Blasphemy: Profane speaking of god or sacred things; impious irreverence.
Heresy: Theological or religious opinion or doctrine maintained in opposition, or held to be contrary, to the “catholic” or orthodox doctrine of the Christian Church, or, by extension, to that of any church, creed, or religious system, considered as orthodox.
Profane: 1. Not pertaining or devoted to what is sacred or biblical, esp. in profane history, literature; unconsecrated, secular, lay, common; civil, as distinguished from ecclesiastical.
2. Characterized by disregard or contempt of sacred things, esp., in later use, by the taking of god’s name in vain irreverent, blasphemous, ribald; impious, irreligious, wicked.
Now that we’ve precisely established these definitions, let’s set them aside. We can always pick them up later again, if it turns out to be important.
Lamb’s full title is Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal. This edition has a leather cover, gold-coloured and embellished title font, and a red ribbon bookmark. It looks like it’s imitating a bible. Like it’s going to to be chock full of mockery. And there is some mockery. The angels are figures of fun. Jesus (Joshua in the book) learns Buddhism and kung fu. Biff is a pretty goofy name. It’s a nickname. His real name is Levi. Everyone just calls him Biff. In Moore’s story Joshua and Biff are best friends growing up. The two of them, along with Mary Magdalene, (Maggie) spend their childhoods together, until Joshua and Biff leave on a quest to find the three wise men, so Joshua can find out what he’s supposed to be doing if he’s going to be the Messiah. And here I waited for the ridiculous to come out in full force. But it never really showed up. In Moore’s story Joshua takes his quest seriously. He needs to find the answers to his questions, and since god isn’t answering his prayers he has to figure it out himself. And the answers he finds reflect (translation and interpretation depending) what shows up in your typical bible. Moore takes liberties only with the parts of Jesus’ life where we don’t have historical records. His childhood. Teenage years. Conversations. Jesus’ ministry and crucifixion are depicted respectfully and seriously. I expected this book to be one long blasphemy, and it wasn’t. It was actually really touching, and while frequently silly did a good job at presenting Jesus’ brief earthly sojourn while reminding us that he was actually still human, too. I could imagine some people still being offended by this book, by the suggestion that Jesus wasn’t born with all the answers, or that he found the answers to some of his questions in other faiths (the Golden Rule thing crops up in a lot of world religions; it’s not unique to Christianity), or that he occasionally uses foul language (no blasphemy, don’t worry). But if your faith can handle a little teasing prodding, you may find this book worth your time to pick up. If you’ve still got misgivings, start with the two afterwords (earlier editions have only one) where Moore explains what he was thinking and why he took the liberties he did. If that doesn’t set your mind at ease you can always stop there. And while I want to warn you in advance about the violence and occasional murder, I can tell you there’s not much else in here to worry about. You probably won’t even need to bring the definitions along. There’s nothing for them to do.
Definitions courtesy of The Oxford English Dictionary