Simeon is one of the strongest, most dynamic characters in this vibrantly retold story of Christ’s life.  He is Jesus’ uncle and the rabbi of Nazareth, and is hanging on to life by sheer force of will because God has told him he will see the Messiah before he dies.

But God takes his time and keeps old Simeon waiting long beyond his body’s wish to keep living.  Here he tries to give God a nudge towards pity.

“Removing my belt and all my clothes, I stood before God’s eyes just as I was when my mother begot me.  I wanted him to see how I had aged, how I’d withered and shrivelled up like a fig leaf in autumn, like the bare dangling stem of a cluster of grapes which has been plundered by birds.  I wanted him to see me, pity me, and move quickly.”


Source: Nikos Kazantzakis, The Last Temptation, trans. P.A. Bien (London: Faber and Faber, 1983), p. 61

Photo credit: monicore at


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