As of this review, I've read Christopher Moore's Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal three times. It's quickly become one of my favorite books, and one of the books I turn to when I need a good laugh.
By far the best of Moore's oeuvre, Lamb "chronicles" the life of Jesus (here known as Joshua) from ages 12-33: the very years that the Christian gospels ignore. From what I have studied about biblical history, it's obvious that Moore did his research, as he captures even the subtleties of life during Jesus' time.
The book is truly funny, no doubt about that. But it's also smart. What never fails to interest me is Moore's interpretation of how Jesus came to his own groundbreaking spiritual ideology. Moore has the young-adult Joshua travel around the ancient world, learning of spiritual traditions such as Buddhism, and incorporating various ideas and methods from each tradition into what would eventually become Christianity. It's a very intriguing way to look at the beginnings of Christianity, one that makes a lot of sense when you think about it (even though the chances of it having actually happened are slim to none).
Above all else, though, Lamb is the story of a young man — a human -- who is tasked with the mind-boggling destiny of becoming the savior of all humankind... and he has no idea how to go about it. He's not even sure that he's supposed to do it, because God refuses to answer his many questions. All he has is his own determination and the love of his friends, Biff and Mary Magdalene (Maggie), to help him through.
In this respect, Lamb is heartbreaking in its humanity. What many people never think about is that Jesus was human, and that he was told at a young age that he was meant to be the world's savior. It's easy to overlook the humanity of Jesus, even if you don't believe in him as the embodiment of the divine - he was, after all, an incredible man who inspired millions upon millions (either for good or for bad).
Moore, however, makes sure that his readers realize that, during the "lost" years, Jesus was just a confused human looking for his way - like we all are. And that, my friends, is beautiful. While reading Lamb, I find myself wishing that it was actually taught in Bible classes. It certainly makes me feel more spiritual than any Sunday School or sermon I've ever experienced.