Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Lamb: Christopher Moore
Anyone remotely familiar with the bible will recall the familiar names of the gospels: Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John. What those gospels don’t cover is Jesus’ childhood, and there’s only man who can write that story—Biff. It has been two thousand years since the death of Jesus (known as Joshua) Christ. The angel Raziel has reanimated the corpse of Levi (known as Biff), to tell the story of Joshua’s youth. Thus begins Moore’s novel about how Joshua became the Christ.
First of all, I have to say that if you are a devout believer in Christ, you will almost surely be offended by Lamb. The language is crude, the events are blasphemous, and the characters are typically flawed teenage boys. This is not an uplifting story of how wonderful Jesus was as a young man. Instead, it is the story of Joshua’s best friend, Biff, who had the sometimes unfortunate position of best friend to the Messiah. There is nothing special about Biff. He doesn’t have any special talents or trades, and he’s not particularly smart. He is, however, very lovable as an average, mischievous, lusty boy. Considering that Biff is the narrator, you can imagine the many reasons why his gospel was never incorporated into the bible.
So here’s the gist of the story; Joshua, the son of God, receives a message that he must go and find his destiny. As any loyal best friend would do, Biff goes with him. Joshua sets out on the road to find the three magi who came to witness his birth—Balthazar, Gaspar, and Melchior. Each magus is living a fairly austere life and has a lesson to teach the young Messiah. Biff learns beside Joshua, but he’s far more interested in getting laid than learning how to find the Holy Spirit in himself. So Joshua learns about enlightenment from the Buddhists, and Biff learns the physical art of Judo. Joshua learns how to overcome his physical form, and Biff learns the Kama Sutra from a prostitute. When it comes time for Joshua to become the Messiah and bring the Kingdom to the people, Biff is by his side, constantly trying to protect his friend’s life. And the rest, as they say, is history.
This book is thoroughly entertaining. Not being a student of the bible, I was inspired to research a lot of things to test their truth, which made for an enriching read. Mary of Magdala and Joshua bar Jehovah are both written extremely well, so as to make them dimensional characters in a novel, opposed to unknown figures in a holy text. I was enthusiastically impressed by the way Jesus is presented as a very Human person who had a good laugh from time to time, who enjoyed irony, who had occasional lusts, and who wasn’t magically gifted with enlightenment, but instead had to learn it, just like his followers.
I didn’t feel like I had to have any specific previous understanding of the bible to read this book. I loved all of the elements that come together so well here—romance, adventure, action, terror, and of course death. I would only recommend this to folks with open minds and a good sense of humor.