The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal
by CHRISTOPHER MOORE
William Morrow & Co.
Unless you're prepared to smile until your jaw aches and laugh until your sides split, you may wish to pass up reading Christopher Moore's very funny but still inspirational novel, Lamb. The book is a fictional account of what might have happened in those thirty missing years in the life of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the New Testament, told in a most humorous, no-expletives-deleted manner by his best Jewish childhood pal named Biff.
Even the most pious of Christians will admit that the story of the Messiah combines the natures of God and humanity, yet the Bible dwells heavily on the deity and rarely alludes to the humanity. Now an angel himself, Biff is commanded to come back to Earth and, while holed up in a hotel room with a TV remote control, Starbucks coffee, and pizza delivery, remind us of not only the spiritual aspects, but the human condition he and "Joshua" encountered 2,000 years ago. ("Jesus" is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word Yeshua, meaning "Joshua.")
The narrative starts when the boys are six years old. Biff is immediately attracted to Joshua when he sees him breathe life back into a lizard another boy has smashed with a rock. From that day on, they hang out together. Soon, they meet Mary, a really cute girl from Magdala whom they call Maggie, and she becomes the third member of their little band.
Although Joshua knows he is the Messiah, he is not sure exactly what that entails. Biff's frequent encouragement through "biblical" references isn't much help, but his retelling is funnier than sin. Once, when a miracle doesn't go quite as planned, Biff tries to make his friend feel better:
"It is written, two out of three ain't bad."
"Where is that written?"
"Dalmatians 9:7, I think doesn't matter. No one else could have done what you did."
Author Moore did his utmost to base his fifth novel on the actual, but very sketchy and controversial, historical record. He does not attempt, however, to change anyone's beliefs or worldviews, hoping only that we might decide to be kinder to our fellow humans after reading his hilarious work.
People who take offense at his very plausible rendition might need to lighten up a bit and spend more time on their knees. After all, wouldn't it be easier for us to be more like Christ if we were able to think of him as more like us? I'm no book nut, but I know a good one when I find it. Ive told lots of folks about Lamb, and so far, everyone has said, "Thanks." Two funny thumbs up!