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

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9780743599337: The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible

In this timely and fascinating audiobook, A.J. Jacobs tries to follow such famous Scriptural laws as the Ten Commandments, be fruitful and multiply, and love your neighbor. But he also obeys dozens of less-publicized instructions, including growing a beard, avoiding clothes of mixed fibers and, yes, stoning adulterers.

 

Jacobs, who was raised in a secular household, dives headfirst into the most influential book of all time. He assembles a board of spiritual advisors, studies the Old and New Testaments, grows a beard so unruly that he is regularly mistaken for a member of ZZ Top, immerses himself in prayer—even tends sheep in the Negev desert. His discoveries about himself and the Bible are both surprising and profound.

 

With the Bible—and its literal interpretation—remaining a mighty force in American society, Jacobs embeds himself in a cross-section of remarkable Biblical communities, from a Kentucky-based creationist museum to the Pennsylvania Amish, from Christian charity workers to Hasidic Jews. The result is a story that will captivate secular and religious alike.

 

Respectful and hilarious in equal measures, The Year of Living Biblically is at once an irresistible listen, a vital exploration of religion in America today, and a genuinely moving spiritual journey.

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Review:

Amazon Best of the Month, September 2007: Make no mistake: A.J. Jacobs is not a religious man. He describes himself as Jewish "in the same way the Olive Garden is an Italian restaurant." Yet his latest work, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible, is an insightful and hilarious journey for readers of all faiths. Though no fatted calves were harmed in the making of this book, Jacobs chronicles 12 months living a remarkably strict Biblical life full of charity, chastity, and facial hair as impressive as anything found in The Lord of the Rings. Through it all, he manages to brilliantly keep things light, while avoiding the sinful eye of judgment. --Dave Callanan

Amazon.com
Subtitled: "One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible," Jacobs, or A.J., as his two-year-old son calls him, does just that. It is likely that no one but A.J. Jacobs could have accomplished such a feat. After all, his last book, The Know-It-All, chronicles his reading of the entire Encyclopedia Brittanica, from A to Z. No one but a smart, witty, self-deprecating, nitpicky kinda guy would undertake two such daunting tasks, and complete them with grace, no pun intended.

Jacobs, a New York Jewish agnostic, decides to follow the laws and rules of the Bible, beginning with the Old Testament, for one year. (He actually adds some bonus days and makes it a 381-day year.) He starts by growing a beard and we are with him through every itchy moment. Jacobs is borderline OCD, at least as he describes himself; obsessing over possible dangers to his son, germs, literal interpretation of Bible verses, etc. He enlists the aid of counselors along the way; Jewish rabbis, Christians of every stripe, friends and neighbors.

In an open-minded way he also visits with atheists, Evangelicals Concerned (a gay group), Jerry Falwell, snake handlers, Red Letter Christians--those who adhere to the red letters in the Bible, those words spoken by Jesus Himself, and even takes a trip to Israel and meets Samaritans. Through it all, he keeps a healthy skepticism, but continues to pray and is open to the flowering of real faith. Jacobs is a knowledge junky, to be sure. He enjoys the lore he picks up along the way as much as any other aspect of his experiment. One of the ongoing schticks is his meeting with the shatnez tester, Mr. Berkowitz. He is the one who determines whether or not your clothes are made of mixed fibers, in keeping with the Biblical injunction not to wear wool and linen together. The two become friends and prayer partners, in only one of the unexpected results of this year.

In the end, he says, "I'm now a reverent agnostic. Which isn't an oxymoron, I swear. I now believe that whether or not there's a God, there is such a thing as sacredness. Life is sacred." Not a bad outcome. --Valerie Ryan

About the Author:

A.J. Jacobs is the author of It’s All Relative and the New York Times bestsellers The Know-It-All, The Year of Living Biblically, and The Guinea Pig Diaries. He is the editor at large of Esquire magazine, a contributor to NPR, and has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Entertainment Weekly. He lives in New York City with his wife and kids. Visit him at AJJacobs.com.

A.J. Jacobs is the author of It’s All Relative and the New York Times bestsellers The Know-It-All, The Year of Living Biblically, and The Guinea Pig Diaries. He is the editor at large of Esquire magazine, a contributor to NPR, and has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Entertainment Weekly. He lives in New York City with his wife and kids. Visit him at AJJacobs.com.

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