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The Last Temptation of Christ Paperback – March 1, 1998

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Nikos Kazantzakis was born in Crete in 1883. He studied literature and art in Germany and Italy, philosophy under Henri Bergson in Paris and received his law degree from the University of Athens. The Greek Minster of Education in 1945, Kazantzakis was also a dramatist, translator, poet, and travel writer. Among his most famous works are, The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel, The Last Temptation of Christ, and Saviors of God.  He died in October 1957.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 506 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (March 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 068485256X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684852560
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (132 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #382,607 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

90 of 97 people found the following review helpful By Jack Fitzgerald VINE VOICE on December 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
The Last Temptation of Christ is a fictional exploration of the life of one of history's most intriguing figures, Jesus Christ. This is not revisionist history, merely an author's viewpoint on how the Son of the Carpenter may have lived his life. It should be taken as a novel, and not a reinterpretation of the scriptures.
Nikos Kazantzakis presents Jesus as very human, a man struggling to ignore the voice of God while making the crosses that the Romans use for crucifiction execution. The people around him think he is mad, and at first the story is frustrating as the reader wants the character to show some guts and follow his destiny. Of course, what a destiny this turned out to be. How many of us could have done what he was purported to have done? That is the question, and as Jesus accepts that he is the Messiah, the story really gets moving.
This is not an easy read, both in its prose and its ideas. There is a lot here to challenge people from all religious backgrounds. Jesus is shown as a human, with human emotions and frailties, but it is this that makes for an interesting character arc in the presenation of the novel and the creation of a truly dynamic character.
Kazantzakis also provides beautiful description of the land of Jesus' birth and places we've read about in the Bible and heard of in the news. Nazareth, Judea, Galilee, Samaria and Jerusalem come alive in these pages, full of Jews, Romans, Pharisees, Scribes and ragamuffins.
The character of Judas Iscariot is also interesting, a militant religious zealot who wants the Romans out of Israel. In this story, he is the one follower that remains completely true to Jesus, and must accept the most difficult task given to him by Jesus.
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52 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Brian E. Erland HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on July 17, 2006
Format: Paperback
I read Nikos Kazantzakis' `The Last Temptation of Christ' back in '75. It was assigned as required reading for a college course I was enrolled in called, "Radical Christianity". Actually I faked my way through the assignment, who wants to read another book on the life of Christ? I certainly didn't. It wasn't until the end of the semester and summer was upon me that I actually opened the book for the first time and begin to read. Once I began I couldn't put it down.

Kazantzakis is a brilliant writer who looks at the world and perceives the intangibles around us like no other author I've ever read. His narrative is surreal, hallucinogenic and disturbingly earthy all at the same time. His ability to look into the human psyche and translate its intensely personal contents into concrete terminology is truly amazing. At times his writing seems more akin to poetry than composition.

This life of Christ is unlike anything you've ever come across before, which explains why there was so much turmoil and Christian backlash over the release of the movie adaptation by Scorsese in '88. They still haven't learned that a closed mind can never be a truly spiritual mind. Don't pass on reading the book because you saw the film. The difference between the two is the difference between night and day.

One of my Top Ten Books of All-Time! My Highest Recommendation.
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85 of 96 people found the following review helpful By Paul McGrath on October 29, 2003
Format: Paperback
So Jesus finally reads what Matthew has been writing about him for the last several months and is flabbergasted. "This isn't the truth," he says. "These are lies! I was not born in Bethlehem. I've never set foot in Egypt in my life. I don't remember any magi! And the dove did not say, 'This is my son,' while I was being baptized!" Matthew tells him he knows this, but nevertheless he has been writing what he has been told to write by an angel, who visits him in the evening. Matthew himself questioned this truth, but the angel told him that he knew nothing of the truth. The angel told him there were many truths, the truths of men, which are many, and the truth of God, which is one. Matthew was to record the truth of God. And he did.

The truth. Yes, indeed, the truth. It can make one uncomfortable on occasion, and Mr. Kazantzakis' version of the truth can certainly be said to do that. His Jesus is quite a bit different than the one we've come to know and love from catechism class and from the Bible. His Jesus only performs a few of the miracles recounted in the Bible. There is no mention of the crippled man lowered through the roof. There is no Sermon on the Mount. No wedding at Cana. The walking on water story was a dream of Peter. But he does recite some parables, heal the centurion's daughter, and raise Lazarus from the dead.

He agonizes over his fate, is often unsure of his divinity, and rails at God, whose hold on him is described as ten claws gripping his skull. He preaches the doctrine of love, but is somewhat vague as to how to put it into practice. He goes to Jerusalem and screams at the Pharisees and the high priests, stating he will smash the temple to pieces.
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful By J. Renaud on June 16, 2005
Format: Paperback
For the record, "The Last Temptation of Christ" is one of my favorite movies, one that I have seen many times, and I unfailingly find it to be moving, uplifting and inspiring. I expected to enjoy the book equally, but unfortunately I found that I had a number of reservations about Nikos Kazantzakis' book.

As a reader, I tend to appreciate good, detailed research: the better the author has done his homework, the more that I feel I can really appreciate and get into a story. Unfortunately, Kazantzakis' research seems to have been minimal at best. The people populating the world of "Last Temptation"'s Jesus are basically modern Orthodox Greeks in first century Jewish clothing. There are endless references to later Christian notions of hell and heaven, in addition to guardian angels, saints, devils, monasteries, abbots, friars, rosaries, etc.; there is absolutely no attempt to recreate an ancient Jewish mindset- in fact I was almost expecting Jesus and his friends to attend mass and perhaps light a candle in front of an icon. As "Last Temptation" is mainly about the psychology of a human Christ, who was born and raised a Jew, this greatly weakened the impact of the novel for me. I was not really sure how I could believe or sympathize with a character who, for me, was in no way convincing.

There are other weaknesses too. If the indifference to Judaism isn't bad enough, there are also references to things that came along centuries, if not millennia later, such as gunpowder, ears of corn, velvet, cashmere shawls, and- most unbelievably- palm-reading Gypsy fortune-tellers. There are also general inconsistencies. For example, Mary Magdalene, who is always called 'Magdalene' even as a girl, is described as a daughter of a rabbi from Cana.
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