The Year of Living Biblically
I’m not a book review kind of blogger. The problem is a proper book review takes a lot of time going back over the book, finding some nice quotes, thinking about it for a long time. And if you are using a library book it is that much harder not having the benefit of dog eared pages and underlined sentences. I would like to do that, but don’t have time.
That being said, I like recommending books. I hearby recommend The Year of Living Biblically, by A.J. Jacobs to anyone, Christian, agnostic, searcher, atheist. In this book, Jacobs attempts to live an entire year following all the rules of the bible. In his own words:
The Year of Living Biblically is about my quest to live the ultimate biblical life. To follow every single rule in the Bible – as literally as possible. I obey the famous ones:
- The Ten Commandments
- Love thy neighbor
- Be fruitful and multiply
But also, the hundreds of oft-ignored ones.
- Do not wear clothes of mixed fibers.
- Do not shave your beard
- Stone adulterers
Jacobs is a very funny guy and the book is highly entertaining. I especially liked the thoughful treatment he gives religion. While not shying away from discussing the absurdities of the religion, he really tries to live it and looks for the silver lining in a lot of the crazy practices. Which is interesting, especially as he considers what it would take to really believe the religion. In some places he gets to the point where he can see himself on the edge of possibly being able to believe. He describes his experience like having an alter-ego, who he calls “Jacob.”
Jacobs asks himself why try to do all this. I would be pretty certain a big part of it was to write a book, since he is a writer. But I am sure there is truth in how he answers the question as well:
Why? Well, I grew up in a very secular home (I’m officially Jewish but I’m Jewish in the same way the Olive Garden is an Italian restaurant). I’d always assumed religion would just wither away and we’d live in a neo-Enlightenment world. I was, of course, spectacularly wrong. So was I missing something essential to being a human? Or was half the world deluded?
I decided to dive in headfirst. To try to experience the Bible myself and find out what’s good in it, and what’s maybe not so relevant to the 21st century.
Most of the book relates to the Hebrew Bible, (or Old Testament), but he also spends a portion of the year incorporating New Testament rules as well.
Again, a very enjoyable book, easy read, and crazy funny. It really has helped me to be less quick to throw out the babies of the bible with the bathwater. Philosphers Without Gods went unread because of this book usurping it’s place on my bedside table.