Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Year of Living Biblically by A. J.…

The Year of Living Biblically

by A. J. Jacobs

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,3561581,619 (3.81)201
  1. 60
    The Know-It-All by A. J. Jacobs (schatzi)
    schatzi: this is the author's first book; his exploits in "The Know-It-All" are sometimes referred to in "The Year of Living Biblically"
  2. 50
    The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University by Kevin Roose (kiwiflowa)
    kiwiflowa: Kevin Roose was A.J. Jacobs college intern for this book and decided to do a similar experiment. He enrolled for a semester at the Christian fundamentalist college Liberty University founded by Jerry Falwell.
  3. 30
    The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin (ansate)
    ansate: similar thoughtful project. turns out they share a writers group!
  4. 10
    No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process by Colin Beavan (Deesirings)
    Deesirings: Both of these are a memoir of a "rules-based" experience of living for a one year period
  5. 00
    En avant, route ! by Alix de Saint-André (yokai)
    yokai: Deux expériences différentes dans le domaine de la religion.
  6. 00
    My Jesus Year: A Rabbi's Son Wanders the Bible Belt in Search of His Own Faith by Benyamin Cohen (elvisettey)
    elvisettey: Another author-experiment, this one by an Orthodox Jew who decides to immerse himself in Christianity for a year in order to strengthen his own faith.
  7. 00
    Municipal Bondage: One Man's Anxiety-Producing Adventures in the Big City by Henry Alford (reenum)
  8. 34
    Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell (amyblue)
  9. 01
    Big Kiss: One Actor's Desperate Attempt to Claw His Way to the Top by Henry Alford (reenum)
  10. 02
    In the Land of Believers by Gina Welch (Percevan)

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 201 mentions

English (152)  German (3)  Dutch (1)  Finnish (1)  French (1)  All languages (158)
Showing 1-5 of 152 (next | show all)
From the very first page, I felt like quoting this guy! His humor is so infectious, his metaphors are simply awesome. I caught myself laughing out loud.

But it's not all jokes - the author took this task of living a year according to the Bible very much seriously. You have to admire that. And he has managed to have a more open mind than I would have ever been able to in such a situation, and I honestly think he tried to be as objective as humanly possible. He sincerely searches for answers, wholeheartedly dives into the weirdest of situations. And his logic throughout all this is pretty solid. I liked his interpretation of Biblical stories, I appreciated his zestful opinions on matters that he strongly believes in while doing his best to see things from the point of view of Christian fundamentalists and Bible literalists. He entered into this research as an agnostic and emerged from it as a "reverent agnostic" in his own words, gratitude for things in life being one of the greatest feelings that he came away with. And what of this common question: "What if I follow the moral teachings of Jesus but don't worship him as God?"... Definitely food for thought.

I found the book quite helpful to someone like me - who is not a practicing Christian but is curious about the Bible in a historical sense.

I can't help but add a few quotes from the book (not the goofy ones, but the serious, ruminative kind). Like here, for instance, he talks about the way the Bible was written:

"Hardcore believers say that the Bible emerged from God's oven like a fully baked cake. Or, to be precise, several fully baked pieces. Moses transcribed the first 5 books. King David wrote Psalms. The Gospel of St. Luke was written solely by St. Luke. Every book of the Bible was written by a singular author who transcribed God's words.

The alternative is called the documentary hypothesis. This says that the Bible has many, many authors and editors. The first 5 books of Moses didn't come from Moses alone. They are a patchwork from four anonymous sources who have been named J, E, P, and D. Each writer has his own linguistic quirks and theological passions. P, for instance, short for "Priestly", was fascinated by the laws. The sections on food and sex prohibitions in Leviticus, for instance, come from the Priestly source. The passages have been chopped and pieced together by various editors. In short, the hypothesis says that the Bible has evolved, like humans themselves. Like a Wikipedia entry."

And here is a very interesting quote about Ecclesiastes (I can certainly see why he likes this part of the Bible so much!):

"Ecclesiastes is probably my favorite book of the Bible... Every time I read it, .... I feel the thrill of recognizing thoughts that I have had myself, but that I've never been able to capture in such a beautiful language. And I feel the oddity of finding myself on the same wavelength as a man who lived 2 thousand years ago.... ... The author of Ecclesiastes says: "The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to the men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all".

"Ecclesiastes says that life is uncertain. "Vapor of vapors... all is vapors" (This is a more accurate translation of the phrase usually rendered: "vanity of vanities... all is vanity" ). We can never hope to plumb the mystery of God's mind. Bad things happen to good people. Idiots and geniuses, saints and sinners - we all die. The best we can do is try to appreciate the great things that God had given us - food, drink, the pleasure of honest work. We should follow the commandments, but we should do so with no guarantee that they will pay off in this life." "

And this interesting thought:

"It's exactly what I was most afraid of with religion. To embrace religion, you have to surrender some control. But what if it's a slippery slope, and you lose all control, slide right past the Judeo-Christian mainstream, and end up in a yurt kneeling in front of a guy wearing a tablecloth who has renamed you Lotus Petal?"

And then this powerful thought:

"How can the Bible be so wise in some places and so barbaric in others? And why should we put any faith in a book that includes such brutality? "

Here I agree with the author as well:

"... and though I think Jesus as a great man, I don't come away from the experience accepting him as a savior".

This also rings a bell in my own thinking (it's about gratitude, or counting one's blessings):

"It's an odd way to live. But also kind of great and powerful. I've never before been so aware of the thousands of little good things, the thousands of things that go right every day. Sometimes my thank-yous are directed at no one in particular. It's more of an appreciation than a thanks. A reminder to myself: "Pay attention, pal. Savor this moment." "

Also - questioning the praising of God:

"I've always found the praising-god parts of the Bible and my prayer book awkward.. And why should God need to be praise in the first place? God shouldn't be insecure. He's the ultimate being."

(I came to like A.J.Jacobs from his latest book - the amusingly informative "Drop Dead Healthy", which led me to his Biblical experiment, and which will probably lead to his earlier book "The-Know-It-All" - looks like I am discovering him backwards!). ( )
3 vote Clara53 | Nov 16, 2014 |
Entertaining look at what it would mean to live the Bible's rules literally. I enjoyed the Old Testament section more than the New Testament, as it seems the rules are crazier the further back you go. ( )
  GovMarley | Oct 7, 2014 |
This book is absolute brilliance. Don't get me wrong, I agree with other reviewers that he is crazy, OCD and obsessive... And his wife is a SAINT for putting up with some of the things he put her through! I can't even begin to explain how much I admire her for handling the insanity... But the book itself is awesome. Everyone with any interest in spirituality, regardless of the path they are on, should read this book. In fact... everyone should read this book. Athiests and fundamentalists alike. It is a beautiful examination of religion. Religion has shaped our society and even if you are the most devote of Athiests there are lessons to be gleaned from this book. Jacobs will change how you view everyone, from Pat Robertson to Billy Graham to the crazy man on the corner spouting ominous warnings of impending doom. Not only that, but this book will change how you view yourself, your beliefs, and your own spirituality. I am not a follower of the Christian faith, and some consider my religious beliefs to be the complete antithesis of the Christian Church, but we have more in common than most realize. I always knew this, but this book displays that. If I had to live with him for the year that he completed this project I would have lost my mind... but I'm damn glad he was able to take me on this journey with him. ( )
2 vote KRaySaulis | Aug 13, 2014 |
This book was hilarious! My stomach hurt from laughing so much. ( )
  HollyC36 | Jul 20, 2014 |
As a questioning agnostic myself, I could relate to much in the book and found many parts hilarious, but it did tend to drag a little for me. Perhaps too detailed regarding Biblical prohibitions, restrictions, absurdities, and inconsistencies that it grew a little tiresome in spots. However, overall, I enjoyed his quest, his humor, his spiritual seeking, his examination of a variety of religions. I really laughed in the description of the NY atheist meeting....I can imagine how difficult it is for them to solicit new members since atheists are such nonconformists and resist any dogma....even other people's atheistic ideas. I know because when I was young, I swung from a traditional Lutheran to absolute atheist and eventually mellowed into an agnostic who prays sometimes "just in case"...Great idea for book...original and insightful. ( )
  kunz | Mar 28, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 152 (next | show all)
Performance art or not, this is a well-researched, informative and entirely absorbing read.
added by Katya0133 | editPeople, Jonathan Durbin
Jacobs's discussions with his advisers and with men representing other religions make up the most thoughtful and insightful sections of the book.
added by Katya0133 | editLibrary Journal, Joyce Sparrow
The author's determination despite constant complications from his modern secular life (wife, job, family, NYC) underscores both the absurdity of his plight and its profundity.
added by Katya0133 | editKirkus
If he starts out sounding like an interminable Ira Glass monologue, smarmy and name-dropping, he becomes much less off-putting as the year progresses, for he develops a serious conscience about such quotidian failings as self-centeredness, lying, swearing, and disparaging others.
added by Katya0133 | editBooklist, Ray Olson
Throughout his journey, Jacobs comes across as a generous and thoughtful (and, yes, slightly neurotic) participant observer, lacing his story with absurdly funny cultural commentary as well as nuanced insights into the impossible task of biblical literalism.
added by Katya0133 | editPublishers Weekly

» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
A. J. Jacobsprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ross, Jonathan ToddNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
To Julie
First words
As I write this, I have a beard that makes me resemble Moses.
The Hebrew scriptures prescribe a tremendous amount of capital punishment. Think Saudi Arabia, multiply by Texas, then triple that.
At times--not all the time, but sometimes--the entire world takes on a glow of sacredness, like someone has flipped on a[n] unfathomably huge halogen lamp and made the universe softer, fuller, less menacing. (p.153)
All well and good, right?  The only thing is, this is not the God of the Israelites.  This is not the God of the Hebrew Scriptures.  That God is an interactive God.   He rewards people and punishes them.  He argues with them, negotiates with them, forgives them, and occasionally smites the.   The God of the Hebrew Scriptures has human emotions--love and anger.   (p.153)
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0743291484, Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:17 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Raised in a secular family but interested in the relevance of faith in our modern world, A.J. Jacobs decides to attempt to obey the Bible as literally as possible for one full year. He vows to follow the Ten Commandments. To be fruitful and multiply. To love his neighbor. But also to obey the hundreds of less publicized rules: to avoid wearing clothes made of mixed fibers; to stone adulterers. The resulting spiritual journey is at once funny and profound, reverent and irreverent, personal and universal and will make you see history's most influential book with new eyes. Jacobs embeds himself in a cross-section of communities that take the Bible literally: he tours a creationist museum and sings hymns with Amish; he dances with Hasidic Jews and does Scripture study with Jehovah's Witnesses. He wrestles with seemingly archaic rules that baffle the 21st-century brain, and he discovers ancient wisdom of startling relevance.--From publisher description.… (more)

» see all 6 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
17 avail.
587 wanted
4 pay8 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.81)
0.5 1
1 9
1.5 7
2 40
2.5 12
3 212
3.5 82
4 338
4.5 66
5 188


2 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 98,437,006 books! | Top bar: Always visible