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

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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 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 December 10, 2014

    The book was pretty interesting and I learned a lot about weird

    The book was pretty interesting and I learned a lot about weird rules in the Bible that I didn’t really know about before such as Jews not being able to wear clothes of mixed fibers. It was pretty funny but at some parts, he made fun of the Bible in a way that might seem rude and disrespectful to sensitive Christians. I didn’t really mind this because I’m not Christian so I just found it funny. Some parts of the book were really boring but I made myself push through and read the whole book. He is never really biased towards one religion and spends equal time on Judaism and different forms of Chrisitanity which I think is a good thing. Even though the author went into the experiment as an agnostic, and came out as an agnostic, I think he changed a lot throughout the process and became more accepting of other faiths instead of just thinking their stupid like he might have done in the beginning. Also, this book raised some questions about my own spirituality like what I believe in because I don’t really know what religion I am or if I even believe in God or not. Overall, I learned a lot of things about Christianity and Judaism that I didn’t know before. This book was okay and I would give it 3 stars. 

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  • Posted November 15, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Recommend

    Well, it is interesting how a man in today's society can live biblically since several thousand years ago, not to state the obvious, but things were a little different. Interesting read.

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  • Posted June 26, 2012

    As A.J. Jacobs embarked on his quest to live by the Bible as lit

    As A.J. Jacobs embarked on his quest to live by the Bible as literally as possible, he documented his adventures and compiled it into his book. He starts his Biblical experiment in Month One: September and as his life is consumed by the 613 laws in the old Testament, he keeps us updated on the growth of his beard and traditional payot and the constant hilarity of his son and wife. Month after month passes and with each coming chapter, new "Thou Shalt Not'-s and "Though Must"-s that are mostly unknown by the general Jewish and Chrstian populatino cross Jacobs's path and thus, he finds himself eating bugs, contemplating marriage to a second wife and throwing the Biblically perfect Passover dinner. All in all, A.J. Jacobs has written the ultimate hilarious book that will leave you thinking about contemporary Christians and Jews; how they pick and choose what they want to follow and believe from the Bible and that the ultimate Biblical life, the life most deserving of Go'ds love, is rarely ever seen. The Year of Living Biblically also shows the extent of metaphor in the Bible. At a superficial glance, if you took the laws in the Bible word for word, things seem pretty simple. Don't boil a baby goat in its mother's milk. Seems easy enough. But as A.J. Jacobs unfortunately discovers, it translates into not mixing meat and dairy. All of a sudden, cheeseburgers aren't kosher, along with lasagna and all other forms of cheesy, meaty delights. The laws of the Bible are like this, cryptic and confusing and unfortunately difficult to follow and even though so many Christians and Jews claim their complete love and devotion to their faith, not many of them live as perfectly as they say. The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs is a terrifically funny and insightful book that leaves the reader thinking about what a world full of perfect Jews and Christians would be like.

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  • Posted July 5, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Starts out strong and promising, ends a little weakly

    I liked AJ Jacobs' first humble quest, "The Know-It-All." It was a refreshing change of pace from a typical memoir. Immersion journalism, he calls it -- taking on a challenge for an extended period of time, and documenting his experiences. In this case, he's attempting to follow the rules of the Bible as literally as possible for one full calendar year.

    The main problem with this book -- and it is a significant one that affects the endgame -- is that Jacobs was raised Jewish. The first 8 chapters are devoted to the Old Testament teachings, and he throws himself into the task with gusto. Stoning adulterers, growing his facial hair, participating in dozens of rituals. One of the strong points of Jacobs' writing in these chapters is the depth of his research -- he travels the country (and, in one memorable section, visits Israel for a week) to experience many of the more obscure biblical commandments firsthand through worship with many different sects of Judaism. The book is written in a journal format, each section opening with an identification of the day, followed by his experiences. It's eye-opening and incredibly interesting to read about many of these rituals - the origins, the practice, the expected results. His experiences give him new perspectives on his family and his own life, and it is fun to make these discoveries with him, as many of the situations he finds himself in are nothing short of hysterical.

    But Jacobs clearly fizzles out in the final four chapters, about 60 pages (out of over 300) devoted to the New Testament teachings. He shoots himself in the foot and destroys his own thesis by explaining at the start of this portion why he could never bring himself to accept Christ as the son of God. The journal entries become more and more spaced apart, with many relating more to his wife's pregnancy as opposed to his "biblical quest." He tries to tie these in to his quest by relating it to biblical stories, but often these stories are from books in the Old Testament. Its disheartening.

    In summary, two thirds of this book are just short of excellent, with the final third being incredibly disappointing. It seems he should have adjusted his task to encompass simply following the Old Testament as literally as possible. He enjoyed doing this, and it showed. He did not enjoy having to also pay attention and attempt the New Testament, and that, also, showed.

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  • Posted May 21, 2010

    I know you will read this!

    Introspective and interesting. The wife is a saint, I think that tolerating the literal Bible would be too much, and sometimes the book was, and I would skip over the intricate details and nuance of every proverb, but thanks for teaching me the importance of the prophets!

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  • Posted March 16, 2009

    The Year of Reading Jacobs

    It's taking me forever to read this book, and not because I don't enjoy the content or its quirky, humorous nature. What a great idea for a book, and this guy's full of them. I also read the one chronicling his adventures reading the Encyclopedia Brittanica. His books are based on looong-term projects, and reading them seems to be looong-term as well. Maybe it's just me, but there's just something about his prose that keeps me yearning to read some other book on my list. I return to his periodically, until I get through a chapter and feel like I've just read a chapter of the Bible, or a few Brittanica entries. In short, fun reading, but strangely elusive.

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