Reviewed by Jessica Waugh, Library Specialist
This hilarious recounting of the first 30 years of Jesus Christ (according to his best friend, known as Levi in the Bible, Biff in this book) is recommended for anyone who wants a good belly laugh and a slightly skewed take on the Son of God's early years. Biff finds himself in the 20th century, brought back from the dead, sequestered in the Hyatt Hotel in St. Louis and told he must complete the task of putting down the particulars of the early life of Jesus (aka Josh) before he could find any peace. His captor, a humorless angel, forbids him any contact with the outside world. Even the hotel's Gideon's Bible is off-limits to Biff since the angel doesn't want him to know "the ending."
As the life of Jesus prior to the age of 30 is scarcely covered in sacred texts, humorist Christopher Moore takes us on a wild romp through China, India and the holy lands starting with Josh as a small boy (making his mother Mary's face appear on a piece of bread; partially resurrecting a dead frog) and going through his death and beyond. Biff gets to do all the things that Josh will not permit himself to experience. Both boys have a crush on Mary Magdelene, but only Biff will act on it. Actually, Biff is enamored of nearly every female in his life — especially Josh's mom, Mary. His love for the ladies is prominent throughout his tale.
As teens, Biff and Josh take off for lands unknown because Josh is beginning to realize that he has a "higher purpose," but he isn't sure exactly what that is. He makes the decision to seek knowledge from various sources, including conjurers, sorcerers and mages. In their hunt for the Three Wise Men, their exploits are laced with Buddhist and Hindu sub-plots and Moore's unique take on the real meaning of the parables of Jesus. By the end of Biff's story, we learn of his heartbreak when he is unable to talk Josh out of sacrificing himself for the world. The adventures of Biff and Josh endear both of them to the reader and at the end of this romp, you realize that you've read something surprisingly spiritual and moving.