The New Testament stories have been reworked many times, but Pekic puts a unique twist on them: their consequences and side-effects are unexpected, unwanted, and unpleasant. His approach is decidedly non-orthodox, but his purpose is not to attack Christianity but to use the familiar framework as a base. He uses that to explore the meanings of prophecy, blindness, uncleanliness, sin, faith, and madness, and the power of ideas to mould lives, especially through the force of social convention.
The protagonists in the individual stories are vivid; in contrast, Jesus is a bland non-entity and the apostles unassuming. Only Judas, obsessed by the fulfilment of prophecy, takes centre stage. The separate stories and characters could stand alone, but come together to make a powerful novel.
The Time of Miracles is darkly comic, with the humour in the characterisation and in the wildly divergent views of the same events held by different characters. And when it comes to hypocrisy and the blind following of convention, Pekic is cutting, sparing no one and nothing.
The Time of Miracles is often disturbing but always compelling, entertaining, and provoking. For me, Pekic stands out even among the other giants of Yugoslavian literature.