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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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. What would it require for a person to live all the commandments of the Bible for an entire year? That is the question that animates this hilarious, quixotic, thought-provoking memoir from Jacobs (The Know-It-All). He didn't just keep the Bible's better-known moral laws (being honest, tithing to charity and trying to curb his lust), but also the obscure and unfathomable ones: not mixing wool with linen in his clothing; calling the days of the week by their ordinal numbers to avoid voicing the names of pagan gods; trying his hand at a 10-string harp; growing a ZZ Top beard; eating crickets; and paying the babysitter in cash at the end of each work day. (He considered some rules, such as killing magicians, too legally questionable to uphold.) In his attempts at living the Bible to the letter, Jacobs hits the road in highly entertaining fashion to meet other literalists, including Samaritans in Israel, snake handlers in Appalachia, Amish in Lancaster County, Pa., and biblical creationists in Kentucky. Throughout his journey, Jacobs comes across as a generous and thoughtful (and, yes, slightly neurotic) participant observer, lacing his story with absurdly funny cultural commentary as well as nuanced insights into the impossible task of biblical literalism. (Oct.)
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Jacobs does projects, not just books. For The Know-It-All (2004), he read the entire Encyclopaedia Britannica. For the follow-up, he tried for a year to observe the Bible's 700-odd rules for righteous behavior. He let his beard grow, wore only garments made of unmixed fibers, prayed regularly, essayed biblical disciplining (short of the physical) of his two-year-old son, and practiced the purity laws: no sex for awhile after his wife menstruated; no shaking hands; lots of washing; not eating this and eating that; et cetera ad infinitum, it seems. Informally counseled throughout by a clatch of Jewish and Christian advisors, he also queried members of such strict sects as the Amish, the Samaritans, and snake-handling Pentecostals. He maintained his staff-writer chores at Esquire and his domestic responsibilities, and he became the father of twins during the long experiment, which he reports in a continuum of journal-like summaries. If he starts out sounding like an interminable Ira Glass monologue, smarmy and name-dropping, he becomes much less off-putting as the year progresses, for he develops a serious conscience about such quotidian failings as self-centeredness, lying, swearing, and disparaging others. He may not be, he may never become, a moral giant, but he certainly seems to be a nicer guy. Olson, RaySee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
When I started reading this book, I wasn't sure what to expect but I was intrigued by the concept and I had to find out more. From the start, I found this book incredibly interesting and really easy to read, despite it being a work of non-fiction. Jacobs has a witty and fun way with words which kept me amused and informed at the same time. His anecdotes are always humorous and in keeping with important themes that he discusses in the book.
Jacobs does a great job of addressing misconceptions found in the Bible and lending explanations to the seemingly bizarre commandments that are seldom understood or even contemplated. While it is difficult to remain completely objective when exploring topics like religion, Jacobs approaches each experience with an open mind and an open heart with just the right amount of inevitable skepticism.
"The Year of Living Biblically" is very funny and yet simultaneously insightful. Because Jacobs gained a great deal from this quest, readers will too. I really appreciated the respectful way he addressed the laws of the Bible and tried to show their greater purpose and meaning.
This book is required reading for anyone, no matter what your beliefs, there is something each and every person can learn from this thought-provoking book.
Most recent customer reviews
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... Read morePublished on April 18 2014 by judith flynn
I don't know where the humor is supposed to be in this book. At day 50 it was so boring I put it in the recycle bin! Waste of time and money; don't buy it.Published on April 6 2013 by Spider
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. Read morePublished on Jan. 18 2013 by C8 Sparrow
"The Year of Living Biblically" is A.J. Jacobs' documentation of his adventure with religion. He lives a year of his life trying to follow as many rules in the Bible as literally... Read morePublished on Jan. 4 2013 by TorontoGirl007
As someone that has never read the bible, but considers themselves a believer nonetheless, I was simply amazed by the honesty and commitment that A.J. Read morePublished on Oct. 12 2012 by Natasha Cooper
I'm nearing the end of the book but couldn't wait to post a brief review of it.
I am agnostic and on the continuum between theist and atheist, I lean more towards the... Read more
I'm an atheist, so I probably wouldn't have been offended if AJ had been harder on and more ridiculing of all the rules he had to follow. But I'm glad he didn't. Read morePublished on Jan. 8 2012 by Anne Harris
This book, without a doubt, delivers exactly what you're looking for when purchasing a memoir from a humourist. There is absolutely nothing lacking...except more pages. Read morePublished on Aug. 17 2010 by S. Jager
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