The Gospel According To Biff is…different. The New Testament as you’ve never heard it before. Author Christopher Moore has always had something of a religious bent, his previous titles include Practical Demonkeeping and The Stupidest Angel, but The Gospel According to Biff is his most outstandingly blasphemous to date.
Moore walks a fine line when he uses Jesus Christ as the keystone of his sacrilegious extravaganza, but he does so unashamedly and successfully. Nothing is sacred to Mr. Moore and he’s happy to turn his wit against any figure from the Bible, no matter how revered. For example did you know the reason Noah lived 800 years was because he was that far behind on his paperwork?
The eyes and ears of the story belong to Biff, the forgotten disciple. “Christ’s childhood pal,” as he styles himself, reawakened before the End of Days in order to tell his story. Biff accompanies Jesus, or Joshua as he is to his pal, as the Messiah takes something of a gap decade, travelling the East in order to find himself. And the three wise men of course. Each has hidden wisdom to share with the Messiah and Moore has great fun taking Jesus and Biff to Afghanistan, India and China, and even greater fun introducing them to Kung Fu, elephants and Oriental concubines.
Along the way readers will be re-introduced to many familiar faces, Pontius Pilate, Mary Magdalene and of course Judas all make an appearance, as well as hearing many stories they’ve heard before, just never like this. Biff tells us how Jesus couldn’t resist the irony of waking up Untouchables by poking them. We hear how the Son of God, curious about the world of sin, enables his companion’s prostitute problem and how the two protagonists struggle constantly against the hell of keeping kosher. In the end the two return to the Holy Land, where Moore skilfully retells the parts of the story everybody is already familiar with.
This time though the tale reads more like the diary of a teenage delinquent than a religious fanatic. John the Baptist is a raving lunatic. Jesus tells his apostles to go out and “apostilise”. Biff tells the Son of God how much he hates parables and Jesus convinces other people to walk on water with him, laughing as they fall in.
This is a book that will shock some, but make just as many laugh. Biff introducing the Angel Raziel to modern day soap operas is comedy gold. The novel is cunning throughout and the author fills in all the gaps in Jesus’ story in a way that’s plausible yet entertaining. This book may not be a great work of art, but it will make you think and it will absolutely make you laugh.