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An AffectionateParody of Literature/TheBible by absurdist & humorist Creator/ChristopherMoore.

As suggested by its title, the main character and SympatheticPOV is a fellow named "Levi bar Alphaeus who is called Biff." The reason he doesn't show up in the actual Bible is that he was [[UnsympatheticComedyProtagonist kind of a jerk]] and the other apostles [[AncientConspiracy conspired to keep him out of it]] (or so he figures). In the modern day, Biff is resurrected by an angel to give his accounts of what it was like to have known Joshua bar Joseph since they were both six years old, and he stumbled upon him having his kid brother smash a lizard with a rock, sticking the dead lizard in his mouth, and taking it back out alive again.

->'''Biff:''' I wanna do that.\\
'''Josh:''' Which part?

In between epistolary moments where he marvels about modern life, Biff pens his gospel, filling in a lot of the blanks of JesusTheEarlyYears. According to Biff, the two of them went east so that Josh could learn, from TheThreeWiseMen, how to become the Messiah. Along the way, they absorbed many Buddhist, Taoist and Hindu attitudes which informed Joshua's later preaching. Biff looks out for his best friend, tempering Joshua's [[VirginityMakesYouStupid innocent stupidity]] with his own brand of ruthless, practical {{Magnificent Bastard}}ry. The only thing that gets him off-balance is the presence of his childhood crush, Mary the Magdalene ("Maggie"), who is depicted as [[AllLoveIsUnrequited having a thing for Josh]]. And, because it's a humor novel, all sorts of silly things happen, be it the names of Balthazar's concubines, the explanation of how the martial art Judo came about, or the start of the Jewish tradition of having Chinese food on Joshua's birthday.

!!This book contains examples of:

* {{Adorkable}}: Josh comes off as a bit of this. He literally cannot help himself from poking anyone who calls himself an Untouchable, and finds it hilarious every single time.
* AnythingThatMoves: Sort of a running gag throughout the book. There were some ''perverted people'' back then...
* ArtisticLicenseHistory: Moore did some pretty serious research for the book, resulting in a fairly-accurate portrayal of life in BibleTimes. Any deviations indulged in for the sake of RuleOfCool, RuleOfDrama and RuleOfFunny are meticulously documented in the Afterword.
* AttractiveBentGender: Biff has to disguise himself as a Hindu widower's daughter at one point. The widower hits on him.
* BeethovenWasAnAlienSpy: According to Raziel, the angel Gabriel once decided to hang around on Earth for sixty years under the guise of Music/MilesDavis.
* BestialityIsDepraved: Bestiality being an "abomination" is a RunningGag in the book.
* BibleTimes
* BigBrotherInstinct: A big part of Biff's heart of gold is his constant and never wavering desire to protect Josh, not just follow him. The one time he leaves Josh, he's at a complete loss at what to do until he goes back. Even the monks noticed it.
--> ''"If I was basking in the light of his holiness all of the time, how would I take care of him? Who would do all of his [[NecessarilyEvil lying and cheating]] for him?"''
** Even to the 2nd Wise man, he shows his streak. When said wise man hits Josh with a stick (as part of a philosophical experiment), Biff catches it a second time and throws it out the window before '''threatening'' to '''kill''' the guy if he did it again.
* BigfootSasquatchAndYeti: Biff and Joshua encounter a Yeti in TheShangriLa, who is the LastOfHisKind.
* BishieSparkle:
-->'''Biff''': And this golden stuff around you, this light, what is this?\\
'''Raziel''': The glory of the Lord.\\
'''Biff''': You're sure it's not stupidity leaking out of you?
* {{Bishonen}}: Raziel, the angel who resurrects Biff. Supposedly EvenTheGuysWantHim is a standard feature on angels.
* BrainlessBeauty: Raziel is... dense. This leads Biff to theorize that Raziel might have been the UrExample DumbBlonde.
* BookEnds: For Biff's Gospel narrative in a way. Josh refuses to tell Biff why he must meet Maggie instead before they leave to find the Wise Men. Near the end of the book, [[spoiler: Josh lies to Biff on where he intends to go, which ultimately ends in Josh's death.]]
* CaffeineBulletTime: When Joshua for the first time tasted coffee at the Antioch's marketplace, a rapid healing-and-blessing session [[HilarityEnsues ensued]].
-->"“Go with God, and—” Josh spun, jumped, came down with each hand on a stranger’s shoulder and shouted, “Yes! Double healing! Go with God, friends, two times!"
* CameBackWrong: Lazarus, who has, err, somewhat fragmented in the meanwhile. (This is a ShoutOut to Literature/TheBible: Maggie protests that they should not open the tomb because Lazarus has been dead for four days and the stench will be dreadful.)
* CelibateHero: Josh is commanded by an angel (Raziel) not to "know women." What exactly does ''that'' mean? They mean to ask Raziel the next time he appears... but, as a RunningGag, they never get around to it.
** Biff finds a loophole: ''he'' goes to know some women and then ''tells'' Josh about it.
* ChickMagnet: Josh. Biff had a pretty interesting way of utilizing this for apostle recruits, as he demonstrates with Matthew:
-->'''Biff''': Sad. You're probably heartbroken. That's sad. You see those women? There's women like that all the time around Joshua. And here's the best part, he's celibate. He doesn't want any of them. He's just interested in saving mankind and bringing the kingdom of God to earth - which we all are, of course. But the women, well, I think you can see...
* CloudCuckooLander:
** Biff suggests that Joshua's mom (you know, the Virgin Mary) has a touch of this quality about her, which doesn't help the family much. (Of course, Biff finds it [[CharmPoint charming]]...)
** Raziel.
--->'''Biff''': The angel confided in me that he is going to ask the Lord if he can become Franchise/SpiderMan...
* ComicSutra: In India, Joshua learns things like yoga from Melchior the Magus, while Biff learns a number of bizarre sexual positions from a local prostitute, such as "The Rhinoceros Balancing a Jelly Donut" and "Rampant Monkey Collecting Coconuts"... It's lampshaded in the afterword that alleged Kama Sutra positions are completely made up, [[RuleOfFunny but hey]] - there's still weirder stuff in the actual ''Literature/KamaSutra''.
* ContinuityNod:
** Catch is the main villain in Christopher Moore's first book, ''Practical Demon Keeping'', in which a man summons the demon and then can't figure out how to get rid of him. There's even a mention that the demon said he'd been to Earth before, but refused to say how he'd been banished.
** Raziel is later an important character in ''Literature/TheStupidestAngel''
* CovertPervert: Matthew the tax collector can't help but stare at any woman who passes by. He's convinced to become an apostle when he realizes he can snag one of Josh's groupies.
* CrazyHomelessPeople: The apostle Bartholomew, or Bart to his friends. Later turns out to be less crazy than he appears; he's homeless by choice because he's trying to live by the example of the philosopher Diogenes.
* DeconstructorFleet on Literature/TheBible (played more for laughs than anything else)
* DeadpanSnarker[=/=]FirstPersonSmartass: Biff, who ''invents the concept of sarcasm.''
* DemonicPossession: Played straight first, then subverted when Maggie fakes this to make her horrible husband want to leave her.
* TheDitz: Raziel
* DragonLady: Biff claims that Joy, who uses dragons in her symbology after striking out on her own, is the UrExample.
* DumbBlonde: Again, Raziel. Biff at one point says the angel is the reason humanity has "dumb blonde" jokes.
* {{Epigraph}}: Each chapter is headed by one.
* ExcrementStatement:
** At one point during her and Biff's battle with the demon Catch, Joy pisses on the monster's head, just to bait him.
** As Maggie is faking demonic possession in order to get out of her marriage to Jakan, she takes the opportunity to urinate all over his stuff.
* ExoticEquipment: Hinted at: Raziel confirms that yes, some angels are male and some female, and yes, they have sex, but apparently the necessary parts have to be attached first...
-->'''Raziel''': I don't have it with me.
* ForegoneConclusion: There is a whole religion based around Joshua's fate.
* HappilyEverAfter: Biff, [[spoiler:after finding out that Maggie has also been resurrected to add ''her'' Gospel to canon]].
* HaveIMentionedIAmHeterosexualToday: Yes, John, you have. No, John, you're not.
* ItWillNeverCatchOn:
** Joshua's opinion of this "sarcasm" thing Biff invented (at least at first, before Josh starts using it in ways Biff never intended, i.e., against him). Other noteworthy ones include matches and the concept of gravity.
** Likewise, Biff's name for a big barrier used to keep some barbarians out: The Ostentatious and Unpleasant Wall Of China. Joshua suggests asking if they named it yet in case Biff wants to submit it.
* HeterosexualLifePartners: Biff and Josh
* HiddenDepths: Biff, majorly. He formulates rough theories of biological evolution and gravity (both of which Joshua finds [[ItWillNeverCatchOn really implausible]]), but would much rather fool around with girls.
%%** Also Bart
* HurricaneOfPuns: A lot of them, but one stand-out is the MartialPacifist example below.
* JerkWithAHeartOfGold: Biff.
* JerkassGods: While Josh is cool, his dad's reaction to his pleading for humanity is "Fuck 'em".
* JesusTheEarlyYears: The book is all about this. "Josh" travels to India, China, and The Middle East to visit TheThreeWiseMen, where they in turn teach Jesus one different facet of his later teachings. (In the afterword, Moore is specific in mentioning that Buddhism didn't reach China in the lifetime of Jesus. For him to study under a Buddha in Tibet would have been anachronistic.)
** In the afterword, Moore mentions researching apocrypha dealing with Josh's/Jesus's/Yeshua's early life. Some stories even he had to pass on, such as child Jesus terrorizing and ''murdering'' children.
* JesusWasCrazy: A corner case. Jesus isn't crazy (and in fact is portrayed as closer to CrazyAwesome) but he's distracted enough by the whole Son of God thing that he comes off as a bit loopy.
* JesusWasWayCool: Basically the whole point of the book, along with...
* KungFuJesus / MartialPacifist: Biff and Josh are taught kung fu during their travels, but Joshua [[TechnicalPacifist refuses to learn the bits which involve weapons]], and indeed any direct violence at all. Instead he pioneers a totally reactive martial art which would forever be known as "the way of the Jew," or "''[[IncrediblyLamePun Jew do]]''".
** In the afterward, Moore goes on to explain all the anachronisms involved with this sequence, and then explains that he chose to disregard them because of how awesome this trope is.
* LovableSexManiac: Biff
* LoveTriangle: Biff [=--->=] Maggie [=--->=] Josh
* MustHaveCaffeine: At the Antioch market Josh and Biff discovered a man selling some hot black drink, which later become their favorite when in the Balthasar's fortress.
-->"He was hugging his coffee beans and mumbling to himself as he had for the whole trip. Praying, I presume."
* NoodleImplements: This novel provides one of the page quotes.
* OddNameOut: All of Balthasar's concubines have long and elaborate names, often regarding their occupation (for instance, "Tiny Feet of the Divine Dance of Joyous Orgasm," who for obvious reasons just goes by "Joy")... Except for the last one: "Sue (short for Susanna)".[[spoiler: A subversion, too, since Joy, not Susannah, lives through the following disaster.]]
* OhAndXDies: When Biff finally gets the key to open the big scary door...[[spoiler: he has an adorable exchange with one of Balthasar's concubines...and mentions that was the last time he ever saw her in one piece.]]
* OffstageWaitingRoom: Most of the novel takes place during the "lost years" of Ieshua of Nazareth; his actual ministry only takes up the last third or quarter of the book.
* PalsWithJesus: Obviously, in the title.
* PekingDuckChristmas: Biff claims that they started this tradition - eating chinese food on Josh's birthday.
* PingPongNaivete: Biff goes back and forth from being dangerously street wise and being a complete idiot.
* ReasonableAuthorityFigure: Gaius [[MeaningfulName Justus]] Gallicus, a centurion captain in Nazareth. He bears no particular prejudice or hatred for Jews, just reminds them that in Roman colonies there are two rules: pay your taxes, and don't revolt.
* RefugeInAudacity: Basically the whole vibe of the novel, along with...
* RuleOfCool and RuleOfFunny. The author even invokes it - history will just have to suffer a bit to answer the age-old question of "What if Jesus knew Kung Fu?"
* TheShangriLa: One of the three Wise Men lives here, complete with a Yeti, who is the LastOfHisKind...which in itself is deconstructed when Josh, FriendToAllLivingThings that he is, befriends said yeti...
** Also subverted as the monastery is described as incredibly cold, and generally not a fun place to live.
* ShamingTheMob: "Let he who is without sin..." (Josh himself is played completely straight in this scene, and in fact in most of the book; it's Biff who provides most of the silliness...mostly. Josh gets some good ones in as well.)
* ShownTheirWork: Moore's depiction of life in Palestine is reasonably historically accurate. He also includes an appendix in which he admits his deviations from known history on grounds of RuleOfDrama and RuleOfFunny.
* StacysMom: Biff's crush on Josh's mom, Mary.
* StupidSexyFlanders:
** Biff, tackling Raziel, shouting, "''I have not been laid in two thousand years!!!''"
** There's also that time that Biff asked to see Raziel's, err, equipment...
* TheLegionsOfHell:
** Legion himselves show up, to be banished into some pigs and drowned...which causes some unpleasantness. Turns out Gentiles don't like it when you slaughter their livestock wholesale...
** The demon Catch.
* TheThreeWiseMen: Balthasar, Gaspar and Melchior. Joshua sets out to find them and learn what is to be the Messiah.
* TwoGuysAndAGirl: Joshua, Biff and Maggie play up some parts of this trope.
* TokenEvilTeammate Biff is a downplayed version of this. He's not evil, but unlike Josh he's more than willing to lie, cheat, and even use deadly force when necessary. Biff summed it up himself when asked why such a jerkass follows the Messiah.

--> ''"If I was basking in the light of his holiness all of the time, how would I take care of him? Who would do all of his lying and cheating for him?"''

** There's also the fact that Biff is the only "good" character to threaten to kill people. And after Josh is crucified he [[spoiler:immediately tracks down Judas and LYNCHES HIM before committing suicide.]]
* UncannyFamilyResemblance[=/=]FamousAncestor: There's a slight implication that the Emperor of San Francisco from ''Literature/BloodsuckingFiends'' and ''Literature/ADirtyJob'' might be Bartholomew's descendant, considering both are huge, bearded homeless men accompanied by dogs and completely happy with the way they live, not to mention, well... [[CrazyHomelessPeople they seem crazy]] (or [[TheCuckoolanderWasRight do they?]]). Or maybe Bart is just an Expy...
* UnstoppableRage: Biff towards Judas. Followed immediately by a DespairEventHorizon.
* ValuesDissonance: Invoked - Josh's "drive the demon Legion into the pigs and drown them" miracle doesn't go over so well when the onlookers are a) Gentiles and b) the ''owners'' of said pigs. As it was, TorchesAndPitchforks were involved.
-->'''Joshua:''' What? If they were Jews, it would have gone over great. I'm new at Gentiles.
* VitriolicBestBuds: Josh and Biff are a mild case at best, but the shades of it get truly meaningful when the reader realizes that Biff is the ''only'' person Josh can be human with - the only one he will even lie to.
* WalkOnWater:
** Another good example of how Moore both pokes fun at Literature/TheBible and plays it straight. Peter takes one step and goes straight in. Josh teases him for being dumb as a rock, but also praises him for the strength of his faith, claiming, "On this rock..."
** Also played with earlier in the book when Biff would ride on his elephant's head while it swam fully underwater. He claimed to be walking on water.
* YoureNotMyFather: Used by Josh against Joseph in an early scene, with MeaningfulEcho in reverse later.