis said the real life situations of everyday Catholics aren’t black and white, but rather vary on a…Continue Reading

Vatican newspaper article: Pope’s apostolic exhortation is magisterial teaching

August 24, 2016 Writing in the Vatican newspaper, a Spanish ecclesiology professor said that Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia is part of the non-definitive ordinary Magisterium of the Roman Pontiff to which the faithful owe religious submission of intellect…Continue Reading

BREAKING: Leaked e-mails show George Soros paid $650K to influence bishops during Pope’s US visit

August 23, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Leaked emails through WikiLeaks reveal that billionaire globalist George Soros – one of Hilary Clinton’s top donors – paid $650,000 to influence Pope Francis’ September 2015 visit to the USA with a view to “shift[ing]…Continue Reading

Catholic school faculty member sues school after she’s fired for being gay

A lesbian teacher was fired from Paramus Catholic High School after administrators learned that she was married to a woman, according to her lawsuit. Kate Drumgoole, 33, was the school’s head basketball coach and dean of guidance when the school…Continue Reading

Scottish Catholic Church denies supporting ‘mandatory’ LGBT activist school program

GLASGOW, Scotland, August 19, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — The Catholic Church in Scotland is flatly denying that it is lending its support to advancing a pro-homosexual curriculum in Catholic schools, despite secular as well as gay news sources claiming the opposite.…Continue Reading

Amid falling sales, Target responds to backlash with $20 million plan for single-stall bathrooms

target

NewsGenderThu Aug 18, 2016 – 2:57 pm EST Amid falling sales, Target responds to backlash with $20 million plan for single-stall bathrooms  #flushtarget , bathroom bills , target , transgender , transgenderism MINNEAPOLIS, August 18, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Facing…Continue Reading

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Signs New Book Deal with Bloomsbury

Indeed, it’s official. Bloomsbury is announcing that Pope Benedict has a new book coming in November 2016, entitled, The Last Testament. It appears to be 224 pages. Ever since Bloomsbury merged (“bought out?”) T & T Clark, they have been…Continue Reading

Transgender Bathroom Access Extended to All Federal Buildings–Including Prisons

The Obama administration is set to unveil a new regulation this week that will expand transgender people’s access to restrooms consistent with their “gender identity” to thousands of federal buildings and facilities across the country — including prisons. Buzzfeed News…Continue Reading

Satanic ‘Black Mass’ held in Oklahoma City

OKLAHOMA CITY (KOKH) — A small group attended an event held by a satanic church in Oklahoma City Monday night. The ‘black mass’ was met with Christian masses and prayer rallies. Leaders of Oklahoma City’s Church of Ahriman set the…Continue Reading

Uplifting Story . . . Gymnast Simone Biles soars to Olympic gold while grounded in Catholic faith

olympics

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, August 10, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — When three-time world champion gymnast Simone Biles flew to Rio de Janeiro for the Olympic Games, the 19-year-old carried a rosary her mother gave her and a St. Sebastian medal from…Continue Reading

Newsmax

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Enter Comments Below

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “An Introduction To The Problem Of Euthanasia”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, a 150-page treatise on all of the aspects of euthanasia, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + We have covered the definitions of the varieties of…Continue Reading

Today . . .

For David Daleiden, Soros money shows Planned Parenthood in a panic

Washington D.C., Aug 26, 2016 / 10:55 am (CNA).- A leaked grant report from the Open Societies Foundation seems to show Planned Parenthood and its allies in a panicked effort to raise millions of dollars to counter a series of investigative videos alleging the abortion provider broke the law. For undercover journalist David Daleiden, it’s a sign of hope. “It shows that the issue of selling baby body parts for profit is an issue that…Continue Reading

Meeting Point Sex Ed Program Not Ready for Catholic Schools

The Meeting Point: Course of Affective Sexual Education for Young People (http://www.educazioneaffettiva.org/) is a high school-level sex education program developed by “a group of married couples in Spain,” supported by the Spanish Bishops’ Conference and released online by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family in July 2016.  It is intended for use in Catholic high schools, parishes and homes. Although The Cardinal Newman Society does not formally review educational materials, we have taken a…Continue Reading

Why this diocese is ditching Common Core for liberal arts

Marquette, Mich., Aug 24, 2016 / 03:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Diocese of Marquette in Michigan says it is already experiencing success in their process of adopting a Catholic liberal arts curriculum for all its schools, rather than using Common Core State Standards. The schools in the diocese previously had no set curriculum. The adoption of a classical curriculum comes at a time when two bills that would repeal and replace the Common Core State

Baton Rouge Establishes Special Flood Victims Fund

By KATHLEEN NAAB The Diocese of Baton Rouge, La., is welcoming assistance as so many thousands of people have lost homes or property and many have been killed in the massive flooding affecting the state. “The historic flooding that has taken place has impacted nearly every corner of our diocese, and our parishes and schools are struggling to recover in an effort to provide for the spiritual and educational needs of their parishioners and students,”…Continue Reading

Catholic Politician Defends Abortion, Says Catholic Church Doesn’t Think Unborn Babies are People

Minnesota state Rep. John Lesch is a Catholic and a politician in the conservative mid-west. He also supports abortions. Lesch, a board member of the pro-abortion group Catholics for Choice, wrote a column for The Hill this week explaining why he supports abortion and why other Catholic politicians should, too. “I came of age in a time when we learned to respect a woman’s conscience-based decisions, and we were more cautious of the institutional church’s…Continue Reading

It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN “I did it my way,” crooned Sinatra. Donald Trump is echoing Ol’ Blue Eyes with the latest additions to his staff. Should he lose, he prefers to go down to defeat as Donald Trump, and not as some synthetic creation of campaign consultants. “I am who I am,” Trump told a…Continue Reading

Government: New 700,000-Word Regulation Is Good For You

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY The nine-second video of two federal bureaucrats the White House posted on its blog the past week was notable for something it omitted. That something was very big — and putting it on display might not have fit with the apparent propaganda purpose of the video. The video itself starred EPA…Continue Reading

With Different U.S. Policies… Imagine The Possibilities In Africa

By FR. SHENAN BOQUET (Editor’s Note: Fr. Shenan Boquet is the president of Human Life International. He and Brian Clowes, HLI’s director of research and training, recently went on a pro-life mission to Tanzania; see the article on the front page of The Wanderer, August 18, 2016. In the article below, Fr. Boquet thanks all…Continue Reading

Restoring The Sacred… “The Expense Is Reckoned, The Enterprise Is Begun; It Is Of God”

By JAMES MONTI The recent slaughter in odium fidei of the 85-year-old French priest Fr. Jacques Hamel on July 26 shortly after two terrorists stormed into the church where he was celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is a vivid manifestation that the price for being a faithful Catholic has been rapidly escalating of…Continue Reading

Summer 1916 . . . The Second Apparition Of Angel Of Portugal

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY The previous article on this topic (April 28, 2016, p. 8A) looked at the first of the three apparitions of the Angel of Portugal, or the Angel of Peace, to the three Fatima seers, Jacinta and Francisco Marto, and Lucia dos Santos, in the spring, summer, and autumn of 1916. This…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

The Marvel Of The Catholic Church . . . The Four Senses Of Sacred Scripture

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA Part 15 Since the first heresies attacked the early Church, and all the way up to Luther and to the ecclesiastical dissenters of our days, Bible interpretation has been a source of division. Ever since the Devil concocted the idea that every Tom, Dick, and Harriet could interpret the Bible allegedly by the “light of the…Continue Reading

The Mystagogy Of The Celebration Of Baptism

By DON FIER The baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River marked a turning-point in His life. Having lived in a hidden manner in obedience to Mary and Joseph for thirty years (see Luke 2:51), our Lord now began His public ministry by freely submitting to the penitential baptism of St. John the Baptist. Although unblemished by sin and in…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. Can you possibly provide the name and e-mail address of the bishop of the “renowned” Catholic Vice President Joe Biden? This latest mockery of his faith — officiating at the “marriage” of two men — cries for some type of action from the shepherd of his flock. I would like to be able to communicate my concern to the…Continue Reading

Prepare For Eternal Life

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-Third Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: Wisdom 9:13-18b Phmn. 9-10, 12-17 Luke 14:25-33 In the first reading the question is asked about who can know God’s counsel or conceive what the Lord intends. We know that God’s ways are not our ways; we know that God looks into the heart while we look at…Continue Reading

Divine Mercy And Justice

By Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke Part 2 (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the Consecration Weekend, The Marian Catechist Apostolate, Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, La Crosse, Wis., July 23, 2016. Because of its length, we are publishing it in two parts; part 1 appeared in last week’s issue. And also because…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Euphrasia Eluvathingal

By CAROLE BRESLIN In 1605 Fr. Robert De Nobili, a Jesuit priest, arrived in India to evangelize the people. He found them to have a noble bearing and a deeply spiritual life filled with fasting, prayer, and meditation. Difficulties presented themselves to him as he struggled to convert them: “If these people did not see me do such penance, they…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Joseph Of Cupertino

By CAROLE BRESLIN Now that the school year has begun, students — especially Catholic students — will find recourse to their favorite patron saint of studying. Some may choose St. Thomas Aquinas or St. Augustine of Hippo. For those students who find it difficult to retain what they read and write about it, perhaps this saint will encourage them: St.…Continue Reading