Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal
|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 has been resurrected in the present day to complete missing parts of the Bible, under the supposed watchful eye of the angel Raziel, who seems more interested in soap operas and Spider-man on the television in their hotel. Biff is made to write his account of the decades missing from Jesus' life. During these years he and Joshua (which, Biff points out, is the original Hebrew version of the Hellenized "Jesus", and thus in Galilee Jesus was called Joshua Bar Joseph) travel Eastward to seek out 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 roughly twenty years, Joshua learns a great deal about human nature, world religions, and how he may fold those lessons into his teachings. At each point, Joshua surpasses the abilities of the wise men by incorporating his beliefs into theirs. The story takes a fantastic twist on Joshua's miracles as well: he learns to multiply food from a Wise Man and learns to be invisible from another; however, his ability to resurrect the dead figures strongly into his first meeting with Biff when the boys are six years old. Biff, is sarcastic, practical and endlessly loyal. While it would seem that these traits, and the fact that he was the Messiah's best friend for nearly thirty years, would ensure his place in the Gospels, there are reasons, as revealed in the final chapter, when Biff was essentially "cut out" of the story.
The recounting of Jesus' human and godlike qualities, combined with Biff's earthy debauchery, leads to an all-too-familiar tragic ending, but humorously explains many things: the origins of judo (a pun that is definitely intended), why Jews eat Chinese food on Christmas, and how rabbits became associated with Easter. The Three Wise Men, Mary Magdalene (on whom Biff has a childhood crush), Joseph, and Mary (Joshua's mother, whom Biff plans to marry if anything happens to Joseph) all have a role in the life and times of Joshua. Mary Magdalene is depicted as harboring love for Joshua, though in Moore's tale Joshua remains chaste, as per Raziel's instructions. This in itself leads to much of Biff's debauchery, as he is attempting to go through enough harlots for both of them. Biff loves "Maggie" intensely, causing to a love triangle.
At the conclusion, Biff completes "The Gospel According to Biff", giving it to Raziel, who allows Biff to finally leave the hotel room. As Biff exits into the hallway he is surprised to find a resurrected Maggie exiting the room opposite, having finished her own Gospel weeks before. The two embrace, informed by an angel that it is "the will of the Son" that they be together. The two leave together, Biff overjoyed to be given a second chance with Maggie.
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 referred to within 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, of course, the Gospels of the New Testament.
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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