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The Last Temptation of Christ

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Translator  Peter A. Bien (US)
Publication date  1960
Author  Nikos Kazantzakis
Original title  O Teleutaios Peirasmos

Country  Greece
Originally published  1955
Original language  Greek
Genre  Historical Fiction
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Publisher  Simon & Schuster (USA) & Bruno Cassirer (UK)
Media type  Print (Hardback & paperback)
Pages  506 (first edition, hardback)
Page count  506 (first edition, hardback)
Similar  Christ Recrucified, Captain Michalis, Zorba the Greek, The Saviors of God, Report to Greco

The Last Temptation of Christ or The Last Temptation (Greek: Ο Τελευταίος Πειρασμός, O Teleftéos Pirasmós) is a historical novel written by Nikos Kazantzakis, first published in 1955. It was first published in English in 1960. 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.

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. 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. A psychologically sound individual does not ignore or bury the evil within him. Instead, he channels it into the service of good.

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.

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Film version

In 1988, an equally controversial film adaptation by Martin Scorsese was released, which starred Willem Dafoe as Jesus and Harvey Keitel as Judas Iscariot.

In popular culture

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


The Last Temptation of Christ Wikipedia

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