On Sunday night, television host and author Bill O’Reilly appeared on “60 Minutes” to discuss his new book “Killing Jesus.” In addition to diving into some of the book’s finer — and more controversial points — the popular pundit also tackled his career and worldview, fielding a number of tough questions from CBS’s Norah O’Donnell.
Below, we’ve picked out the five most noteworthy moments from the interview. While the majority of the tidbits focus on the content in “Killing Jesus,” there was also some intriguing information about O’Reilly’s personal and professional life worth noting:
1. The Holy Spirit Inspired “Killing Jesus?”
In discussing his new book, O’Reilly made it clear that he believes God called him to write the book. After explaining that the idea came to him in the middle of the night, the commentator said that he believes it was ordained by the Lord.
“I believe, because I’m a Catholic, that comes from the holy spirit,” he said of the motivation and idea to write the book. “My inspiration comes from that and so I wrote ‘Killing Jesus,’ because I think I was directed to write that.”
O’Donnell responded by noting that the host seemed to be distinguishing himself as especially important.
“You are suggesting that you’re the chosen one, Bill,” she quipped, with O’Reilly responding that he’s not the “chosen one,” but that he is someone who has been given gifts that he uses for good.
2. Why the Book Doesn’t Call Jesus the Son of God
Most Christians believe that Jesus is God’s son, so why didn’t O’Reilly include this central theological underpinning in the book? When O’Donnell asked this important question, he was candid.
“Because it’s not a religious book,” O’Reilly said, explaining that it’s rooted entirely in history. “There’s no religion in the book — nothing.”
3. The Most Surprising Facts About Jesus
O’Reilly also shared the most surprising thing he learned about Jesus throughout the writing process.
“That he was a regular guy, very afraid, very afraid,” the television host explained. “Scared to die. Scared to be put on a cross. And that he got angry and that he was a little violent — and that he was a man.”
As for the anger and violence mentioned during the interview, O’Reilly was referring to Jesus’ anger over the temple becoming a place of commerce (read Matthew 21:12-13 in the Bible for more about this).
Later in the interview, the television host described what makes Jesus unique — mainly that the Christian savior was able to attract a following and a level of popularity that nobody, to date, has replicated.
“Jesus of Nazareth was the most famous human being who ever lived on this planet and he had no infrastructure and it’s never been done,” O’Reilly said. “He had no government, no PR guy, no money, no structure. He had nothing, yet he became the most famous human being ever.”
4. Why O’Reilly Included Brutality
“Killing Jesus” includes some graphic details surrounding Christ’s execution. O’Donnell asked about the reasoning for their inclusion.
“It’s important to understand the brutality of the day and what they did to this guy who did absolutely nothing,” O’Reilly explained.
He also clarified his belief that Jesus was not nailed through his hands as some have contended, as human hands would not support a man’s weight. Instead, he says Jesus was nailed through the wrists (more on that here).
One other element worth noting is that O’Reilly didn’t include Jesus’ total and utter forgiveness of his captors when the savior reportedly said, “Father forgive them for they know now what they do.” This quote was not out in the book, O’Reilly claims, because he doesn’t believe it happened while Jesus was on the cross.
“You couldn’t say something like that audibly that people would hear. You die on a cross from being suffocated … you can hardly breathe,” he said. “We believe Jesus said that, but we don’t believe he said it on the cross.”
For those who may disagree with some of the elements that contradict the holy book, he said, “If you want to take the Bible literally, it’s your right to do that.”
Watch the interview, below:
5. What O’Reilly’s Mom Thinks
O’Reilly’s mom is 90 and, like millions of Americans, she’s an “O’Reilly Factor” viewer. The popular host told O’Donnell that his mother is stunned by her son’s success and that the family’s neighbors are surprised too.
“The neighbors keep saying, ‘We thought he’d be in prison,'” the host quipped, explaining that he was a rambunctious kid. “Ain’t America great. I was a little thug, and now I’m being paid millions of dollars for being a big thug.”
As for his mom, though, she apparently wishes he wasn’t mean sometimes, but O’Reilly sees it as a necessary evil.
“My mother’s not a political person. She just doesn’t want me to be mean … sometimes I have to be mean,” he said. “It’s like a parent or a teacher. Sometimes for the good of everybody you have to be a little bit strong, a little bit confrontational.”
Watch this portion of the exchange, below: