The Year of Living Biblically
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Date: October 2007
Duration: 6 hours 17 minutes
After his hilarious chronicle about reading the Encyclopedia Britannica from A to Z -- actually a-ak to zyweic -- our fearless author, A.J. Jacobs, tackles a new intellectual adventure -- an exploration of the most influential book in the world: the Bible. A.J. determined the best way to explore the Bible was to live it, as literally as possible. For one year.
There are 700 rules in the Old and New Testaments, A.J. discovered -- some wise, some general, some contradictory. Some from Jesus, some from prophets, some from God. A.J. assembled a board of spiritual advisors -- rabbis, ministers and priests, some conservative, some of them ""one four-letter word away from excommunication"" -- who would provide guidance and advice throughout his journey. But the journey was, by necessity, arbitrary. DIY religion.
In The Year of Living Biblically , A.J. explores the Bible chronologically, from Old Testament (crucial, given the Ten Commandments) to the New Testament (crucial, given America's powerful evangelical movement and its literal interpretation of the Bible) -- and lives the Bible on every level. He obeys the Ten Commandments, he is fruitful and multiplies (A.J.'s wife had twins during his year!); he remembers the Sabbath and keeps it holy. But he also obeys the oft-neglected rules, such as avoiding clothes of mixed fibers, and refraining from shaving the edges of his beard (Leviticus 19:27). So throughout the year A.J. is commonly mistaken for a member of ZZ Top. Or Moses.
While A.J.'s wit and humor are irrepressible, The Year of Living Biblically is not acerbic satire. As with The Know-It-All, this is a quest for knowledge. While the struggle of a modern-day Manhattanite attempting to live by 700 Biblical rules is necessarily hilarious, A.J. also treats his subject(s) with great respect. Whether visiting Negev, the huge desert in southern Israel where Abraham, Isaac and Jacob once dwelled; or the Answers in Genesis Museum (under construction) near Cincinatti, Ohio, A.J.'s reverent curiosity and comedic insights exist in equal measures.
This is a look at religion today through one man's totally arbitrary, deeply funny, journey. In A.J.'s hands, The Year of Living Biblically is also fascinating and irresistible.