Guest Blog-star: AJ Jacobs!


To paraphrase the late great Phil Hartman on the Simpsons, you might remember me from such mental_floss backpages as G,H,I or J. I'm the author of the book The Know-It-All, which was about the year I spent reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica from A to Z and trying to learn everything in the world (including such important knowledge as the fact that opossums have 13 nipples). I write the Know-It-All column for the_floss about facts from each letter.

My new book just came out, and

this time I wrestled with a tome that is shorter than Britannica, but arguably more complicated: The Bible.

The book is called THE YEAR OF LIVING BIBLICALLY: ONE MAN'S HUMBLE QUEST TO FOLLOW THE BIBLE AS LITERALLY AS POSSIBLE. It's about how I spent a year trying to abide by all the rules in the Bible, from the famous (The Ten Commandments, love thy neighbor) all the way down to the often-ignored (don't wear clothes made of mixed fibers, don't shave your beard, stone adulterers).The year was fascinating and educational. Life-changing even. And I hope the book "“ which I tried to fill with equal parts reverence and irreverence "“ takes you along on that journey. I know it's not biblical to boast, so please excuse me for this, but so far, it seems to have been embraced by both religious and secular readers: this month I'm on the cover of an evangelical Christian magazine, and I'm also featured in both Playboy and Penthouse. Hallelujah!

I'm going to be blogging throughout the week. I thought I'd start with just a few pieces of

My favorite biblical trivia

  • I read dozens of different versions of the Bible in my year of living biblically. Jewish bibles. Christian bibles. A friend of mine sent me a Hip Hop Bible, in which the 23rd Psalm was rendered "The Lord is All That" (the traditional translation: The Lord is my shepherd.)
  • It's a good bet that, at some time or other in history, every single passage in the Bible has been taken as literal. Consider: In the third century, the scholar Origen is said to have interpreted literally Matthew 19:12 -- "There are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven" --- and castrated himself. Origen later became a preeminent theologian of his age "“ and an advocate of figurative interpretation.
  • The most infamous typo in Bible history: The Wicked Bible from 1631. The problem? It omitted the word "˜not' in Chapter 20, Verse 14 of Exodus, resulting in the commandment: "THOU SHALT COMMIT ADULTERY." Which must have caused a few perplexed readers and dozens of unnecessary extra-marital affairs.
  • Peter Bales, a 16th century Brit was famous for his microscopic writing, and produced a Bible the size of a walnut.
  • The Red Sea is a mistranslation. The true translation is most likely The Sea of Reeds.

More tomorrow! Bless you all.