Set during the expulsion of the Jews and Muslims from Spain by the Castilean Queen Isabel, which began in 1492. Into this climate of persecution, a Jewish boy, Joshua, is born. One of the elders, the proud Don Isaac, who is a friend to the queen, predicts Joshua will be the new Messiah. When he decides to follow his people into exile, Don Isaac is determined to ensure Joshua's safe passage. Time passes and Joshua grows into a curious and intelligent young man. During his flight to Naples, he finds himself in the company of both Jews and Muslims, and his questions about Jesus evoke an eclectic variety of responses. Joshua and his family's arrival in the safe haven of Naples provides only temporary respite as they are soon forced to move onward to Sicily. There, Joshua finds himself absorbed into the theatrical religious rituals of the casazza (a Catholic layperson's chapel), where he slowly and inexorably assumes the role of Jesus.