Friday, December 19, 2008

The Gospel of Biff

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal
Christopher Moore

I really, really enjoyed this book. To be fair, most people I know would not be able to stomach an alternate telling of Christ’s life, especially by a main character that is so coarse and profane. If you can look beyond that and instead see the overlaying theme, a really poignant tale emerges.

What happened to Christ during those 30 years prior to beginning his ministry? That is the mystery the author tries to imagine. Jesus, referred to as Joshua throughout, recognizes from the beginning he is the Messiah, but at the same time realizes he does not know how to be the Messiah. Thus he with his best friend Levi, also known as Biff, at the age of thirteen decides the best course of action would be to track down the three wise men who visited him at his birth. The theory being they knew who he truly was, perhaps they could teach him. Thus began his 17 years of training from India to Tibet to China as he learns all about Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucius, and Taoism. It is through these disciplines he learns about himself, and what his Father wants to be shared with the world.

In the end you are left with the impression of a divine man, but a real man who learns to fulfill his true potential and change the world. Unfortunately most people who would gain from this book would be to caught up in the occasional profanity, the humorous slant, and the emystifying of Jesus (to some extent). Sort of like the Pharisees missing the whole point of the Gospel worried about the fact the Savior healed somebody on the Sabbath.

A good example of the ministry phase of the book is this retelling of the walking on water miracle from Matthew 14:25-32.

Even we were astounded by this new miracle, an we sat in the boat with our mouths hanging open as Joshua approached.
“What?” he said. “What? What? What?”
“Master, you’re walking on the water,” said Peter.
“I just ate,” Joshua said. “You can’t go into the water for an hour after you eat. You could get a cramp. What, none of you guys have mothers?”
“It’s a miracle,” shouted Peter.
“It’s no big deal,” Joshua said, dismissing the miracle with the wave of a hand. “It’s easy. Really, Peter, you should try it.”
Peter stood up in the boat tentatively.
“Really, try it.”
Peter started to take off his tunic.
“Keep that on,” said Joshua. “And your sandals too.”
“But Lord, this is a new tunic.”
“Then keep it dry, peter. Come to me. Step upon the water.”
Peter put one foot over the side and into the water.
“Trust your faith, Peter,” I (Biff) yelled. “If you doubt you won’t be able to do it.”
Then Peter stepped with both feet onto the surface of the water, and for a split second he stood there. And we were all amazed. “Hey I’m---“ Then he sank like a stone. He came up sputtering. We were all doubled over giggling, and even Joshua had sunk up to his ankles, he was laughing so hard.
“I can’t believe you fell for that,” said Joshua. He ran across the water and helped us pull Peter into the boat. “Peter, you’re as dumb as a box of rocks. But what amazing faith you have. I am going to build my church on this box of rocks.”

The above is a pretty good example of how the story is retold, funny and poignant at the same time. I highly recommend this book unless you have too large of a Pharisaical stick up your butt. In that case just go with the works of Jack Weyland for your fiction needs.

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