Several months ago, a few blogging friends and I decided to read Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Friend by Christopher Moore. Both Hannah and Allison wanted to read the book but hadn’t before; I’ve read the book twice, but it’d been years since then.
I first encountered Christopher Moore’s book in the middle of a busy summer as a camp counselor at a large camp in the Blue Ridge Mountain range in North Georgia. The place was beautiful but isolated; the town had a population that barely reached over 1,000. On evenings and days off, I often went to one of the many lakes or creeks around the area; one day a friend who worked with me there handed me a copy of Moore’s Lamb and a copy of Tom Robbin’s Still Life with Woodpecker, suggested I read them. I did, and a love of both authors was born.
So when Hannah and Allison and I bandied about the idea of reading Lamb–and then of possibly reading more of Christopher Moore’s work together, I jumped at the chance. It’s taken us several months to read through the books, and so we’ve dubbed ourselves the Lazy Lambs Book Club.
This time, each of us wrote a question about the book for the others to answer. We’re planning to read A Dirty Job next, and to publish our posts around the end of June—feel free to join us if you want!
Hannah: What are your thoughts on the subject, retelling the life of Jesus? Does it function as myth/fairy tale retelling, satire, both/neither?
I think the story is really very many things, and that’s what makes it so much fun. There’s some historical fiction in there—Moore clearly did a lot of research and worked to make the timeline and details match up. There’s also satire—some of the sections that I enjoy most are when Biff and/or Raziel are trying to figure out modern culture, and we get to see ourselves through a new lens. And it’s certainly a retelling of the Jesus mythos, of what we tend to think of his life and of those around him.
Allison: What are your thoughts on 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 quite enjoy the cultural play of the novel, though I’ll admit to being incredibly thrown off by it in the beginning. I just wasn’t sure about Jesus becoming a monk or learning judo, because it seemed incredibly silly. And it is silly, but it’s also handled with precision. I think part of what we see is Moore’s research and imagination at work to create parallels between religions, times, and places, and I think it works.
Diana: 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 Magdalene (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?
I love Maggie (Mary Magdalene) in this story. I just love her. She’s brave, and she’s clever, and she’s incredibly loyal. And, though we don’t see quite as much of Mother Mary as we do of Maggie, I really love her, too. I enjoy that they’re both given real characterizations with both good qualities and flaws, well-rounded characters instead of flat or static characters. It’s nice to see women characters in a book of this sort who are well-rounded and in charge of themselves–something that becomes the crux of Maggie’s story as she struggles with an arranged marriage and her unrequited love for Joshua.
That’s it for today, folks! Don’t forget that if you’d like to read along and post with us next time, we’re reading A Dirty Job—and it is an amazing book! Use the hashtag #LazyLambs to participate in the conversation, too!