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The Gospel According to Jesus Christ by Jose…

The Gospel According to Jesus Christ (original 1991; edition 1994)

by Jose Saramago, Giovanni Pontiero (Translator)

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1,716344,138 (4.12)72
Title:The Gospel According to Jesus Christ
Authors:Jose Saramago
Other authors:Giovanni Pontiero (Translator)
Info:Mariner Books (1994), Edition: 1, Paperback, 396 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Gospel According to Jesus Christ by José Saramago (1991)


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English (18)  Spanish (5)  Italian (4)  Dutch (2)  Portuguese (Brazil) (2)  Portuguese (1)  Slovenian (1)  French (1)  All languages (34)
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The life of Jesus re-created with the “blank spaces left by the other gospels filled in”, so Saramago. The guilt of Joseph is inherited by his son. The son is a tool in the hands of God, the father, who claims him, a merciless God of the Old Testament, determined to extend his power beyond the small tribe of the Israelites. God and the Devil barter like they did over Job, but also the Devil benefits from the extension of God’s power: one needs the other. The Devil appears often more compassionate than God. God is the God of the past, the present, the future: nobody can escape their destiny determined by God, neither Mary, neither Joseph, neither Jesus, neither the apostles including Judas, who is sacrificing himself by offering to carry out Jesus’ wish: one of them has to do it after all.
It is a brilliant novel! I like the way Saramago writes: the gospel is told by description, by dialog, by thoughts, interlaced with wry comments of the narrator.
You need to count yourself among Nietzsche’s ‘freie Geister’ to appreciate this book. This can neither be said of the Catholic Church nor the 1992 Government of Portugal. (VI-14) ( )
  MeisterPfriem | Jun 26, 2014 |
A somewhat annoying read given Saramago's stylistic choice of long paragraphs with little punctuation, it still moves surprisingly quick, and there are strikingly beautiful passages and meditations spread liberally throughout. The very concept of the book is ingenious, and he pulls it off in a satisfying way, creating a vivid and realistic portrait of Jesus' life. I particularly enjoyed his descriptions of some of the famous miracles and apparitions, which he often paints in a more mundane (though equally miraculous) light. The narrative is awkward at times, partly because Saramago chooses to vacillate between present and past tense almost inexplicably, partly because he makes anachronistic asides to the reader. But it works wonderfully when he stays true to Jesus' own time period.

SPOILER -- The ending was disappointing. The conversation between Jesus, God and the Devil on the boat (which I consider the climax) struck me as a rather childish criticism of Christianity -- that God is a power-hungry egomaniac who created Jesus only to bring him more followers. Ballsy maybe, given Saramago's Catholic environment, but I had the same thoughts in high school and have since moved on. Jesus' inner rebellion against God is interesting to be sure, but I wish it had been developed further, and the ending explained a little more fully. As it is, the ending confirmed what I had suspected in the beginning after various subtle satiric jabs: Saramago is in many ways a more lyrical and elegant version of Mark Twain. Or would that just be Mark Twain, Romance Language Edition? ( )
  blake.rosser | Jul 28, 2013 |
I can't help but compare this book with my favorite Saramago book, "Blindness". They are so different in many ways. "Blindness" has its anonymity, "The Gospel..." has God and Jesus. As a Catholic, I know God and Jesus like I know my mother and father. I grew up hearing stories about Jesus. Reading "The Gospel" was a challenge for me because it was a different story I've heard and I can't help but feel guilty reading it. Saramago can be persuasive and if your faith does not have a good foundation then you'll probably be an atheist after. It was written so well that you can't help but believe it. However, it might be written so well but I think it still lacks emotion/feeling which "Blindness" has. I thought i would at least feel some deep emotions because its about Jesus but all I felt was remorse that the book ended the way it did. Saramago took his time with this book then suddenly the ending felt too hurried. He just wanted Jesus to die. He has given more thought on Joseph's death than on Jesus'. Overall, it felt biased and maybe it is since the book it suppose to be about the humanness of Jesus but still, I felt uncomfortable about it. its up to you if you want to read it or not because this is a book that has no limit which is both good and bad. ( )
  krizia_lazaro | Jan 20, 2012 |
Wonderful, wonderful book. I barely noticed when the story diverged from orthodoxy. It created a new, beautiful gospel. ( )
  jaaron | Jan 4, 2012 |
The reviews of 1998 Noble Prize winner Jose Saramago’s brilliant book on Amazon and elsewhere have generally been quite comprehensive, very well written, and informative. Therefore I will not delve again into the aspects of the novel that they discussed, such as the book’s plot; whether it is irreverent or blasphemous, as his native Portugal government claimed; the portrayal of Joseph, Jesus’ natural father, as an unintelligent, non-expert carpenter who committed an enormous crime for which he was crucified and whose sin was passed on to his son Jesus; his frequent exaggerated and satirical depictions of ancient Jews as primitives; and the author’s unique writing style. I will address two points: Saramago’s deep understanding of Jewish history, customs, laws, and sensitivities, and his mocking humor. I know something about Jewish life, having written some dozen commentaries on the Bible that refer to ancient practices.

Saramago knows the Jewish culture well. He refers to different aspects of it often, although not always correctly, for Nazarites, for example, are not non-Levitical priests, as he writes. This is the second novel of his that I read, the first being “Cain,” and I found that he displayed his knowledge about ancient Judaism, the Bible, talmudic, midrashic, and legal literature in both books. However, readers need to know that he mentions these matters briefly and subtly. He knows that most people don’t know what he knows; so if he dwells on esoteric subjects over much, he will bewilder, bore, and even anger his readers. In most incidences, he distorts and thereby mocks these Jewish references in both books. I’ll give one example from this book.

Some ancient Jews developed a prayer that male Jews should say in the morning: “Blessed are you Lord, the God who is king of the universe, who did not make me a woman.” The prayer apparently intended to say, thank you God who gave me as a male more of your commands to observe than you gave to women to observe. Despite good intentions, this prayer outraged women and men who sensitively realized that the prayer insults women; for it is as if the man is saying, thank you God for not making me into this subhuman creature. Another problem is that women who want to pray are unable to say this prayer. After some years, rabbis invented a substitute prayer for women: “Blessed are you Lord, the God who is king of the universe, who created me as you wanted.”

Saramago mocks this unfortunate history and the two prayers. He describes the terrible condition of women during the beginning of the Common Era. Then he portrays Joseph having intercourse with a passive Mary. Joseph does so with insensitivity, without consideration for her feelings, almost like rape. He finishes, roles off his wife in ecstasy, says nothing to Mary, and almost howls like a rooster as he thanks God for what he has just experienced by reciting, “Blessed are you Lord, the God of the universe, who did not make me a woman.” Submissive Mary accepts her role as a passive participant by saying, “Blessed are you God who is king of the universe, who created me as you wanted.”

This portrayal will insult, horrify, and appall many, but not all Christians, Jews, and Muslims, but this is how the Portuguese Nobel Prize Winner Jose Saramago thinks and writes. ( )
1 vote iddrazin | Oct 18, 2011 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Saramago, Joséprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lemmens, HarrieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0156001411, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:02:40 -0400)

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Fictional life of Jesus mixes magic, myth and reality.

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