When I was small, and was on my way to do my first Communion, I was always taught that Jesus was The Savior of all of us. That He had been crucified to save humanity from the sins they had done. The Jesus that I know was born human, and when He grew up, He spread love around the world, and now the followers call themselves as The Christians. The Jesus that I know will open up His arms and welcome children, and all people would like to join His path of redemption. The Jesus that I know is also willing to forgive all of our wrongful.
Although I don’t spend lots of time reading the Bible, I know some important parts that happened in the Old Testament, from having joined in several church masses throughout the years. The Bible is alluded in many famous literary works, like Carrie by Stephen King. The Bible is said as the most known book on the planet who had given a hard impact on human-kind. My family are not exactly a very religious family, yet we still follow some of our religious obligations. Religion activities are a part of my life since I was little. However, since last year, my mother has step a bit back and given me some freedom to seek God with my own way. Thus, I become a seeker and a believer at the same time.
The Gospel According to Jesus Christ is rewritten so elegantly, differs greatly from the tradition. This thoughtful, provocative study of Jesus’ self-understanding as both son of God and an all-too-human family member is like in the Bible, but this time, his relationship with his parents run deeper. But they`re not quite the same as they are in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John although the start was still somehow the same. Mary met an ‘angel’, she got pregnant with Jesus, she gave birth to Jesus in Bethlehem in a cave. But here’s the twist (or should I say ‘a multi-layered masterpiece in the guise of a simple tale’?). At the same time, the King had ordered his soldiers to kill every single baby in the town near the cave, and when Jesus’s father, Joseph, learnt about it, instead of saving all the other kids in the town, he chose to safe himself and Jesus. Due to that, he was punished with having to be plague with nightmares for the rest of his life.
Then here is the start of Jesus’ story told by a bemused skeptic; a story that is so clever and tragic at the same time. Jesus was thirteen when his father went on a pilgrimage to try and find his neighbor but was mistaken for a rebel by the Romans. Joseph ended up crucified and Jesus inherited the nightmare his father had, although in a different perspective. That was when Jesus decided to stand up and start his own journey, leaving behind Maria, his mother and all the rest of his brothers and sisters.
Jose Saramago had humanized Jesus’s characteristics as a child as far as possible. Although there are many people that think of Jesus as a special child–especially his mother Mary, Jesus still highlights the deep feelings of a human. This is further proven when Jesus met Mary Magadalene, a prostitute who nonetheless understands the true nature of love, and He fell in love with her. In this book, the Jesus doesn’t only feels the Agape type of love (Unconditional love for humanity, the love for the soul). He gets to experience a little bit of Eros too (Love of the body).
In his book, Jose Saramago has rewritten the Gospel into something more. He twists and changes the characters in this book, making the most important and fundamental parts of the book in the meetings of Jesus with “God” and “Devil”. God was depicted as a greedy God, intent of being the only God of human-kind and wanted to use Jesus to get all the glory. The Devil was depicted as a wiser sage and conjured up an image of an man ready to repent in the reader’s mind; a kind tutor who managed to educate Jesus sometime during His travels but despised and opposed everything about God Himself.
Having read this book and watching the current world under Donald Trump’s reign, I have a new insight and perception of the world religions and being religious. For many milenia, religion has caused people to fight with each other, and confuse each other. There are many people out there who live their lives with their radical ideas at the thought of having their own supreme religion. There are hundreds–maybe thousands of separate religions in the worlds, and the most influential ones are often at war with each other. Those facts and this book’s exploration of the many philosophical “grey areas” gives me some basic, straightforward questions about the nature of God, Evil, and of Faith.
I have just read two of Jose Saramago’s books (read: The Elephant’s Journey), but my favorite one is still this book, as it manages to provoke Jesus, a simple man whose philosophy became the basis for a religion, but who was often misunderstood when he was alive and is often still misunderstood today. On a final note for humanity, please don’t let religion overtake us. Religion is there to help a person to reach the better side of him/herself, not cause people to fight over each other because of two (or two hundreds) different Gods.