Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore is a humorous account of the life of Christ told from the perspective of an old friend of his. It starts with his life as a young boy and ends with the crucifixion and primarily focuses on the “missing” years that are absent from the gospels in the Bible.
As the best friend of Joshua (Jesus), Levi (more commonly called Biff) has been resurrected during modern times and spirited away to a hotel room where an angel forces him to write his gospel. After secretly reading the Gideon Bible in the bathroom, Biff can see why – he’s hardly even mentioned and a large part of Josh’s life is completely missing!
The first time Biff met Josh he realized he was an unusual boy. After all, how many other children can bring dead lizards back to life? His family says Josh’s mother is mad, but this doesn’t stop Biff from befriending the boy (anyway, who cares if she’s mad – she’s hot!). As children, they cement their friendship through playing childhood games like Moses and Pharoah, and they become practically inseparable. Forbidden to sin or know any women, Josh resists the advances of Mary of Magdala and relies on Biff to give him a firsthand account on what sin is like so he can teach people how to refrain from it someday. Eventually, Josh and Biff travel to Asia on a quest to find the three wise men and discover what Josh needs to know to fulfill his destiny.
This book would certainly be considered sacrilegious by some, although in the end Moore does not rewrite the parts of the Bible that he includes in the story. He expands on the stories in the Bible by adding humorous conversations and information such as how bunnies became associated with Easter, but he does not give explanations for miraculous events other than Christ being the Son of God (although it should be noted that some miracles were learned from the magi; however, Josh seemed to pick them up so easily due to who he was). This does not mean Josh behaves in a manner that a lot of people would expect from the Jesus in the Bible – as a child he punches Biff and he occasionally uses swear words. Lamb is a work of fiction and is not intended to be anything other than that, so if you cannot take the story of Jesus less than seriously, I would not recommend this book.
Lamb is heavy on dialogue and humor and is easy to read quickly. A lot of the conversations between Biff and Josh are very amusing, as well as Biff’s thoughts. There are a few bad puns, making the humor a bit too contrived at times, but in general, it is a funny story.
The ending gets a bit more serious since Moore does not stray from the Biblical account of the end of the life of Christ. I found myself surprisingly touched by Biff’s devotion to Josh and the devastation he felt at his death. This was a part I knew was coming, so I didn’t expect to be too upset over it, especially in a book that was supposed to be funny. Biff’s perspective on the death of his best friend was quite heart-wrenching, though. Since the entire story was told from the first person point of view of Biff, it was especially powerful.
I would recommend Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal to anyone looking for a light, fun book who can have a sense of humor about Christianity and speculation on what Jesus the person could have been like.