[Book Review] The Year of Living Biblically

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wasn’t sure what to expect out of this book, aside from a humorous tour of the Bible. I was pleasantly surprised to find an honest, if at times irreverent, attempt by Jacobs to not only follow the Bible as literally as possible (something we discover quite early on is not necessarily as plausible an option), but also to get into the mindset of someone who does follow the Bible out of conviction. Being Jewish, Jacobs spends more time on the “Old Testament” section, grappling, much like his Biblical namesake did, with the divine and the heritage of his ancestors, whether the few generations in recent memory or the Biblical forefathers.

His quest is a bizarre one at times, but while he draws humor out of the whole project, it also showcases what it is to deal with the idea of Divine instructions for living, something I was able to identify with extremely well given the road I traveled on my way to my conversion to Judaism. I also very much appreciate that Jacobs never mocks, even when dealing with ideas that simply do not match the furthest lengths he is willing to stretch his mind; that respect is what makes this book and saves it from the disaster it could have been. Jacobs’ journey shows that you cannot grapple with the Divine and come out unchanged, but it also shows that we each have our own path to take when it comes to our relationship to the Divine and that each path is a valid one.


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