The Year of Living Biblically

 The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs

This is A.J. Jacobs quest "to live the ultimate biblical life" for a year. He wanted to see what "the most influential book in the world" was all about, if it could change his spiritual status as a long-time agnostic, and to record the experience for a book. It's the first of his I've read, but his very entertaining writing has convinced me to put two more on my library list (The Puzzler, and The Know-It-All).

He began by reading through the Bible and taking note of every command, rule, and bit of wisdom he found. Then, with 72 pages of listed requirements for living, he set out to follow them all and see where it would take him. Knowing he'd need guidance and accountability, he gathered a team of people to be his advisors, including people from the Roman Catholic church, various Jewish sects and several different protestant faiths. 

Though he found some of the rules more than a little ridiculous, he treated the Bible and the people of faith he met with respect always. I appreciated that, and his honesty about the things he found contradictory or simply couldn't understand. I was sometimes perplexed by the things he chose to be completely literal about, but it was his quest, not mine, and there is insight to be gained by seeing it from a non-believer's point of view. 

The result of his year-long experiment is a funny, yet touching book that chronicles not only what he learned about the Bible and religion, but the personal changes it worked in him and in his outlook on life. I won't tell you what those changes were, but I will say the book is both engaging and thought-provolking whether you find yourself in agreement with his conclusions or not.


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