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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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  • 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 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 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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  • 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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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2007

    can faith and logic be combined?

    ...it seems this is possible, though the results are sometimes humorous and always fascinating. His research was wonderful, and the bibliography itself is a great read. I appreciate that he checked with scholars of several modalities who all use parts of the Bible as 'their' book, and tried to give equal credence to as many interpretations as possible. I did not view the book as anti-faith, but it does point out the paradoxical issues which arise when attempting to follow any one interpretation of a story -- which one to follow? Is any One Way the Truth? Of course people all over the world live as if they have discovered the One Way, but even within those groups people disagree. Now we can only hope that your wife has the patience of Job with whatever your next book is about!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2012

    Sure is an effort to be a believer

    Aj truly devoted a year to what he believed he needed to follow to reflect what is out there that states the "truth." I enjoyed the reading. I think he could have written it 100 pages less.....

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  • Posted June 3, 2012

    A must read

    A.J. Jacobs’ The Year of Living Biblically is definitely a book that must be read before you die. In this novel he lives a year that many have not tried in their own lifetime, living a year while implementing the 613 rules from the Bible. What makes this book different from others is Jacobs’ ingenuity in story telling, he doesn’t beat around the bush. Every piece of information that is written down is genuine, every emotion, situation, and thinking had been real. It was almost as if I was actually in the mind of Jacobs’, planning out a journey of my own to live my life as biblically as possible.

    I came to this book with expecting similar dribble that I have read from other authors. However, I have gained a broader insight once I’ve read the first hundred pages. In our society today, living “biblically” would make you appear slightly erratic. The laws are also a hassle in place of modern society (no wearing clothes of mixed fabrics, no touching women, etc.); they are not supposed to be implemented in a continuously changing society. But what I’ve really gotten out of this book was the time when Jacobs’ had been trapped in the bathroom for four hours. His narration of this event allowed me to better understand what a “true Sabbath” is, one in which there is no one besides you and God in the collective mindset.

    To put this briefly, buy this book, buy your children this book, and buy your parents this book; you won’t regret it.

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  • Posted May 5, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Not What I Expected

    This wasn't the 'let's all mock the silly holy rollers' tome that I had anticipated. Some parts were extremely funny, some were quite touching, and I learned some things. It was not what I had expected, and in many ways it was better than expected.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2010

    My Review

    A.J. Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically, writes a compelling book about his 372 days journey and adventure about following the bible as literally as possible. What fascinates me is how he takes a completely new aspect on the bible. What interests me is how he doesn't focus his novel entirely on worshipping God, but following the bible's rules to "regulate" their archaic society. How he writes his book is also interesting. It is neither like a diary nor a recording it's more like a written conversation. It makes you feel not like an audience, but a watcher from afar. It produces the feeling of familiarity, or as if you watched A.J. Jacobs perform his yearlong exploration of the bible. One of many things I enjoyed of his experience is how he expands his quest to different variations of religions, not just one. A paradigm of this is how he often contacted the religion mentioned in the bible. One of the few things I have to criticize about this book is how implicit he is on the section of the New Testament. I think he focused more on the Old Testament. He did focus on some. Other than this parts of the New Testament but he didn't say specifics as I would anticipate from him; as he had set examples from the Old Testament, previously. Other than this I think is book is amazing. He has done an amazing job on not just focusing on a certain religion and making the audience become part of the book. In other words it is a remarkable book.

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  • Posted May 5, 2010

    Fun Read

    Very entertaining... I had fun reading how Jacobs takes his commitment to the extreme and make it a very enjoyable read (with some loud laughter from time to time) for any pretty much one who is interested in spirituality.

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  • Posted September 12, 2009

    The subtitle says it all

    The author, an agnostic at the beginning of his "journey", tries to literally live as biblically as possible for the period of a year. This is his journal of that effort. He keeps checking in with his spiritual-o-meter throughout the book, and sums up how the entire experience has changed him.

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  • Posted November 19, 2008

    Payot for you

    The lenghths this man goes through! Very entertaining, however, I think what I'd really like to read is "Living with the Man During the Year of Living Biblically"!! You go Julie!! You have the patience of a saint. I applaud you.

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  • Posted October 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A Very Literal Biblical Journey

    Right from the very first chapter, A.J. Jacobs got me hooked - both on his humorous writing style and on his fabulous quest: to spend one year following the Bible as literally as possible. It's his way of finding out if there's more to his spiritual journey than his agnosticism, and it's a very funny ride. He goes pretty far to expose the bizarre instructions in the Bible - everything from carrying around a portable white chair so he doesn't touch seats that have been sat on by women who are menstruating to actually picking up pebbles to "stone adulterers" (and getting stones pelted back at him). But by the end, he also discovers the sacredness of the Bible, and of life. It's a book that's entertaining for both believers and nonbelievers.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2007

    Experiment in perseverance . . . if nothing else!

    I found myself rooting for Jacobs in his day-by-day quest. He is sincere in his efforts (misguided in some). He goes through painstaking efforts to remain faithful to written law. God bless Julie.

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    Posted April 26, 2010

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    Posted November 11, 2008

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    Posted August 17, 2014

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    Posted August 15, 2010

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