by Albert Camus
The Fall Guilt and Blame Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph). We used Justin O'Brien's translation.
The real reason is that [Jesus] knew he was not altogether innocent. If he did not bear the weight of the crime he was accused of, he had committed others – even though he didn’t know which ones. Did he really not know them? He was at the source, after all; he must have heard of a certain Slaughter of the Innocents. The children of Judea massacred while his parents were taking him to a safe place – why did they die if not because of him? […] I am sure he could not forget them. And as for that sadness that can be felt in his every act, wasn’t it the incurable melancholy of a man who heard night after night the voice of Rachel weeping for her children and refusing all comfort? (5.16).
Camus uses Jean-Baptiste to take one of his own classic arguments – that every man is guilty of murder, even if by lack of action – to the absolute extreme. Now even Jesus is a murderer, though indirectly.
No excuses ever, for anyone; that’s my principle at the outset. I deny the good intention, the respectable mistake, the indiscretion, the extenuating circumstance. With me there is no giving of absolution or blessing. Everything is simply totted up, and then: "It comes to so much. You are an evildoer, a satyr, a congenital liar, a homosexual, an artist, etc." Just like that. Just as flatly. In philosophy as in politics, I am for any theory that refuses to grant man innocence and for any practice that treats him as guilty (6.12).
This fits with Jean-Baptiste’s two claims, the first that he has become God, and the second that the concept of forgiveness itself no longer exists. Jean-Baptiste himself is the replacement for God, and he chooses not to forgive.