I can’t even. Via the Daily Beast, early Christianity expert Candida Moss reviews a new scholarly work for the Fox News crowd:
Jesus was killed because of taxes. That’s more or less the message of Bill O’Reilly’s new book. In Killing Jesus: A History, Bill O’Reilly and writing partner Martin Dugard bring us their long-awaited “accurate account of not only how Jesus died, but also the way he lived.”
The basic argument is that Jesus died because he interfered with the taxation-heavy Roman revenue stream. 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.”
It’s true that the people did long for the Messiah and that the majority of them were poor and oppressed. But even if the Romans had been overthrown the people would have still been paying tithes to Jewish authorities to sustain the Temple, as Biblical and Jewish laws demand.
O’Reilly argues that Temple taxes and profits from the moneychangers were back-channeled to Rome. But there is no evidence that the Romans benefited from the financial affairs of the Temple during Jesus’ lifetime.
The most striking part of O’Reilly’s biography is what is left out. 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.