Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Magdala. Home of Mary Magdalene, the prostitute whom Jesus saves from stoning, located about ten miles northeast of Nazareth. Nikos Kazantzakis describes her home in suggestive detail. In the courtyard grow three trees, a pomegranate laden with fruit and two cypresses, one a male with a phallic trunk and the other a female, its branches spread wide. Seen through Jesus’ eyes, as he wrestles with temptation, the trees suggest Jesus’ all-too-human desire for love, sex, and progeny. Four merchants, each awaiting his turn with Mary Magdalene inside the house, suggest sin and corruption. Inside, Jesus finds Mary naked after her day’s “work”—a powerful temptation. However, he also finds a night’s peace as he sleeps there alone by the fire. At dawn he rises, and finds Mary, who is feigning sleep in her own bed, an even greater temptation, as he imagines not sex but marriage, a new life in a distant village, where Mary’s past is not known. For Kazantzakis’s Jesus, home and hearth, the joys of an ordinary life, are the greatest of earthly temptations. In Jesus’ delirium on the cross, he returns to Mary Magdalene.

Lazarus’s house

Lazarus’s house. Home of Lazarus, located in Bethany, a village between Jerusalem and the northern tip of the Dead Sea. Lazarus shares his home with his beautiful unmarried sisters, Mary and Martha. There, Jesus rests and refreshes himself after his most famous...

(The entire section is 597 words.)