At the turn of the second millennium, Levi, who is called Biff, is summoned by the angel Raziel to compose his account of the life of Jesus Christ, Biff’s best friend from the age of six.
The narration then switches back and forth between the present time where Biff and Raziel are holed up in a hotel in St. Louis, Missouri and biblical times as we read Biff’s tale.
While there is practically nothing about the first 20 years of Jesus’ life in the actual gospels, Biff’s somewhat suspect account fills in the picture. We witness childhood miracles involving snakes and lizards, follow along as they journey East in search of the three wise men so that Jesus can learn how to be the Messiah, and ultimately get a behind-the-scenes look at the Crucifixion.
Biff makes for an entertaining narrator as he is part foul-mouthed, devious letch and part good-hearted, loyal protector of his naïve and all too trusting best friend, who is not without His sense of humor.
In Lamb, Moore manages to blend low-brow humor with history and religious philosophy as he sprinkles in laugh-out-loud moments with descriptions of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes etc. as well as the teachings of Buddha, Lao-tzu, and Confucius. In addition, there are even a few poetic passages conveying Biff’s feelings for Mary Magdelene, a fierce yet sweet girl (and later woman) who was not at all the harlot Hollywood would have us believe.
While some of the jokes had me laughing pretty heartily, particularly those involving Biff’s boyhood crush on Jesus’ mom, many of them are duds, including the running gag where Raziel becomes infatuated with soap operas etc. thinking that they are real, and some mind-boggling nonsense involving coffee which clearly should have been left out considering the considerable length of this book.
To sum up, the Gospel According to Biff is an interesting and creative account of the life of Jesus that provides laughs, groans, and food for thought, and ultimately finishes with a fairly satisfying ending. While there were a few too many duds in terms of jokes and situations, 3.5 Pearls gets rounded up to 4 thanks to Moore’s ability to combine philosophical musings with invisible Jesus stinky fart gags.
Lastly, thanks to this book, I think I finally have a firm understanding of what Communion is all about – fostering an awareness that we are all connected spiritually – and it’s interesting to note that this can be achieved either through a weekly gulp of bottom shelf wine at church or a couple tabs of LSD on a sunny day in the park. To each his own, I guess.