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The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible | [A. J. Jacobs]

The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible

Our fearless author, A. J. Jacobs, tackles a new intellectual adventure, an exploration of the most influential book in the world: the Bible. He determined that the best way to explore the Bible was to live it, as literally as possible. For one year.
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Publisher's Summary

After his hilarious chronicle about reading the Encyclopedia Britannica from A to Z (actually a-ak to zyweic), our fearless author, A. J. Jacobs, tackles a new intellectual adventure, an exploration of the most influential book in the world: the Bible. He determined the best way to explore the Bible was to live it, as literally as possible. For one year.

There are 700 rules in the Old and New Testaments, A. J. discovered - some wise, some general, some contradictory. Some from Jesus, some from prophets, some from God. A. J. assembled a board of spiritual advisors: rabbis, ministers, and priests, some conservative, some of them "one four-letter word away from excommunication", who would provide guidance and advice throughout his journey. But the journey was, by necessity, arbitrary. DIY religion.

In The Year of Living Biblically, A. J. explores the Bible chronologically, from the Old Testament (crucial, given the 10 Commandments) to the New Testament (crucial, given America's powerful evangelical movement and its literal interpretation of the Bible) and lives the Bible on every level. He obeys the 10 Commandments, he is fruitful and multiplies (A. J.'s wife had twins during his year!); he remembers the Sabbath and keeps it holy. But he also obeys the oft-neglected rules, such as avoiding clothes of mixed fibers and refraining from shaving the edges of his beard (Leviticus 19:27). So, throughout the year, A. J. is commonly mistaken for a member of ZZ Top. Or Moses.

This is a look at religion today through one man's totally arbitrary, deeply funny, journey. In A. J.'s hands, The Year of Living Biblically is also fascinating and irresistible.

©2007 A. J. Jacobs; (P)2007 Simon and Schuster Inc.

What the Critics Say

"[A] hilarious, quixotic, thought-provoking memoir." (Publishers Weekly)
"A.J. Jacobs has written a - how else to put it? - Good Book. Let me take my review from the original, Psalm 2, verse 4: 'He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh.'" (P. J. O'Rourke)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (424 )
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  •  
    David Holowiski Calgary, Alberta Canada 12-18-07
    David Holowiski Calgary, Alberta Canada 12-18-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent"

    This is a great book. It (literally) made me cry. You don't have to be religious to enjoy this book - actually it's probably better if you aren't.
    Gets a little bit preachy at the end but you're well prepared for it...
    The only negative is that the author narrates the book, but he just isn't that great. A better narrator would have made this a 5 star easy. But after a while you get lost in the story and the narrator dissapears.
    Highly reccomended.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris Long Beach, CA, USA 11-13-07
    Chris Long Beach, CA, USA 11-13-07 Member Since 2005
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    "Funny, insightful, balanced"

    My wife and I listened to this audiobook from start to finish and enjoyed every minute of it. Jacobs is a talented writer with a gift for obsessively thorough research and deceptively simple writing. He knows his stuff and he's smart enough to hold his cards close to his chest.

    The book follows the author through a year of literal Biblical living. He stones adulterers, avoids direct contact with women, sacrifices animals, keeps the Sabbath holy and so on. When tackling a number of sensitive and downright mind-boggling commandments, Jacobs' sense of humor proves to be the real savior here. His clear thinking, honesty and humor make "The Year of Living Biblically" an important document on both modern Biblical integration as well as the history of religious thinking and practice.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. Ward St Catharines Ontario 10-28-07
    C. Ward St Catharines Ontario 10-28-07
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    "A Wasted effort"

    I found this book very weak, and rather than an interesting look at the bible and what it might actually teach via the bible , or an funny look at Christianity, I found a book that was more akin to a bar bet (see Brian Zembic) , the author is continually opting out of items he "is just not comfortable with" including apparently the whole of the new testament, which is covered in about 2 minutes, wherein he states he isn't comfortable dealing with the figure Jesus, so pretty much opts out of the whole of the new testament. I found the book to be full of cop outs, and just generally weak.

    Thankfully it is blessedly short.

    11 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Shelton, WA, USA 09-23-09
    Mark Shelton, WA, USA 09-23-09 Member Since 2005
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    "Interesting but disappointing"

    This book was only OK for me. I was hoping to get a perspective of what it might mean to follow the Bible as literally as possible. This book did that for me...sort of.

    For many of the obscure biblical laws, there was simply no explanation for the laws other than they were commanded by God. It seems we simply are not meant to know why.

    There were two disappointing aspects of this book for me:

    1) With the exception of the author's trip to Jerry Falwell's church and a short discussion with one of his pastors, there really was no treatment of the New Testament. The author did grasp the question of whether living the New Testament was genuine if one did not accept Jesus as one's personal Savior. I don't think there was an adequate attempt to answer the question.

    2) It was more an expose of Orthodox Jewish culture and tradition and its relationship to the Old Testament biblical law than anything else.

    These points aside I do think it provide credibility to understanding and interpreting the Bible from its cultural and historical context.

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rian Coloma 07-06-14
    Rian Coloma 07-06-14
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    "Very Inspiring"
    Would you listen to The Year of Living Biblically again? Why?

    Yeah, its quite uplifting and would be good for a pick me up.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    His Transformation


    Any additional comments?

    Great listen! I would highly suggest it

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 04-25-14

    ZEN. LDS. GTD. FTW.

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    "Entertaining but Dumb"

    AJ's Jacobs "Year of Living Biblically" walks the razor-thin line between polite respect and mockery. Although he dresses and plays the part of a religious person, he refuses to 'let go and let God' (as the Christian saying goes).

    Despite how shallow the book is, there were some interesting nuggets here and there and I did hang on to the end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charles Pitcairn, PA, United States 01-30-14
    Charles Pitcairn, PA, United States 01-30-14 Member Since 2013

    Unabashed Progressive Christian seeking to learn, not preach.

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    "Great, thought provoking book"
    Where does The Year of Living Biblically rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    One of my favorites


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Very thought provoking book. What would it be like if we tried to live our lives according to all the rules of the Old and New Testaments? AA Jacobs, an avowed non religious agnostic, shows how difficult, downright impossible, and how delightfully rewarding some of the rules can be when really looked at. Well written, enjoyable read (listen). Honest. He still remains an agnostic at the end, which is a refreshing honesty.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Zachary 12-05-12
    Zachary 12-05-12
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    "Did he really give it his honest shot?"
    What did you like best about The Year of Living Biblically? What did you like least?

    There are some learnable lessons for anyone who considers themselves religious.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    Jacobs made a lot of excuses that poorly reflected on his validity.


    Did A. J. Jacobs do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

    The characters were him and his family, with the occasional interview, so yes.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    Probably not, though apparently it might be happening.


    Any additional comments?

    Entertaining - yes. At times because it is a joke. I'm glad he was changed, but so much more was possible.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeff Ostrander, OH, United States 08-20-12
    Jeff Ostrander, OH, United States 08-20-12
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    "Did he read the Bible before he started?"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    Yes, A.J. Jacobs is a very good narrator. I was continually anxious for what would be next.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    I don't remember the fellows name, the guy that helped him keep grounded in the Jewish Faith and all of it's twists.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Passover dinner.


    Did The Year of Living Biblically inspire you to do anything?

    No. I am a Born again Christian, I continually waited for A.J. to be inspired by the life of Jesus and the New Testament and find Jesus himself. What happened? He cut his beard and left his robe behind and became the same person he was before he started. As it turned out for A.J. the year was a "project" for a book and not something life altering that Jesus went to the Cross for.


    Any additional comments?

    I am glad that I spent the time with A.J. Jacobs. I do wish that he would understand that living biblically after the crucifixion of Jesus changed greatly. After Jesus died on the cross we must accept Him as the Messiah born of a virgin and ask Him to forgive our sins and the Trinity fills in where all of the "do this at this time" was in ancient" Trinity--Father,Son,Holy Spirit.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    PAOLA CORTEGLIA, Switzerland 06-18-12
    PAOLA CORTEGLIA, Switzerland 06-18-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Maybe a professional narrator..."

    Maybe a professional narrator would have added that little more pizzazz to this peculiar story. Even if based entirely on the author personal experience, I feel that having him read the story rather than a narrator has taken something away from the pleasure of listening to it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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