Christian Themes

The major Christian theme of the work is first expressed by Menenius when he repeats the argument of Caiaphas for the crucifixion of Jesus: that the sacrifice of one man for the salvation of an entire people is an admirable thing. Neither Caiaphas nor Menenius understands the true meaning of the statement. Caiaphas wishes to maintain the established Jewish religion and his own power. Menenius is simply advocating that the end—to forestall rebellion against Rome and the ensuing killings of many Jews—justifies the means. In chapter 3, Judas bluntly states that Jesus must be crucified for the world to be saved from eternal damnation and that he and Pilate are the instruments that God is using to bring this about. Caillois builds intensity in his novel as Pilate’s visit to Mardouk reveals all that will happen as a result of the crucifixion of Jesus. The reader realizes the effect of the divine sacrifice on human history, on the history that he shares with all of humankind. Pilate’s decision to spare Jesus and the resulting obliteration of all that the reader knows as human existence is overwhelming. Caillois’s fictional account and reverse outcome of the trial of Jesus challenges the reader’s complacency.