Finished 5-1-08, rating 4/5, fiction, pub. 2002
This is a book that I would not have picked up on my own. I don’t think I have a very good sense of humor when it comes to God or Jesus and the title alone might have offended me. But, my friend Mark recommended it and that alone was enough for me to try it out. I also felt better about it since Moore is a born and bred Buckeye (although he has left ‘paradise’ to suffer through the hardships of living in Hawaii and San Francisco :) ). Anyway, on to Levi also called Biff and Joshua who is Jesus.
Biff has been brought back to the land of the living some 2000 years later so that he can set the record straight on Joshua’s childhood and young adulthood. The gospels of the New Testament leave out Biff and now Biff must write his own gospel about his time as Joshua’s best friend and constant companion from the age of six. Biff was brought back and watched over by the angel, Raziel, and the interplay between the two is hysterical.
Biff starts with when he and Joshua met when they were six. Joshua was bringing a lizard back to life after his brother killed it. After that they became inseparable. Mary had told Joshua he was the Son of God, but when you are six what does that mean? He and Biff spent their childhoods being boys and loving Mary Magdalene called Maggie. This section of the book really brought to life the landscape, the people, and the politics of the time.
Joshua decides he needs to travel to find the three wise men of his storied birth and Biff goes with him. After all who will do all the lying, cheating, and sinning that is necessary? As Joshua and Biff travel east to find each of the wise men we see where Joshua learns to be the Messiah. He and Biff’s many adventures will have you laughing and wishing that you too had a best friend as loyal as Biff.
As they make their way back home the story becomes intertwined with the gospels and Biff tries to explain what Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John got right and what they missed. Biff’s story ends and we find out why he was left out of the New Testament altogether.
Moore writes with a light touch that is full of sarcasm and wit. Given the subject matter I was surprised that Moore was able to bring so much humor and still respect the nature of Jesus. I could have done without Biff trying to explain sex to Joshua (although this may be more of a girl thing) and I didn’t like the swearing, especially in the last third of the book. Actually, I loved the book up until the point when they return to Nazareth, but at that point it lost some of its heart in my opinion. It was still worth the read and I’d still recommend it, because you’ll never meet another character like Biff.
I really enjoyed this book, although it probably is not for everyone. If you think you have a wicked sense of humor or can take a certain amount of irreverence then you should give it a try. You will laugh out loud, guaranteed. Thanks for the recommendation, Mark. You’ve helped add to my must read author list.