Book Review: The Year of Living Biblically by AJ JacobsPosted: December 16, 2013
I borrowed this from one of my religious family, I think as part of their continuing hope that I will “see the light” and return to the Christian faith.
The premise is simple, journalist AJ Jacobs decides to try and follow as many of the Bible’s laws, commandments and rules for an entire year. He’s coming at it cold, being a secular Jew with little experience or knowledge of the Bible, but he hurls himself into it.
Over twelve months he does his best to fulfill as many as he can, from the easy and well known “big ten” to the weird, quirky and bizarre, leading him to grow a great big bushy beard and stone (well, pebble) sinners.
He examines the different interpretations of the Bible and how different people try to follow it’s rules. He sees the ridiculous lengths some people go to but also the joy and help that religion can provide for some people.
It’s an interesting look at some of the more obscure aspects of the Bible, but the main draw is the warm, irreverent tone.
Jacobs is a terrifically funny writer, exploring the effects it has on his beliefs and life, while reveling in the absurdity of it all. There are times when he struggles with rules or little frustrations, but for most of it he has warm, engaging positivity and throws himself head first into all of it. While he does poke fun at some of the people he meets there’s a genuine warmth and kindness to his worldview, which I dug a lot.
As well as the Bible stuff he deals with his continuing day-to-day life, including his attempts to have a second child with his wife. It’s good to have in anchored in the every day, and I genuinely warmed to Jacobs, with his odd obsession and dedication for a daft and pointless task, and his long suffering wife.
It taught me interesting things about the Bible and the changes in how Christianity has been practiced, the different ideas and theories behind it’s meaning and the positive effects it has on him, despite the inconveniences.
I enjoyed the book a great deal, but remain agnostic.
Verdict: An interesting and entertaining read that highlights the weird aspects of the Bible, but also the positive effects faith can have on people’s lives, and the good it can inspire in people. Jacobs is a witty writer and embraces the weirdness of his Biblical year to great comedic effect, great fun. 8/10.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.