I've spent the last few weeks reading this book, and generally speaking I liked it. The chronicle was full of humorous moments and thought provoking questions concerning the concrete nature of God's law.
Much of the humor was centered around his wife's reactions to the experiment. According to Leviticus 15:19-20, “When a woman has a discharge, and the discharge in her body is blood, she shall be in her menstrual impurity for seven days, and whoever touches her shall be unclean until the evening. And everything on which she lies during her menstrual impurity shall be unclean. Everything also on which she sits shall be unclean."
When Jacobs' wife became frustrated by not being able to see R rated movies with A.J. on date night, she decided to torture him by sitting on every seat in the house, on the first day of her menstrual cycle, forcing him to stand during the entire week.
While the book is filled with this kind of humor, the over all message of the book concerns the impracticability of obeying God's law in modern times.
One can't read a book like this without comparing it to their own beliefs. I'm no exception. In my opinion, adopting the laws of the Bible, without accepting God as real, misses the point of the Bible. The first commandment is, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me." (Exodus 20:2-3) Without accepting that, and Jacobs made it clear that he couldn't, the other laws become meaningless.
One of the most detailed commandments is found in Exodus 20:10, "but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates."
While God seemingly left no wiggle room within this commandment, Christ himself broke the rule in order to let his hungry disciples pick grain (Matthew 12:1-8) and to heal the disabled (Luke 13:10-17). By my way of thinking, these examples demonstrate that God's laws are guidelines for defining our relationship with God, rather than a set of absolutes to be blindly adhered to.
Jacobs didn't get this distinction. During the year in question, his wife gave birth to twins. Once the first baby came out, Jacobs would no longer hold his wife's hand because Leviticus 12:2 says, “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, If a woman conceives and bears a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days. As at the time of her menstruation, she shall be unclean." He obeyed the letter of God's law, but sacrificed its compassionate spirit.
While Jacobs and I are on different theological pages, I'm glad I read The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible. In addition to being entertaining, it forces readers to think about why they believe what they believe.
I give The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible 4.5 out of 5 stars.