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

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

by A. J. Jacobs
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Year of Living Biblically 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 232 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
MinnesotaReader More than 1 year ago
"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!
AlexLovesToRead More than 1 year ago
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.
Nadine-Enid More than 1 year ago
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.
SeeMichelleRead More than 1 year ago
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
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Punkinhead More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!
Ann_O More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
CC95835 More than 1 year ago
A great find and a good read from start to finish. My ladies Lutheran book club read this book and everyone loved it. I found personally found it an inspiration and all the while it kept me smiling, with the intelligent good humor.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A thoughful and interesting read. Definitely worth it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
...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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
AJ Jacobs has written a book that any humorist would be proud of, but that is only the beginning of what makes this book so enjoyable and satisfying to read. His 'humble quest' to follow the Bible literally may at first glance seem like a stunt, but it soon becomes clear that we are in the hands of someone with the capacities--intellectual, domestic (he has a very patient wife), and, yes, spiritual--to take this stunt quite seriously and to follow it to lengths that are at once thought provoking and highly entertaining. Many of his exploits and his 'solutions' to the problems presented by living a literally Biblical life are quite absurd (I particularly love the image of him toting his portable chair), and that is part of the point. One man's sacred cow (or chicken) is another's sight gag. That is the world we live in, and while we must treat each other's beliefs with respect, we must also recognize that we will never all understand, let alone share, each other's faiths (or lack thereof). In his innocent, goofy, but--when he needs to be--sharp-eyed way, Jacobs shows us this truth quite vividly. And with no shortage of laughs.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I don't know what book the other reviewer read, but I don't think it was the same one I read. As a religious person, I enjoyed sharing Jacobs' spiritual exploration and his attentive study of Holy Scripture. This book is very thought-provoking without being heavy-handed. I believe in a God who seeks us out and who can handle all of our questions. Humor is an important componant of any Spiritual journey and introspection. I found nothing offensive here. In the end, I hope that Jacobs will continue his spiritual exploration and journey towards our Creator. This book gives us all a boost along that way.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be witty, thought provoking, and extremely engaging ¿ I couldn¿t put it down. The book chronicles Mr. Jacobs¿ quest over one year to adhere to the rules and rituals of the Bible (he found at least 800 to follow). The reader easily gets drawn into Mr. Jacobs¿ escapades and wild experiences trying to follow all of these rules, which proves to be not only entertaining but also enlightening on issues of family, religion, tradition and spirituality. While it is a book about the Bible, and deals seriously with many facets of religion, it does not treat the subject in a heavy-handed or an overly forceful manner. Jacobs tells how his wife was not always supportive of his quest over the course of the year, and as a result she plays the often humorous and necessary counterpoint to the seriousness of the tasks he undertook. The back-and-forth between the two of them, and the effects of his quest on their family life, were some of my favorite parts of the book (she must be a saint to have put up with him for the year). I cannot recommend this book more highly. Based on my enjoyment of this book I eagerly await his next one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this hilarious, yet informative, memoir by A.J. Jacobs. In it, he chronicles the year he spent trying to adhere to the teachings of the Bible as closely as possible -- trying to literally live by its commandments and also its more arcane rules (no wearing mixed fibers or tassels on clothes, no trimming his beard, etc.). Jacobs completely commits to this journey with an open-minded view and meets fascinating people of all religious backgrounds (including Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn, Christian fundamentalists, the Amish, and Jehovah¿s Witnesses) during his travels to learn more about different interpretations of the Bible and to seek spiritual guidance. Far from poking fun at these individuals, Jacobs treats them seriously and objectively with the utmost respect, and as a result I learned a great deal about many different religious teachings. Jacobs has a marvelously witty way with words, and much of the book is laugh-out-loud funny (the consequences of not telling a 'little white lie' to his toddler son when he wanted a bagel instead of an English muffin, building a prayer tent in the middle of the living room, and almost all his interactions with his long-suffering and alternately bemused/annoyed wife, Julie.) His daily attempts to live according to Biblical laws in today¿s modern world end up influencing his life in more ways than he expects. The result of Jacobs¿ year of living Biblically is an honest, insightful, funny and ultimately inspiring story that is also highly entertaining.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This delightful memoir of a year spent living by all of the rules of the good book took me by surprise. Jacobs finds the funny in his quest, but he also finds the heart and soul. After reading this book I thought about my own spirituality in a new light, and I was also entertained and uplifted--a rare combination. Bravo!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a christian. I love God. He has done a lot in my life.