The Year Of Living Biblically

February 1, 2008

I finally finished the following book:


First of all, I love the author. He also wrote The Know It All: One Man’s Humble Quest To Become The Smartest Person In the World. In that book, Jacobs read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica from a-z.

For this book, A. J. Jacobs undertook the overwhelming challenge of living the Bible as literally as possible for a whole year. Something important to note is that Jacobs himself was agnostic when he began to write his book. He was raised as a secular Jew. He was intrigued by religion and people who seek to follow the Bible and so he took on this challenge.

He began by reading the entire Bible and making a list of all the commandments. He decided to focus on the Old Testament for the first 8 months and the New Testament for the last four. During that time he grew a huge beard, wrestled with the purity laws (he could not touch women and carried around his own folding stool so he could remain ritually clean), dressed all in white (it’s in Ecclesiastes), had his clothes inspected to make sure he wasn’t mixing fibers, committed to praying three times a day for ten minutes each time (he had trouble at first since he didn’t believe anyone was listening), tossed a pebble at an adulterer, and did his best to observe every commandment and law (even the ones that seem bizarre). He visited Israel, various synagogues and churches, a creation museum, Lancaster County, PA, Jerry Falwells’s church, a evangelical homosexual Bible Study group in NYC, a church in Appalachia where venemous snakes are handled, read tons of books and commentaries and spoke to many religious leaders in person or on the phone.

Not believing in God or accepting Jesus Christ as his savior presented minor roadblocks to him, which he readily admitted. He decided to behave a if he believed and see if belief followed the behavior. He really tried to get to the bottom of some of the Biblical laws and commandments–ones that he had previously believed to be predictable and ritualistic became traditions that he understood better. He came to understand and respect people and groups that he had previously dismissed as crazy, weird, or wrong–even if he didn’t agree with their beliefs.

It made for a really great book. I was challenged in many of my beliefs about certain parts of Scripture and the human population. I appreciated the insight Jacobs had and think you all should read this book.

One response to The Year Of Living Biblically

  1. Sounds quite interesting. You had mentioned it to me previously, but I am happy to hear some of your final thoughts on it. I don’t think I’ll ever read it myself, but I’m glad that you shared. šŸ™‚