I just finished reading Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore. This is one great book, just freaking hilarious while also being pretty useful to me.
See, I tend to have a hard time with context. If you come to me and say
It was so sad, Jerry died in the elevator this morning.
I have a hard time really caring about that. I mean, I don't even know who Jerry is. If he's your brother, then I feel pretty bad for your loss, but it's hard for me to really miss Jerry.
Without context you could mean Jerry the mouse, from Tom and Jerry. Now, while that may be sad, he'll be back the next day, so it's not that big a deal.
At the same time, what if I'm watching a TV series that's been on for 3 years and one of the main characters is Jerry. I've watched this life and felt a connection with him. I see where my life is similar to his, where I wish mine were more like his, and where I see that I'm doing better than Jerry. He's become a part of how I define myself. Then I watch him die in the horrid elevator accident so that he could save his fiancé. Now I'm in tears that Jerry died this morning, and the elevator only reminds me how selfless he is.
Lamb gives me context where I hadn't completely understood before.
Christopher tells the story of Christ from birth. While he talks about his life after he comes out and begins preaching openly, he focus much more on Christ's formative years, everything from an interest in sin to learning the ways of the Buddha.
This is, of course, a complete work of fiction. Everything is made of from the author's mind. While he stuck to historical documents to keep some of it accurate, he certainly stretched a lot to make the story fun and fill in gaps which no one knew about.
I can't really explain the book in one post, though I'm always happy to talk about it. Needless to say, I got to live alongside Jesus as he grew up and was shaped by the world around him. I really gained a deeper understanding of the place of Jews within Roman rule as well as what the heck the difference between a Pharisee and a Sadducee was.
The best quotes I got from the first reading of the book were.
Joshua's ministry was three years of preaching, sometimes three times a day, and although there were some high and low points, I could never remember the sermons word for word, but here's the gist of almost every sermon I heard Joshua give.
You should be nice to people, even creeps.
And if you:
a) believed that Joshua was the Don of God (and)
b) he had come to save you from sin (and)
c) acknowledged the Holy Spirit within you (became as a little child, he would say) (and)
d) didn't blaspheme the Holy Ghost (see c),
then you would:
e) live forever
f) someplace nice
g) probably heaven.
However, if you:
h) sinned (and/or)
i) were a hypocrite (and/or)
j) valued things over people (and)
k) didn't do a, b, c, and d,
then you were:
Awesome summation of Jesus' teachings. Oh yeah, did I mention there was some swearing?
Then there was this conversation between Biff and Maggie (Mary Magdalene)
"When we were in India, we saw a festival in the city of their goddess Kali. She's a goddess of destruction, Maggie. It was the bloodiest thing I've ever seen, thousands of animals slaughtered, hundreds of men beheaded. The whole world seemed slick with blood. Joshua and I saved some children from being flayed alive, but when it was over, Joshua kept saying, no more sacrifices. No more."
Maggie looked at me as if she expected more. "So? It was horrible, what did you expect him to say?"
"He wasn't talking to me, Maggie. He was talking to God. And I don't think he was making a request."
"Are you saying that he thinks his father wants to kill him for trying to change things, so he can't avoid it because it's the will of God?"
"No, I'm saying that he's going to allow himself to be killed to show his father that things need to be changed. He's not going to try to avoid it at all."
Another great conversation which helped me better see Jesus' relationship with His father.
Definitely pick this book up. It'll definitely ruffle some feathers with the stuff he made up, like Jesus learning the ways of the Buddha and such. It's a work of fiction, get over it.
If you want a copy and you're poor, let me know, I'll get one to you.