The Last Temptation of Christ

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This article is about the 1953 novel. For the 1988 film, see The Last Temptation of Christ (film).
The Last Temptation of Christ
First UK trans. edition cover - titled "The Last Temptation"
1st UK edition
Author Nikos Kazantzakis
Original title O Teleutaios Peirasmos
Translator Peter A. Bien (US)
Country Greece
Language Greek
Genre Religion, Historical novel
Publisher Simon and Schuster (USA) & Bruno Cassirer (UK)
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 506 pp (first edition, hardback)
ISBN ISBN 0-684-85256-X
OCLC 38925790

The Last Temptation of Christ (or The Last Temptation) is a historical novel written by Nikos Kazantzakis, first published in 1953.[1] It was first published in English in 1960.[2] It follows the life of Jesus Christ from his perspective. The novel has been the subject of a great deal of controversy due to its subject matter, and appears regularly on lists of banned books.[3]

The central thesis of the book is that Jesus, while free from sin, was still subject to fear, doubt, depression, reluctance, and lust. Kazantzakis argues in the novel's preface that by facing and conquering all of man's weaknesses, Jesus struggled to do God's will, without ever giving in to the temptations of the flesh. The novel advances the argument that, had Jesus succumbed to any such temptation, especially the opportunity to save himself from the cross, his life would have held no more significance than that of any other philosopher.

Film version[edit]

In 1988, an equally controversial film adaptation by Martin Scorsese was released. It stars Willem Dafoe as Jesus and Harvey Keitel as Judas Iscariot.[4]

In popular culture[edit]

In the second episode of the Adult Swim series Moral Orel, the book is one of many to be burned by the censorious town librarian, who uses a copy of Last Temptation as a makeshift torch.[citation needed]

It is discussed in The Da Vinci Code when in a flashback Sophie remembers her grandfather defending the film version. In the film Donnie Darko, it is one of the films on the marquee. This is a debated allusion to Donnie's decision to not avoid his death at the end of the movie.[5]

In The X Files episode "The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati", Fox Mulder has a hallucination that Earth has been colonized by the aliens. His hallucination of the colonization bears a resemblance to the intended theme of the novel.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Athenai: Diphros, 1953.
  2. ^ New York: Simon Schuster Inc., 1960.
  3. ^ Bald, Margaret (2006). Literature Suppressed on Religious Grounds. Banned Books Volume 2 (revised ed.). New York: Facts on File. pp. 179–181. ISBN 9780816062690. OCLC 62090850. 
  4. ^ Deans, Jason (17 December 2003). "Scorsese movie tops TV complaints list". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 5 January 2009. 
  5. ^ Miesel, Sandra (31 August 2003). "Dismantling the Da Vinci Code". Crisis Magazine. Retrieved 8 August 2013. 
  6. ^ VanDerWerff, Todd (1 December 2012). "'The Sixth Extinction'/'The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati'". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 8 August 2013.