"Why didn't he get married? There were brides for the asking."
"He said he didn't want to marry a woman."
"The kingdom of heaven for him..." (Kazantizakis 41)
The God of Israel, the God who's hair had never been touched by shears, the God whose lips had never been touched by wine, whose body had never been touched by wine. (Kazantizakis 38)
In the book also, woman represents a hindrance to attaining the fullness of experience and dedication to Yahweh, an extreme asceticism only subliminal in the standard gospels and epistles but forefront and directly expressed in the writing of the Gnostics.
The old lady was dead and did not hear.
"What?" She said. "Speak louder."
"I'm hungry. Forgive me."
"Forgive you--why? Hunger isn't anything to be ashamed of, my fine lad, nor is thirst, nor love. They're all God's--so come closer and don't be ashamed." (Kazantazakis 71)
"Ooo, unlucky devil," she shouted, "don't you know that God is not found in monasteries but in the homes of men? Wherever you find husband and wife, that's where you find God...the domestic God, not the monastic: that's the true God." (Kazantazakis 72)
The woman in the hovel prognosticates the end temptation Jesus faces, the impulse to domesticity and a life of accepting pleasures in a holy way, a more moderate stance closer to that of traditional Christianity.
Scorsese (following Kanzantzakis) adds the crucial temptation of women/flesh to the Gospel's versions. The resulting worldview results in a Neoplatonic twist on the Johannine dichotomy between this world and the world above. (Staley and Walsh 112)
In Scorsese's film, woman symbolically represents the flesh which the spiritual Jesus must ultimately deny. (Staley and Walsh 109)
In the end, the only redemption for women is through Satan. Woman is a large part of the final temptation Jesus must reject in his quest to crucify the flesh. Mary Magdaline, xxxx, the little girl who turns out to be Satan, all play an intricate in duping Jesus off the cross and into a life of contentment and marital bliss. In an eerie way, Satan's statement of "All women are one" remains true even to the end: women are a distraction, a sexual and domestic pull dangerous to any true seeker of experience of God, and must ultimately be rejected.