Book Review: A Year of Living Biblically

The mere title of this book, A Year of Living Biblically, intrigued me. I first heard of this book a while back when I saw a copy of the book at our local Borders.

I discovered our library system had a copy of the book so I recently checked the book out to see if it was any good. I began reading…and didn’t make it all the way through the book.

Even though the state purpose of the author was to try and live as biblically as possible for a year…there were two fundamental flaws even from the getgo.

First, the author is a self-proclaimed agnostic…and he’s trying to understand what it means to live as a Jew and a Christian, two religions that are the opposite of agnosticism. He was hoping that by bringing his actions into outward conformity to the biblical laws, he would come to understand the two religions. But…it’s impossible to understand either of these religions apart from a interaction with the God of Old Testament Judaism and New Testament Christianity. That simply doesn’t happen with outward conformity to God’s laws.

Secondly, he started his project without making a fundamental distinction in the biblical laws. He did not stop to consider with the laws he was reading were intended for individuals or whether they were intended as the laws for Israel’s government. Of course, one of his stated purposes was to follow all laws in order to make Judaism and Christianity look silly…and it rather worked. When he decided to follow the law to stone adulterers, he threw pebbles at a guy, a self-announced adulterer. Even in Old Testament Israel, the individual citizens weren’t to just take things into their own hands. God set up a structure as to how the government was to deal with adulterers.

The most interesting aspect of the book was how the author grappled with the moral implications of his agnostic worldview. As he contemplated the task of raising his son, Jacobs realized that modern America and agnosticism does not provide an authoritative moral system. Jacobs knows that because he can’t provide a moral framework for his son to make decisions in, his son could end up making some fairly poor life decisions when he gets older. In contrast, both Judaism and Christianity provide clear moral directives. Jacobs contemplated the merits of providing “religion” for his son just so that there were be some moral guideposts for his life.

Verdict: Not worth spending money on…if your library has a copy, it’s a helpful look at how the secular world views religion, specifically Christianity.

~ Melinda ~

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