Lamb: A Book Review

Ladies and gentlemen and variations thereupon, we pause in our thirty days of photographic challenge now for a book review!

First, an update: I have, since my disastrous realization, stopped reading the abridged copy of War and Peace. Never fear, for I’m now on my seventh book of the summer so far and Gann has managed not only to find me an unabridged, Maude translation to bring, but it is on its way! Journey mercies for Gann and the book.

Meanwhile, the gap in reading gave space for me to eagerly consume one of Thera’s literary recommendations….

A review of Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore

It’s a rare but delightful occurrence when, at the conclusion of a book, one is filled with a desire to simply sit, letting the story soak deep into your bones. Lamb is absolutely one of those books- much like Holden Caulfield declares in another one of my favorite books, The Catcher in the Rye, you know you’ve read a marvelous book when all you want to do is pick up the phone and call the author. The riotous, fictional account of Jesus of Nazareth’s childhood narrated by none other than his Gospel-forgotten best friend, Levi who is called Biff, was nonstop action, hilarity, and surprisingly sound theology.

In the four Gospels of the Christian New Testament, only two account for the birth of Christ, and only one gives readers a story of Jesus’ life between his birth and beginning of his ministry at the age of thirty. In lieu of this gap, Christopher Moore creates a hilarious tale filling the hole- a tale that involves Jesus learning Kung-Fu from Buddhists in China, teaching yoga to elephants in India, and learning from an Ethiopian wizard about Confucius and the Tao. Every adventure is layered with hilarious witticisms, the invention of sarcasm, and sneaky references to Biblical teachings and stories. Biff is everything Christ is not, a horny teenage boy with a penchant for getting himself into divine mischief- but even Moore’s depiction of the young Christ is believably human and deliriously funny. I literally chuckled, giggled, and otherwise roared with laughter the entire book through.

It is also clear that Moore did his research for every faith portrayed in the book; most of the teachings are accurate to their various sacred texts, and, perhaps most importantly, Moore treats every faith with equal respect and honor. This is no bashing of Religion, but rather ah homage slathered in wit to all divine prophets. As a Religion student I certainly feel that I was getting the most of all the wry references and droll liturgical word plays layered in every chapter (and we’re not just talking Christianity, as Christ was Jewish and, in this tale, encounters prophets and teachers of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Chinese philosophies).  But even if you have no academic (or otherwise faith-based background) in the teachings of these faiths this book is still a riot and I highly recommend to anyone. Yes, it’s abundant in foul language, liberal treatment of the works of Jesus of Nazareth, and perhaps offensive material if you’re of a more orthodox mind. But Moore himself says, if your faith is shattered or moved by a work of clever fiction, perhaps you have some more praying to do. If, however, you’re looking for a compelling, sharp-witted, intelligent, and delightful read this book comes highly recommended from this here liturginerd.

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