Living Biblically proved possible

OMG. I was surfing around when I stumbled on this article in Esquire: Ask The Bible. “Its commandments answer many of life’s most challenging questions. But its kitchen and style tips are also quite handy.”

The article itself is quite amusing. A.J. Jacobs answers questions which range from what to do about salt-and-pepper hair (“Give ear, brother: A wise man scorns hair dye. As it says in Proverbs 16:31, “Gray hair is a crown of glory, it is gained in a righteous life.” Keep your hair free from any coloring agents.”) to tips on Biblical pickup lines. And he backs it up with Scripture! Awesome!

The Year of Living BiblicallyIt turns out the article is an extension of his new book, The Year of Living Biblically. You know how everyone always says that living according to the Bible is impossible and not really meant for modern times? Yeah, A.J. Jacobs discovers that many of those outdated rules really matter nowadays. I now really want to read this book. But since I don’t have it just yet, I ended up scouring the website. I’m so curious now! Did he take rules from the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation? What did his wife think about the whole experiment? Is he going to keep any of the habits he learned from his Biblical year?

I got some answers from the Rules he lists on his website.

At the beginning of the year, I wrote down every rule, every guideline, every suggestion, every nugget of advice I could find in the Bible. It’s a very long list. It runs 72 pages. More than 700 rules.

Some rules were wise, some completely baffling. Some were baffling at first, then wise. Some were wise first then baffling. Here, some of the highlights, broken down by category.


  • Keep the sabbath. As a workaholic (I check my emails in the middle of movies), I learned the beauty of an enforced pause in the week. No cell phones, no messages, no thinking about deadlines. It was a bizarre and glorious feeling. As one famous rabbi called it, the sabbath is a “sanctuary in time.”
  • “Let your garments be always white” Ecclesiastes 9:8. I chose to follow this literally – I wore white pants, a white shirt and a white jacket. This was one of the best things I did all year. I felt lighter, happier, purer. Clothes make the man: You can’t be in a bad mood when you’re dressed like you’re about to play the semi-finals at Wimbledon.
  • No gossip. When you try to go on a gossip diet, you realize just how much of our conversations involve negative speech about others. But holding your tongue is like the verbal equivalent of wearing white. I felt cleaner and untainted.
  • No images. If you interpret the second commandment literally, then it tells you not to make a likeness of anything in heaven, on earth, or underwater. Which pretty much covers it. So I tried to eliminate photos, TV, movies, doodling. It made me realize we’re too visual in this culture. It made me fall in love once again with words, with text.
  • Give thanks. The Bible says to thank the Lord after meals. I did that. Perhaps too much. I got carried away. I gave thanks for everything – for the subway coming on time, for the comfortableness of my couch, etc. It was strange but great. Never have I been so aware of the thousands of little things that go right in our lives.

Seriously, my interest is piqued. I think this will be my next book purchase. Ironically, I have yet to finish Wicked — not because of the name or its subject matter or anything silly like that, but because it has not been easy for me to get into. Sorry Wicked fans.