Many people try to follow the Ten Commandments—rules from the Bible such as "Thou shall not kill" and "Thou shall not steal." Journalist and author A.J. Jacobs, on the other hand, set out on a mission to see what would happen if he lived his life according to every single rule in the Good Book. He talks with Gayle about his findings, which he recounts in his book The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible.
To begin his quest, A.J. says he read the entire Bible cover-to-cover and noted over 700 rules that believers are urged to follow. Though not religious himself, A.J. says he was determined to follow each guideline to the letter to see what lessons—if any—could be gleaned. "I wanted to take it to the limit and see what I learned, see whether I came out a better person," he says.
Some rules A.J. encountered seemed trivial and inconvenient in today's modern world, such as not being able to wear clothing made from different fibers in the same outfit or not being able to shave his beard. Others seemed absurd and barbaric, such as a rule A.J. says he found that calls for a woman's hands to be cut off should she touch a man's private parts while he is engaged in a fist-fight with another man. "It's all about how you interpret it and how it's been softened over the years," he says.
Certain rules were more difficult to follow than others. A.J. says he had a tough time avoiding gossiping, lying and cursing. Because he wore a white robe, sandals and long beard, he says he was often given dirty looks or stopped by airport security.
At the same time, A.J. says following the rules helped him keep his cool and made him more honest, which made for a positive experience overall. "There was so much good stuff in the Bible [that] as a secular person I had never thought about," he says. "I think it really did transform me in a good way."