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!