The Year of Living Biblically

One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible

The Year of Living Biblically

Read by: A. J. Jacobs
In this timely and fascinating audiobook, A.J. Jacobs tries to follow such famous Scriptural laws as the Ten Commandments, be fruitful and multiply, and love your neighbor. But he also obeys dozens of less-publicized instructions, including growing a beard, avoiding clothes of mixed fibers and, yes, stoning adulterers.


Jacobs, who was raised in a secular household, dives headfirst into the most influential book of all time. He assembles a board of spiritual advisors, studies the Old and New Testaments, grows a beard so unruly that he is regularly mistaken for a member of ZZ Top, immerses himself in prayer—even tends sheep in the Negev desert. His discoveries about himself and the Bible are both surprising and profound.


With the Bible—and its literal interpretation—remaining a mighty force in American society, Jacobs embeds himself in a cross-section of remarkable Biblical communities, from a Kentucky-based creationist museum to the Pennsylvania Amish, from Christian charity workers to Hasidic Jews. The result is a story that will captivate secular and religious alike.


Respectful and hilarious in equal measures, The Year of Living Biblically is at once an irresistible listen, a vital exploration of religion in America today, and a genuinely moving spiritual journey.
  • Simon & Schuster Audio | 
  • 5 disks | 
  • ISBN 9780743599337 | 
  • September 2009
List Price $14.99
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Hear an Excerpt

Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions
1. Why does Jacobs embark on his year-long biblical journey? What does he expect to find at its end? How do the questions he seeks to answer evolve as he immerses himself in the project?
2. Identify the formal and informal spiritual guides Jacobs consults during his year of biblical living. Whom do you find most instructive, most challenging to accept, and/or most spiritually compelling? Provide examples for each of your responses.
3. What are Jacobs's primary challenges in living the Bible as literally as possible? How does he attempt to resolve them? Is he successful? Why or why not?
4. Discuss the various religious groups that Jacobs visits during his year. How are they similar and different from each other? What contradictions does Jacobs uncover in their biblical living? What lessons does Jacobs take away from his encounters with these groups?
5. What role does prayer play in Jacobs's year-long journey? How does his relationship with prayer evolve? What meaning does he attach to prayer? Do you agree? Why or why not?
6. What specific issues arise as Jacobs shifts from the Old Testament to the New? What implications do they have for his entire biblical living project?
7. What value does Jacobs attach to the idea of surrendering? Why is surrendering such a challenge for Jacobs? Does Jacobs ever surrender? Why or why not?
8. What does Jacobs's relationship with his neighbor, Nancy in 5I, and the circumstance see more

Articles About This Book

Off the shelf vertical blog post

Posted on Off the Shelf

Posted by Allison Tyler

I love A. J. Jacobs and his commitment to flying his freak flag, and documenting the process. From reading the entire Encyclopaedia Britannica in The Know-It-All, to his humble quest for bodily perfection in Drop Dead Healthy, to his engrossment...

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Drop Dead Healthy
A.J. Jacobs Omnibus
My Life as an Experiment
The Know-It-All

About the Author

A. J. Jacobs
Lem Latimer

A. J. Jacobs

A.J. Jacobs is the author of It’s All Relative and the New York Times bestsellers The Know-It-All, The Year of Living Biblically, and The Guinea Pig Diaries. He is the editor at large of Esquire magazine, a contributor to NPR, and has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Entertainment Weekly. He lives in New York City with his wife and kids. Visit him at


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