In the Spirit of full disclosure: “I must confess that I did not read all of this book.” I skipped a full 2 and a half pages as he was describing his twin sons’ circumcision. The rest of the book was awesome. A.J. Jacob’s, the author of A Year of Living Biblically, is a Jewish-born-agnostic author who takes an entire year and devotes it to living out the commands of the Bible. He doesn’t shave (in keeping the command not to cut the corners of his beard [Leviticus 19.27]); he wears white clothing in accordance with Ecclesiastes; and he refuses to touch or sit where a menstruating woman was [Leviticus 15.18]. He attempts to follow the Ten Commandments and he starts tithing. It is an interesting social science experiment.
The book was great. He does some great research on the background of a lot of the Biblical laws. What really made the story great were the people who he was in contact with during his time. There was his eccentric ex-uncle Gil who is a former cult leader turned orthodox Jew who holds a Judaism study weekly in Jerusalem. There was Mr. Berkowitz, the orthodox Jew, who comes to his house weekly to make sure that he didn’t have any mixed fibers in his house [Leviticus 19.19]. Then there is the Jehovah’s witness who came over to meet with him about the Bible. He had to leave after 3 ½ hours of discussion. Jacobs mused that he out talked a Jehovah’s Witness about the Bible. He made a trip down to a snake handling church in Tennessee and met up with Jimmy the snake handler. That seems like something that I need to explore! There was the Pastor to Pasture, the atheist club, and his neighbor Nancy. This Biblical journey was by no means individual.
Finally there is Jacobs wife: Julie. Julie is the most interesting character. She has opened her life to this guys antics. When she found out that he couldn’t sit where she had; she sat in every seat in the house so he couldn’t. She is patient as he refuses to jaywalk anymore and as he builds a tent in the living room to celebrate the festival of booths. She allows him to write about her in vitro fertilization. She puts up with his trumpeting every first of the month and she even allows him to describe the birth process as she gives birth to the aforementioned twins.
As a youth pastor this book had a lot of things that made me think. He devoted much of his day to study; as an agnostic. I could definitely eek out a couple minutes. He also strove to live according to the commandments. He kept God at the forefront of his mind. He prayed for 10 minutes 3 times a day; all of these things that should be central to my own life.
He is admittedly a liberal guy; but one thing that I appreciated about this book was his ability to show both the fundamentalist and liberal views of scripture. I felt like he was able to walk
that line very well. If you need something to read that will make you think and laugh! The Year of Living Biblically should be on your list! Devotionally I even got a lot out of this book.