--- In FairfieldLife@yahoogroups.com, TurquoiseB <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> 
> You might also enjoy (possibly a lot more, because
> you'll be laughing most of the time) Chris Moore's
> lovely book, "Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff,
> Christ's Childhood Pal."  It takes approximately
> the same view, but with humor added.

Chris on the writing of Lamb:

When I began writing the comic version of the gospels, I took a sort 
of Hippocratic oath to myself - that is: First, do no harm. I wanted 
to do this book without attacking anyone's faith, and without 
questioning the spiritual precepts of Christ's identity as set down 
in the New Testament. As far as LAMB would be concerned, Jesus was 
who the Bible says he was, so I had to color within those lines. To 
do otherwise would have been mean-spirited, which is the only thing 
I feel is off limits for humorous exploration. But all that came 
later. First I had to decide to tell this story, and it came to me 
this way… 

I'm reading a novel called The Master and Margarita, by Mikhail 
Bulgakov. I come across this section which is the trial of Jesus as 
told from the point of view of Pontius Pilate, and I find that I'm 
completely sucked in by the humanity of the characters. And I'm 
wondering why, after hearing this story all my life, I'm suddenly 
affected by it, and I realize that it is, indeed, the point of view. 

So a couple of months pass, and I'm thinking about the story of 
Jesus, and PBS Frontline does this series called From Jesus to 
Christ, by which I am informed that except for one incident in the 
gospel of Luke, the Bible basically ignores nearly thirty years of 
Christ's life. And I say, "Hey, someone should write that part." So 
I set out trying to learn what I can about Israel in the first 
century, and all the time I'm thinking, "I need a witness. I need a 
point of view." I needed a guy who witnessed the missing years. I 
needed a guy who didn't view Jesus so much as a savior, but as a 
person. A guy who was so obnoxious that he was purposely edited out 
of the New Testament. I needed Christ's best friend -- Biff. 

Imagine that you're a very average kid, but your best friend happens 
to be the best athlete in town, the captain of all the teams, the 
best looking, the most popular, the smartest, and you are basically 
trying to find your own identity while being eclipsed by your 
friend's presence. Pretty tough, huh? You'd have to be resilient, 
you'd have to have a sense of humility, in fact, you really couldn't 
be a good friend to this guy if you were impressed by his talents. 
This was the process I went through in creating Levi who is called 
Biff, the narrator of LAMB. 

Biff is a good guy, he's fiercely loyal to his best pal Joshua bar 
Joseph (Jesus), he's just not all that impressed. The way he deals 
with the ego-crush of hanging out with the Son of God is by 
developing a wicked sense of humor (even to the point of inventing 
sarcasm). He's the perfect guy to give an ironic spin to the 
greatest story ever told. 

Once I had my narrator, it was all about research, about creating 
the world of first century Israel as accurately as I could, while 
exploiting the holes in history so I could tell the tale. The first 
part of the book takes place in Galilee, putting Biff and Josh in 
the midst of a very Tom Sawyer-style mystery (and I did model the 
mystery on that august Twain tome more than a little). The middle 
section takes the boys to the Orient in search of the three wise men 
who were present at Joshua's birth. This becomes, essentially, a log 
of Joshua's search for how to become the man who would save the 
world. He learns the spiritual disciplines of Taoism, Confucianism, 
Buddhism, and Hinduism, while his best pal Biff concentrates on 
chasing girls and learning the finer points of the Kama Sutra from a 
string of harlots. (I like to think of this section as Josh and 
Biff's Excellent Adventure) LAMB finishes up with a behind-the-
scenes view of Joshua's ministry and the events that transformed a 
poor kid from Galilee into the most influential human being ever to 
walk the Earth. (Think Butch and Sundance do Jerusalem.) 

For me, LAMB started out as a further exploration of the phenomenon 
of faith and the responsibility of a messiah that I touched on in 
Coyote Blue and Island of the Sequined Love Nun, but it ended up 
being an exploration of the true meaning of sacrifice, loyalty, and 

An excerpt from Chapter One:

You think you know how this story is going to end, but you dont. 
Trust me, I was there. I know.

The first time I saw the man who would save the world he was sitting 
near the central well in Nazareth with a lizard hanging out of his 
mouth. Just the tail end and the hind legs were visible on the 
outside; the head and forelegs were halfway down the hatch. He was 
six, like me, and his beard had not come in fully, so he didnt look 
much like the pictures you've seen of him. His eyes were like dark 
honey, and they smiled at me out of a mop of blue-black curls that 
framed his face. There was a light older than Moses in those eyes.

"Unclean! Unclean!" I screamed, pointing at the boy, so my mother 
would see that I knew the law, but she ignored me, as did all the 
other mothers who were filling their jars at the well.

The boy took the lizard from his mouth and handed it to his younger 
brother, who sat beside him in the sand. The younger boy played with 
the lizard for a while, teasing it until it reared its little head 
as if to bite, then he picked up a rock and mashed the creature's 
head. Bewildered, he pushed the dead lizard around in the sand, and 
once assured that it wasnt going anywhere on its own, he picked it 
up and handed it back to his older brother.

Into his mouth went the lizard, and before I could accuse, out it 
came again, squirming and alive and ready to bite once again. He 
handed it back to his younger brother, who smote it mightily with 
the rock, starting or ending the whole process again.

I watched the lizard die three more times before I said, "I want to 
do that too."

The Savior removed the lizard from his mouth and said, "Which part?"

By the way, his name was Joshua. Jesus is the Greek translation of 
the Hebrew Yeshua, which is Joshua. Christ is not a last name. It's 
the Greek for messiah, a Hebrew word meaning anointed. I have no 
idea what the "H" in Jesus H. Christ stood for. Its one of the 
things I should have asked him. Me? I am Levi who is called Biff. No 
middle initial. Joshua was my best friend.

The angel says I'm supposed to just sit down and write my story, 
forget about what I've seen in this world, but how am I to do that? 
In the last three days I have seen more people, more images, more 
wonders, than in all my thirty-three years of living, and the angel 
asks me to ignore them. Yes, I have been given the gift of tongues, 
so I see nothing without knowing the word for it, but what good does 
that do? Did it help in Jerusalem to know that it was a Mercedes 
that terrified me and sent me diving into a Dumpster? Moreover, 
after Raziel pulled me out and ripped my fingernails back as I 
struggled to stay hidden, did it help to know that it was a Boeing 
747 that made me cower in a ball trying to rock away my own tears 
and shut out the noise and fire? Am I a little child, afraid of its 
own shadow, or did I spend twenty-seven years at the side of the Son 
of God? 

On the hill where he pulled me from the dust, the angel said, "You 
will see many strange things. Do not be afraid. You have a holy 
mission and I will protect you."

Smug bastard. Had I known what he would do to me I would have hit 
him again. Even now he lies on the bed across the room, watching 
pictures move on a screen, eating the sticky sweet called Snickers, 
while I scratch out my tale on this soft-as-silk paper that reads 
Hyatt Regency, St. Louis at the top. Words, words, words, a million 
million words circle in my head like hawks, waiting to dive onto the 
page to rend and tear the only two words I want to write.

Why me?

There were fifteen of us -- well, fourteen after I hung Judas -- so 
why me? Joshua always told me not to be afraid, for he would always 
be with me. Where are you, my friend? Why have you forsaken me? You 
wouldn't be afraid here. The towers and machines and the shine and 
stink of this world would not daunt you. Come now, I'll order a 
pizza from room service. You would like pizza. The servant who 
brings it is named Jesus. And hes not even a Jew. You always liked 
irony. Come, Joshua, the angel says you are yet with us, you can 
hold him down while I pound him, then we will rejoice in pizza.

Raziel has been looking at my writing and is insisting that I stop 
whining and get on with the story. Easy for him to say, he didn't 
just spend the last two thousand years buried in the dirt. 
Nevertheless, he wont let me order pizza until I finish a section, 
so here goes...

I was born in Galilee, the town of Nazareth, in the time of Herod 
the Great. My father, Alphaeus, was a stonemason and my mother, 
Naomi, was plagued by demons, or at least that's what I told 
everyone. Joshua seemed to think she was just difficult. My proper 
name, Levi, comes from the brother of Moses, the progenitor of the 
tribe of priests; my nickname, Biff, comes from our slang word for a 
smack upside the head, something that my mother said I required at 
least daily from an early age...

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