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The Year of Living Biblically Audiobook

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

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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

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  •  
    KP Oakland, CA 12-14-11
    KP Oakland, CA 12-14-11 Member Since 2016

    There is no Frigate like a Book To take us Lands away Nor any Coursers like a Page Of prancing Poetry – Emily Dickinson

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Better than I thought..."

    I ended up enjoying this book and getting some good insights to think about, actually. I have to admit that I did listen to the abridged version, since it was the only audio version available. I usually hate abridgements, but I just didn't think I could handle the 400+ pages on this topic. I was only reading it for my book club, after all! So, then the fact that I enjoyed it was a bonus, and I was happily surprised. There is a 1 hour talk available that the author gave about his experience, too; I may listen to that as well before the book club!

    One of the things I liked about the book is that the author has a great sense of humor combined with some great insights. Sense of humor: He introduces his Jewish family by saying they aren't very religious at all; they are Jewish in the same way the The Olive Garden is an Italian restaurant. I liked his insights from his Biblical year, too. One chapter is "Love keeps no record of wrongs." Then he goes on to describe a list he has kept of various little arguments he's had with his wife and when HE was RIGHT and she was wrong. He decides that he will admit it to his wife and then destroy the journal. He tells his wife and asks if she's mad. She says no and laughs, saying it was just so heartbreaking that he needed this list. I liked his wife; he uses examples of her a lot.

    He started the book saying he wanted to explore Biblical literalism since millions of people say they take the Bible literally. By the end, he comes up with a food metaphor to sort of summarize his year. The term "cafeteria Christianity", he says, is a derisive term that fundamentalist Christians use to criticize moderate Christians, saying you shouldn't pick and choose from the Bible but should follow it all. Fundamentalist Jews say the same thing about the Torah, he says. A.J. Jacobs says that what his year showed him is that EVERYONE practices cafeteria religion, moderates and fundamentalists, because it would be impossible to keep everything on your plate. Otherwise they'd kick women out of church for saying hello ("The women should keep silence in the churches for they are not permitted to speak." I Corinthian2 14:34) or boot out men for talking about the Tennessee Titans ("Make no mention of the names of other Gods." Exodus 23:13) So he learned that there is nothing wrong with choosing. They key is choosing the right dishes from the cafeteria. You need to pick the nurturing ones - compassion, the healthy ones - love thy neighbor - NOT the bitter ones.

    I guess I feel like it doesn't take living Biblically for a year to figure this out, BUT is was funny, insightful, and somewhat inspriational to read this, so I'm glad he did it (and not I! )

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris McMillon Dallas, Tx 01-30-08
    Chris McMillon Dallas, Tx 01-30-08 Member Since 2014
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    "A wonderful story"

    Both educational and fun, this story is pleasent to listen to and very addicting. Great to listen to in snippets.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Holowiski Calgary, Alberta Canada 12-18-07
    David Holowiski Calgary, Alberta Canada 12-18-07 Member Since 2016
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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 2017
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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 Member Since 2017
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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 2015
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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
  •  
    Amazon Customer 05-23-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Determination"

    loved it.Its4am and I just finished audible .Unclean! Sassy wife ,not afraid to laugh at self.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott G Haller Mar Vista, CA United States 03-19-17
    Scott G Haller Mar Vista, CA United States 03-19-17 Member Since 2011
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    "Enjoyable thoughtful approach to a central text"

    I chose this book for Lenten exploration.

    It raised interesting thoughts and questions about the many rules the various scriptures lay out and how different people choose to live by them.

    The author has an honest voice and his lack of actorly polish conveys the openness of his quest about whether this level of faithfulness can result in a good life.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marty Hale 01-22-17
    Marty Hale 01-22-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Fun light read good for Old Testament but blew off New Testament"

    See above really dissed the New Testament but great on the Old Testament. A fun listen tho

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Baron Cruelty 01-12-17 Member Since 2015
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    "AJ Has Done It Again!"

    I loved this book easily as much as I did his Know It All book. His relatable style and clever use of day to day interaction makes this as enjoyable as any novel. I would recommend this title to anyone who is looking to get some perspective on their own questions of faith and religion or anyone who enjoys the heroes journey. AJ does a great job of reading his own work too, so many times an author will read his own book and you'll love the work but, the authors voice is annoying, not so with AJ.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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