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The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible Hardcover – Deckle Edge, Oct 9 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1 edition (Oct. 9 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743291476
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743291477
  • Product Dimensions: 2.9 x 16.5 x 23.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 680 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #132,802 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Peter Cantelon TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 7 2008
Format: Hardcover
The book is Jacobs' journal of his attempt to follow the Bible as literally as possible. He documented more than 700 rules in the Hebrew and Christian bible. As a pastor you can imagine why I needed to read this. Jacobs starts his Biblical journey (as I started mine as reader) as a bit of a skeptic. He describes himself as a secular Jew but says "...I'm Jewish in the same way the Olive Garden is an Italian restaurant." A self-described agnostic - religion, the Bible and God had not taken up a lot of thought room in his life up to this point.

Jacob's research is very well done. He does not simply read the Bible but draws upon over a hundred Jewish and Christian resources as well as creating and regularly seeking the counsel of a spiritual advisory board made up of conservative and liberal rabbis, mainline and evangelical pastors. His bibliogrpahy is neither staunchly left or right but a mix of both and the middle. I especially appreciated a referance to Dennis Covington's fantastic book Salvation on Sand Mountain (which I have also read) and Jacobs' own visit to Appalachia. He also variously speaks to Tony Campolo, Ken Ham (Answers in Genesis), an Amish innkeeper, as well as visits Jerry Falwell's church, and several Bible study groups that cover the spectrum from conservative to liberal, etc. You get the idea.

The insights that Jacobs has into religion, the Bible, God and believers in general are quite incredible. Many of them are very affirming for me as a pastor and a Christ follower. As a believer, one cannot, no matter how hard one tries, fully put themselves into the shoes of a non-believer and see what they see or understand as they understand so the book does a great service in this sense.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on Dec 29 2007
Format: Hardcover
AJ has written a remarkable book that transforms himself and the reader into a diverse perspective of strict religious life in a secular world of New York City. Similar to John Howard Griffin's Black Like Me,The Year of Living Biblically doesn't just observe a culture that he isn't part of but fully becomes part of that culture. The modern day saying, rules are made to be broken, don't apply here.

The Year of Living Biblically is written in a wonderful humours and intelligent style. Working on a subject that could have many cheap shots, AJ shows the read that he is a much better person and writer then that. Practicing biblical laws in today's world can be a difficult thing to do. Some are so bizarre one has to ask; 'What were they think of?' AJ and his panel of advisor's make a good case for their original uses and why they're practiced by many today.
The hard liner fundamentalist and atheist maybe disappointed in The Year of Living Biblically. There is no silver bullet for either side. Not to give the book away, but for me the open-minded person will come away with a stronger understanding of an ancient mind set and how and why it was applied their religion.

The reader may also come away with some new habits. I now put my right shoe on then my left, then tie my left then my right shoe. Read the book to find out why.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By C8 Sparrow on Jan. 18 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book on a beach in Los Cabos Mexico. What a delightful find and perfect for a holiday read. It was thoughtful, enlightening and laugh-out-loud funny. I not only learned a lot about the Bible, I also became more self aware. It made me consider my own behaviour in relationship to the Ten Commandments. A. J. Jacobs is a wonderful writer, and an adept storyteller. And his wife must be a saint.

Don't miss out. It'll surprise you. I promise.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is an extremely well-written account of a spiritual journey that was fully and carefully researched, and included consultation with a wide spectrum of advisors before the writer set out on his quest. The book could have been a mere stunt: “look at me; aren’t I funny? Aren’t these fundamentalist interpretations of the scripture both quaint and ridiculous? And aren’t those who adhere to them either stupid or wilfully blind?”

Instead, while the author has written a book that is indeed often very funny (cf. stoning an adulterer), it is written with such humility and generosity that it never becomes condescending or patronizing to those whose views the author cannot share (i.e. creationists, Hasidic Jews.) He is somewhat less generous, and rightfully so, to those who exploit the credulity of other to enrich themselves--the Jerry Fallwells of this world.

A. J. Jacobs is Jewish but what he has to say is relevant to any person struggling with belief. A wise man told him not to expect to be the same person at the end of his year as he was at the beginning, and a note at the end of a later book about carrying out various projects,) which I also enjoyed, confirms that. He describes himself now as “a reverent agnostic”. Not a bad place to be--but probably, considering his relative youth, his inquisitive nature, and the moments of transcendence he experienced as a child and adolescent, not his final position.

As a practicing (I’m still learning) liberal Episcopalian, I’ve been recommending this book to many members of the parish to which I belong.
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