TODAY   |  September 30, 2013

Bill O’Reilly: I tell the real story of Jesus

Fox News host Bill O’Reilly is author of the new book “Killing Jesus.” He tells TODAY’s Matt Lauer about his inspiration for writing what he calls the real story of Jesus of Nazareth.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> bill o 'reilly.

>> he shared his thoughts on what's going on in washington earlier and now he has come back to talk about his new book. this one is called "killing jesus ." already it's climbing to the best sellers list and way up on that list. good morning again. good to see you. were you dying to tell the story of jesus or are you looking at a list of controversial figures and checking them off. lincoln, kennedy , jesus ?

>> after kennedy we didn't know what we were going to do and i was batting around a few ideas of people i think we need to get into the center of it and one night i woke up, 3:00 in the morning, and this always happens to me and bang, "killing jesus ." whenever i get a thought like that i take it seriously so we got it in motion.

>> one of the reviews says the gospel according to o'reilly. give me a sense of what you were trying to do here. were you trying to create a historic reference or were you spinning a yard here or somewhere in between.

>> there's no yarn. we back it up pretty thoroughly. some of it is startling because it's not the traditional what you know about jesus .

>> millions of catholics grew up hearing that jesus died for our sins . one of the other reviews i read about this book says according to your take jesus died for taxes. so you fill in the blank. what's the headline?

>> the headline is jesus died for money. the romans killed him for money. however, if you're a believer and believe jesus is god, he died for your since. that's what the old testament pr proficies but the scripture is different. here's what jesus of nazareth did to tee them off. he interrupted the tax flow because the romans were taxing the folks by making them buy -- they had to buy lambs for the pa passover. there was a tax on it. you couldn't buy it unless there was a certain currency and when jesus went into the temple and overthrew the tables that's when his death sentence was proclaimed.

>> any time you write a book like this people will take shots at the way you tell the stories. but i read the book also and i think this was an oversimplification. a criticism is you don't spend enough time talking about jesus and preaching that dealing with the poor and sharing with the underprivileged was the principle theme he lived by.

>> i'm getting attacked by the antichristian people. they said because i was inspired i believe by the holy spirit to do all my work, not just this, they mock if he more that. the left wing blogs want me to bring obamacare into killing jesus . that's what they want me to do and the evangelicals say i'm going to hell because i don't say jesus on every page.

>> what was your up bringing?

>> my parents weren't fanatics. irish catholic background.

>> catholic school .

>> i was an altar boy but for money.

>> so your view is different than what you thought as a kid, how.

>> i did it for money because you get paid for weddings when you're an altar boy. the big headline for me in "killing jesus " is jesus of nazareth is the most famous person that's ever lived. no structure, no country, no money, nothing. how does that happen? how does that happen? so something had to be going on with him, so that you have to consider.

>> and strategically have you messed up here? after lincoln and kennedy you go right to the top of the list? how do you take a step back for your next book? i would have thought this would have been your tenth book.

>> well, i'm getting up there in age.

>> don't know how many books you have left in you.

>> nec book is a big world war ii book which is going to be stunning because we're writing it now and the research -- everybody has this image. this is what happened but that's not what happened and that's my job is to tell you what really happened.

>> we'll expect you back for that one.

>> you liked the book.

>> i did. all three now. i read three for three.

>> i appreciate that matt.

>> good to see you. it's a pleasure.