The Last Temptation of Christ

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This article is about the 1955 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"
First UK edition
Author Nikos Kazantzakis
Original title O Teleutaios Peirasmos
Translator Peter A. Bien (US)
Country Greece
Language Greek
Genre Historical novel
Publisher Simon & Schuster (USA) & Bruno Cassirer (UK)
Publication date
1960
Media type Print (Hardback & paperback)
Pages 506 (first edition, hardback)
ISBN 0-684-85256-X
OCLC 38925790

The Last Temptation of Christ or The Last Temptation (Greek: Ο Τελευταίος Πειρασμός) is a historical novel written by Nikos Kazantzakis, first published in 1955.[1] It was first published in English in 1960.[2] It follows the life of Jesus Christ from Jesus's own perspective. Vatican condemned The Last temptation and put on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum[3] without explanation on January 12, 1954. The Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church in Athens wanted this book banned in Greece stating

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 an a way coarse, vulgar, and blasphemous.

M. Antonakes stated that Kazantzakis took Christ out of the world of dogma and tried to recreate a mythical Christ for an age of science and evolution. Defending Kazantzakis the Literary Society in Athens stated that although it did not wish to criticise the Orthodox Church it was concerned because a sentry had been placed over the freedom of the human spirit and because of the Orthodox Church, since it supported the Vatican's action, shared in the responsibility.[4]

L. A. 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.[5] According to P. 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. Psychologically sound individual does not ignore or bury the evil within him. He channels it into the service for good.[6]

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, which starred Willem Dafoe as Jesus and Harvey Keitel as Judas Iscariot.[7]

In popular culture[edit]

It is discussed in The Da Vinci Code when in a flashback Sophie remembers her grandfather defending the film version.[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Athenai: Diphros, 1955.
  2. ^ New York: Simon Schuster Inc., 1960.
  3. ^ Nikos Kazantzakis: Zorba the Greek, Faber 2000 London England, translated by Carl Wildman (Foreword)
  4. ^ Michael Antonakes: Christ, Kazantzakis, and Controversy in Greece in Middleton, Darren J. N., Bien, Peter (ed): God's Struggler: Religion in the Writings of Nikos Kazantzakis, Mercer University Press, 1996 p. 27-30
  5. ^ Lewis A. Richards, "Christianity in the Novels of Kazantzakis," Western Humanities Review 21, p. 52
  6. ^ Peter Bien, "Tempted by Happiness: Kazantzakis' Post-Christian Christ", Pendle Hill Publications, Wallingford, PA p. 12
  7. ^ Deans, Jason (17 December 2003). "Scorsese movie tops TV complaints list". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 5 January 2009. 
  8. ^ Miesel, Sandra (31 August 2003). "Dismantling the Da Vinci Code". Crisis Magazine. Retrieved 8 August 2013.