On something of a whim, Hannah of Things Matter, and Diana of Part Time Monster, and I decided to read Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal, by Christopher Moore. It would be fun, we thought, to read together and discuss the book.
So we invite you now to join us in the first installment of the Lazy Lambs Book Club (#LazyLambs on Twitter) today! If you’ve read the book, feel free to chime in with your thoughts to the questions, perhaps pose some of your own.
I like to imagine us all sitting around, perhaps enjoying a nice meal, while discussing our thoughts.
I really enjoyed this book… there were times when I was laughing out-loud on the bus. The way that Joshua and Biff were written, and their interactions, rang very true. There’s a line early on where Joseph tells Biff, “You go with Joshua. He needs a friend to teach him to be human. Then I can teach him to be a man.” (Lamb, Harper Collins ePub Edition (March 2006), page 17). And Biff takes that role seriously. They provide a great counterbalance to one another, playful banter and a true, deep, friendship.
“What are your thoughts on the subject, retelling the life of Jesus? Does it function as myth/fairy-tale retelling, satire, both/neither? Comments on the author’s success in achieving whatever you think it’s supposed to be are also welcome.”
I’ve spent a good part of my recent studies picking apart the stories which make up the Bible, learning about the variations, and reading different interpretations. I remember the Rabbi in my Intro to Judaism class talking about Midrash. He used the term somewhat loosely, to refer to a great number of explorations of the religious stories.
I find Lamb to fit into this definition quite nicely. It does retell the story of Jesus, drawing from historical research and various books of the bible (canonical and non) , but then it takes on the question of those unknown years. There are stories of Jesus as a child (The Infancy Gospel of Thomas), but there is largely a big blank between his birth and his ministry. I see this story as a way to have fun exploring the question of what might have happened in that time.
Also, as the author notes in the afterward in the version of the book I read, also to answer an “important question that I felt needed to be addressed, which is, ‘What if Jesus had known kung fu?'” (Lamb, Harper Collins ePub Edition (March 2006), page 440).
The religion geek in me adored well researched this book was. From Joshua’s scriptural quotations to the ways that Moore chose to tell some of the gospels to the general feel of life at the time. I now understand why people have been suggesting I read this book for years.
My question for the group:
“What are your thoughts about how the author explored the different cultures in the world at the time? What do you think about the cross-culture play and sending Jesus to all ends of the earth?”
I loved it. I know that it was taking some liberties, and some of it was downright silly, but I found myself really enjoying the way that Moore was able to draw on some different cultures and religions to help inform what Jesus ended up preaching. I’ve long been drawn to the similarities that appear across religions, and this was a nice way to create a sense of give a sense of connection.
“In addition to new characters, like Biff and Raziel, Lamb also offers re-writings of many historical and religious figures, not just Jesus himself. Among those characters are the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdelene (Maggie), whose stories — especially Maggie’s — take up more space in Moore’s novel than in biblical writings. Discuss the depictions of the two Marys. What is their place in the story?”
Oh, the Marys… I really love the way that Maggie is portrayed. She’s so spunky! From her first introduction you know she’s a strong character. She is the perfect addition to the Joshua/Biff duo — I really missed her through the section of the book that she didn’t get to appear. I find it refreshing, too, to have more representation of women throughout this story… I wont start in on the rant about female representation in the gospels (yet…) but there is certainly a space where their stories should be given a chance to be told, and I like that Moore incorporates at least these two important characters into the story.
#LazyLambs Book Club:
On a whim when Hannah, Diana, and I decided to read and discuss a book. Two months after the original deadline we set for themselves, all had finished reading the book and a discussion began. Thus began the #LazyLambs Book Club was born.
Join the #LazyLambs Book Club as we read another Christopher Moore book, A Dirty Job. We aim to finish reading and share our questions (so conversations can ensue) by June 27th. As we read our thoughts, favorite quotes, and comments will be shared on Twitter under #LazyLambs. We’d love to have you join our little club!