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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
3,4901651,521 (3.82)203
  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 (ijustgetbored)
    ijustgetbored: 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)

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» See also 203 mentions

English (159)  German (3)  Dutch (1)  Finnish (1)  French (1)  All languages (165)
Showing 1-5 of 159 (next | show all)
One of those "hooks" for a book that I wish I had thought of first. It's amazingly tall (confusing, impossible) order to fill (living Biblically), as Jacobs soon finds out, but you'll have a good (and often meaningful) time watching him try. And you might be surprised how many companions he finds along the way. As he points out, there's no such thing as a (completely) obscure Bible verse. Somebody, somewhere, finds it important indeed. ( )
  bibleblaster | Jan 23, 2016 |
Just and awesome look at the trials and tribulations of trying to live by the exact word of the bible! So many rules and so many inconsistencies! And the author reveals how so many religious groups "pick and choose" what to follow, what not to follow, and what to judge others on! Wonderful! Most of the book focuses on the Old Testament, but I really think he did a great, and respectful job the whole way through! Bravo A.J.! ( )
  Stahl-Ricco | Jan 23, 2016 |
After many recommendations, I finally read this book. It is hard to add anything to previous reviews by Becky, Katie and Kim - I agree with them all! I find myself thinking about the author's journey quite often in my everyday life. I do love his gratitude prayers and how he went from thinking they were meaningless to being truly grateful. His adventure illustrated a hidden value in ritual. He also researched the "why" of many laws. I like his explanation of why, with all the dietary prohibitions in the Hebrew Scriptures, it is permissable to eat locusts. Easy - it is a sign of God's love - if there were too many locusts, they would eat the crops and then many people would die of hunger - God's way of saving His people from starvation! There were many "laugh out loud" segments. I particularly liked his adventure of stoning a sinner and also swinging a live chicken over his head and then watching while it was ritually slaughtered and prepared for distribution to the poor. Definitely a worthwhile and thought-provoking read! ( )
  TheresaCIncinnati | Aug 17, 2015 |
My Aunt Maryls gave me this book last December (but not for Christmas?) I started reading it in January and finally finished it now. Really it reminds that one of the things I really love about library books, due dates. So I couldn't give it 5 stars because if it was that great, even without a due date I'd be done by now, oh well. Still pretty good.

basically AJ Jacobs decides he's going to try to take the bible literally (think "don't shave your beard" "don't were mixed fibers" "keep the word of God at your finger tips") in an attempt to mock Christianity.

Jacobs is over Jewish decent but he's "about as Jewish as Olive Garden is Italian" in his own words.

Through the year he really finds God, though he resists the urge to truly become born again (he got damn close with the snake handlers). I think it would be good for mainline Christians who think that evangelicals take things too literally, it is good for evangelicals who think they know everything God has to say, its good for atheists who see it all as hog wash. But it still leads something that we need to do. It still needs the extra push. To find God in what appears to be ridiculous, and to find ridicioulness in the love of Christ.

The book claims to be humor, thought I didn't find it funny, take that as you like. I still felt it was 4 star worthy.

There were two parts towards the end that were hard for me, circumsing his son, and shaving his beard. ( )
1 vote fulner | Aug 12, 2015 |
i have to agree with pretty much everything becky said about this book. even though i had already read becky's review, i was still expecting this to be mostly light-hearted and pointing out amusing inconsistancies and archaic practices in the bible. however like becky said, "in addition to these light hearted examples, what I was most struck by in this book was how sincere AJ Jacobs as well as his religious advisors were." (Burnside, Becky. The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible As Literally As Possible Goodreads review. Nov. 11, 2008.)

There were so many parts in the book where I really had an appreciation for people who sincerly use the Bible as a guide for their lives. I loved the part about the Hasidic dance party, the snake handler, and many of the other religious experiences he spoke of. So many people he met wtih were just so genuinely conscious of how they were living and trying to live with real spiritual intention. I really liked how he became defensive of biblical literalists to his athetist and agnostic friends.

THe book also had a really good balance of humorous elements too, and I really enjoyed the writing style of the author. There were lots of times I laughed out loud or just smiled about how lovely someone or something was. I definitely recommend it to everyone. ( )
1 vote klburnside | Aug 11, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 159 (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
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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)
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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

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