I have read the 76th book for the book challenge. It was Lamb: The Gospel According To Biff, Childhood Friend Of Jesus by Christopher Moore.
This is another of Christopher Moore’s irreverent books, this time a look at the childhood and “missing years” of Jesus as told by Biff, also known as Levi, Jesus’s childhood friend. Jesus is known in this tale by his Hebrew name of Joshua (Jesus is the Greek form). Biff is brought back from the dead after 2,000 by the angel Raziel to write the story of Joshua’s childhood and adolescent. He is locked in a hotel room with the angel and told to write.
Biff tells us of Joshua’s amazing ability of healing lizards from a very early age. He showed signs of being the Messiah from being a small boy but always had his doubts. Biff was always there to bolster his confidence.
Biff adored Joshua’s mother Mary from afar. He was constantly offering to marry Joshua’s mother when his foster father Joseph died, even as a small boy. His offer was always rejected. The threat of persecution from the Roman soldiers was ever present. People had to be careful of being accused of being disloyal to Rome. Especially Jewish males. Joshua and Biff meet Mary Magdalene, their friend known as Maggie. Both are attracted to her, but Joshua knows that he can never sleep with a woman because he is the Messiah, or man for that matter, so Biff sleeps with Maggie and other women and tells Joshua about his experiences.
When they are teenagers, Joshua realizes that he must seek out the three Wise Men who came to bring him gifts when he was a baby. He and Biff set out for the land of the East and a journey that takes them many years. They find each Wise Man and spend a number of years with each man and learn wisdom from each. One is in Afghanistan with a number of Chinese concubines. He has locked an evil demon in a dungeon and he is 270 years old. Biff unfortunately releases the demon and the demon kills the concubines and the Wise Man eventually dies, but points Joshua and Biff in the direction of the next Wise Man.
They travel to China, where they learn Buddhism and Taoism from another Wise Man. Joshua meet the Yeti there and learns gentleness from him. They learn the basic tenants of Buddhism and after many years of practice, they are finally accomplished Buddhists and can go on to learn another of the Eastern religions.
They travel to the Tamil region of India and learn the Hindu traditions of that region. They rescue a group of children from certain death from being offered as sacrifices to the goddess Kali and then go on to study with the third Wise Man. They spend their final years there; Biff learns the Karma Sutra there. Then they return to Palestine for Joshua to begin his public ministry as the Messiah.
Moore then describes Joshua’s ministry as the Messiah. It is rather close to what the Bible portrays as Jesus’s ministry. Of course, Biff insists that the Sermon on the Mount was a speech that Joshua worked on for many days. Joshua performed many miracles, among them healing the sick (which he was very good at), multiplying food, walking on water, and driving out demons. Biff describes how the various apostles were called. He and Maggie (after her husband the Pharisee Jakan divorced her because he thought she was possessed) were also followers. Biff relates all the stories about the Roman centurion whose servant was sick, the various parables that Joshua told, the miracle of turning water into wine at the wedding feast of Cana, the raising of the dead Lazarus also called Simon who was Maggie’s brother.
Then came the awful week. Joshua went to Jerusalem and said he was going to be arrested and put to death but he would rise from the dead after three days. Biff and the other did all they could to prevent him from being arrested, but found they couldn’t prevent it. Finally, they worked out a plan to poison him while he was being crucified and then they would administer an antidote and Peter would heal his wounds. But a Roman pierced his heart while he was on the cross.
Biff took off after Joshua died.
But he read in the Bible that Joshua did come back.
After he had finished writing his story, the angel Raziel let him out of the room. He brought him across the hall to a room where there stood–Maggie, who was also writing her story of Joshua. She had finished long ago. Her story was shorter, of course. She told Biff that he should have stayed around because Joshua did come back. So Biff and Maggie went off into the 21st century together. The end.
This was a fun story. There is always speculation about Jesus did for the years before he started his public ministry. It is sometimes said that he traveled to the East because his teachings resemble Eastern thought. So Moore has him studying and learning Buddhism and meditation and Hinduism and other Eastern teachings. These teachings take many years of practice to learn and so in his book the Messiah learns them from his teachers in the East. Biff learns to a lesser degree. Maggie is always in love with Joshua but settles for Biff. But it’s Joshua whom she really loves. This is the story we’ve always heard. It’s not Dan Brown’s story, but it’s Christopher Moore’s story. Joshua does not commit sins. He’s the Messiah. He takes his job seriously. And he does what he says.