The Year of Living Biblically

A.J. Jacobs

Few targets get ridiculed more frequently and easily than the fundamentalist right. So it’s understandable that A.J. Jacobs would follow up on the success of Know-It-All with such an easily amusing topic. On its surface, The Year of Living Biblically appears less than sincere. Yet Jacobs establishes almost immediately his dedication to earnestly and thoughtfully enveloping himself in a one-year quest to follow the Bible as literally as possible. Theophobes will be disappointed to discover Jacobs’ open-minded and exploratory approach, as his spiritual pursuit never adopts a mocking nature. Rather than lazily following the most outlandish biblical instructions in order to invite the predictable, the agnostic Jacobs seeks advice and insight from Jewish and Christian sources throughout his experiment in an effort to develop an understanding of the Bible’s commandments. He doesn’t spare the eccentric snake handlers visiting in Knoxville and a creationist museum in Kentucky. Yet even in the weirdest of moments, Jacobs recognizes that he is growing more cognizant of his own spirituality. To call the book hilarious, as several have, is to dismiss the book’s true nature.