It was first published in English in 1960. It follows the life of Jesus Christ from his perspective. The novel has been the subject of a great deal of controversy due to its subject matter, and appears regularly on lists of banned books. The central thesis of the book is that Jesus, while free from sin, was still subject to fear, doubt, depression, reluctance, and lust. Kazantzakis argues in the novel's preface that by facing and conquering all of man's weaknesses, Jesus struggled to do God's will, without ever giving in to the temptations of the flesh. The novel thus powerfully advances the argument that, had Jesus succumbed to any such temptation, especially the opportunity to save himself from the cross, his life would have held no more significance than that of any benign philosopher. In this sense, the novel can be viewed as thoroughly orthodox and traditionalist in its attitude to Jesus's role as redeemer.