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

Average Rating 4
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

13 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

A Funny Walk with The Lord

The journey of Jacobs from an 'agnostic's agnostic' to a 'reverent agnostic' is a delight. It is light reading with numerous humorous asides that also serve to demonstrate the seriousness as well as frailties of two of the world's great religions. Only the ultra-winge...
The journey of Jacobs from an 'agnostic's agnostic' to a 'reverent agnostic' is a delight. It is light reading with numerous humorous asides that also serve to demonstrate the seriousness as well as frailties of two of the world's great religions. Only the ultra-wingers (left or right) will not be able to enjoy this book.

posted by Anonymous on September 1, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

13 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

The Year of Living Boringly

To coin a phrase, this book was much ado about nothing. As an attempt to highlight and follow the odd rules of the Bible, it was fine and moderately amusing. The book loses its way when the author discusses faith itself - which he does a lot. Since he begins and ends...
To coin a phrase, this book was much ado about nothing. As an attempt to highlight and follow the odd rules of the Bible, it was fine and moderately amusing. The book loses its way when the author discusses faith itself - which he does a lot. Since he begins and ends the book agnostic at best, it's not much more than a social experiment on his part. I didn't get much out of this book, and the author didn't really get much out of the Book either, so let's call it even.

posted by Anonymous on December 31, 2007

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2008

    A Funny Walk with The Lord

    The journey of Jacobs from an 'agnostic's agnostic' to a 'reverent agnostic' is a delight. It is light reading with numerous humorous asides that also serve to demonstrate the seriousness as well as frailties of two of the world's great religions. Only the ultra-wingers (left or right) will not be able to enjoy this book.

    13 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2007

    The Year of Living Boringly

    To coin a phrase, this book was much ado about nothing. As an attempt to highlight and follow the odd rules of the Bible, it was fine and moderately amusing. The book loses its way when the author discusses faith itself - which he does a lot. Since he begins and ends the book agnostic at best, it's not much more than a social experiment on his part. I didn't get much out of this book, and the author didn't really get much out of the Book either, so let's call it even.

    13 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2009

    A blasphemous misinterpretation of God's Word

    Jacobs has perverted the intention of Scripture and made a mockery of that which is sacred. Writing satire and poking fun are well-received in some areas, but it is in poor taste and offensive to disrespect the Word of God. In our hyper-sensitive culture where political-correctness reigns supreme, it is disheartening to see that the things which are most holy are those that some find to be the only fair game for the target of their mockery and disrespect. This book is a sad commentary on the state of our culture.

    11 out of 42 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 7, 2009

    I Love This Book!

    At first glance, this book would seem to be a novelty. Applying as many "laws" from the Bible as possible, even the seemingly silly ones, can become a stand-up comedy routine. But A.J. Jacobs is never disrespectful and shows a willingness to really understand the origins, meanings, and practicality of these "laws." He is an equal opportunity seeker, and gives many schools of religious thought their fair share of time and research. This book is not just for believers and seekers. It is for everyone in between as well. And while Jacobs gives an extreme example of immersion learning, he is a great teacher of methodical study before blindly accepting things based on face value.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 30, 2009

    Loved this funny, enlightening book!!

    "The Year of Living Biblically" is a brilliant, witty and incredibly well-written look into the Holy Bible. Author A.J. Jacobs, an agnostic with Jewish roots, candidly chronicles his 1 year endeavor to implement all the rules he gathers from the Bible. He begins his immersive journey by compiling 700 Biblical rules. Then, he seeks the guidance of various advisors such as rabbis, ministers and professors to help him with interpretation. Along his journey, he explores many religious factions and meets many fascinating individuals. Often, he finds himself in an intriguing adventure or a hilarious predicament.

    Mr. Jacob's writing style is utterly captivating. He writes with much humor, providing many laugh-out-loud funny scenes. As I read, I found myself very impressed by his sincerity and candor. He was respectful and non-judgmental when addressing diverse religious doctrines. The extent of his research and his total dedication were awe-inspiring. An enlightening read, this book greatly enhanced my understanding of what the Bible says. Also, I truly enjoyed the interesting information about other religions. I absolutely loved this entertaining book and I highly recommend it as a must-read for everyone!

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2008

    Waste of time

    I slogged through this venally-prosed book hoping for a conclusion of some sort. If you like actual beginnings, endings, or reason, I would not reccomend it.

    6 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 10, 2009

    Learned quite a few things and had some fun with this book. It's a breath of fresh air, a nondenominational and somewhat playful take on The Bible and Bibical Law.

    A. J. Jacobs, who says he is a Jewish as the Olive Garden is Italian, readily admits his only motivation for "living Bibically" was to do research for this book. He cannot tell a lie without breaking one of the Ten Commandments. He cannot steal, be envious or wear clothing with mixed fibers either. He has us laughing as he goes about trying to make sense of and find the reasons behind and, at the same time, respectfully observe hundreds of Bibical laws, first from the Old Testament and then from both the Old and the New Testament. Wonderful to see the written word and be able to understand (sometimes) the why behind the Bibical law.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Enjoyable fun reading for religious and non-religious alike

    This was a very enjoyable read. I think everyone can get something from this book - Christian, Jew, atheist. It gives you an appreciation and understanding of a key piece of religious literature in our culture, as well as an understanding and fuller appreciation of the diversity Christian and Jewish landscape (conservative, liberal, fundamentalist, which many of us tend to oversimplify and therefore misunderstand). Plus A.J. Jacobs is an excellent writer with a great sense of humor and humility - it's hard not to like him as the protagonist in this story.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2008

    Greatly entertaining book

    This book is greatly entertaining. I am a religion major, and I found it interesting to see how someone with little to no knowledge of the Christian or Jewish bible besides the basics would react to having to immersing himself completely in the rules of both. The book helps the secular understand those who are religious, and helps the religious understand how a secular person might see their traditions without attacking them. It is at times truly hilarious, and I have a list of 3 friends who all waiting to borrow my copy because it is so good.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2007

    Very Closed Minded Book!

    Mocking the core of others faith is not cool. If you have a problem with a certain philosophy please use reason and not mock people. This is just plain Anti-Semitic, if you look at Germany before WWII and holocaust you see the media mocking the Jewish people. (Political cartoons, literature, etc.) What's next someone making fun of people who are Islamic, Buddhist, etc.)

    5 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Year of Living Biblically

    There are some people who have the talent of being able to take any situation and turn it into a great story (like the guy from "Supersize Me", Morgan Spurlock). A.J. Jacobs is another such engaging individual. He is smart, witty, and charmingly neurotic. His latest project is to pull every single commandment from the Bible he could find (over 700) and try to live each one as literally as possible for an entire year. So not just the 10 Commandments (which are pretty tough to get right all the time anyways) but ALL of them, even the ones most people think are crazy and don't understand.

    What follows is an almost day-to-day account of Jacobs' successes and failures (it's hard to conquer lust when you work for Esquire magazine) in a very real, very personal way. In his quest to better understand the Bible and its' rules, he meets with various individuals including deep-south snake handlers, Creationalists, and Samarians while in Jerusalem to name a few. Perhaps my favorite interview was when he met with a Jehovah's Witness - whom he actually ended up out-talking. The man finally begged leave when his wife called him at 10:30pm wondering when he was going to come home.

    As a side note, one reason why I liked this book so much is becuase he is constantly including lists - lists of rules, various Biblical interpretations, things he wants to work on, etc. I love lists and I like other list-makers, so thank you.

    Surprisingly, although humorous, this book also constantly had me thinking about my own personal spirituality - which I don't think is necessarily intended, but a logical extension. Most likely it was due to Jacobs' honesty - if he could be so brutal in self-examination, why not me? But that doesn't mean I would only recommend it to someone religious - I think just about anyone would enjoy this engaging book.

    And to A.J.'s dad: if you're reading this, I hope you click 'yes' that this review was helpful to you.

    seemichelleread.blogspot.com

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2009

    Year of Biblical laughs

    This book was hysterical - also a good way to brush up on all things Torah/ Bible. Definitely worth reading and lending to a friend when you are done.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2009

    Great book!!

    I love this book. Both humorous and informitive, I couldn't put it down!!! I've told everyone I know about it but refuse to let anyone borrow my copy. In my permanent library without a doubt!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2008

    Thou Shalt Read my Review!

    Jacobs is truly a witty man. If you are a Christian, read it, step back, and look at your self (oddly enough there is a spiritual challenge in this book) If you are Jewish, do the same. If you are Atheist, please realize that what he focuses on is LITERALIST. My only wish is that he had spent a little more time diving deep into the New Testament. Never the less, incredible book. Due to my vagueness in the review, I'd like to end with a simple summary: BUY THE STINKIN' BOOK!

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 13, 2011

    I+enjoyed+it+but...

    I+really+enjoyed+the+book+and+writing+style%3B+however%2C+he+did+not+seem+to+put+equal+effort+in+to+living+out+the+NT+that+he+put+in+to+the+OT.++It+was+as+if+he+just+sort+of+quit+and+became+uninterested.

    2 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 27, 2009

    A great book

    This is a very funny book which you would not guess from its title. I loved it and learned a lot. The situations that he got into throughout the year were amazing, and through great writing, he conveys them to the reader in an interesting, interesting, and funny way. I recommend it highly. I don't think that I have ever laughed so hard reading a book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2007

    In seach for the red heifer

    Just finished reading the book! Although I have some reservations about the material, overall it provides an insight into the different variations of beliefs and interpretations. It was very fulfilling for me to observe through the book the author's journey to find the answers he was seeking, but also his acceptance that the answers may not be in black and white or easily interpreted. I must admit I was anticipating a different ending that kept me on the edge of my seat, bath, bed, or couch, but not all books are going to have a complete happy ending in accordance with me. Nevertheless, it was worth it. Loved the sense of humor, it made me smile, and I must admit that I did giggle on some portions that I feared a giggle should have not been warranted out of the fear of it being interpreted as laughing at the words in the Bible or various religious beliefs, which is not the intent, but I'm only human. I especially loved the people introduced in the book. I know people who fit the exact personalities of those mentioned in the book and that made it more amusing and close to home. Favorite Line: 'No President has been sworn in with the encyclopedia. It's intimidating, to say the least.' -A.J. Jacobs

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2007

    AJ Jacobs has done it again

    In 'The Know It All' Mr. Jacobs gave us an appreciation of his endearingly quirky approach to the task then at hand, i.e plowing through the Encyclopedia Britannica from aardvark to Zyrian. In the process we came to know his family members who, long sufferingly, lived through it with him. Now he brings that same approach to his attempts to live for a year, in the metropolis of New York City, while scrupulously observing the tenets of the Bible, many of which are familiar and many arcane and archaic. It was especially refreshing to learn from him, again with his own brand of humor and wisdom, how much he came to appreciate the heritage of the Bible and its teachings. Recommended to all, regardless of race, creed, national origin or gender identity!!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2007

    AJ's humble quest

    It's incredible to me that AJ Jacobs was able to take such an open-minded approach to the rules of the Bible. As an agnostic you would expect him to be closed off to any discourse regarding religion. However, AJ learned something new from every Christian, Jew, and atheist he met. After reading the book I was in awe of the task that the author completed. I could never delve so deep into the Bible and not only question why it was written the way it was but also earnestly seek the answers and equate how the Bible does and does not apply to modern life.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2014

    By taking the Bible as literally as possible, Jacobs took an app

    By taking the Bible as literally as possible, Jacobs took an approach to gaining a sense of spirituality in a way that I never would have thought. The only thing that upset me was the fact that Jacobs viewed the rules as the only way to finding a spiritual connection, which is only a small portion of the big picture. Overall, however, his focus on these rules gave me a newfound respect for the more disciplined faiths such as the fundamentalists and Orthodox Jews. He even made a few points that gave some Old Testament rules more meaning than I gave those rules at first glance. Overall I enjoyed following Jacobs on his journey and am glad that I read the novel.
    -Sarah F.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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