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Run away as fast as you can from anything that needs discipline

Just finished reading The Year of Living Biblically. I started it in San Diego on vacation and got about 95% done, and finished the last bit over the past few days during lunch. I really enjoyed it and would highly recommend it as an entertaining and surprisingly enlightening book. Jacobs is an effective writer, communicating clearly and expressively in a casual style.

In The Year of Living Biblically Jacobs tries his best to live according to the rules of the Bible. This turns out to be a challenge of course often in unanticipated ways. It's not easy to sacrifice animals in the U.S. What is most interesting is the different and conflicting explanations he finds for why these rules are what they are, and the even more diverse interpretations of the same pieces of text. Certainly there are rules that contradict one another and there are quite a few he never follows through on (there are a number of thou shalt type rules which require positive action rather than restrain action).

Jacobs' musings on the importance of a given rule relative to other rules is particularly insightful and relevant in our modern world. Is it more important to condemn homosexuality (which is mentioned a handful of times) or to help the poor (which is mentioned dozens upon dozens of times)? Another continuous thread in the book is to highlight the impossibility of Biblical literalism. You cannot literally follow every law because some of them are in direct contradiction of one another. Then of course there is the matter of interpretation of what the text actually says anyway. Modern translations are woefully inaccurate and differ tremendously from early Greek editions that have been found which in turn probably differ tremendously from their predecessors and from the oral history that preceded those for over a thousand years.

This is a book that you will not want to put down once you get started.
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Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.
- Arthur Schopenhauer


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