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King Jesus and My Head! My Head!
Edited by Robert A. Davis
Imprint: Lives and Letters
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Hardback (600 pages)
(Pub. Feb 2006)
'I, Agabus the Decapolitan began this work at Alexandria in the ninth year of the Emperor Domitian and completed it at Rome in the thirteenth year of the same.'
This volume brings together two historical novels based upon the Bible. King Jesus is a daring rewriting of the Gospels in the light of Graves's speculations in history and mythology. His Jesus is a charismatic religious reformer dedicated to the ethical and spiritual principles of an austere Judaism and firmly opposed to the legalism of the Temple authorities, the oppressions of imperial Rome and the allure of an older matriarchal goddess cult subtly subverting his ministry. Graves's daring rewriting of the Gospels portrays Jesus as fully human, yet marked with sacred royalty, bent upon a doomed confrontation with external enemies and internal doubts that lead to a conclusion at once inevitable and unexpected.
Written in 1925, My Head! My Head! was Robert Graves's first novel - a retelling of the story of Elisha and the Shunamite woman. He amplifies the brief Old Testament story into a series of dramatic encounters between the wandering prophet and his inquisitive, quick-witted hostess, who, by skilful questioning, prizes from Elisha the secret religious history of ancient Israel and the true story of the patriarch Moses. Graves uses the extended dialogue of Elisha and Jochebed to elaborate his own unorthodox theory of the origins of primitive Judaism and the role of Moses in the eventual triumph of the cult of Jahweh over the other desert religions of the time.
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