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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What happens when you try to observe all the Strictures of the Bible
Most of us try to live good lives and help others when we can. But Esquire magazine writer, AJ Jacobs, decided that he would combine the writing of his next book with his search into religion. And what better way to do this then to try and live a year following all the hundreds of rules and laws of the Holy Bible.

To start with the author begins with almost no...
Published on 4 Oct 2007 by M. A. Ramos

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars thought-provoking
An interesting book which raises plenty of thoughts concerning the function of religion these days, and highlights how difficult it would be to live this way strictly.
Published 8 months ago by bananana


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What happens when you try to observe all the Strictures of the Bible, 4 Oct 2007
By 
M. A. Ramos (Florida USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Most of us try to live good lives and help others when we can. But Esquire magazine writer, AJ Jacobs, decided that he would combine the writing of his next book with his search into religion. And what better way to do this then to try and live a year following all the hundreds of rules and laws of the Holy Bible.

To start with the author begins with almost no background at all in religion of any kind. He was born into a Jewish family; he was raised very secular and labeled himself as agnostic. He went into this venture with a very objective mindset and talked to various religious Scholars from various faiths from his Orthodox Jewish heritage to the fundamentalist Christians. He did not even own a copy of his own Bible when he started the project; he had a Bible from his ex-girlfriend from ten years earlier.

His plan, which he follows, is to live the first nine months of the year per the Old Testament and the remainder of the year following the teachings of the New Testament. We see not only what he goes through in trying to accomplish his goal, but some of the reactions to those he interacts with. Of course the first time he is in public and tries to follow the law that he cannot touch a woman to receive his change. But in doing so he breaks another law and sins to explain his actions, he lies. And from there the book just flows. He does try a wide range of literal approaches to the Bible and we get to watch it all.

The book is a very entertaining read. I had never read any of his work before, but I found myself just sitting in my chair and reading page after page. He shares his journey with us from what he physically went through, but also his thoughts and what he learns from these experiences. There are a few of Bible versus he gets wrong in the pre-publication version, and some pages seem a bit slow. But this is a book that is very enjoyable to read. I am sure this will be optioned as a movie. Regardless of your personal beliefs you must read this book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thou shalt not pass wind..., 16 Oct 2010
By 
Paul Harris (Llantrisant, Wales) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Year of Living Biblically (Paperback)
I loved this book! I was sure I'd find it funny in many places but didn't bargain for it to be quite so thought provoking. Just as revealing about yourself the reader and ourselves in modern society as it is for what you may or may not know of the Bible. My criticism is that all ended so suddenly due to the large section of notes at the back. (I'd started checking them as I read the early pages, but as they're not referenced at all in the main body of text, I'd forgotten all about them when the book abruptly ended...). My favourite obscure commandment was the [unexplained] ban on passing wind when praying with tefilin on! Well worth reading.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Witty, thoughtful and thoroughly enjoyable, 29 Jan 2009
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I read about this book in the Guardian weekend magazine which included a few passages. The bits that were included were very good, so I bought the book. You never know whether they printed the best "bits", but what they printed in the Guardian magazine were just examples of the many brilliant parts of the book. Now, if you're looking for a spiritual guide, or some deep and meaningful book about the bible, this is not for you. But if you want to read an interesting, witty, and thoughtful rendition of how a guy tried to stick to the many rules set out in the bible, this is the book for you. I would recommend this book almost everyone I know because I think most people will find something in it that they can relate to.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Laugh out loud, 30 Sep 2010
By 
Mondoro (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Year of Living Biblically (Paperback)
I was reading this book on a crowded train coming home from Manchester yesterday and attracted some strange looks because I just could not stop myself laughing out loud. When I first picked it up it was because I wanted an answer to the question 'why on earth did he do this'. Within a few pages I was compltely hooked, I can't pick out the best bit, it was all good and you just have to read it. Think he must be a very sweet man -and as for his wife - if there is a heaven she is going to be made a saint, if only for putting up with his awful beard!! I can't wait to read his other books - thanks A.J. loved your book!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "My aunt Katie told me I was, as our people say, meshugga", 28 Sep 2007
By 
Sebastian Fernandez (Tampa, Florida United States) - See all my reviews
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I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I expected it to be funny, and it certainly is, but I also got a highly entertaining course on religion. There is so much interesting information in this book, that it does not matter whether you are a faithful of any religion, or a secular person. I guarantee you will find something revealing.

The author was raised in a non-practicing Jewish household, but in the last few years has become interested in religion. Therefore, in an effort to explore this topic, and write a book in the process, he decided to follow teachings of the Bible for a year. As you can probably imagine, this is not an easy feat. Not only does the author have to adjust to a complex set of rules, but his family also has to endure the results of this quest. A fairly simple rule, like not being able to shave his beard, leads to questions at airports, scared kids, and other uncomfortable situations. But think about the harder rules to follow, like the one dealing with stoning adulterers, or the protocol for interacting with women at "that time of the month".

When most non-religious people think about what "living Biblically" means, we relate to the Ten Commandments. But this is only the tip of the iceberg. After four weeks of reading the Bible, A.J. Jacobs came up with a list of 800 rules to follow. If you add to that the fact that there are 7,000 versions of the best selling book in history, then the issue becomes much more complicated. It is no surprise that an average person breaks many, many, many rules in our everyday life.

I was really impressed by the way in which Jacobs handled this balancing act. It is not easy to write about religion without upsetting a fair amount of people, especially if there is an element of humor added to the mix. I am glad to report that the treatment of the topic is as objective as one can expect. The humor is clever and present in the right amount. This results in a pleasant read, that is greatly informative to boot. In this book, I found many facts that I did not know, and I feel like I better understand various religious groups, including some less popular ones, such as the Amish, the Samaritans, the Falwell followers and the Red Letter Christians. Kudos to A.J. Jacobs for writing such a wonderful book!
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you!!!, 6 Feb 2011
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Year of Living Biblically (Paperback)
To the Author:

Thank you, thank you, thank you :)
I could not tell you how many times this book has lifted me up at the end of a weary day. As a homeschooling mother of 4 under 8s, life is wonderful, but soooo trying at times. So my favourite end-of-day-treat is to curl up with your book (my husband banned me from reading it in the study as I was laughing out loud too much). The worries of the day fade away, as I laugh uncontrollably....
As a life-long Christian who dearly loves G-d, I am 9 months into my own discovery of the wonders of Judaism and the scriptures read from a Jewish point of view. It's a life-changingly wondrous journey, but when I get a little too serious about it all, I think of this book...and read on until I force myself to put it down and get on with what I really ought to be doing......, but this time with a big grin on my face :)
If there's one thing I do know about G-d, it's that He has a better sense of humour than most people imagine. I thank Him for inspiring you to write such a funny book, on such a heart-touchingly meaningful subject. The most delicious thing about it is that you get to do all those crazy things I'd love to do, but don't quite dare to for fear that my family and friends (and poor long-suffering husband) would think I was totally mad. Wonderful :) I shall be quite lost when it is finished...

Best wishes to your dear wife - she deserves a medal for living through such a project ;) She must be quite a lady!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Adapting to an Anachronism, 22 July 2009
This review is from: The Year of Living Biblically (Paperback)
If you belong to any faith at all, and even if you are an atheist, I heartily recommend this book to you. I picked it up at Toronto Airport last year along with a bad case of food poisoning, and can tell you that of the two, the book was infinitely much more fun. AJ Jacobs isn't well-known in the UK, so I am on a one-woman crusade to get this book noticed among friends and relations and my internet groups. It has a wealth of information in there, along with the feeling that although he may have been an agnostic to begin with, AJ has experienced something worthwhile as he attempts to follow the rules and regulations and precepts of the Bible in its entirety.

Yes, there is a bit of picking and choosing, not least because many of the observances are just not practical in the Western world. Try stoning an adulterer in Central Park (as AJ did) and see how far it gets you. But there then follows some interesting facts about the stoning of adulterers - not as clear-cut as it sounds and you still won't like it if you are one.... Apparently, the victim was given enough wine to make him drunk before being shoved over a cliff which had to be high enough to make sure he'd be dead by the time he hit the bottom of it. Barbaric, yet oddly humane.

On the back of 'The Year of Living Biblically', I went on to read 'The Know-It-All', another fascinating book about (some of) the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

AJ says he reads his reviews. Many, many thanks, AJ, for the gift you have of making people laugh, and for making them think. You certainly made me do both.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Trying almost everything in the Bible at least once, 7 Dec 2008
By 
This is a social experiment I wouldn't impose as punishment on criminals, but Jacobs makes it both illuminating and entertaining. How far can he take Bible literalism for a whole year? He tries to avoid discriminating which traditions he will observe. Some hundreds of injunctions, like the one about taking eggs from under mother birds without hurting the mother, can be done once and crossed off, like a list of things to be done within 365 days. Other commands won't go away, like observing "Thou shalt not lie", when his wife keeps asking "What are you thinking?".

As I feared, Jacob's juggling act gets complicated. He notes, "In Judaism, the biblical laws that come without explanation -- and there are many -- are called 'chukim'". There's also a Hebrew term 'Chasid Shote', meaning a righteous idiot like the guy who avoided helping a drowning woman lest he break the ban on touching her.

Along the way, Jacobs searches out fellow literalists. He invites the Jehovah Witnesses to his house to learn they don't believe in the Trinity or Hell, since they claim those doctrines arn't properly in the book. He learns of Jews who want to bring back polygamy, and a gay pastor whose pamphlet titled "What Jesus Said about Homosexuality" opens to a completely blank page. He finds there's a group called "Jubilee USA", which seeks to apply Old Testament laws about forgiving debt in the Jubilee year to the problem of odious debt in Africa. In his personal quest for literalism, Jacobs finds that the line "Love ... keeps no record of wrongs" forces him to delete a computer record of incorrect statements made by his wife.

Anyway, it's a surprising trip, and Jacobs is certainly changed. He emerges from his year more grateful for life, and more funny than ever. This is a well-conceived, delimited experiment in religious practice, that's well reported, and highly productive of insights small and big.

--author of Correcting Jesus: 2000 Years of Changing the Story
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The most high concept, 22 Aug 2007
By 
Peter Reeve (Thousand Oaks, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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A.J. Jacobs, editor-at-large to Esquire magazine, has hit on a sure-fire high-concept theme for his latest book. Not surprisingly, it has been optioned for a movie by Paramount Pictures and Brad Pitt's Plan B productions. Quite simply, he set out to live according the Bible's precepts, strictly and literally. He identified more than 800 rules and spent a year trying to adhere to them.

Among other things, he has called this venture 'a critique of fundamentalism'. He says, 'I took fundamentalism to its logical extreme in my quest to prove that literalism is not the best way to interpret the Bible'. From the opening, he conflates - in my opinion, confuses - spirituality with religion. Arguably, he has missed the point spiritually, by concentrating on outward, rather than inward, renewal. Or rather, by tending to assume that the former must lead to the latter. Still, I mustn't criticize him for doing just what he said he would do -- live according to the rules. At heart, Jacobs is an anthropologist. He mostly finds spirituality in the same place he finds humor - in social interaction.

He has a chatty, colloquial style that you will find either charming or irritating - probably both, by turns, but mostly charming. The book is very readable, but somewhat rambling, and could have said what it has to say in fewer pages, but if you enjoy his light, amusing style, you won't mind that. This is holiday reading that nonetheless deals with very weighty matters, and that's no mean feat. I found his humour wry and amusing, rather than laugh-out-loud hilarious, but that's a matter of taste.

Atheism, and challenges in general to religious belief, are big business for publishers right now, so Jacobs has timed this book well. When The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins, was published in Britain, some readers complained that Dawkins was 'pushing against an open door', that no one believed in the literal truth of the Bible any more. I'm not sure how true that is of Britain, but I know it's not true of contemporary America. Fundamentalism and literalism are alive and well here. Jacobs presents a formidable challenge to those positions. I am glad that he has done so with humour and sympathy, without Dawkins's vitriolic intolerance of alternative views.

And finally, Jacobs may not have succeeded in doing everything the Bible said he should do, but he did at least read it all. And that's more than most believers have done.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Delightlful, kind-hearted, witty, 11 Nov 2007
This is indeed a "humble" quest: not an effort to belittle ... or to promote literalism by this agnostic. With an entry every day for one year, what patience to complete this book! However, toward the end the monthly sections get shorter, which may be due not to burnout but to the birth of the author's twin sons: an opportunity to consider circumcision.

From growing and finally shaving a beard, the Amish, blowing a trumpet at the start of each month, visiting the Kentucky creationist museum, forgiving debt, outlasting a Jehovah's Witness in discussing the Bible, stoning the inventive (and silly) way, turning to the NetFlix alternative CleanFlicks to avoid inappropriate movie watching, eating crickets, a sympathetic look at snake handling, where Spock on Star Trek got his split-finger salute, Jacobs just goes on and on, writing exceptionally well and staying funny ... but reverent.

The Old Testament and more Jewish material absorbed me more than the New Testament and more Christian material: was Jacobs more comfortable with the former?

Nothing too (obviously) heavy but plenty to think about. You'll wonder if you could have filled up a year of living Biblically so well. And did I forget to mention the mixed fibers?
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The Year of Living Biblically
The Year of Living Biblically by A J Jacobs (Paperback - 5 Mar 2009)
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