Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal
  • Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal
  • Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal
  • Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal
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Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal

4.6 791
by Christopher Moore

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"The birth of Jesus has been well chronicled, as have his glorious teachings, acts, and divine sacrifice after his thirtieth birthday. But no one knows about the early life of the Son of God, the missing years - except Biff." "Ever since the day when he came upon six-year-old Joshua of Nazareth resurrecting lizards in the village square, Levi bar Alphaeus, called… See more details below


"The birth of Jesus has been well chronicled, as have his glorious teachings, acts, and divine sacrifice after his thirtieth birthday. But no one knows about the early life of the Son of God, the missing years - except Biff." "Ever since the day when he came upon six-year-old Joshua of Nazareth resurrecting lizards in the village square, Levi bar Alphaeus, called "Biff," had the distinction of being the Messiah's best bud. That's why the angel Raziel has resurrected Biff from the dust of Jerusalem and brought him to America to write a new gospel, one that tells the real, untold story. Meanwhile, Raziel will order pizza, watch the WWF on TV, and aspire to become Spider-Man." Verily, the story Biff has to tell is a miraculous one, filled with remarkable journeys, magic, healings, kung fu, corpse reanimations, demons, and hot babes - whose considerable charms fall to Biff to sample, since Josh is forbidden the pleasures of the flesh. (There are worse things than having a best friend who is chaste and a chick magnet!) And, of course, there is danger at every turn, since a young man struggling to understand his godhood, who is incapable of violence or telling anything less than the truth, is certain to piss some people off. Luckily, Biff is a whiz at lying and cheating - which helps get his divine pal and him out of more than one jam. And while Josh's great deeds and mission of peace will ultimately change the world, Biff is no slouch himself, blessing humanity with enduring contributions of his own, like sarcasm and cafe latte. Even the considerable wiles and devotion of the Savior's pal may not be enough to divert Joshua from his tragic destiny. But there's no one who loves Josh more - except maybe "Maggie," Mary of Magdala - and Biff isn't about to let his extraordinary pal suffer and ascend without a fight.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A childhood pal of the savior is brought back from the dead to fill in the missing 30-year "gap" in the Gospels in Moore's latest, an over-the-top festival of sophomoric humor that stretches a very thin though entertaining conceit far past the breaking point. The action starts in modern America, specifically in a room at the Hyatt in St. Louis, where the angel who shepherds "Levi who is called Biff" has to put Christ's outrageous sidekick under de facto house arrest to get him to complete his task. Moore (Bloodsucking Fiends) gets style points for his wild imagination as Biff recalls his journey with Jesus dubbed Joshua here according to the Greek translation into and out of the clutches of Balthasar, then into a Buddhist monastery in China and finally off to India, where they dabble in the spiritual and erotic aspects of Hinduism. The author gets more serious in his climax, offering a relatively straightforward, heartfelt account of the Passion and Christ's final days that includes an intriguing spin on how the Resurrection might have happened. The Buddhist and Hindu subplots seem designed to point out the absurdity and excesses of religious customs, but none of the characters are especially memorable, and eventually both plot and characters give way to Biff's nightclub patter. As imaginative as some of this material is, the sacrilegious aspects are far less offensive than Moore's inability to rein in his relentless desire to titillate, and his penchant for ribald, frat-boy humor becomes more annoying as the book progresses. Moore has tapped into organized religion for laughs before, but this isn't one of his better efforts. Agent, Nick Ellison. Author tour. (Mar.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-An angel has resurrected Levi bar Alpheus, known as Biff, to tell this story of his life with Joshua, better known to the modern world as Jesus Christ. As youths, they travel to the East in search of the wise men who gave gifts to Joshua at his birth, because the young man has a problem: he knows he's the Messiah, but he doesn't know what to do about it. Along the way, he and Biff come in contact with the spirituality of the East, along with a smattering of martial arts, strange poisons, abominable snowmen, and more. The story concludes with their return to Israel and Biff's own explanation of the events that make up the traditional gospel narrative. Readers who might be offended by the author's casual treatment of Christian themes may also take umbrage at his treatment of Judaism, Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, and much else. However, the author manages to share a variety of the world's spiritual insights while creating interesting and vivid characters. The style is smooth, drawing readers into the story seamlessly except for the need to laugh out loud every page or two. The humor is good-natured, despite the fact that Biff claims to be the inventor of a practice known as "sarcasm." In an excellent afterword, the author explains the choices he made in writing the novel, which will fascinate would-be writers, as well as provide a rebuttal for the book's likely critics.-Paul Brink, Fairfax County Public Library System, VA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An audacious and irreverent novel about Jesus' childhood seen through the eyes of his best pal. Moore (Blood Sucking Fiends, 1995, etc.) has penned an amusing tale guaranteed deeply to offend all right-thinking Christians. The conceit is this: In 2001, Jesus decides that someone should write the missing gospel of his childhood, and he selects Levi-called Biff-the wisecracking companion and alter ego of his youth. Biff is resurrected and locked in a hotel suite in St. Louis with the angel Raziel, who is there to insure that he gets the writing job done. Raziel quickly becomes hooked on TV soaps, while Biff, grumbling, sets to work. Jesus' childhood, it turns out, was like that of most Jewish kids of his day (Moore offers much rich historical detail here), except he was the Messiah. This makes him sweet-natured and incapable of cruelty, lying, or sin, all of which puts him at a distinct disadvantage in a world that's violent and lustful. Enter Biff, the street-smart friend who protects Jesus from his own naivete, observes his early attempts at miracles (restoring lizards, etc.), helps him to understand sin (by fornicating with a harlot while explaining it to Jesus in the next stall), and much more. Mary Magdalene (Maggie) is on the scene, lusting after Jesus and lusted after by Biff. Though Jesus is pretty sure he is the Messiah, he is also, like any kid learning a trade, not sure what he should (and should not) do as Messiah. He sets out on a loopy and sometimes-hilarious quest to discover his destiny (and test his powers), while Biff, thoroughly cynical and amoral, accompanies him. The style is a bizarre mix of serious and sometimes brutal historical fiction laced with black humor,wordplay, in-jokes, and sharp one-liners worthy of a good stand-up comedian. Sometimes it all works well, and sometimes the jokes seem strained. Interesting, original, not for every taste.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“I haven’t finished reading [LAMB] yet, but I’ve managed to laugh myself to tears on more than one occasion.”
Rocky Mountain News
“An instant classic . . . terrific, funny and poignant.
East Bay Express
“[Moore’s] most ambitious book.”

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Special Gift Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.33(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

You think you know how this story is going to end, but you don't. Trust me, I was there. I know.

The first time I saw the man who would save the world he was sitting near the central well in Nazareth with a lizard hanging out of his mouth. Just the tail end and the hind legs were visible on the outside; the head and forelegs were halfway down the hatch. He was six, like me, and his beard had not come in fully, so he didn't look much like the pictures you've seen of him. His eyes were like dark honey, and they smiled at me out of a mop of blue-black curls that framed his face. There was a light older than Moses in those eyes.

"Unclean! Unclean!" I screamed, pointing at the boy, so my mother would see that I knew the law, but she ignored me, as did all the other mothers who were filling their jars at the well.

The boy took the lizard from his mouth and handed it to his younger brother, who sat beside him in the sand. The younger boy played with the lizard for a while, teasing it until it reared its little head as if to bite, then he picked up a rock and mashed the creature's head. Bewildered, he pushed the dead lizard around in the sand, and once assured that it wasn't going anywhere on its own, he picked it up and handed it back to his older brother.

Into his mouth went the lizard, and before I could accuse, out it came again, squirming and alive and ready to bite once again. He handed it back to his younger brother, who smote it mightily with the rock, starting or ending the whole process again.

I watched the lizard die threemore times before I said, "I want to do that too."

The Savior removed the lizard from his mouth and said, "Which part?"

by the way, his name was Joshua. Jesus is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Yeshua, which is Joshua. Christ is not a last name. It's the Greek for messiah, a Hebrew word meaning anointed. I have no idea what the "H" in Jesus H. Christ stood for. It's one of the things I should have asked him. Me? I am Levi who is called Biff. No middle initial. Joshua was my best friend.

The angel says I'm supposed to just sit down and write my story, forget about what I've seen in this world, but how am I to do that? In the last three days I have seen more people, more images, more wonders, than in all my thirty-three years of living, and the angel asks me to ignore them. Yes, I have been given the gift of tongues, so I see nothing without knowing the word for it, but what good does that do? Did it help in Jerusalem to know that it was a Mercedes that terrified me and sent me diving into a Dumpster? Moreover, after Raziel pulled me out and ripped my fingernails back as I struggled to stay hidden, did it help to know that it was a Boeing 747 that made me cower in a ball trying to rock away my own tears and shut out the noise and fire? Am I a little child, afraid of its own shadow, or did I spend twenty-seven years at the side of the Son of God?

On the hill where he pulled me from the dust, the angel said, "You will see many strange things. Do not be afraid. You have a holy mission and I will protect you."

Smug bastard. Had I known what he would do to me I would have hit him again. Even now he lies on the bed across the room, watching pictures move on a screen, eating the sticky sweet called Snickers, while I scratch out my tale on this soft-as-silk paper that reads Hyatt Regency, St. Louis at the top. Words, words, words, a million million words circle in my head like hawks, waiting to dive onto the page to rend and tear the only two words I want to write.

Why me?

There were fifteen of us — well, fourteen after I hung Judas — so why me? Joshua always told me not to be afraid, for he would always be with me. Where are you, my friend? Why have you forsaken me? You wouldn't be afraid here. The towers and machines and the shine and stink of this world would not daunt you. Come now, I'll order a pizza from room service. You would like pizza. The servant who brings it is named Jesus. And he's not even a Jew. You always liked irony. Come, Joshua, the angel says you are yet with us, you can hold him down while I pound him, then we will rejoice in pizza.

Raziel has been looking at my writing and is insisting that I stop whining and get on with the story. Easy for him to say, he didn't just spend the last two thousand years buried in the dirt. Nevertheless, he won't let me order pizza until I finish a section, so here goes...

I was born in Galilee, the town of Nazareth, in the time of Herod the Great. My father, Alphaeus, was a stonemason and my mother, Naomi, was plagued by demons, or at least that's what I told everyone. Joshua seemed to think she was just difficult. My proper name, Levi, comes from the brother of Moses, the progenitor of the tribe of priests; my nickname, Biff, comes from our slang word for a smack upside the head, something that my mother said I required at least daily from an early age.

I grew up under Roman rule, although I didn't see many Romans until I was...

Lamb. Copyright © by Christopher Moore. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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