Moore, Christopher (c. 2002). Lamb. William Morrow. 417 pages , $24.95.
How did Jesus become the Messiah? Biff, Jesus’ childhood pal, has been resurrected to retell the story of the Messiah’s teenage years, farts and all.
There is no history of Jesus’s life outside of his much celebrated birth and the years leading up to his much celebrated death (and re-birth). Thankfully, satirist Christopher Moore decided to pen his version for the history books. Biff, Jesus’ (Joshua’s) childhood friend is resurrected to come back and write the story in order to clear up any confusion. He tells the story of young Joshua’s journey, much like any Jewish boy during the first century, who struggles to find his way in the world, learn his trade and figure out the opposite sex. But as a burgeoning Messiah, Joshua has a few things working against him; namely that in a world of sin and lies, he is vulnerable in his honesty and generosity. That’s where Biff comes in. Biff is not susceptible to such personality traits and helps Joshua navigate his way through the mores of the culture. However, when the beautiful Mary the Magdalene (Maggie) marries Jaken the jerk, Joshua and Biff leave on a journey to find the three magi present at Joshua’s birth.
Moore’s blend of wit and historical content make this the over-the-top read that will thrill those that question the legitimacy of the Bible stories as well as those that live by the New Testament. Taking such a revered subject as Jesus Christ and creating a life story for him is nothing short of crazy. Even Moore states that he was ready to move in with Solomon Rushdie when the book hit the stands. But the opposite happened and Moore was instead asked to speak on the topic at various seminary schools. Biff is the perfect id to Josh’s ego with Maggie playing the unwitting role of the femme-fatale. And if you don’t laugh at Josh’s attempt at honing his trade as the Messiah, then you may not be prepared to enjoy the rest of the book.
YALSA Best Books for Young Adults – 2003
Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.
Unholy Night by Seth Grahame-Smith.
Book Discussion Questions:
1. Did you learn something from this book that surprised you?
2. Would Joshua have made it to maturity without Biff? Do you think Jesus had any human – not divine – help in becoming who he was?
3. As an “equal opportunity offender” what do you think Moore’s purpose was in writing this book? Were you offended?
4. Biff asks, “Are all women better and stronger than me?” to which Joshua answers “Yes”. Do you think Moore believes this? Do you think Christianity teaches this? How are women viewed in various world religions?
Reasons for selection:
A friend of mine, with similar tastes, suggested this book to me. I do enjoy satire and found Moore’s interpretations laugh-out-loud funny. I thought that this might be offensive to the truly religious but in further research, it seems that many seminary schools use this book in their classrooms. I mean, why not? No one else has documented the history of Jesus’ teenage years so why not leave it someone who is known for holding nothing sacred :).