Date started: June 25, 2012
Date finished: July 6, 2012
“Everyone knows about the immaculate conception and the crucifixion. But what happened to Jesus between the manger and the Sermon on the Mount? In this hilarious and bold new novel, the acclaimed author Moore shares the greatest story never told: the life of Christ as seen by his boyhood pal, Biff.” – via GoodReads
My rating: 8/10
Reading this book, I couldn’t help but think of Diary, the MTV series, and how its slogan was, “You think you know, but you have no idea.” That’s basically the premise of Lamb. According to Moore, Jesus wasn’t always the Prince of Peace. He was just Joshua, a confused kid who didn’t know how to be a savior and traveled to different countries trying to learn how to become the messiah. And right there beside him was his best friend Biff.
If you ever thought the story of Jesus’s life couldn’t be funny, you have to read this book. There are some genuinely hilarious moments in the novel and, I kid you not, by the end of it, I felt like Jesus was the kind of guy you could have a beer with while talking about how to teach an elephant to do yoga. No, I’m not crazy, that’s in the book. There were certain passages I was glad I wasn’t out in public reading because I was laughing so much. I actually finished the book on a plane and was a little disappointed that I couldn’t laugh out loud — should have finished it when I got to my hotel room so I could have enjoyed it uninhibited.
While the book does keep many of the known details about Jesus’s life, Moore takes a ton of liberties with those facts. For example, Josh and Biff go looking for the three wise men who were present at Josh’s birth. Balthasar has a demon locked up in his house (and has a harem filled with poison-wielding concubines), Gaspar invents a new form of martial arts called “Jew-do” because Joshua doesn’t want to hurt people, and Melchior is a yogi who teaches Josh how to fit himself into a wine bottle.
I could go on and on about how much I enjoyed this book, but I do have some criticism. The end feels rushed and Biff’s actions… well, considering everything you get to know about Biff over the course of the novel, it seems out of character for him (at least it did to me). Other than that, this is a fun read, and it’s actually pretty informative, at least to someone with only a cursory knowledge of Christianity. It’s definitely best to keep an open mind and remember that this is humor novel and not the Gospel.
Also, a note: Read the afterword “Teaching Yoga to an Elephant.” It sheds a lot of light on the research Moore did for the novel, and how he arrived at certain conclusions.
Oh, and if you ever wondered what the H. in Jesus H. Christ stands for, that’s in there too. Just one of the many reasons to read this book!