October 15, 2007 | 4:33 pm
Posted by Brad A. Greenberg
A clever review of A.J. Jacobs comical book, “The Year of Living Biblically.”
If I were to write this review while trying to live biblically, here are some of the rules I would have to follow:
Love thy neighbor. Jacobs is a fellow journalist and thus a neighbor of sorts. I would have to strive to be as generous as possible, and point out right at the outset that this book is an inspired idea and that Jacobs is alarmingly adept at keeping the joke alive for 365 days.
Thou shalt not covet. I would have to confess my jealousy that Jacobs already had a movie contract in place before the book had even been published, and that even though I have spent much more time around young-earth creationists than he has, he thought of a much funnier way to describe them (people who believe in an earth thatâs âbarely older than Gene Hackmanâ).
Thou shalt not bear false witness. I would have to admit that every once in a while, as he wrote about walking down some New York street in a shepherdâs robe strumming his 10-string harp, or throwing small stones at a random suspected sinner, or eating crickets or burning myrrh each morning, I thought to myself, Whatâs the point, really?
But having a point is slightly beside the point. Jacobs is a stunt journalist, although that term seems belittling to the monumental self-improvement projects he subjects himself to. In his last book, âThe Know-It-All,â Jacobs read the entire Encyclopaedia Britannica in an attempt to make himself smarter than his showoff brother-in-law.
In âThe Year of Living Biblically,â he attends to the soul, turning himself from a guy who is âJewish in the way the Olive Garden is an Italian restaurantâ into a follower of âthe ultimate biblical life.â This means spending a year strictly following a typed list of more than 700 biblical rules, including the obscure (donât wear garments of mixed fibers, bind money to your hand, pay the wages of your workers every day) and the potentially awkward (donât touch your wife seven days after her âdischarge of blood,â bathe after sex and donât tell lies, in their many variations).
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