The Year of Living Biblically by A. J. Jacobs
One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible

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Synopsis

From the bestselling author of The Know-It-All comes a fascinating and timely exploration of religion and the Bible. A.J. Jacobs chronicles his hilarious and thoughtful year spent obeying―as literally as possible―the tenets of the Bible.

Raised in a secular family but increasingly interested in the relevance of faith in our modern world, A.J. Jacobs decides to dive in headfirst and attempt to obey the Bible as literally as possible for one full year. He vows to follow the Ten Commandments. To be fruitful and multiply. To love his neighbor. But also to obey the hundreds of less publicized rules: to avoid wearing clothes made of mixed fibers; to play a ten-string harp; to stone adulterers.

The resulting spiritual journey is at once funny and profound, reverent and irreverent, personal and universal and will make you see history’s most influential book with new eyes.

Jacobs’s quest transforms his life even more radically than the year spent reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica for The Know-It-All. His beard grows so unruly that he is regularly mistaken for a member of ZZ Top. He immerses himself in prayer, tends sheep in the Israeli desert, battles idolatry, and tells the absolute truth in all situations—much to his wife’s chagrin.

Throughout the book, Jacobs also embeds himself in a cross-section of communities that take the Bible literally. He tours a Kentucky-based creationist museum and sings hymns with Pennsylvania Amish. He dances with Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn and does Scripture study with Jehovah’s Witnesses. He discovers ancient biblical wisdom of startling relevance. And he wrestles with seemingly archaic rules that baffle the twenty-first-century brain.

Jacobs’s extraordinary undertaking yields unexpected epiphanies and challenges. A book that will charm readers both secular and religious, The Year of Living Biblically is part Cliff Notes to the Bible, part memoir, and part look into worlds unimaginable. Thou shalt not be able to put it down.
 

About A. J. Jacobs

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A.J. Jacobs is the author of 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.
 
Published October 9, 2007 by Simon & Schuster. 404 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Religion & Spirituality, Education & Reference, Humor & Entertainment. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Year of Living Biblically

Kirkus Reviews

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Like David confronting Goliath, Jacobs stood before his ex-girlfriend’s Bible and pledged to spend the following 12 months (much of that time in New York City) exploring biblical literalism by living the good book as it was originally intended.

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The New York Times

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He spends 20 minutes trying to track down the newscaster’s e-mail address so he can ask if she’s all right, while at the same time worrying that he’s become some kind of “overly virtuous sap.” After a year of praying every day he becomes by no stretch a believer, but someone who at least accepts...

Oct 14 2007 | Read Full Review of The Year of Living Biblically...

The New York Times

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A. J. Jacobs is a specialist in dubious achievements. This memoir details his reality-show version of living by rules set forth in the Bible.

Oct 18 2007 | Read Full Review of The Year of Living Biblically...

The New York Times

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Jacobs has dinner with him, and leaves with the impression that Gil is “subtly dangerous.” Jacobs comes closest to transcendence in a crowd of Hasidic men dancing ecstatically all night.

Oct 14 2007 | Read Full Review of The Year of Living Biblically...

The Guardian

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The Year of Living Biblically by AJ Jacobs Buy it from the Guardian bookshop Search the Guardian bookshop Yes, it's yet another lifestyle experiment, joining the ra...

Mar 14 2009 | Read Full Review of The Year of Living Biblically...

Publishers Weekly

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(He considered some rules, such as killing magicians, too legally questionable to uphold.) In his attempts at living the Bible to the letter, Jacobs hits the road in highly entertaining fashion to meet other literalists, including Samaritans in Israel, snake handlers in Appalachia, Amish in Lanca...

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AV Club

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By month 12, he's fulfilled the first divine command, "be fruitful and multiply" (albeit through a test tube), and discovered that sacred power lies within the Bible, even if he can't say for sure whether humans or God created it.

Nov 01 2007 | Read Full Review of The Year of Living Biblically...

Open Letters Monthly

We can only hope Jacobs gains some kind of perspective on all this renown before he dashes into his next book, because The Year of Living Green would be boring where this book is sacrilegious, and The Year of Living Fat would be cruel where this book is trite, and The Year of Living Muslim might ...

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Persephone Magazine

while Christian conservatives accuse liberals and feminists of selective readings of scriptures to suit their own needs, those same conservatives also go about picking and choosing what passages women should adhere to because as Held Evans points out: After all, technically speaking, it is bibli...

Nov 02 2012 | Read Full Review of The Year of Living Biblically...

TimesUnion.com

Jacobs, the editor at large for Esquire magazine, has created a unique spot for himself in the world of gonzo-memoir-journalism with his best-selling “The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World” (his account of reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica) an...

Mar 26 2008 | Read Full Review of The Year of Living Biblically...

Christianity Today

I actually thought that the media was getting a little better about it, but I think that they went back to the idea that every evangelical Christian is like Sarah Palin.

Jun 30 2009 | Read Full Review of The Year of Living Biblically...

The Well-Read Man

In developing The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli wrote either a small booklet of kindly advice on leadership for princes and other regional leaders, or he mocked those same leaders through the most deceptive satire ever written.

Sep 23 2011 | Read Full Review of The Year of Living Biblically...

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