Author imagines youthful exploits of Christ and ‘Biff’
“Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal”
One of the benefits of working in a bookstore is not only the satisfaction of helping people find books that they will truly enjoy, but also being turned on to books and/or authors by the customers we serve. Such is the case with my discovery of author Christopher Moore. I noticed that not only were lots of people coming in and asking for his books, but that many came in selecting one Christopher Moore book after another, often buying more than one title at a time. My interest being piqued for quite a while, I finally asked one of his die-hard fans to recommend a book for me to read first. I was told to read “Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal.”
As many people know, the Gospels tell us what happens in the event of Christ’s birth, and then of his days as a rabbi through his death. It is the 30 years in between that Christopher Moore covers with this book. The story is told through the eyes of Biff, who as the title implies, grew up with Joshua and was his best friend. (Jesus is Greek for the Hebrew Yeshua, which is Joshua.)
We meet Joshua at the same time as Biff, at the age of 6, and he is already sure that he is the Messiah, able to bring lizards back from the dead. (It takes him some time to perfect this feat with people.) As I said, he knows that he is to become the Messiah; the problem is that he just doesn’t know how. Finally after consulting with the rabbis in Jerusalem during the Passover after his 13th birthday, he decides to find three wise men who made an appearance at his birth. So Joshua and Biff spent the next few weeks saying their goodbyes (the parting with Mary “Maggie” of Magdala was especially hard on both of them) and preparing for a journey that would last 17 years.
They travel many leagues and finally are led to the secret home of Balthasar, where they are to stay for eight years. During this time Joshua learns the three jewels of the Tao: compassion, moderation and humility, while Biff gets to know and learn from Balthasar’s eight concubines. When Balthasar takes Joshua on a spiritual journey, Biff opens a forbidden door and releases a demon that is tied to the immortality of Balthasar (who is 260 years old). Upon their return they find all but one concubine dead and the demon chasing after Biff and Joy (the last of the concubines). Eventually Joshua sends the demon back to hell, freeing Balthasar from the spell that kept him alive. Before he dies he gives them directions to Gaspar, the second of the three Magi, who resides in a Buddhist monastery in China.
Both learn Kung Fu in the monastery and much of Zen Buddhism, (Joshua much more than Biff). After years of study they are finally ready for a pilgrimage high into the mountains. It is there that Joshua meets up with the last yeti in existence, caring for it in its last days. It is after the yeti’s death that our heroes move on to India and the last of three Wise Men.
After yet another journey and some minor adventures we are now in India where Joshua studies with Melchoir, the brother of Gaspar. Here he learns the ways of yoga and spends much time in meditation while Biff goes into town and learns the ways of the Kama Sutra. After completing their studies they head back home so Joshua can take up his role as the Messiah. The rest of the story we already know; however, it is told with a different spin coming from Biff’s point of view.
I now can see why so many people are enjoying these books by Christopher Moore and can see why his fans are so loyal to him. I strongly recommend this book and am looking forward to reading more of the many titles that he has written.
-Stan Miller is a sales associate at Neighbors Bookstore.
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