I finished two chapters yesterday. Chapter 6 shows Jesus deciding to leave his mothers home to be with God in the desert monastery. In Chapter 7 Jesus stops by Magdala to beg Mary Magdalene's forgiveness. He arrives on Magdalene's house to find her long line of lovers, awaiting for their turn outside her house. One of the lovers cry, "There is no martyrdom greater than mine. Here I am in front of Paradise, and the door is closed."
Jesus talks to them, and stands in line. When his turn comes, Jesus tells Mary he is sorry. Magdalene says, "You bleat away piteously: 'It's my fault...It's my fault, my sister...I shall save you...' but oh no, you don't lift your head like a man to confess the truth. You crave my body, and insteadof saying so, which you wouldn't dare, you start blaming my soul and saying you want to save it. What soul, daydreamer? A woman's soul is her flesh. You know it, you know it; but you don't have the courage to take this soul in your arms like a man and kiss it --kiss it and save it! I pity you and detest you!"
The couple eventually settle down, and break bread together. Before retiring for the night, Magdalene tell Christ "Pleasant dreams. Tomorrow we both have much to do. You'll set out along the road again, to seek your salvation: I'll set out along another road, my own, and I too will be seeking salvation. Each his own road, and we shall never meet again. Good night." In the morning, Jesus leaves Magdalene without saying goodbye, and Magdalene weeps.
Chapter 7 is central to this book. Da Vinci Code fanatics will be frustrated to find out that Kazantsakis maintains here the vision of a celibate Christ, and Magdalene, the spurned lover who turns to prostitution instead. I am already guessing that the "Last Temptation" will bring Christ back to this scene, with Mary in despair. The story would have been simple, if Christ surrendered to Mary's yearnings, and walked away from his mission. No man would find the dilemna easy to resolve, the fulfillment of the biblical prophesy or the simple desire of family and children. Christ's pain has never been as real to me now.