The 1953 novel by Nikos Kazantzakis is an alternative interpretation of the story of Jesus' life and death in the four Gospels
. The novel was written in a stylistic modern Greek called Demotic, which was the common language of the Greek peasantry, rather than the elitist literary language. The English translation was published in 1960.
It was famously adapted into a film
by Martin Scorcese in 1983. Compared to the movie, the novel takes more time to follow the actions of the Apostles and Jesus' family.
This novel provides examples of:
- Adaptation Distillation: Jesus has only nine Apostles; three of the lesser known ones were left out.
- Artistic License - History: Matthew is seen writing the first Gospel while following Jesus around. The Gospel of Matthew, however, was certainly not written by an Apostle, since it uses the Gospel of Mark (who was not an Apostle) as a source.
- Believe it or not, the trope is invoked by Jesus Himself, who accuses Matthew of making up a bunch of stuff about Him. (It was actually an angel dictating the made-up stuff.) This is also a subversion, since the material Jesus objects to (such as his birth in Bethlehem) is some of the same material historians find dubious.
- Catch Phrase: Zebedee: "Two and two make four!"
- Christmas Cake: The sisters Martha and Mary
- Heel-Face Turn: Judas, over the course of the novel
- La Résistance: A group of zealots, concerned that Jesus might antagonize the Romans, track His movements throughout the novel. Judas is their inside man.
- Market-Based Title: The original title for the English-language edition was simply The Last Temptation. Evidently of Christ was added in case anyone couldn't guess who was being tempted.
- Misplaced Vegetation: Judas and an old woman ate corn, and some peasants ate sunflower seeds. Both plants are native to the Americas and thus were unknown in ancient Palestine. (In fairness, "corn" can refer to other grains, but the description of Judas eating it suggests that it is, in fact, maize.)
- Plucky Comic Relief: The blind man from Bethany
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Jesus and His disciples, except for Judas. Especially Jesus.
- Tagalong Chronicler: Matthew