Gonna buy five copies for my mother!

Nearly two months have gone by since I posted a link to the brand new Amazon page for Scandalizing Jesus?, an upcoming collection of essays on the book and film versions of The Last Temptation of Christ that is timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary this year of the publication of Nikos Kazantzakis’s original novel.

Now, today, the editor of that book e-mailed a copy of the cover to all the contributors — and look who made the front page! For those who can’t read the fine print to the left or access the larger JPEG, what it says is:

Edited by Darren J. N. Middleton
Featuring essays by
Martin Scorsese, Peter Bien, & Peter T. Chattaway

This just floors me. There are quite a few other essayists in this book besides the four of us, and I believe I’m the only one besides Scorsese who isn’t a member of academia (heck, I never even made it past my B.A.; I caught the student journalism bug and lost whatever interest I had in graduate school), so the last thing I would have expected was to see my name singled out and sitting on the cover like this, next to three of the biggest interpreters of Kazantzakis’s work. (Middleton has co-edited and authored a couple other books on Kazantzakis’s theology, Bien translated Last Temptation into English in 1960, and Scorsese of course translated it into film in 1988.) But the book is divided into two parts — essays on Kazantzakis’s novel and essays on Scorsese’s film — and apparently they wanted to single out one essayist from each section of the book. Bien, as the translator, was the obvious pick from the “novel” section. And I was the guy they singled out from the “film” section. I’m still wrapping my mind around this!

FWIW, my essay does not look at the film in the sort of specifically cinematic way that, say, my essay for Re-Viewing The Passion did; i.e., it’s not about point-of-view shots and whatnot. Instead, it’s about the treatment of sexuality in historical, theological, artistic, literary and cinematic interpretations of the life of Christ — with a heavy emphasis on the last two categories, of course. I rely pretty heavily on other writers for the first three categories; the fourth basically just consists of an analysis of Kazantzakis’s novel; and the fifth looks not only at Scorsese’s film but also Cecil B. DeMille’s The King of Kings (1927; my review), Norman Jewison’s Jesus Christ Superstar (1973), Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979; my comments), Jean-Luc Godard’s Je vous salue, Marie (1985), and Roger Young’s Jesus (1999; my review).

Oh, and to make things even better, I hear the book is now due for release on October 1 — my birthday. What a treat that will be!

I hope that whets some appetites out there!

JUL 27 UPDATE: I’ve now posted a list of the essays here.

NOV 23 UPDATE: At last, my copy of the book is here!

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    Peter, this is astoundingly great. In the immortal words of your own favorite hero… You’ve taken your first step into a larger world. 🙂

  • Congratulations Peter! You’re like, now all mentioned in the same breath as Scorcese and stuff, at least where Kazantzakis is concerned. 🙂 The subject matter sounds a bit esoteric to my untutored intellect but if you’re hosting a reading of your essay in particular, any time in the future – I promise to drop by, try to look intelligent, and to pump your hand enthusiastically at the end of it with an “I say, what what, old fruit.” ;p

  • trent

    I still find faint comfort in the fact that searching Amazon (com and ca) for your name reveals no results, while mine brings up two in Canada and one in .com.

    That will change soon, methinks, but for now….

  • Jeff, where are you getting that word?

    Grace, I won’t be hosting a reading, but I just might post it online somewhere. First things first, though — now that I know how to capture images from my DVDs, I want to post an illustrated version of my article from Re-Viewing The Passion, which is all about point-of-view shots in Jesus films.

    Trent, it’s interesting that Amazon doesn’t list anything under my name right now, since it was only seven weeks ago that I discovered this. A general search for my name also used to turn up books that had quoted me, but that feature seems to have been disabled, now. However, you can still search for my name in Re-Viewing The Passion, which will turn up some of the pages on which my name appears.

  • Bethr

    Congratulations, Peter. Sounds like this is an important book, and you deserve the credit! Really great! Will order copy for our library.