Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal
Cover of American paperback (Perennial)
|Genre||Humor, Mystery fiction, Adventure fiction, Absurdist fiction, Comic fantasy|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|Preceded by||The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove|
|Followed by||Fluke, or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings|
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal is the sixth novel by absurdist author Christopher Moore, published in 2002. In this work the author seeks to fill in the "lost" years of Jesus through the eyes of Jesus' childhood pal, "Levi bar Alphaeus who is called Biff".
The original edition of Lamb was issued in hardback and paperback and contains an afterword by the author explaining some background of the novel. In 2007 a special gift edition was published, with a second afterword by Moore, recollecting his trip to Israel for research.
Biff is resurrected in the 20th Century to complete missing parts of the Bible, under the inefficient supervision of Raziel; wherefore Biff narrates that and Joshua (by Biff's account, the Hebrew original of the Hellenized "Jesus") travel Eastward to consult the Three Wise Men (a magician, a Buddhist, and a Hindu Yogi) who attended Joshua's birth, so that Joshua may learn how to become the Messiah. Over twenty years, Joshua surpasses the trio by incorporating his beliefs into theirs: he learns to multiply food from a Wise Man and learns to become invisible from another, whereas his ability to resurrect the dead, initiates his first meeting with Biff in childhood. Throughout his rôle, Biff is sarcastic, practical, and loyal, against Joshua's temperamental and sometimes idealistic character.
The recounting of Jesus' human and godlike qualities, combined with Biff's earthy debauchery, humorously explains the origins of judo; reasons that Jews eat Chinese food on Christmas; and how rabbits became associated with Easter. The Three Wise Men, Mary Magdalene, Joseph, and Mary all appear as well: Mary Magdalene (here nicknamed 'Maggie') is depicted as harboring love for Joshua, while Joshua remains celibate, and Biff compensates by an active sexuality of his own.
At the novel's conclusion, Biff gives "The Gospel According to Biff" to Raziel and discovers a resurrected Maggie exiting the room opposite his, having finished her own Gospel weeks before. At Raziel's behest, they are united immediately.
The author cited Bulgakov's novel The Master and Margarita—particularly the Biblical scenes told from Pontius Pilate's point of view—as a partial inspiration to create this novel. Other works apparent in the novel are the writings of Lao Tzu, the Kama Sutra, the Torah, the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, Sun Tzu's The Art of War, the Tao Te Ching, and the Gospels of the New Testament. The idea that prior to his public ministry, Jesus traveled to Kashmir, India to study at a Tibetan monastery was first suggested by Nicolas Notovitch, in his 1894 hoax The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ.
Relation to Moore's other novels
- The bumbling Raziel from this novel later is the title character in Moore's The Stupidest Angel.
- Catch, the demon from Moore's debut novel Practical Demonkeeping, makes an appearance in Lamb as the servant of Balthasar, one of the Wise Men.
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