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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible » User review

What does it take to live for a year according to the bible?

  • Apr 6, 2009
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I, like the author, am a secular Jew living in an urban setting. I, also, consider myself agnostic,  although I tend to believe in ideas such as 'destiny' and 'fate', but only to a degree. While the author had a real adventure throughout the book, I can say that it was something of an adventure for me as well. I can't claim to have taken a year to read it but in the few days that I devoted to it I can honestly say I learned something. But, as with those who will read this book and the author himself, I was hardly changed by it. By 'changed' I mean I did not all of a sudden become an Orthodox Jew or a Conservative bible belt Christian. On the contrary, I think I more than ever believe that the bible is last thing that should dictate our lives.

One of the more persistent ideas throughout the book is that each religious sect picks and chooses what it wants to follow and live by from the bible. I would pose the following question, why does one need a bible in the first place? Is it any different from a person writing down the rules that they think are correct and another million who pick and choose what they want to believe in and in the process make amendments for all kinds of instances that the initial author had missed/omitted for whatever reason? This is an argument I was waiting for the author to make yet it was never presented in the context that I've set up. You like to pray? Go ahead. You want to grow a beard? Go ahead. You want to help the poor? Go ahead. What's stopping you? When it comes to ethics and morals I don't believe that understanding the difference between right and wrong takes godly intervention.  Rather, a simple, rational and logical understanding.

Why is it that you need the bible, for example, to point you in every direction? Does one really need someone to tell them that killing is wrong? That having affairs, lying to one's wife and family, is wrong? Some would say that a 'push' in the right direction is helpful, it sure is. But the bible isn't a push, it is supposed to take over your life in all aspects and forms. It will swallow you whole, and if you pray enough and abide by its hundreds, perhaps thousands, of 'rules' (depending on how you read it, interpret it, abide by it, etc), according to some, perhaps spit your soul into heaven and not a so called 'hell.' No thanks, I'd rather stick to morals, ethics, and human decency to help me see a way through this world. I thank the author for what he's done here and perhaps I'd agree with more of his conclusions if I did the same. In the end I was simply hoping that at some point he could realize that any book could do what the bible does; sugar coating rules and regulations with stories from which you can then pick and choose what to follow, ignore, take literally or figuratively, try to find hidden meanings, basically use any and all forms of ones imagination, etc, is not something divine or 'Godly.' Yet, this is what most of today's religions are based on.

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More The Year of Living Biblically:... reviews
review by . June 05, 2010
I had high expectations when I received this book as a gift, and they were fulfilled. A.J. Jacobs is hilarious and insightful at the same time as he tries to live using every rule from the Bible. He starts off with more broad and popular rules, like not gossiping or lying, and moves on to the very particular parts of the Bible like the type of clothing and length of hair to wear. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to laugh and is willing to be open about religious ideas. A must read! …
review by . March 05, 2009
AJ Jacobs is a fantastic writer, and I enjoyed this book, about a year spent trying to live as literally according to the Bible as legally possible, much more than "Know It All," his experiment in reading the Encyclopedia Britannica. His sections on experimenting with the stranger sides of orthodox religions are funny and fascinating, while his struggles with the basic premise of his challenge (which Bible to take literally? what about the illegal parts?) are eye-opening. Like the movie "Religulous," …
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Ranked #909
I am a history graduate student specializing in early twentieth-century European history, and more specifically Russian/Soviet history and military history. I mainly like to review historical monographs … more
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Author: A.J. Jacobs
Genre: Memoir

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