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NIKOS KAZANTZAKIS THE LAST TEMPTATION translated by Peter A Been. (1961) Faber & Faber edition – 1988.  (AKA – The Last Temptation Of Christ). 

 

A radical, humanistic, controversial look at the life of Jesus, written by the author of Zorba The Greek.  In this violent, unique and often beautiful take on the story, Jesus engineers his own destiny, manipulating events to ensure his own execution. The well-known belief that Jesus was a carpenter by trade is given an unusual twist in which he makes the crosses for Roman executions. He also clearly sets up poor Judas for his part in his impending martyrdom. The Last Temptation of the title relates to a vision Jesus has while dying on the cross (one of his own?) He envisages a future religion rising in his name under the guidance of a fanatical St. Paul. Jesus sees himself in this prophetic vision too. He has not been resurrected from the dead, but rescued from death just before dying. In the dream, he has retired from religion to settle to a happy sex life with Mary Magdalene and later with Mary and Martha. All goes well until he witnesses the cult Paul has created around him. This cult is Catholicism, as we understand it. The only difference is that as Jesus didn’t die, it isn’t actually based on truth. Jesus points this out to Paul, but Paul doesn’t care.  Shocked, Jesus returns to the reality. He is still dying, nailed to the cross. He embraces the need to die now.  The story ends with his death.

 

Kazantzakis deliberately avoids showing whether or not there was a resurrection. It’s a poetic, violent, thought-provoking novel that became a controversial film made by Martin Scorsese. It was to cause as much controversy for Christians as Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses did for Islamic militants later. http://www.rjgeib.com/thoughts/christ/christ.html   

 

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