Last week, at the British Library in London, Professor Barrie Wilson and I launched our book, The Lost Gospel: Decoding the Ancient Text that Reveals Jesus’ Marriage to Mary the Magdalene .

The press took notice. I lost track after 1500 international articles. You know you’ve really made it when Conan O’Brien and Bill O’Reilly comment on your book on the same day.

I prefer Conan’s comment. He said something to the effect that he hadn’t realized that Jesus had a wife and kids – didn’t he suffer enough? As for O’Reilly, he called me all kinds of names, including “dubious” and “stupid”. He did all this without even reading the book, which just goes to show how much more intelligent than me he is. I always need to read a book before I can express an opinion about it. But not Bill. He’s brilliant. He knows the answers before he even hears the questions. Just to show you how “stupid” I am, I hereby challenge O’Reilly to a debate about our book and about the historical Jesus. I first challenged him two days ago on my blog and on the Times of Israel. Yesterday, I challenged him on Fox radio but I haven’t heard back from brilliant Bill. Cluck, cluck, cluck. I may be stupid, but I’m not a chicken.

Lost Gospel

At the same time that he called me “stupid”, O’Reilly said that Jesus didn’t have any brothers or sisters, even though the Gospels say he did (Mark 6:3, Matthew 13:55-56)! As it turns out, according to O’Reilly, who it seems is an expert on first-century Judaea, all Jews at the time called each other “brother” and “sister”, if they lived in the same village. That’s actually totally false, though it is true of certain areas of Tel Aviv today where, after partaking of a certain weed, Tel-Avivis call each other “bro” and “sis”, even if they don’t live in the same neighborhood. C’mon, O’Reilly, debate the stupid guy.

There’s been praise for the book – no doubt about it. For example, the Herald Scotland called it “[An] explosive text… a closely argued case… The Lost Gospel is impressive and enlightening… a detective story [that is] fascinating and challenging, in equal measure.” It’s also heartwarming that Amazon is temporarily out of stock of our book, and that ours is the #1 history book on Amazon.

But the main criticism is that we shouldn’t substitute Jesus and Mary Magdalene for Old Testament characters in ancient Christian texts. Well, if that’s the case, all of our critics should really get mad at the author of the Gospel of Matthew. At one point in Jesus’ public ministry, there’s a crowd around him, and they ask Jesus for a miraculous sign. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus refuses to give a sign. In the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, however, Jesus speaks in code. He says he’s willing to give one sign and one sign only – “the sign of Jonah” (Luke 11:29). Luke does not explain the meaning of the sign, but Matthew decides to decode it. He says, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40). In other words, Jesus speaks about an Old Testament prophet named Jonah, and Matthew chooses to interpret this as a code. According to Matthew, when Jesus is speaking about Jonah, he’s really speaking about himself, predicting his own resurrection. But where are the howls of derision? Why doesn’t Brilliant Bill call Matthew “stupid”? Why doesn’t he call him a “fraud”? Why doesn’t he say that he’s in it for the money? Because, when Matthew decodes, it conforms to Paul’s version of Christianity, to which O’Reilly subscribes. But when Jacobovici and Wilson decode, it conforms to the real-life Jewish Rabbi of the first century, who lived and died in Israel, and who never made it to America.

So how about it O’Reilly, when do we debate?