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The Year of Living Biblically by A J Jacobs
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The Year of Living Biblically (2007)

by A J Jacobs

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4,4661882,247 (3.81)235
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)
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Title:The Year of Living Biblically
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The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible by A. J. Jacobs (2007)

  1. 80
    The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World 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. 60
    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
    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.
  6. 00
    Municipal Bondage: One Man's Anxiety-Producing Adventures in the Big City by Henry Alford (reenum)
  7. 00
    En Avant, Route! by Alix de Saint-André (yokai)
    yokai: Deux expériences différentes dans le domaine de la religion.
  8. 00
    My Jewish Year: 18 Holidays, One Wondering Jew by Abigail Pogrebin (suzecate)
  9. 34
    Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell (amyblue)
  10. 01
    Big Kiss: One Actor's Desperate Attempt to Claw His Way to the Top by Henry Alford (reenum)
  11. 02
    In the Land of Believers: An Outsider's Extraordinary Journey into the Heart of the Evangelical Church by Gina Welch (Percevan)
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» See also 235 mentions

English (182)  German (3)  Dutch (1)  Finnish (1)  French (1)  All languages (188)
Showing 1-5 of 182 (next | show all)
Originally published in 2007.

This is a pretty humorous read. I really enjoyed it. Some parts of it had me cracking up, and some parts had me yawning. He went full dress mode. He grew his hair all long and bushy and began to wear a sheet for clothing. Keep in mind his wife and kids were just along for the ride. They were not participating in his little adventure. ( )
  MissyIvey | Sep 20, 2022 |
I only read about half of this book, and then jumped to the final entries because our book club had our last discussion about this book tonight. Without that motivation, I probably won't go back and finish the entire book. The flaw in this book (which is significant given that I'm not going to finish because of it) is that I don't necessarily care what Jacobs did every single day. Some of it could have been usefully summarized. There are just too many other books on my to-read list that seem more pressing.

That said, I did appreciate Jacobs's take on and conclusions about biblical literalism. He is also an entertaining and thoughtful writer, and I wouldn't hesitate to read his other work. ( )
  IVLeafClover | Jun 21, 2022 |
I particularly enjoyed this book because Jacobs, like me, grew up in a very secular environment with a quizzical view of the Bible and all things religious. I enjoyed his intellectual honesty, his sense of humour, his willingness to give credit to people whose views he doesn't necessarily share while being clear about where he stands. As always, I'm impressed with his wife's tolerance and ability to cope with his shenanigans.
There are a few poignant moments which show how the Bible can help in trying times and I was pleased by the conclusion: the Bible did transform him, if only by connecting him more meaningfully to his roots and giving him a new reverence for life. ( )
  Cecilturtle | Dec 27, 2021 |
Just in case you're googling yourself, Mr. Jacobs.
https://www.lds.org/liahona/2012/03/why-do-we-need-prophets?lang=eng ( )
  OutOfTheBestBooks | Sep 24, 2021 |
A few years ago an American journalist decided on a year-long project, to go biblically native. What would it be like to go to the source of Judaism and Christianity by following the commandments in the Bible as literally as possible.

Being a liberal, secular man in New York, the project probably started out as a way to ridicule the religious texts, but A.J. Jacobs take the projects seriously enough to quickly see that the texts are not as insane as common jokes make them seem, especially when it turns out that some of the strangest commandments are partly flawed translations to English.

The book is fun, interesting and still respectful. The author in the end wrote a book, an account day-by-day that describes the challenges and the people he met and I would say that it is not the strange commandments that turn out to be hardest (not shaving or cutting the corners of the hair is not very difficult) but the simplest things. Not lying, not jaywalking, not working on the sabbath. Those things are not even things that non-religious people object to in general, but a life-time of small white lies and pride and ambition puts the whole project in jeopardy.

My conclusion after reading the book is that it is not the texts that are flawed, but humans, and especially human interpretation of them. We have lost the historical context, we have lost the language (for instance, one part of the bible talks about specific kind of birds by name and we cannot know what birds they meant) and that means nobody can any longer read the bible with any certainty.

A fact that is not lost even on the orthodox fundamentalists. The difference is that they try very hard in face of uncertainty (and end up somewhere quite far from the original intention I think) while most close-to-secular Jews and Catholics and Protestants (and most likely Muslims which partly use the same texts though that aspect is not covered in the book) choose to ignore the "strangest" parts.

Would I recommend this book? Well, maybe. It's not a book you read from start to finish without being able to let it go, but I think it might be a nice "one page at a time" book for places where you spend short periods of time, because it is thinking about what is written that brings value, not the reading itself. Also, a warning, it is probably hard to meditate over religion for a year without it changing you and your relationships. ( )
  bratell | Dec 25, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 182 (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 editionscalculated
Ross, Jonathan ToddNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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As I write this, I have a beard that makes me resemble Moses.
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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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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.

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