The Inquisitor

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The Inquisitor The Inquisitor told Jesus that there was a fundamental error in the Gospel message. Jesus had preached that humans should freely give up the flesh and follow him. The freedom of the act of faith is dramatized byt the three temptations by Satan. Jesus could have secured the loyalty of his followers by giving them bread, by leaping from a precipice only to be saved by angels, by becoming the ruler of Jeruselem. Instead, he forced his followers to take him or leave him just as he was. And this was, in the eyes of the Inquisitor, his error. In fact, only a few have the strength to follow this word. In a passage strikingly reminiscent of Nietzsche, the Inquisitor desribes the error to Jesus. "Thou didst crave for free love and not the base raptures of the slave before th emight that has overawed him forever. But Thou didst think too highly of men therein, for they are slaves, of course, though rebellious by nature." What is to become of them? They cannot make their way on their own and can find happiness only by foresaking their freedom and turning their affairs over to the Church. "But with us all will be happy and will no more rebel nor destroy one another as ubnder Thy freedom. Oh, we shall persuade them that they will only become free when they renounce their freedom to us and submit to us." The Inquistor's claim to have "corrected" the teaching of Jesus might be interpreted as a cynical expression of his lust for power. While Dostoyevsky in general condemned the Catholic Church for its pursuit of temporal ends, Ivan creates a picture of an ascetic priest, one who has suffered in the wilderness and who is taking on the sufferings of all as his own, just as did Jesus himself. "Suppose that there was one such man among all those who desire nothing but filthy material gain -- if there's only one like my old Inquisitor, who had himself eaten roots in the desert and made frenzied efforts to subdue his flesh to make himself free in perfect.
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