How to Memorize Bible Chapters

Wondering how to memorize bible chapters more effectively and more successfully? In this excerpt, the author Ben Stevens, excitedly shares a technique he learned from a seminary friend, Paul Larson.

How to Memorize Bible Chapters

Wondering how to memorize bible chapters? Listen on the go.

As Paul explained to me, much of the history of memorization has consisted of listening and reciting. When we read, our eyes tend to jump ahead and skip over sections we think we know. But there’s no way to skip ahead in listening, so we naturally focus more intensely.

When he decides on a book or section to memorize, Paul divides up it up into manageable portions and then listens to the first portion at least once a day for three months, trying to mouth along with the words as much as possible. For the first month, the material will be largely foreign; by the second month, he is often able to recall the text’s general thrust; and in the third month the focus becomes simply filling in the blanks and smoothing out the mistakes. Once one portion is completed, he moves onto the next until he has finished the book. (Paul said he’s able to do his memorization work on his iPod while doing household chores or shopping. This is definitely a time-saver, but personally I had to focus exclusively on listening to make much progress.)

I would not have believed it possible to memorize nearly eight chapters of running text had I not just done so. I have already begun to see the need for practice to retain what I have learned, and I do get tripped up occasionally if I don’t memorize some kind of structural outline. But on the whole the benefits of this approach have been overwhelming. For example:

  • It works perfectly for reading along in a major commentary.
  • It’s great for really soaking in the context and the overall progression of the book.
  • It facilitates easier sight reading in the biblical languages, or in any language, because of the way I know the material.
  • It keeps me from being overwhelmed by new material.
  • It doesn’t involve memorizing all the verse numbers.
  • It is itself a great apologetic for the legitimacy of trusting oral transmission (even for those of us who agree with Richard Bauckham…).

If you’re interested in reading more, go here.

Now you know a new method for how to memorize bible chapters. Try it when you’re in the car. Load in a CD and take advantage of your “rolling university”, especially if you have a long commute (or even a short one for that matter).

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