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The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible
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The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible [Format Kindle]

A. J. Jacobs
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Amazon Best of the Month, September 2007: Make no mistake: A.J. Jacobs is not a religious man. He describes himself as Jewish "in the same way the Olive Garden is an Italian restaurant." Yet his latest work, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible, is an insightful and hilarious journey for readers of all faiths. Though no fatted calves were harmed in the making of this book, Jacobs chronicles 12 months living a remarkably strict Biblical life full of charity, chastity, and facial hair as impressive as anything found in The Lord of the Rings. Through it all, he manages to brilliantly keep things light, while avoiding the sinful eye of judgment. --Dave Callanan
Subtitled: "One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible," Jacobs, or A.J., as his two-year-old son calls him, does just that. It is likely that no one but A.J. Jacobs could have accomplished such a feat. After all, his last book, The Know-It-All, chronicles his reading of the entire Encyclopedia Brittanica, from A to Z. No one but a smart, witty, self-deprecating, nitpicky kinda guy would undertake two such daunting tasks, and complete them with grace, no pun intended.

Jacobs, a New York Jewish agnostic, decides to follow the laws and rules of the Bible, beginning with the Old Testament, for one year. (He actually adds some bonus days and makes it a 381-day year.) He starts by growing a beard and we are with him through every itchy moment. Jacobs is borderline OCD, at least as he describes himself; obsessing over possible dangers to his son, germs, literal interpretation of Bible verses, etc. He enlists the aid of counselors along the way; Jewish rabbis, Christians of every stripe, friends and neighbors.

In an open-minded way he also visits with atheists, Evangelicals Concerned (a gay group), Jerry Falwell, snake handlers, Red Letter Christians--those who adhere to the red letters in the Bible, those words spoken by Jesus Himself, and even takes a trip to Israel and meets Samaritans. Through it all, he keeps a healthy skepticism, but continues to pray and is open to the flowering of real faith. Jacobs is a knowledge junky, to be sure. He enjoys the lore he picks up along the way as much as any other aspect of his experiment. One of the ongoing schticks is his meeting with the shatnez tester, Mr. Berkowitz. He is the one who determines whether or not your clothes are made of mixed fibers, in keeping with the Biblical injunction not to wear wool and linen together. The two become friends and prayer partners, in only one of the unexpected results of this year.

In the end, he says, "I'm now a reverent agnostic. Which isn't an oxymoron, I swear. I now believe that whether or not there's a God, there is such a thing as sacredness. Life is sacred." Not a bad outcome. --Valerie Ryan

From Publishers Weekly

With the Bible in hand, Jacobs sets off to spend a year attempting to follow the innumerous laws of Scripture in order to achieve the supposed claim of fundamentalists who say the Bible should be taken literally. Many obstacles stand in the way of this Jewish Manhattan father with a wife expecting twins by year's end. Through his journey, Jacobs does experience a spiritual awakening of sorts that reminds him of the importance of religion. He also reveals the scriptural selectiveness practiced by even the most zealous fundamentalists. While the abridgment generally works in providing listeners with the highlights of Jacobs's year, there are times when it seems to refer to material not covered in the audio. Sometimes too, the entries are too abrupt or trimmed. Jacobs reads the audiobook with adequate tone, speed and emphasis. While his soft nasal voice isn't particularly compelling, what he has to say about his adventures in living biblically will certainly keep people listening.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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4.0 étoiles sur 5 Vivre "bibliquement"...Que c'est dur ! 21 août 2010
Par Modeste
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
L'auteur, A.J. Jacobs, a décidé de vivre durant un an selon les principes bibliques, appliqués à la lettre.
Il avoue honnêtement que cette expérience n'a pas de fondement mystique ou théologique, mais doit servir de base à un livre...insolite.
Issu d'une famille juive, A.J. Jacobs réalise très vite que les préceptes bibliques sont innombrables, et que les appliquer tous relève de l'utopie. Il doit donc faire des choix, plus ou moins futiles, comme laisser pousser sa barbe durant un an, brûler de l'encens ou sonner de la corne...Il se livre aussi à des pratiques plus sérieuses, comme la prière quotidienne ou l'observation des dix commandements.
Il rencontre aussi les représentants des très nombreux courants de la foi hébraïque, commente leurs remarques et leurs interprétations, toujours avec tolérance et intelligence.
Inévitablement, le livre devient quelque peu fastidieux, au fil des pages, pourtant, l'humour y est bien présent, et cet ouvrage donne aussi l'occasion de revisiter tel ou tel chapitre du livre saint.
L'auteur restera agnostique, même si son expérience a quelque peu marqué ses conceptions mystiques, au total, son livre est bien écrit, assez accessible aux francophones, et s'il ne prétend pas à une grande profondeur, il se maintient tout de même à un bon niveau de réflexion et mérite d'être lu.
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 A man's journey, plumbing the depths of trying to live by the Bible 14 septembre 2007
Par David J. Huber - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
How can I rate or judge one person's life story? Only by the way he writes about it. His story is his story, and deserves five stars simply for telling it. But I give this five stars because he wrote about it so compellingly. I had a difficult time setting the book down, always wanting to keep on reading and moving forward and see what he did next.

When humorous things happen, he writes about them in a way that led me to chuckle along. Times of seriousness were written poignantly enough to sometimes shed a tear, or feel my heart moved as well. I especially applaud him for including stories about his wife, and how she wasn't always keen on what he was doing, and the difficulties they had while he went on this adventure. And I give him great credit for sticking with his goal for the whole year (and slightly beyond), and not giving up.

Jacobs is a wonderful writer! I will definitely be looking for more books by this guy, and will read his previous book.

And speaking as a Christian - and an ordained minister at that - I found his spiritual journey, and his insights into Judaism and Christianity as what was basically an outsider, to be very interesting to read about. Some of the things we take for granted or as base assumptions, he didn't know - he had to find out, and he continually showed the courage to go find a scholar, a rabbi, a minister, or other person with the knowledge to help him out. Especially when he found a law to be silly, instead of writing it off, he sought out someone who could explain why it might be there, and what it meant historically and means to some in the context of 21st century earth. I learned things about Christianity and Judaism from him; and also I learned a few things about my own personal faith from him. Sometimes I was challenged to rethink myself, or to consider "Have I really thought about that enough?", sometimes I was affirmed.

And as a non-fundamentalist, I applaud him most for showing - by being a living, tangible proof - that taking the Bible literally, and living everything in it literally, is impossible. For all the fundamentalist, biblical-literalists, follow-the-law Christians, this book serves as proof that their foundation is built entirely on sand, and that none of them are honest when they so arrogantly say they live "true to the Bible". Of the great many people in the world, Jacobs is perhaps the only one who's ever really tried to live by all the Bible's teachings; and he showed it can't be done.

My only complaint about Jacobs isn't about the book, and so it doesn't affect the rating, is that he didn't enter into the community aspect of either Judaism or Christianity, both of which are highly communal; one could easily make the argument that neither one can be done without a community. But Jacobs did try to do it all alone. Though he brought in people when he had questions, he never entered into a worshiping community at a synagogue or a church, never entered into the life of a faith family. He missed a large part of both religious experiences by not doing so, and I think his book - and his experience - would have been far, far richer if he had done so.

Looking at faith through the lens of someone jumping straight into it from the outside, when written as well as Jacobs' book, is a fantastic journey. Highly recommended, and I think this would be an excellent book to read in a church or synagogue education class.
358 internautes sur 391 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Thou shalt read this book 26 août 2007
Par mrliteral - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
Around a year ago, I read my first book by A.J. Jacobs, The Know-It-All, a memoir of the author's quest to read the entire Encyclopaedia Britannica. As a follow-up to that top-notch book, he has taken on a shorter but more difficult book, The Bible. For a year, Jacobs intended to follow the commandments of the Bible as literally as possible: not just the well-known ones (like "Thou shalt not kill") but the obscure ones as well (such as wearing clothes of mixed fibers). It was to be, as the book title states, The Year of Living Biblically.

The first problem with undertaking such a task is that there are a lot of different Bibles out there and even more ways to interpret what's in them. While Jacobs seems to rely mostly on the Revised Standard Version, he consults other versions as well. Over the course of the year he will meet with a number of different religious groups and individuals representing a broad spectrum of interpretations.

The nice thing about the Encyclopaedia Britannica was it was pretty straightforward, with little wiggle room for misreading. But in the Bible, almost everything can be read at least two ways. Even the Ten Commandments are subject to multiple interpretations: Does the commandment against killing mean all killing? What about executions? It is this ambiguity that lets the Bible fit almost all agendas. Is the Bible pro- or anti-slavery? What is its views on abortion, homosexuality or the roles of women? As Jacobs finds during the year, there is no true agreement. (And if the Bible has a message that contradicts your ideals, do you reject your ideals or (at least in part) the Bible?)

Jacobs finds that truly living Biblically - adhering to all the restrictions - is virtually impossible, and he finds that even the most literal reader of the book engages in some picking and choosing. As a self-described secular Jew, there is much that he personally disagrees with, but he is respectful of every faith he meets. Many times, he even finds his preconceptions about certain groups to be different from reality. He also finds that for even the obscure commandments, there are experts who can assist him, such as the man who can tell you if your clothes do truly violate the stricture on mixed fibers.

As Jacobs goes through the year, he finds that he is personally changing: the act of living Biblically changes the very way he thinks. He doesn't become a religious fanatic, but his worldview is affected. Throughout, however, he keeps his sense of humor and there are plenty of funny moments in the book. Overall, this is a superb follow-up to The Know-It-All (I think it helps if you've read that one first, but it's not essential). For a look at the Bible that is illuminating and simultaneously reverent and irreverent, this book is the one to read.
161 internautes sur 175 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Light-hearted but insightful look at a very serious subject 22 août 2007
Par A. Reid - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
Towards the end of this book, author AJ Jacobs speaks of the emptiness he experiences when he completes a project. I know the feeling. I have it now. I hate to put down his book.

This book is a travelogue, with Jacobs documenting his journey through terrain both strange and familiar. Throughout, he exhibits a self-deprecating wit that in no way undermines his insight. Laugh out loud funny? It is that. But even when he's wagging his bushy beard at something absurd, Jacobs' humor is neither cynical nor mean-spirited. His observations feel unflinchingly frank, but never superior--he is quick to acknowledge that he is as eccentric as anyone.

None of this is meant to imply that this book will be a comfortable fit for everyone. He is, after all, pointing out some of the more unusual and esoteric Biblical rules, trying them on, questioning them, looking at the people who follow them. I felt he handled the subject of Biblical literalism with meticulous respect, but some readers might be made uneasy at such scrutiny of sacred cows. And that would be a shame. Because while it's easy to laugh at his humor, it's equally important to reflect on his subtext. What are the psychological and social impacts of ritualism? There's a lot to be learned from an outsider looking in.

Like any good tour guide, Jacobs has come to feel like a friend, and I'm going to miss him. Until next trip.
44 internautes sur 45 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 "The Secret Fraternity of Bearded Guys" ~ Obedience, Cognitive Dissonance and the Holy Antenna 11 septembre 2007
Par Brian E. Erland - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
I was less than three paragraphs into the introduction of `The Year of Living Biblically' when I came to the conclusion that I was going to love this book. A. J. Jacobs latest literary endeavor takes the reader on a delightful and insightful journey onto the highways, byways and a neglected side roads or two in search of an authentic expression of 21st century Biblically based spirituality. Relying on the Bible, both Old and New Testament, as his beginning and end to all decision making processes Jacobs provides us with a very personal, intelligent, humorous and thought-provoking look at man's modern day search for God.

Jacobs is an extremely talented wordsmith who knows exactly how to transfer his inner thoughts and outward events onto the printed page in such a manner as to make one feel as though they're engaged in an intimate conversation with a close friend. His ongoing interior dialogue shows his audience that he is definitely an individual of depth who knows and understands the religio/philosophical issues he's dealing with. His mental musings are coupled with a quirky slant on the oddities of faith making for an entertaining and hilarious reading as he deftly moves from the absurd to the sublime.

Long after the laughing stops and the book has been finished and put aside you will be left with numerous nuggets of profundity to crack open and digest at your leisure. The most important for me was his recognition that true belief must be accompanied by corresponding actions lived out in the real world every day, if not as an act of love, most certainly as an act of obedience to the rules. As the Bible says, "Faith without works is dead."
38 internautes sur 39 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Jacobs' spiritual odyssey is vastly entertaining 22 août 2007
Par Henry W. Wagner - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
In this funny and knowing follow up to his first book, The Know-It-All, A. J. Jacobs, the man who read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica, tries to find out what it would be like "To live the ultimate Biblical life. Or, more precisely, to follow the Bible as literally as possible." Although he acknowledges that doing so is a daunting and dangerous proposition, he decides to make a good faith attempt to do just that, living his life using the Bible as a guide while he explores some of the questions the good book and organized religion in general provoke. Thus resolved, he embarks on a spiritual journey that leads him to examine his life and beliefs more deeply than ever before.

Jacobs' 388 day odyssey is vastly entertaining. During that time, he kept a detailed journal of his biblical experiments and how they impacted his daily life. His musings on his experiences are both touching and amusing--Jacobs is a facile writer, blessed with the ability to shift easily from outrageous to heartfelt in the space of a few sentences. His easy, self-deprecating humor wins over readers within the first few pages, converting them into eager observers of this unique experiment.

Taken on its face, the book's premise sounds like some elaborate movie plot (indeed, the book has already been optioned for film). Here's the pitch: "A hapless husband and father vows to live according to impossible rules." Predictably, when you try conducting yourself according to absolutes, hijinks inevitably ensue. Thus, when Jacobs vows not to lie, his truth telling annoys his long suffering wife (the incredibly understanding Julie). When Jacobs tries to be fruitful and multiply, he annoys his long suffering wife. When Jacobs decides he can't shake hands with a woman because she might have just had her period and is therefore unclean, he annoys his long suffering wife. And, when Jacobs...well, you get the picture. Jacobs milks the tensions in his personal life and numerous other awkward social situations that develop for all they're worth, providing some genuinely hilarious moments. More importantly, he also takes time to reflect on the reasons for these rules he's promised to uphold.

Quite the character himself, Jacobs also recounts his experiences with dozens of colorful individuals, among them his spiritual advisors, his ex-Uncle Gil, shatnez tester Mr. Berkowitz, and snake handler Jimmy Morrow. He also meets with ultra-Orthodox Jews, Samaritans, and Christians of every ilk, including the Amish, Red Letter Christians, Black Letter Christians, and members of the Christian Right.

Although he quickly reverts back to "normal" at the end of his extraordinary undertaking, Jacobs did emerge from the experience a changed man. What did he discover, ultimately? Most importantly, he realized that we all need boundaries and rules. Through prayer, he learned to be grateful for the blessings in his life. And, totally unexpectedly, he learned "to take refuge in the Bible and rejoice in it." Highly recommended.
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