Sunday, October 10, 2010
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal
by Christopher Moore
This is a book I’d never pick on my own but it came with a strong recommendation from a friend. It’s tough to categorize this story, certainly it is humorous but there is more to it than that.
The story features Biff (aka Levi) a young Jewish boy who is Joshua’s (aka Jesus H. Christ) best friend. It covers the years of Joshua’s life from birth to the age 30 and since there is little in the gospels about these years the author has free reign to tell a story. It’s a pretty good story! Biff and Joshua meet and fall in love with Mary Magdalene (aka Maggie), travel extensively in Asia and the Indian sub continent, and after an absence of 17 years arrive back in Israel to begin Joshua’s work as the Messiah. While the pretext of the story might sound offensive to some, it really isn’t. Moore handles the formative years of Joshua in an irreverent but ultimately reverential way. The story moves quickly and is in many places laugh out loud funny – no really it is! Some of the humor is witty, some really witty and some sophomoric but still witty. But under all of the humor the author has taken care to show through the travels of Biff and Joshua the connections between Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism and Christianity. He also puts a really human face on Joshua in describing him as a young Hebrew boy coming to terms with his destiny as the Messiah. While the humor is constantly there the messages about friendship, love and duty are also strong. Because the humor can be nonstop I think this book is best read and savored in small segments.
The first three quarters of the book are imaginative and original but the story weakens when Joshua returns to Israel and the gospel story rules the narrative. This book is great humor in the best traditions of Catch 22 and all of the P. G. Wodehouse stories. I’d strongly recommend it, I found it to be a nice change of pace from my usual read.