Marginalization, the Body and Bare Life in Vicente Leñero’s El evangelio de Lucas Gavilán

Document Type


Subject Area(s)

Languages, Literatures and Cultures


Vicente Leñero’s novel El evangelio de Lucas Gavilán (1979) adapts the Gospel of Luke to mid-1970s Mexico.1 Lucas Gavilán, the implied author of this adapted Gospel, re-imagines Jesus Christ’s birth, ministry and death through the life and work of a man called Jesucristo Gómez.2 Leñero’s Gospel opens with a prologue and tells us that, like the biblical Gospel, it will present a historical account.3 Although the biblical Gospel of Luke is a religious text, Leñero’s is a secular reading grounded in the Mexican context, which is imbued with religious imagery and symbols. The novel also unmistakably reflects liberation theology’s preferential option for the poor, as it recreates Jesus Christ’s life in ways described by Latin American liberation theologians Jon Sobrino, Leonardo Boff and Gustavo Gutiérrez. All of these emphasize that salvation can be pursued on earth by combatting social injustice (9).4 El evangelio portrays this injustice by focussing on relationships between the Mexican State, its affiliated prisons, unions, and medical system, the Catholic Church, and the Mexican people. I propose that when characters in the novel are portrayed in a way that is consistent with Giorgio Agamben’s reading of bare life, they point to the oppressive effects of these relationships. At the same time, these characters’ bodies evoke one another and form an inter-corporeal entity, or connected body. This connected body challenges representations and representatives of the State, prisons, unions, the medical system and the Catholic Church within the novel.