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View Diary: Bill O'Reilly's new book says Jesus died to free the Jews from taxation (267 comments)

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  •  O'Reilly is partially correct! (7+ / 0-)

    The Romans squeezed the life out of every country they occupied and made the natives live at the margins, except for a tiny elite which the Romans co-opted.

    Things were so oppressive, terrible, unbearable, that people hoped for the coming of the Messiah to restore order.

    And people took extraordinary risks to try to overthrown their oppressers.

    Maybe Jesus died partly as a freedom fighter but I'd love to get a lot of publicity for what O'Reilly's next sentence should have been--that once Jesus frees you from taxation, give ALL your wealth to the poor, and follow Jesus's teachings.

    Is O'Reilly going all Marxist on us, BTW? Seeing history in terms of class warfare and economic forces?

    I want to rewrite the Bible my own way.....And Jesus said that when the IRS comes to collect your taxes, render unto the government what is theirs and turn the other cheek. Then go back to praying in secret and doing acts of charity. Big time.

    •  Well, I wonder what part of (9+ / 0-)

      "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's" O'Reilly doesn't get -- I'm sure they covered that in some homily in his parish (unless he was napping and thus missed it). That line was a direct answer to the question "Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar?" The person who asked the question was hoping to put Jesus in a no-win situation; if he said, "No" then the Roman authorities would be all over him, if he said "Yes" he would betray his religious supporters especially the Zealots. So he went with a non-answer answer, that at its extreme could be taken as an endorsement of the separation of religion and State business.

      And there are other parts of the New Testament that touch on similar issues, such as Paul's admonition to "submit oneself to the civil authorities"...and the civil authorities of those days were certainly a lot meaner than Obama.

      I'm not sure if I'd classify Jesus as a "freedom fighter" in the modern sense, but he was certainly out to challenge the status quo.

      There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

      by Cali Scribe on Fri Sep 27, 2013 at 02:31:05 PM PDT

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    •  Yes and No (8+ / 0-)

      It depends on when you are talking about.  Yeah, the late Republic was a very corrupt time.  You think our 1% were bad, read about Verres.  Or Late Antiquity, when the wealthy often fled the cities to their private estates.

      However, the Empire, despite the loss of political freedom for the Roman upper classes and dynastic violence, was a time of innovation and reform, especially in the provinces.

      Remember, we're talking about an empire that lasted from 753 BCE to 476 CE in the West, and until 1453 in the East.  An empire that at its height ran from the British Isles to the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, from the North Sea to the Sahara.  So it's rather hard to sum up Rome in a few words.

      That's 1229 years in the West, over five times as long as we've lasted.  We think we're hot shit?  We haven't even lasted 300 years.  We think the Romans are "evil"?  What would they think of us?  In just the first fifty years in the 20th Century, we managed to murder over 130 million people.  That's a low estimate, only taking the lower figures for big events like World War I, World War II, the Sino-Japanese War, the Chinese Civil War, the Armenian Genocide, the Holocaust, and Soviet Collectivization.  The Romans would conclude that we're batshit kill-crazy.  Maybe they're right.

      Tell me what to write. 'To know what is right and to do it are two different things.' - Chushingura, a tale of The Forty-Seven Ronin

      by rbird on Fri Sep 27, 2013 at 05:03:57 PM PDT

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    •  I guess this means O'reilly doesn't think Jesus (3+ / 0-)

      was the Messiah then, since 40 years after Jesus died, Rome destroyed Jerusalem, not the other way around,  and  Jews who were not killed were dispersed throughout the world and persecuted for the next 1900 years. I think they also had to pay taxes in whatever country they lived, i never read anything about Jews being exempt from taxes, did you?

      You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the Union - Woody Guthrie

      by sewaneepat on Fri Sep 27, 2013 at 05:18:35 PM PDT

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      •  If Yeshua was a Jewish revolutionary struggling (7+ / 0-)

        for the independence of Judaea, he failed miserably. In his lifetime Judaea had been a client kingdom with some autonomy; after 70 CE it was directly incorporated into the Empire as a province.

        Incidentally, the annexation in 70 did not impose heavier taxes on the people because Vespasian had no interest in provoking further unrest. The only difference in taxation was that the tax to support the great Temple (now destroyed) was turned into a tax to support the Temple of Zeus on Rome's Capitoline Hill.

        •  The Temple Tax (2+ / 0-)
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          Themistoclea, Judge Moonbox

          Are you sure about that?  My understanding was that the Temple Tax was a seperate tax levied by the Temple Authorities, unrelated to the Imperial Roman taxes.  

          It was actually commanded in the Law of Moses, (although at first it's purpose was to maintain the Tabernacle).  The Temple in Jerusalem even coined it's own currency.  The reason why there were moneychangers in the Temple courtyard was so that people could exchange their heathen Roman coins for holy coins with which to pay their religious obligations.

          There was a scandal in Pilate's administration when he built an aquaduct to suppliment Jerusalem's water supply.  Since the aquaduct also provided water for the Temple, he felt justified in taking money from the Temple treasury to help fund the project.  When people found out that Holy Sanctified Money was being used for Evil Secular Purposes, there was a tremendous backlash.  The Temple Priests piously demanded that the money be repaid, (which must have really cheesed off Pilate, because I can't see how he could have gotten the money in the first place without the Priests's cooperation).  In order to preserve the peace, Pilate was forced to back down.

          With the destruction of the Temple, there was no longer either an organization left to collect the Temple Tax, nor a building for it to maintain.  My guess is that local synagogues continued to collect it for strictly local purposes, but it would not have been handed over to Rome, and certainly not to fund temples to Jove.  The Romans had their own Imerial taxes to fund stuff like that.

          Read my webcomic, "Hannibal Tesla Adventure Magazine" at

          by quarkstomper on Sat Sep 28, 2013 at 10:29:20 AM PDT

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    •  Roman Taxes (3+ / 0-)

      My understanding is that reason why the Roman taxes were so hated at the time of Jesus was that Rome employed Independent Contractors who were authorized to essentially set their own tax rates.  So long as the Empire got its due, the collectors were allowed to pocket the difference.

      Just another example of how Privitization makes Everything Better.

      According the the Gospels, the local religious leaders were afraid that the Jesus's followers might turn into a mob and provoke the Romans into retalliation -- there were a number of small popular uprisings in that era and one big one about a generation later which resulted, as the religious leader feared, in Rome coming down hard and destroying the Temple.  

      Certainly they portrayed Jesus as a rabble-rouser and a revolutionary to Pilate, but taxes were never specifically mentioned.  Whether Pilate saw Jesus the same way or whether he went along with the kabuki dance for political reasons is a matter of some disagreement.

      Read my webcomic, "Hannibal Tesla Adventure Magazine" at

      by quarkstomper on Sat Sep 28, 2013 at 10:16:04 AM PDT

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