Book Review: Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore
“You’re going to have to learn to lie.” “I feel like I’m here to tell the truth.” “Yeah, but not now.”
Hilarious. Sacrilegious, yes. Teen boy humor, yes. Speculative, yes. Historically unsupported, yes. What’s your point? It’s humor. Well-conceived and well-executed. The more familiar one is with the Bible, the more one will get the joke. Many subtle references.
“I don’t know the Torah as well as you, Joshua, but I don’t remember God having a sense of humor.” “He gave me you for a friend, didn’t he?”
Hidden among the slapstick is a sensitive, introspective look at religion in general and Christianity in particular. Moore borrows elements from many spoofs (The Life of Brian) and attacks on Jesus (The Passover Plot), but melds them with a compassionate perspective on life in the first–and twenty-first–century.
“Love is not something you think about, it is a state in which you dwell.”
Biff is the comedian, but Joshua shows a talent for irony, too. Moore takes a few shots at Buddhism and Hinduisms along the way. (Though he needn’t have sought farther than the Torah for the roots of Jesus’ teachings.) Biff’s guardian is the angel the rest of the heavenly host probably wished joined the rebellion. That rebellion. Suspect Moore knew an old-fashioned Jewish mother.
“You can’t save everyone.” “Have you been asleep these last twenty years?” “Have you? You can’t change the past, you’re wasting the present on this guilt.”
Quibbles: Hard to fault his intentional rearranging history. The commander of a legion is a legate, not a centurion. Forty days in the wilderness does not compute with “next week” in Cana.
“Nobody’s perfect. Well, there was this one guy, but we killed him.”
I had been wondering whether this one was worth reading. Yes, it sounded funny. But it is hard enough keeping THE story right in my head with all the modern assaults. I’ve passed up most other books and movies – which might be wonderful – because I don’t want little bits of other stuff popping up in my head at inconvenient times. On the other hand, my beliefs suffered no permanent damage from Jesus Christ Superstar or Godspell in my youth. Will think about it.
Thanks for the review.