Danna's Reviews > The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible

The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs
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Jan 06, 2008

it was ok
Read in March, 2008

I found the book to be less about an exploration of the Bible and biblical religions, more about: "I'm OCD and here's my latest obsession!" I did appreciate that the author mentioned this directly on page 148, and the book was quirky and interesting enough that I stuck with it until the end.

The bit that stuck with me the most wasn't one of the oddities, like binding money to your hand or not sitting on a chair that was recently sat upon by a menstruating woman, but rather an omission. In their struggle to conceive again, and his wife's acute desire for a baby girl, he struggled with the biblical implications of in-vitro fertilization, but never once did they seem to consider adoption. Instead of invasive measures to attempt conception with no guarantee of success or gender, measures that are fraught with religious/ethical uncertainty to boot, why not just adopt a baby girl? What do biblical teachings have to say about adoption at all, if anything? Surely there's something in there about caring for orphans, or maybe orphans are included in the generic categories of "those in need". Admittedly I've never felt a burning desire to conceive, so I can't understand why some couples are willing to spend buckets of money on extreme medical procedures instead of adopting.
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02/25/2016 marked as: read

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message 2: by Ruth (new)

Ruth I had never heard of this book--how fascinating & strange.

There IS biblical precedent for adoption, of the highest kind: in both the Jewish scriptures & the Christian New Testament God is imaged as adopting the chosen people, both as a community & as individuals. But I can't recall that adoption is mentioned within the Torah laws, so perhaps this literalist writer never engaged much with that beautiful metaphor or thought about the example God has given us in that regard.

I'm the proud mom of an adopted daughter (by choice, NOT because of infertility), so obviously I'm with you in this. :-)


Shannon Agreed. The author comes across as a self-obsessed neurotic. Learning that he had OCD made his oddities make more sense, but didn't make his POV more interesting or enjoyable to read. Mostly I just felt sorry for his wife for having to put up with his crap, especially during her pregnancy.


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