Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Candida Moss takes on Bill O'Reilly

This is so impressive.  Three cheers to Professor Candida Moss, Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Notre Dame University!  For those who don't know, Candida wrote a witty and intelligent review of Bill O'Reilly's new book Killing Jesus for the Daily Beast the other day.  O'Reilly invited her onto his Fox News show tonight and she showed us how it's done -- calm, collected, polite, respectful and yet authoritative, intelligent and showing killer instinct!

You can find the clip on Mediaite here or over on Youtube here:

Very nicely done indeed, Candida.


Richard Budelberger said...

« calm, collected, polite, respectful and yet authoritative, intelligent and showing killer instinct » : you’re talking about Me, hmm ?… (Yes I am.)

Deane said...

Yeah, erm - Jesus as free-market libertarian against Big Government and against paying taxes (Bill) - now, that definitely needed a swift knockdown. Because it's crap.

But Jesus as something-like-a-socialist-without-being-anachronistic (Candida)?

This is where Candida Moss's passing mention of Albert Schweitzer, a comment that comes across as an aside in her article, may be a symptom of an unresolved problem in her position. I am thinking of Schweitzer's conclusion about our ability to apply Jesus's ethics today - for example (as is implicit in this discussion) to the provision of free health care, government benefits to the poor, to social democracy versus libertarianism, etc? Schweitzer's answer, which is bypassed here, is essentially that Jesus's ethics are completely useless for us today. Those "ethics" are fatally limited by Jesus's mistaken eschatological outlook - in which he falsely imagined the present world was about to end. And whether one agrees with his argument or not, it is interesting that New Testament scholars almost always emphasise the "reflection in a deep well" point in Schweitzer, and run away from his (more interesting, but confessionally untenable) point about Jesus's useless ethics.

So I find it difficult to fully agree with either position (much less with Bill O'Reilly's tendentious position, of course). And perhaps Candida Moss realises this when she slips from discussion of Jesus's state-of-emergency ethics to "social teaching in the New Testament" as a whole?

pithom said...

"You're taking these [beatitudes] literally when these are parables."-Bill O'Reilly
-Ha! Hilarious. How does Bill distinguish "parables" from literal truth? While Candida Moss is probably right about O'Reilly cherry picking and using material out of context, Moss's claim Jesus was a socialist is dubious, and she has a heavier and less comprehensible un-American accent than Bashar al-Assad.

Jimmy said...

I agree with Deane. I was let down by Moss's interaction with O'Reilly after so many favorable comments by biblical studies bloggers. As I mentioned in a comment on James McGrath's blog, her case is as much eisegesis as exegesis, making claims that Jesus says things in the Gospels that can be found nowhere (Jesus condemns a man to hell because he won't sell his possessions? Where is that in the Gospels?).

She also mentions the anachronism of calling Jesus a socialist, but never backs away from the connection, as if admitting knowledge of the error somehow makes it okay methodologically.

I think to approach Moss's response just as critically as we do O'Reilly's (likely ghost-written) book. What I saw was more of the same, just from the other political/social divide.

Jimmy said...

I meant to say "I think we need to approach . . . "