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The Gospel According to Jesus Christ

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The Gospel According to Jesus Christ

By Jose Saramago

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Format: Paperback, 396 pages
Published In: United States, 01 September 1994
A PROVOCATIVE AND CONTROVERSIAL TELLING OF THE LIFE OF CHRIST BY THE 1998 NOBEL LAUREATE IN LITERATURE

For Jose Saramago, the life of Jesus Christ and the story of His Passion are things of this earth: A child crying, a gust of wind, the caress of a woman half asleep, the bleat of a goat or the bark of a dog, a prayer uttered in the grayish morning light. The Holy Family reflects the real complexities of any family, but this is realism filled with vision, dream, and omen.

Saramago's deft psychological portrait of a savior who is at once the Son of God and a young man of this earth is an expert interweaving of poetry and irony, spirituality and irreverence. The result is nothing less than a brilliant skeptic's wry inquest into the meaning of God and of human existence.

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This thoughtful, provocative study of Jesus' self-understanding as both son of God and an all-too-human family member caused debate in the Portuguese parliament and is likely to generate discussion here. Saramago reveals a deep knowledge of scripture, theology, and Christian history, but his true gift may lie in evoking the physical world. Christian writers have often downplayed the earthier aspects of the Incarnation, but here Jesus is ``identified as a shepherd by the smell of goat.'' God says that it is ``dissatisfaction, one of the qualities which make man in My image and likeness,'' which led him to desire a son on Earth. ``There will be a church,'' God tells Jesus, giving a lengthy martyrology as evidence. Jesus dies as do many of us, lamenting ``a life planned for death from the very beginning.'' For serious religious collections.-- Kathleen Norris, Lemmon P.L., S.D.

Like other earthy fictionalized accounts of the life of Jesus, this loose interpretation of the Gospel provoked an outcry: published in the author's native Portugal, it was subsequently withdrawn from consideration for the 1992 European Literature Prize. Saramago ( The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis ) explores the psychological motivations that led Jesus to become a prophet. Joseph overhears a conversation that allows him to save his fledgling family from the slaughter of the innocents. Because he lacks the courage to warn others in Bethlehem, God turns him into a spiritual pariah and, as part of God's justice, he is mistakenly crucified. Tormented by his earthly father's guilt, Jesus leaves his family, wanders around in the wilderness with a freethinking Devil, is told of his destiny by God, performs some miracles and, in a fast summing up, ends up dead. Saramago, who takes some pointed digs at both the Catholic church and monotheism generally, seems too uneasy with his material to enjoy his tongue-in-cheek portrait. The work is frequently static and halfhearted, a far cry from the riveting passages of the New Testament, and though often amusing (his conversations between Jesus, God and the Devil may remind Anatole France aficionados of Revolt of the Angels ), the work never achieves the irony the author seems to have intended. (Jan.)

"Enough to assure [Saramago] a place in the universal library and in human memory". -- The Nation

EAN: 9780156001410
ISBN: 0156001411
Publisher: Mariner Books
Dimensions: 20.27 x 13.67 x 2.26 centimetres (0.39 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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