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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.

Critic Reviews

"[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 Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Give thanks!

Fun book to read! He literally lives Biblically for a year and I cannot help but laugh at some of the "rules". Left giving thanks for the small things.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Charles
  • Pitcairn, PA, United States
  • 01-30-14

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.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

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.

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  • Jeff
  • Ostrander, OH, United States
  • 08-20-12

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.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • PAOLA
  • CORTEGLIA, Switzerland
  • 06-18-12

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.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Interesting and sincere take on the bible

As a former Catholic now atheist coming to terms with my new world view I'm trying to understand the viewpoints that are different than mine. As part of a long term plan to read the the bible at some point in the future for myself, this book was wonderfully insightful into the bible and the implementation of its teachings by people of various sects. Much of the discussion of religion from an atheist point of view in print or documentary films amounts "haha, look at those idiots" which I find useless. Although it is not a path I choose I want to understand this book that continues to impact our human history and how those who follow it pick and choose on their own.

Particularly insightful was the view in Haddism (sp?) and how everyone is a cafeteria believer (they pick and choose which part of the bible they follow), and that the height of that selectivity is that in Christians picking passages from the old testament while largely viewing it as "overwritten" by Christ's death.

The one caveat to this book is that this immersion project could only be undertaken this successfully by a man given the limitations placed on women in religious orders.

In summary, this is a listen definitely worth your time.

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  • Chad
  • zimmerman, MN, United States
  • 05-17-12

You sound stuffy..

Would you try another book from A. J. Jacobs and/or A. J. Jacobs?

Sure, I think he is genuine in his writing.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Year of Living Biblically?

The Mosh Pit of Jewish Men celebrating...I try to imagine a Pantera Concert filled with Hasidic Jews...

Would you listen to another book narrated by A. J. Jacobs?

If I can stomach is Nasaly Voice for 6 plus hours...yes.

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

Definitly..as long as it stays true to the book and doesn't go all "New Years" or "Valentines Day" on the bit...."Tu Bishvat"

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Karen
  • Grinnell, IA, United States
  • 02-21-12

Mediocre, but an interesting journey

I love reading and learning about religions and their baggage. I thought this was an amazing idea, to live the bible literally for a year, but the story dragged. There are some funny stories from this adventure, like stoning an adulterer....with pebbles. I learned a lot about the bible from listening, especially the historical references. I would buy this type of book when it goes on sale :)

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Mediocre, but an interesting journey

I love reading and learning about religions and their baggage. I thought this was an amazing idea, to live the bible literally for a year, but the story dragged. There are some funny stories from this adventure, like stoning an adulterer....with pebbles. I learned a lot about the bible from listening, especially the historical references. I would buy this type of book when it goes on sale :)