Bill O'Reilly is rarely less than forthright in his views. The Fox news pundit claimed on his show this week that 'a lot of the Bible is allegorical,' adding that the New Testament Gospels contradict themselves.
According to WND, O’Reilly made his comments during his interview with ‘Touched by an Angel’ star Roma Downey, the Derry-born Irish actress, and her husband Mark Burnett, the executive producers of The Bible miniseries which begins on the History Channel on Sunday.
Downey, who portrays Jesus' mother Mary in the series, made it clear she had complete faith in Holy Scripture.
'Bringing the Bible to the screen came with a huge responsibility and one we took very seriously,' Downey said. 'We had a great team of scholars and theologians helping us, making sure that we told these stories accurately and truthfully. I’ve been a believer my whole life, and that was very, very important to us.
‘Something else that we wanted to do was to make it really, really cool. You know, we have teenagers at home and it's hard to get them to read anything, and one of the goals here was to get this generation interested and excited about Scripture, and I think we’ve been able to achieve that.’
O’Reilly took a surprising line then, asking Downey: 'When you say you’re a believer, do you believe in the Bible literally? I mean you believe that Adam and Eve were out there, and the snake and the apple and all of that business?'
Downey didn't blink: 'I do indeed. I believe the truth of the Bible. That’s what I was taught, and it’s been a wonderful, wonderful faith for me my whole life. I grew up in Ireland. Earliest memories, my father reading the Bible to me sitting on his knee. And this was something that I had wanted to do and it’s wonderful to be able to work together with my husband on the TV series. The good news is we’re still speaking to each other.'
O’Reilly, whose latest book, “Killing Jesus,” examines the multiple and often contradictory biblical accounts of his life, then asked Burnett (producer of shows such as The Voice, Survivor and The Apprentice) for his views.
'Look, a lot of the Bible is allegorical, and we know that in creationism and things like that,' O’Reilly claimed. 'So what you’re doing here, I assume, is just telling the story the way that the prophets put forth, without any commentary in it. Is that correct?'
'That’s exactly correct,' Burnett replied. 'Right down the middle, telling the Bible as written. As fact. Five hours Old Testament, five hours New Testament.'
O’Reilly followed up by asking, 'Are you telling people that they should believe in Adam and Eve? That they should believe in Noah’s Ark? Jonah and the whale? Are you telling people that this is the way to go?'
'People will believe what they want to believe,' said Burnett. 'The worst thing would be to try to preach to people and tell them how to feel about these stories. People will love these stories.'
Downey added: 'We worked from the position that the Bible was a true story. We haven’t taken a position on that except to bring the stories to life meaningfully. We have filmed the passion of Jesus, we’ve taken it right through resurrection, the conversion of Paul and through to Revelation, and that episode will be on Easter Sunday evening.'
O’Reilly didn't explicitly outline which contradictions he alleges exist in the New Testament, but he did predict some critics would attack 'The Bible' miniseries for its apparent literalism.
Meanwhile O'Reilly and fellow Fox News pundit Sean Hannity both saw enormous drops in the all important age 25 to 54 audience demographic from the same point in 2012. Hannity's audience fell by a whopping 35 percent from 2012, and O'Reilly's reportedly fell 26 percent. In 2012 there was a major focus on the election issues.
No Irish Need Apply? Not anymore