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.
"[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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
I have been a Christian forever but I have never studied the whole Bible. The Old Testament was always a mystery to me. AJ Jacobs made many of the old laws and traditions understandable with tasteful humor and admirable knowledge.
This is a fun little book on a heavy duty topic. I really enjoyed the various perspectives on why some people adhere to the Old Testament rules. I listened to this book mostly on headphones in public places and at several points I found myself having to explain my sudden outbursts of uncontrollable laughter to surrounding bus riders/grocery shoppers. That being said, the silly parts are pretty much where you expect them to be and the attempts at poignancy feel a little bit like the wrap up of an episode of Wonder Years or Full House.
If you're on the fence, you should probably go ahead and listen to this book. It gets sort of lame at the end, but the first three quarters are worth twelve bucks.
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