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The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible Paperback – September 9, 2008
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Amazon Best of the Month, September 2007: Make no mistake: A.J. Jacobs is not a religious man. He describes himself as Jewish "in the same way the Olive Garden is an Italian restaurant." Yet his latest work, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible, is an insightful and hilarious journey for readers of all faiths. Though no fatted calves were harmed in the making of this book, Jacobs chronicles 12 months living a remarkably strict Biblical life full of charity, chastity, and facial hair as impressive as anything found in The Lord of the Rings. Through it all, he manages to brilliantly keep things light, while avoiding the sinful eye of judgment. --Dave Callanan
Subtitled: "One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible," Jacobs, or A.J., as his two-year-old son calls him, does just that. It is likely that no one but A.J. Jacobs could have accomplished such a feat. After all, his last book, The Know-It-All, chronicles his reading of the entire Encyclopedia Brittanica, from A to Z. No one but a smart, witty, self-deprecating, nitpicky kinda guy would undertake two such daunting tasks, and complete them with grace, no pun intended.
Jacobs, a New York Jewish agnostic, decides to follow the laws and rules of the Bible, beginning with the Old Testament, for one year. (He actually adds some bonus days and makes it a 381-day year.) He starts by growing a beard and we are with him through every itchy moment. Jacobs is borderline OCD, at least as he describes himself; obsessing over possible dangers to his son, germs, literal interpretation of Bible verses, etc. He enlists the aid of counselors along the way; Jewish rabbis, Christians of every stripe, friends and neighbors.
In an open-minded way he also visits with atheists, Evangelicals Concerned (a gay group), Jerry Falwell, snake handlers, Red Letter Christians--those who adhere to the red letters in the Bible, those words spoken by Jesus Himself, and even takes a trip to Israel and meets Samaritans. Through it all, he keeps a healthy skepticism, but continues to pray and is open to the flowering of real faith. Jacobs is a knowledge junky, to be sure. He enjoys the lore he picks up along the way as much as any other aspect of his experiment. One of the ongoing schticks is his meeting with the shatnez tester, Mr. Berkowitz. He is the one who determines whether or not your clothes are made of mixed fibers, in keeping with the Biblical injunction not to wear wool and linen together. The two become friends and prayer partners, in only one of the unexpected results of this year.
In the end, he says, "I'm now a reverent agnostic. Which isn't an oxymoron, I swear. I now believe that whether or not there's a God, there is such a thing as sacredness. Life is sacred." Not a bad outcome. --Valerie Ryan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
With the Bible in hand, Jacobs sets off to spend a year attempting to follow the innumerous laws of Scripture in order to achieve the supposed claim of fundamentalists who say the Bible should be taken literally. Many obstacles stand in the way of this Jewish Manhattan father with a wife expecting twins by year's end. Through his journey, Jacobs does experience a spiritual awakening of sorts that reminds him of the importance of religion. He also reveals the scriptural selectiveness practiced by even the most zealous fundamentalists. While the abridgment generally works in providing listeners with the highlights of Jacobs's year, there are times when it seems to refer to material not covered in the audio. Sometimes too, the entries are too abrupt or trimmed. Jacobs reads the audiobook with adequate tone, speed and emphasis. While his soft nasal voice isn't particularly compelling, what he has to say about his adventures in living biblically will certainly keep people listening.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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In general, Jacobs' account is humorous and light-hearted. In many cases, he reminded me that if one is going to study the Bible, it is best to go about the process with a group of people so as to better understand the scriptures. Multiple times, I discovered I have been interpreting the Bible incorrectly and as though I'd never even hear of Judaism or Christianity before. As a result, Jacobs' book encouraged me to seek assistance and truly reflect on passages I read from the Bible. I thoroughly encourage people of any belief to read Jacobs' account as it is a laugh-out-loud reporting of one man's mission to take seriously the scriptures of his ancestors.
The author has a terrific sense of humor so this is what makes this book a fun read, i blew through the 300 pages quickly as the narrative is essentially a diary of his year and his life with kids and a wife and a writing career while applying these religious principles.
The book is not biased, is certainly not an attempt to convert followers, but is rather a nice mediation on how much modern life occurs without much thought to things that have religious basis and those that don't or perhaps violate religious prohibitions - mixed fibers - who knew?
I really enjoyed reading through the book, and it made me think about lots of things. A very worthwhile read if you have the slightest interest.
I loved this book! I rarely read non-fiction books for pleasure, but I took a leap of faith and put this one on my Kindle. A.J. Jacobs kept me hanging in there from the first page. He put me through all levels of emotion as I read the book.
As a Christian who struggles constantly with what exactly the Bible is trying to tell me, I really felt the author's questions and appreciated all his research. I finished the book with a better understanding of the Bible although still full of questions - which I know many will follow me to the day I die.
I laughed a lot while reading this book. I applaud the author's extent of research, the many experts he had to help him on his journey, his honesty, and his wherewithal (and his family's) to finish his year of living biblically.
One of my new favorite books that I will be recommending to many.