Story is set within the narrow confines of a Greek village called Lycovrissi ruled by Turks. Their priest chooses men for acting in the passion play that comes every seven years. People taken are:
Manolios as Christ
Yannakos as Peter
Michelis as John
Kostandis as James
Panayotaros as Judas
Widow Katherina as Mary Magdalene
The drama of passion becomes reality when a group of refugees led by Pope Fotis comes to the village seeking protection. Manolios, Michelis, Yannakos and Kostandis help them in spite of the protest of the people. In the end Manolios is accused as a murderer and his own people kills him. He suffers for the sake of refugees.
With his tendency of creating obsessive characters, Kazantzakis shares much in common with his Russian counterparts like Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. This obsession could be on books & women [Zorba theGreek],and in the case of Russians, drinking & spirituality [Brothers Karamazov]; or they might be idealists repenting their former ways [Restoration]. Spirituality is a common note, and in this particular novel Kazantzakis shows through Manolios how to practise Christ's words in real life.
Plato has said that constant impersonation represses individuality and leads to the weakening of one's character but the impersonation of noble heroes will stimulate virtuous actions in the actor. As far as this plot is concerned it is perfectly true.
Zorba the Greek is universally acknowledged as his greatest work but in my mind this one always takes the first place. Novel gives some peace of mind like all other novels of Kazantzakis, though the ending needs some finishing touches.