This is a narrative of the story of Jesus, focused on the final years of his life. Jesus is depicted as an ordinary carpenter, even making the crosses used by the Romans to execute Jewish revolutionaries. Having steadfastly refused to undertake the mission of salvation, he eventually decides to submit to divine will.

Up until the crucifixion, the story develops largely in line with the gospel accounts. But while he is on the cross, Jesus opens his eyes and sees that he has been transported to the shade of a tree in blossom; an angel tells him that God has decided to save him and allow him to live a normal life.

Some time later, Paul arrives at Jesus' house and talks to him of the crucifixion, the resurrection of the Messiah and the new religion. Jesus is infuriated by this and tells him the truth. Paul leaves, determined to continue his preaching even if it is founded in falsehood.

Several years later, a now elderly Jesus comes face to face with his disciples, who accuse him of betrayal and desertion. It is then he realises that the angel who announced his salvation from the cross was Satan - the last temptation. At that moment he opens his eyes and, seeing that he is still on the cross, realises that it was nothing more than a dream.

Writing history

Written in an early form on Aegina in 1942, under the title T' apomnimonevmata tou Christou [The Memoirs of Christ]; assumed final form in Antibes in 1950-1951. The novel is dedicated to "Maria Bonaparte, author, Princess of George of Greece".

It is noteworthy that the Last Temptation blazes a new trail in the literary treatment of the gospel accounts; Kazantzakis' paradigm was later followed by authors such as Robert Graves, Norman Mailer, José Saramango, Gérald Messadié, Éric-Emmanuel Schmidt, Anne Bernay and Eugene Whitworth, who present the story of Christ as narrated by himself or by Pontius Pilate, or link it to important myths of the Eastern Mediterranean and to Jewish political and dynastic struggles.

Greek editions

  • N. Kazantzakis, O telefteos pirasmos, Athens: Difros 1955, 1959
  • N. Kazantzakis, O telefteos pirasmos, Athens: Estia 1961
  • N. Kazantzakis, O telefteos pirasmos, Athens: Eleni Kazantzakis 1964 (and subsequent editions)

Foreign editions & translations

  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Livets oppstandelse, translated into Norwegian by Aksel Akselson, Oslo: Tanum 1951
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Den siste fristelse, translated into Norwegian by Aksel Akselson, Oslo: Tanum 1952. Oslo: Aschehoug 1988 [entitled Jesu siste fristelse]
  • Niko Kazantzakis, Den sista frestelsen, translated into Swedish by Börje Knös, Stockholm: Geber 1952. Stockholm: AWE/Geber 1988 [entitled Kristi sista frestelse]
  • Niko Kazantzakis, Die letzte Versuchung, translated into German by Werner Krebs, Berlin/Grunewald: Herbig 1952. Stuttgart/Zurich/Salzburg: Europäischer Buchklub 1956. Zurich: Buchklub Ex Libris 1957. Gütersloch: Bertelsman-Club 1989. Munich: Herbig 1984, 1988. Berlin: Buchklub/Volk und Welt 1975. Hamburg: Rowohlt 1984, 1988. Frankfurt/Berlin: Ullstein 1989, 1993, 1995.
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, La dernière tentation du Christ, translated into French by Michel Saunier, Paris: Plon 1956, 1959, 1970, 1982, 1988, 1995, 1997, 2004
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Viimeinen kiusaus, translated into Finnish by Elvi Sinervo, Helsinki: Tammi 1957, Tammi 1988
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, The Last Temptation of Christ, translated into English with a note on the author and his language by P. Α. Bien, New York: Simon and Schuster/ 1960. Bantam Books 1961, 1965, 1968, 1971. Scribner 1988. Simon and Schuster 1988, 1998
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, The Last Temptation of Christ, translated into English with a note on the author and his language by P. Α. Bien, Oxford: Cassirer / London: Faber 1961, 1975
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, La última tentación, translated into Spanish by Roberto Bixio, Buenos Aires: Sur 1960. Buenos Aires: C. Lohlé 1973, 1996. Madrid: Debate 1988, 1995, 2000. Barcelona: Debate 1999
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, De laatste verzoeking van Christus, translated into Dutch by Willem Monné, Amsterdam: Strengholt 1961. Naarden: Strengholt 1988
  • Nikos Kazancakis, Günaha son çağrι, translated into Turkish by Ender Gürol, Istanbul: Cem Yayinevi 1969, 1984, 2002. Istanbul: Oguz Akkan 1988. Istanbul: Can 2003
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, al-Masīh yūslab min jadīd, translated into Arabic by Shawqī Jalāl, Cairo: al-Hai'a 1970. Cairo: Maktabat Madbūlī 1993
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, A última tentação, translated into Portuguese by Jorge Feio, Lisbon: Arcádia 1966. Lisbon: Circulo de Leitores 1988
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, A última tentação de Cristo, translated into Portuguese by António Correia de Pinho, Porto: Res 1978. Lisbon: Circulo de Leitores 1988. Porto: "Família 2000" [1978]
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, L' ultima tentazione, translated into Italian by Marisa Aboaf, Bruno Amato, Milan: Frassinelli 1987, 1988, 1989. Milan: Euroclub 1989
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Poslední pokušení, translated into Czech by Jana R. Friesová, Božena Protopapasová, with an epilogue by Růžena Dostálová, Prague: Odeon 1987
  • Nikesi Kashanzhaji zhu, Jidu de zui hou you huo, translated into Chinese by Wang Hongren, Taipei: Shi bao wen hua chu ban qi ye you xian gong si 1988
  • Nikos Kazanxaqis, Krishti, kryqëzohet përsëri, translated into Albanian by Harallamb Qesko, Tirana: Albin 1988. Latest edition 1997
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Cam do cuoi cung cua chua, translated into Chinese, latest edition: Dong Nai 1988
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, A ultima tentacao de Cristo, translated into Portuguese by Waldea Barcellos - Rose Nanie Pizzinga, Rio de Janeiro: Rocco 1988. Sao Paolo: Circulo do Livro [1989]
  • Nikos Kazandzakis, Poslednoto izkushenie, translated into Bulgarian by Georgi Kufov, Sofia: Narodna Kultura 1989
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Ostatnie kuszenie Chrystusa, translated into Polish by Jan Wolff, Posnan: Kantor Wydawniczy 1992
  • Nikos Kazantzakis (Ka zan za ji si shu), Jidu de zui hou you huo, translated into Chinese, Beijing: Zuo jia chu ban she 1991. Nan Jing: Yi lin chu ban she 1999
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Ostatnie kuszenie Chrystusa, translated into Polish by Jan Wolff, Poznań: Kantor Wydawniczy SAWW 1992
  • Nikos Kazandzakis, Posledneje iskusjenije Christa, translated into Russian by M. Laninoj, latest edition 1993
  • Nikos Kazantzakh, Paskutinis gundymas, translated into Lithuanian by Dalia Staponkutė, Vilnius: Tyto alba 1997
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Zadnja skusnjava, translated into Slovenian by Jaroslav Novak, Ljubljana: Mladinska knjiga 2002

Theatre performances & adaptations

  • Greek National Theatre, adapted and directed by Sotiris Chatzakis, 2003
  • The Last Temptation of Christ, unpublished adaptation in English by Nicholas Milich, Nikos Kazantzakis Museum (Varvari, Heraklion)
  • The Last Temptation of Christ, unpublished adaptation in English by James B. A. Conklin, Nikos Kazantzakis Museum (Varvari, Heraklion)


  • The Last Temptation of Christ, directed by Martin Scorsese, script by Paul Shrader, music by Peter Gabriel. A Cineplex-Odeon Films - Universal Pictures Production, 1988. Cast: Willem Dafoe, Harvey Keitel, Barbara Hershey. Oscar nomination for Best Director (1989)


  • Adapted for opera by Iralkis Theofanidis, with a libretto by Sidney Berger; performed in a church in Milwaukee, USA by members of the Lake Opera, 1984
  • Peter Gabriel, Passion, Geffen Records 1989 [the Scorsese film soundtrack]