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
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. 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, which starred Willem Dafoe as Jesus and Harvey Keitel as Judas Iscariot.[4]

In popular culture[edit]

It is discussed in The Da Vinci Code when in a flashback Sophie remembers her grandfather defending the film version.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Athenai: Diphros, 1955.
  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.