The internationally renowned novel about the life and death of Jesus Christ. This literary rendering of the life of Jesus Christ has courted controversy since its publication by depicting a Christ far more human than the one seen in the Bible. He is a figure who is gloriously divine but earthy and human, a man like any other—subject to fear, doubt, and pain. Nikos Kazantzakis was born in Crete in

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We struggle, we see him struggle also, and we find strength. There are various ideas, themes and images from the book and the movie that provoked these howls of outrage, but the most significant cause lies at the dramatic center of the the story and concerns the nature of the "Last Temptation". As Kazantzakis imagines the tale, throughout his entire life Jesus is plagued by doubts about his destiny and his divinity and he is beset by temptation.

Finally, as he hangs upon the cross, an angel comes and rescues him and delivers him to a mortal existence, wherein Christ marries and has children. But then Judas and the other disciples, now withered old men, track him down, accuse him of betraying them and his mission, and begin to stone him. Suddenly he remembered where he was, who he was and why he felt pain. No, no, he was not a coward, a deserter, a traitor. No, he was nailed to the cross.

All--all were illusions sent by the Devil. His disciples were alive and thriving. Everything had turned out as it should, glory be to God.

And it was as though he had said: Everything is begun. Now as a threshold matter, I just don't find it particularly horrifying for someone to suggest that Christ may have had carnal desires.

In fact, I find it pretty unexceptionable to suggest that the Good lord did not die a virgin. The idea that he would have remained not only physically pure, but even mentally pure, seems to me to be at odds with the very reason for his existence.

Christ was after all a vehicle through whom God could experience what it meant to be Man. It hardly makes sense then that Christ would have been completely immune to the attraction of sensory stimuli.

Wouldn't that, at least partially, defeat the purpose? So this final temptation and the thought of Christ fathering children just doesn't seem like a big deal to me on the blasphemy front. I am bothered instead by how little sense it makes from a logical standpoint.

After all, our mortality is the very core of the human dilemma. It is the temporary nature of our existence which separates us from God and godhood--God having banished us from Eden before we could partake of the Tree of Life. If we had eternal life, in addition to our capacity for knowledge and the ability to reason, then we too would be as God.

What God failed to realize was how this duality would warp our souls, the desperation that would make us capable of acts of truly horrific acts. The second is the most important moment in the Bible, as even Christ experiences despair which causes him to doubt God himself.

This is the point at which God, who had been so petty, jealous and vengeful throughout the Old Testament, must forgive Man, as He realizes what it is to be a man. So for Kazantzakis to posit this as the moment at which Christ would be tempted by the offer of becoming human, simply makes no sense. A Last Temptation in which he is offered the opportunity never to have been born would make sense, a chance to avoid mortality altogether. Or you could make an effective scene out of Christ imagining his life as a regular man, not having to be crucified, but then losing his wife or a child and having the full weight of mortality crash down upon him.

But, as is, the book really does read as if the author's only concern is with the Lord's maidenhead. It makes it seem as if the Last Temptation is to exchange being the Messiah for a chance to do the nasty. This is simply too trivial to bear much thought and represents a fairly fundamental misunderstanding of just what it meant for God to become Christ.

The whole point is that God has finally experienced what it is to be a Man and has found out that it is pretty difficult. The idea that just as that realization is being driven home comes a point at which he would consider chucking his divinity to become a family man is pretty ludicrous. Taken on it's own terms, as more of an existentialist gloss on the Gospels, it's not a bad book. The portrait of Christ struggling against his destiny and seeking to escape fate is fairly powerful.

And, read in this context, his resistance to the Last Temptation is genuinely heroic. In either case, it's an interesting novel, often beautiful and it seems unlikely to lead anyone down the path to towards Hell. It is well worth reading, though deeply flawed.

Unfortunately, THE sticking point about the book for many folks is the sexual angle. Try running it by folks in, say, small town Anywhere, U.


The Last Temptation of Christ

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Nikos Kazantzakis : The Last Temptation Of Christ : Always Thirsty

This novel, which is derived from the inspiration of the theories of Freud and historical materialism, perverts and hurts the Gospel discernment and the God-man figure of our Lord Jesus Christ in a way coarse, vulgar, and blasphemous. Richards claims that Kazantzakis, in his The Last Temptation novel, tried to reclaim the values of early Christianity, such as love, brotherhood, humility, and self-renunciation. Bien, the psychology in The Last Temptation is based on the idea that every person, Jesus included, is evil by nature as well as good: violent and hateful as well as loving. A psychologically sound individual does not ignore or bury the evil within him. Instead, he channels it into the service of good.



This is a retelling of the story of Christ which has created a stir of controversy abroad and is bound to be received with This is a retelling of the story of Christ which has created a stir of controversy abroad and is bound to be received with mixed feelings in this country. Kazantzakis is the greatest modern author Greece has produced and those who are familiar with his work will recognize the conflict between flesh and spirit which he has explored again and again in both his novels and philosophical writings. Here Kazantzakis follows the Gospels in accepting the miraculous events they relate. Where he deviates is in the psychological make-up of the Christ who is portrayed as a reluctant Messiah moved by the calling of God but also drawn toward living a normal life among men.

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