The Gospel According to Jesus Christ

The Gospel According to Jesus Christ

4.1 11
by José Saramago
     
 

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A wry, fictional account of the life of Christ by Nobel laureate José Saramago

 

A brilliant skeptic, José Saramago envisions the life of Jesus Christ and the story of his Passion as things of this earth: A child crying, the caress of a woman half asleep, the bleat of a goat, a prayer uttered in the grayish morning light. His

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Overview

A wry, fictional account of the life of Christ by Nobel laureate José Saramago

 

A brilliant skeptic, José Saramago envisions the life of Jesus Christ and the story of his Passion as things of this earth: A child crying, the caress of a woman half asleep, the bleat of a goat, a prayer uttered in the grayish morning light. His idea of the Holy Family reflects the real complexities of any family, and—as only Saramago can—he imagines them with tinges of vision, dream, and omen. The result is a deft psychological portrait that moves between poetry and irony, spirituality and irreverence of a savior who is at once the Son of God and a young man. In this provocative, tender novel, the subject of wide critical discussion and wonder, Saramago questions the meaning of God, the foundations of the Church, and human existence itself.

Editorial Reviews

Ilene Cooper
As provocative as "The Last Temptation of Christ" and already as controversial in its native Portugal, this fictional life of Jesus is as haunting as a dream and as real as a baby's cry. From the opening scene, in which an angel, dressed as a beggar, comes to announce the birth of Jesus, to the last moment of Jesus' life when the voice of the Lord seems to mock him as Jesus' blood drips into a bowl, Saramago mixes magic, myth, and reality into a potent brew. Among the most eyebrow-raising depictions in the book is that of Mary Magdalene as a prostitute to whom Jesus surrenders his virginity in a scene that is both erotic and tender. More than his mistress, Mary becomes the catalyst that allows Jesus to see the world in a new way. With little paragraphing and no quotation marks, the text is at times difficult to follow. But there is method to Saramago's formlessness. This is a book that can't be read quickly. The typographical density forces us to reread sentences and conversations, and in the course of rereading, we find multiple levels of meaning in the narrative, leading us in turn to ponder the larger questions Saramago's tale elicits.
Kirkus Reviews
Now making its US debut, a novel from noted Portuguese writer Saramago (The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis, 1990) that—despite its provocative conclusions and sometimes irreverent tone—is a profoundly different but no less significant life of Christ. Here, the Christian story is told from the point of view of Jesus, a young man very much of his time and place in spite of his great destiny. And it is this emphasis on Jesus's appreciation for the ordinary joys and virtues of human life—sexual love, family, nature, friendship, honor—that make the conflict between the desires of God, here indeed His father, and what He himself perceives to be earthly virtues, so tragic. All the familiar stories—the Annunciation, the Slaughter of the Innocents, the Miracles, and the Crucifixion—are related with a nod to postmodern sensibilities, but they're secondary to Saramago's main purpose—to suggest that Jesus had to live and die as much for the benefit of God as for the Devil, both of whom appear in person. Saramago's God, who resembles a successful CEO, wants to use Jesus and the church He will found to expand His dominions; and when Jesus wants to know, "How much death and suffering Your victory over other gods will cause?" God answers with a long list of martyrs, wars of faith, and institutions like the Inquisition. Even the Devil, an ambivalent figure who often intervenes positively in Jesus's life, is moved to repentance, but God rejects his offer: "Because I cannot exist without the evil you represent. Unless the Devil is the Devil, God cannot be God." Jesus goes on to His destiny, but with a caveat: in the hope of averting the bloodshed implicit inthe founding of Christianity, he asks to be crucified as King of the Jews, not as the Son of God. Fiction that engages the mind as much as the spirit as, in eloquently supple prose, it seeks to understand faith.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780547540047
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
09/28/1994
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
396
Sales rank:
97,398
File size:
1 MB

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