cbr13bingo / Shelfie
Sitting on my shelf for many a year, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal is a humorous and disappointing novel about Jesus’ life by Christopher Moore. Jesus’ childhood friend Biff—born Levi—is resurrected and commanded by a soap-opera loving angel to write an account of Jesus’ life before the age of 30. Biff is indignant that he is never mentioned in the New Testament and strives to fill out the missing story. Jesus—called Joshua in the book—is an adolescent when the book opens and he is struggling with how to be the Messiah. Biff is a wise-cracking but loyal friend to Joshua. He knows Joshua is special but he also keeps him grounded. Together they go on a long journey to visit the three Magi, each of who prepares Joshua for his role as the Messiah.
Here are my notes as I read the book:
– Silly but sweet. Like the concept
– Excellent use of expletives
– This is pleasingly funny
– Biff certainly seems to have a lot of sex even though he’s only 13
– Jokester sidekick schtick is getting annoying
– Wow, that was racist
– Wow, that was sexist
– Wow, that was sexist and racist
– Could do without the characterizations of subservient Asian concubines and “creepy” bloodthirsty Hindus.
– Humor has definitely worn thin
– Jesus seems alright
– Beginning to hate this book
– When will this torture end?
In the end, I could hardly stand Biff. Joshua was definitely more likeable, which was a relief considering he was the son of God. All the zany adventures wore down my patience and I’m not kidding about all the racism and sexism. The author blithely stereotypes whole cultures and makes women nothing more than objects. Hilarious.
I should note here that my objection to the book is not on religious grounds. I was raised Catholic and am part Jewish, now a cheerful atheist. Even when I was a person of faith, I was relaxed about so-called blasphemy. An irreverent, more humanizing twist on Jesus’ story is more than welcome. It’s just so much of this book fell flat.
Which makes the last section of the book all the more frustrating, because it’s actually good. The last section is about Jesus’ last years and death. The apostles are gathered, the loaves and fishes are multiplied, and the horrific death and resurrection all come to pass. It’s all handled quite well, although by this time Biff’s broad comic relief role is not just grating, it’s inappropriate and awful, although finally—finally—at the very end he tragically rises to his role.
Even so, I can’t recommend this book, which is too bad because I loved the title and expected something a lot better.