This work of fiction talks about Jesus' "lost years", as told by his childhood best friend. The story of Jesus' lost years, as told by his childhood best friend. Levi bar Alphaeus, also known as Biff, is resurrected by an angel named Raziel in the 20th Century and tasked with writing the account of his time with Joshua bar Joseph, later known as Jesus.
Raziel checks Biff and himself into a hotel and until the writing is done will not tell him anything about the ultimate fate of his friends or the outside world, not will he permit Biff to leave. Resigned, Biff tells the story of his life in Biblical Judea, growing up alongside Joshua and of their early friendship with Mary Magdalene.
As children, Biff and Joshua are close friends, playing together and fighting off bullies. Joshua's mother tells people he is the Messiah, but most think she is insane. Biff witnesses Joshua's early miracles, but knowing how much danger he will be in if the Roman's find out about him, he tries to make Joshua keep a low profile.
When their life is disrupted by the forced betrothal of their friend Mary Magdalene, Joshua decides to seek out the three wise men that attended his birth, in order to learn more about himself and the meaning of his incarnation. Biff is skeptical but very loyal, so they set off together following the few clues they have about the wise men.
They find the first, Balthasar, in a hidden desert fortress. Balhtasar is immortal and in possession of mystical secrets, and he takes Joshua on as a student. Biff spends his time learning from the resident concubines instead, in what will become a pattern for their travels. The boys have the run of the palace except for one iron door, which they are forbidden to open. After years there Biff finally gives in to temptation and figures out how to open it, releasing a creature which was the source of Balthasar's power and longevity. On his deathbed Balthasar tells the boys they can find the second magi, Gaspar, in China.
They travel to Tibet and find Gaspar in a monastery where they spend years learning about Buddhism, yoga, and martial arts. Joshua becomes a high level practitioner and even makes contact with the last of the Yeti, a supremely compassionate creature with whom he bonds until its death. After this Gaspar declares them ready to move on and sends them to the last wise man, Melchior, who lives in India.
With Melchior Joshua learns to multiply grains of rice, and forms of meditation. He spends his days on a cliff side with the yogi while Biff prefers the town life with a beautiful woman. They remain there until a vision of Mary prompts their return home.
Adults now, and having studies under the wisest of men the two return home, and once there Joshua begins his ministry.
Best scene in story:
When Biff, Joshua, and Mary reunite after they return. The boys have to be clever in order to rescue her during a tense dinner party, and the results are very funny.
Opinion about the main character:
Biff can be a bit much at times, with the author trying to be a bit too clever, but overall he is a good goofy character that humanizes the larger than life events around him.