Thursday, February 03, 2005

More Moore

Because I couldn't bear watching the State of the Union Address last night I got to finish Lamb: The Gospel According Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore. If you are not easily offended and want a good laugh, this book is for you. It is told by Biff who has been brought back from the dead by an angel of God in modern times so he can write the story of Jesus' life beginning in childhood. Biff, first met Joshua (Jesus, Biff explains, is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Yeshua) by the central well in Nazareth when both were six years old. Joshua had a lizard hanging out of his mouth. Joshua was playing a game with his younger brother. He gave his brother the lizard and his sibling would play with it only to eventually end up killing it. He'd give it back to Joshua who would put it in his mouth and the lizard would be resurrected. He'd then give it back to his brother and the whole thing would start over again. Joshua and Biff became great friends. Joshua knows he is supposed to be the Messiah but he is worried that he doesn't know what he is supposed to do. So at the age of twelve, he and Biff set off for the Silk Road in order to track down the Three Wise Men for some information. They find one near Kabul, living on a mountain in China and one living on a cliff in India. They spend time with each and Joshua learns about Confucius, the Tao, meditation, "Jew-do" (Biff learns kung fu), Buddhism, Hinduism, and yoga. Their journey returns them to Nazareth where Biff's story begins to resemble to the Biblical story of Jesus/Joshua, but not entirely. The book is completely irreverent, filled with funny situations and jokes galore. One that gave me a laugh was a scene when they were in Kabul with Balthasar who lived in a mountain fortress and had a bevy of beautiful Chinese women to keep him company:

Before we knew it a year had passed, then two more, and we were celebrating the passage of Joshua's seventeenth birthday in the fortress. Balthasar had the girls prepare a feast of Chinese delicacies and we drank wine late into the night. (And long after that, and even when we had returned to Israel, we always ate Chinese food on Joshua's birthday. I'm told it became a tradition not only with those of us who knew Joshua, but with Jews everywhere.)
Moore includes an Afterword in which he talks about his research (yes, he did research!) for the book and why he wrote some of the things he did. Moore concludes
Finally, this story was set in a dire time, a deadly serious time, and the world of the first-century Jew under the rule of the Romans would not have been one that easily inspired mirth. It's more than a small anachronism that I portray Joshua having and making fun, yet somehow, I like to think that while he carried out his sacred mission, Jesus of Nazareth might have enjoyed a sense of irony and the company of a wisecracking buddy. This story is not and never was meant to challenge anyone's faith; however, if one's faith can be shaken by stories in a humorous novel, one may have a bit more praying to do.
Zing! Next time I need a funny book to read, I look forward to trying another of Moore's many books, after all, doesn't Island of the Sequined Love Nun and Practical Demonkeeping make you wonder?