I have a confession. I have a dark and twisty sense of humor. I tend to be a little morbid. A little weird. Sometimes inappropriate. This, dear friends, is why I tend to like Christopher Moore novels. But I’m also a woman of faith and that is a big part of who I am.So when a friend lent me the Moore book, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal, I was tentatively excited. You see, I adore the bizarre worlds Moore creates, such as the one in which an ancient giant lizard creature comes ashore and attempts to mate with everything in sight. And my humor has often been called irreverent. But I felt weird about reading a book that seemed sacrilegious, I mean, we all know Jesus didn’t have a friend named Biff. His BFFs were Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. But this was a Christopher Moore novel, not intended to be a true gospel so I read it, and I’m so glad I did.
In Lamb, Biff is resurrected by an angel on orders from God so that he can transcribe his gospel, which fills the world in on those 20 years of Jesus’ life not covered in the Bible. Biff refers to Jesus as Josh, because in Hebrew, the name Jesus was really Yeshua (Joshua). Biff and Josh become fast friends although Biff is always creating some mischief that creates issues for his holier-than-thou (literally) friend. From the time they are children Biff is amazed at the miracles his friend performs, from resurrecting lizards and eventually, people, to turning water into wine. Despite his love for his best friend, Biff always wonders if Josh really is the Son of God but is unwaveringly loyal, no matter what doubts he may harbor.
Josh becomes convinced that finding the three wise men who presented him with gifts after his birth will help him discover his true destiny. Biff sets off to help his friend and in the course of the next twenty years they meet up with each of the wise men – all of whom have a lesson to teach. These lessons become the basis of Josh’s ministry back home when he and Biff finally return to Nazareth.
Before leaving, they find themselves entangled in a love-triangle with Mary Magdalen, also known as Maggie, who both boys love (though Josh knows he can never be with her) and who loves both boys. They also meet up with John the Baptist, Josh’s strange but lovable cousin who also had a prophetic destiny. In their adventures throughout China and India to find the wise men, they study “magic”, master Buddhist meditation (and meet a Yeti) and learn the ways of a Hindu Yogi. These life experiences and years spent with these wise men give Josh the knowledge he needs to return home and become a proper Messiah.
The story is outrageous, sometimes offensive and quite a bit naughty – but it’s Moore’s trademark wacky that makes Lamb an entertaining read, even for a good Christian girl like me.