Following Every Rule of the Bible for One Year

A. J. Jacobs likes to take things one year at a time. First he read through the encyclopedia in a year. Then he spent one year trying to follow every rule in the Bible.

After A. J. Jacobs spent a year reading the entire Encyclopaedia Britannica for his book “The Know-It-All,” he figured he had the yearlong experiment thing down. How much harder could it be to follow every rule in the Bible? Much, much harder, he soon discovered, as he found himself growing his beard, struggling not to curse and asking strangers for permission to stone them for adultery. Jacobs spent the year carrying around a stapled list of the more than 700 rules and prohibitions identified in the Good Book, and also consulted with religious leaders and spent time with the Amish, Hassidic Jews and Jehovah’s Witnesses. He spoke to NEWSWEEK’s Jennie Yabroff about his experience and his new book, “The Year of Living Biblically” (Simon & Schuster), which goes on sale Oct. 9.

Jacobs did this not out of religious devotion to God, but really as more of a gimmick in order to write a book about his experience. For example, when he comes to the command on stoning adulterers, he throws a few pebbles at an old man he meets on the street. Still, it is an entertaining article that raises all sorts of interesting questions on how we are to apply the Biblical rules for ancient Israel to life today. (I like his wife’s suggestion for his next book: “Eating in Every Restaurant in New York.”)

If you would like to learn more about applying commands found in the Bible, check out The Ten Commandments for Today series on this blog. And remember, although we should seek to follow God’s commands, we are saved by God’s grace in Christ and not by our own works. “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” (Titus 3:4-5)

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