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

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

4.6 797
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, the Messiah's best bud, who has been resurrected to tell the story in the divinely hilarious yet heartfelt work "reminiscent of Vonnegut and

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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, the Messiah's best bud, who has been resurrected to tell the story in the divinely hilarious yet heartfelt work "reminiscent of Vonnegut and Douglas Adams" (Philadelphia Inquirer).

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. 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.

Editorial Reviews

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.”
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.

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Harper Perennial
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.74(d)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

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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Lamb 4.6 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 797 reviews.
James Rogers More than 1 year ago
Having read "Fluke" and "Lust Lizard," I was already a big Chris Moore fan. But as a Christian, I fully expected to be offended by this book. Didn't happen. Sure, there's some strange stuff here -- wouldn't be Moore if it wasn't . But in the end, he pretty much gets it right! I found myself at times wiping away the tears of laughter and thinking, "Ya know, it coulda happened just like that." Maybe. I teach Sunday School and Bible studies, and I believe every Christian with a sense of humor should read this book! Those of you who don't have a sense of humor should probably skip it.
morebooksforme More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was very funny. The hijinks that Biff and Josh get into is nothing short of fall on the floor laughing funny. The random humor interpieced with factual accounts of Jesus' travels makes the book completely worth the money. If you are looking for a book that will make you laugh, this is the one for you. Most people will appreciate the religous comedy if they have a sense of humor themselves. Not reccommended for the die-hard religous.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of my absolute favorite books. It is hilariously funny, respectful, and somewhat philosophical. Religiously, if you are ultra-conservative about your beliefs, this will not be your cup of tea. If you can see the absurdity in certain aspects of life, and have an open mind, you will love this book without a doubt!
Crisha More than 1 year ago
This is a very charming book that made me laugh out loud so many times. I fell in love with Biff with his humor and loyalty. I did shed a tear at the end but I believe most people would. This book is not to be taken seriously but it does make you wonder how Jesus life was as a child growing up. Did he really put lizards in his mouth :)!?...I miss the characters and wish the book didn't end. It's an easy read and I promise you won't forget to recommend it to someome.
Shahana More than 1 year ago
I'd read Christopher Moore's "The Stupidest Angel" and "Fluke" before I found this book. I'll admit, I was very skeptical when I started it. I think I expected something a bit more blasphemous, but I was surprised. Moore does a great job of poking fun at one of the most important events in Christian faith without contradicting and insulting it....much. It's definately not a book I'd recommend to anyone unwilling to give him some creative license, because there are some portions that might bother those too sensitive about their faith (such as when Jesus's little brother keeps bashing a lizard with a rock just to watch him bring it back to life again). However, if you can accept it for what it is, you might love it!

Christopher Moore's books tend to be completely absurd on the outside, but under that you can find deep, meaning-of-life stuff too. I recommend it for anyone who likes something quirky, strange, and seriously funny!
judeOK More than 1 year ago
I loved this book so much that I purchased several copies as Christmas gifts last December. I don't think I've ever read a more endearing account of the young Jesus. Not only is it laugh-out-loud hilarious; it's also a sweet and, in it's odd way, a quite believable account if only in spirit and not substance. Biff's fierce devotion to Joshua and his complete derision for the angel Raziel makes for a completely new approach to a story we're all familiar with. I've heard some suggest this book is sacreligious but I think it's one of the most sweetly written and "Christian" stories I've ever come across.
Celebrytie More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books Ive read in a long time. Kept me laughing out loud!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Maybe I should have been offended, but I was too busy laughing to think about it much. Christopher Moore is genious at taking this approach with Jesus' missing years. He still was the good guy in the end. By making Biff be the mischevious friend, Jesus gets let off the hook for experiencing these things with Biff. Placing Jesus in the middle of these kinds of situations and still having him come out being the man he was in the end was (an could probably only be) pulled off by Mr. Moore. I completely get it! I am completely sure that there will be many offended by this book. Please people, READ REVIEWS. I read through many for this book, and almost all said that if you are devout anything or easily offended by anything poking a little fun, this is not for you. Please heed this warning and if this is you, do not waste your time or money as you will be disappointed. This also has many situations that are completely inappropriate for the young. I loved this look at Jesus (and of course Biff). Please remember that this is a not so serious look at a very serious story, and remember that God did give us humor. Also remember that in the end, Mr. Moore got it right and maybe, just maybe gave us a different look at what made jesus the man he was. Thank you Christopher Moore for your wonderful imagination!! SPeeD
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best fictitious recountings of Jesus' early life. Lamb does an excellent job displaying the mystery of divinity and humanity. This is also one of the funniest novels I've ever read and re-read.
alexia561 More than 1 year ago
I always wondered what Jesus was doing before he started his ministry. Now, thanks to his boyhood friend Biff, we finally know...
Christopher Moore is an extremely talented, slightly disturbed, very funny genius and I worship at his alter of bizarre.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
omg!!!!! so much talent wasted. should be over 18 to read this. where is the warning for adult content?
carlosmock More than 1 year ago
Lamb The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore The angel Raziel resurrects Levi bar Alpheus - the one called Biff - and gives him a task: He's to write a Gospel to tell the world about the early life of the Son of God, the missing years. Told in the first person point of view, Bill narrates how he and Joshua (Jesus) were best pals. They both had a crush on Mary of Magdala (Maggie) but only Biff gets to have sex with her, the night before she's to marry Jakan, son of Iban, a powerful Pharisee. Joshua has been forbidden to know a woman, even though Maggie had the hots for Joshua. Because no one in the temple can answer Joshua's quest for finding out how to be the Messiah, Joshua convinces Biff to follow him on his quest to find out. They seek the three wise men: Balthazar, Melchior and Gaspar. Their adventures take from age 12 to age 30 and include fighting a demon - who was keeping Balthazar young and alive, talking to the Abominable Snowman, saving children from being sacrificed at the Festival of Kali, learning meditation, Kung Fu, hot chicks....At one point Joshua pays for Biff to have sex with prostitutes so Joshua can learn what sin is.... After learning what they can from these experiences, they are called back by Mary, mother of Jesus, to face Joshua's destiny. Biff narrates Joshua's recruitment of the apostles and his missionary life ending with his passion and crucifixion. Biff does not learn of Joshua's resurrection until after he, himself, has been resurrected by the Angel Raziel because Biff killed Judas and then killed himself. While writing the gospel, he finds a hotel Bible and reads the four Gospels, thus learning that indeed Joshua resurrected. As a reward for writing the gospel, Biff is allowed to roam in the 21st century with Maggie, who also wrote her version of the gospel..... I found the book to be very tedious and boring. The point of view used was confusing and sometimes I did not know who was speaking. I did not enjoy Mr. Moore's humor. The book took forever to read forever and a lot of will to finish it. I wonder who his audience is: for Christians the book will seem to be a blasphemy, and for agnostics and atheists it will be nothing more than another version of the same fiction. I don't know who to recommend the book to.....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Clever and heartfelt, Moore does it again. Glad to make this my first Nook book!
RobertDowns More than 1 year ago
While I was certainly entertained from the first page to the last, and the story provided more than a few laughs, I wasn’t as entertained as I thought I would be. The tale proved every bit as imaginatively creative as the name implied, and Christopher Moore managed to take more than a few liberties along the way, which did serve to heighten my enjoyment of said story. But I never felt it achieved its promise of being a literary masterpiece, especially when early on Joshua had stuffed lizards in his mouth, after his brother had popped them on the head with a rock. Biff was a character worthy of his name. By the end of LAMB: THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO BIFF, CHRIST’S CHILDHOOD PAL, he managed to have more sex than a prostitute in a Las Vegas whorehouse, get in more trouble than the snake in the Garden of Eden, spout off more one-liners than an action hero, and provide more comedy than many comedic performances. Yet, his character still held a certain amount of emptiness by the end of this grandiose tale. And he never fully reached the promise of his tornado-like status. But, on the other hand, this novel managed to take some darker moments in Joshua’s life and add a bit of lighthearted appeal, and in the end, that’s where much of the charm in this book lies. Only it fails a bit in reaching even its own lofty expectations. Still this proved to be an enjoyable read, as long as you don’t take Biff, or the story itself, too seriously. Robert Downs Author of Falling Immortality: Casey Holden, Private Investigator
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book. Each character was a delight. Moved quickly and was a beautiful look at a world long gone and so revered that we forget people have had a sense of humor for a long time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story is funny ALL the way through. He will have you rolling on the floor laughing!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If more christians read lamb perhaps they would take their differences less seriously.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Classic Christopher Moore, funny and thought provoking at the same time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Biff is us and we are him and Jesus loves us anyway and God does have a sense of humor. Don't expect spiritual transformation, this is pure entertainment, but Mr. Moore did his homework, kept true to Jesus, and "forgives us our trespasses" for being human.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jesus with humor
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it! But it was like eating chips. My good angel was on one shoulder saying i really should stop eating and the less than perfect one on the other side enjoying the salty, fattening treat. Mouth full, saying "more, don't stop!".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a great story. It was humerous, it was emotional, it was amazing. The whole retelling of the story according to Biff gives an interesting way to look at the story of Jesus.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The way Christopher Moore fills in the missing 30 years of Jesus's life is wonderful. He does it in such a way to shine light on Christ's humanity. He does this by showing that Christ isn't above hitting his friend for an off color comment, much like we would today. This book is a great read and I recommend it to everyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A Human, Hilarious – But Still Holy -- Son of God So here’s the thing: you have got to have a sense of humor in order to like this book. If you’re one of those people who get offended at the mere suggestion that Jesus might have cracked a joke or had bodily functions just like the rest of us, then this book is not for you. But if you can suspend disbelief for a while (which is what reading fiction is all about, after all) to imagine that Jesus was a normal human being who spoke in modern American idiom, cussed a bit, and was curious about sex (although never indulging in it himself) but who also happened to be the Son of God, then you’ll find a lot of laughs and even a bit of genuine holiness in this book. This story of the Messiah is told from the perspective of Jesus’ childhood friend, Levi (also known as Biff), who has been resurrected into modern American society in order to write a new Gospel. Biff recalls his life with Jesus in a series of flash-backs, interspersed with hilarious present-day interactions with the rather dim-witted angel who is his chaperon. Biff relates how he and Jesus go off together to study with the three magi who followed the star to Bethlehem to witness Jesus’ birth (which also conveniently fills in the 20-year gap where there is no mention of Jesus in the Bible from the age of 12 to 30). Along the way, they pick up knowledge of yoga, kung fu, and explosives, and happen to invent modern-day cultural concepts such as sarcasm, latté, and the tradition of Jews going out for Chinese food on Christmas Day. It would make a great comedy movie, except it would probably be considered too “controversial” for any modern-day producer to attempt. Even in the midst of all this craziness, the author has obviously done a lot of research to genuinely depict life as it probably was in first-century Jewish society. For example, Jesus is referred to throughout the whole story as Joshua (Josh for short, of course), because that is what he would have been called in Hebrew. The author also stays true to Jesus’ ministry as it is depicted in the Gospels, and portrays him as a pure, sweet soul who is determined to fulfill his holy mission, although he is a little bewildered about how he is supposed to carry it out.  None of the hilarity in this book is enough to prevent Joshua from meeting his ultimate fate, of course, but it does help to give a poignant humanity to the whole Passion story.   If you can depart from the traditional views of Jesus, you’ll love this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Divinity personified by his brother from another mother. It's certainly my favorite Gospel!!!