Commentary

‘KILLING JESUS’ Movie Dilutes the Historical Record of Jesus

By Ted Baehr | April 7, 2015 | 12:35pm EDT

FILE - In this Oct. 28, 2013 file photo, political commentator Bill O'Reilly. (AP Photo/Paul Morigi)

“KILLING JESUS,” the bestselling book by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, gets a movie treatment in a filmed version being telecast on the National Geographic Channel. The book does have some problems, such as contradictory statements about when the Gospel of Matthew was written, but the movie doesn’t seem to be a faithful adaptation of the book. It leaves a lot of important things out from the book as it focuses on the political machinations of the Roman and Jewish authorities as they oppose John the Baptist and Jesus. When Jesus meets John the Baptist, Jesus seems full of doubt. Eventually, with Peter’s help, Jesus proclaims Himself the Son of the living God, which leads to His crucifixion.

Like the book, “KILLING JESUS” shows Jesus Christ’s tomb was found empty, but it doesn’t describe the resurrection appearances of Jesus. Unlike the book, however, the movie’s Jesus performs no miracles and only starts proclaiming Himself the Son of God after Peter tells Jesus that’s who Jesus is. Also, Jesus is full of doubt at the beginning, unlike the book. Finally, unlike the book, the movie doesn’t even mention the fact that the disciples of Jesus reported they saw Jesus alive after his death. The “KILLING JESUS” movie is well shot and acted, but not as compelling or as accurate as the book, and certainly not as compelling as the New Testament Gospels. For a better historical analysis of the New Testament, see Movieguide®’s article “You Can Trust the Easter Story!

“We wondered why,” Movieguide® editor Dr. Tom Snyder said, “Bill O’Reilly would let National Geographic water down his book’s teaching on the many miracles that history says people saw Jesus perform and why it would portray Jesus as full of doubt, especially at the beginning. That’s certainly not the impression we got from reading the book.”

Unlike the book, the movie completely leaves out Jesus Christ’s miracles, including the resurrection appearances of Jesus Christ reported by Jesus’ followers. A statement the other day by Bill O’Reilly on his TV program about the movie suggests that Mr. O’Reilly and the filmmakers have an anti-supernatural bias in the way they deal with history. However, the miracles and resurrection appearances of Jesus are among the most well-documented events in ancient history. You water down history and the teaching of Jesus Christ when you leave them out.

Movieguide® has released a review of the book and the movie on its website at www.movieguide.org.

Ted Baehr is the Chairman of The Christian Film & Television Commission™ and Publisher of MOVIEGUIDE® (www.movieguide.org), a family guide to entertainment.  An award-winning media authority, he is used by God to redeem the mass media and teach families to be media-wise.  His books include "How To Succeed In Hollywood (Without Losing Your Soul)" and "The Culture-Wise Family," among many others.

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