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.
Robert Graves (1895-1985), poet, classical scholar, novelist, and critic, was one of the greatest writers of the 20th Century. Athough he produced over 100 books he is perhaps best known for the novel I, CLAUDIUS (1934),THE WHITE GODDESS (1948) and GREEK MYTHS (1955). Born in Wimbledon, south London, Graves was educated at Charterhouse, and awarded a B.Litt by St. John's College, Oxford after his return from World war I. He died in 1985 in Deja, the Majorcan village he had made his home (with the exception of the Spanish civil war and the Second World War) since 1929. Robert A. Davis is Head of Department of Religious Education in the University of Glasgow. He has taught and written widely on literature, myth and religion, including studies of Richard Wagner, Walter Benjamin and the figure of the Trickster. He has been Visiting Lecturer at a number of institutions, including universities in Copenhagen, Helsinki and Dublin. He was Vice President of the Robert Graves Society.