Memorizing the Bible

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1 October, 2012 - 01:02
Joined: 6 years 7 months ago


I agree that it is possible, but to do that you have to spend exponentially more time om memorizing the relevant text. The goal of using mnemonics is to learn at an increased pace, using what is familiar to remember the unfamiliar. If you repeat the learning enough times you will become familiar with what ever you are learning. It is all a function of focus and time.

Spending 5 or 6 years memorizing a single book for hours on end will definitely have the book become the location.

I would actually love to have that mount of time to spend on the memorization of the Bible, and being able to play the pin game is almost unbelievable. Imagine using the text of the Bible as you memory palace! Never run out of places to store information!

28 October, 2012 - 09:17
Joined: 5 years 4 months ago

This has been posted before but maybe it will interest someone.

Here's what I've come up with that works for memorizing scripture word for word.
1) I've assigned a word for every chapter in the New Testament (260). The first part of the word represents the book and the second part, the chapter.
Example: Romans Chapter 6 is ROUGE. The RO = Romans and the UGE = 6 (using the J sound for 6).
Then, I've formatted 3 rooms in my house with 10 locations in each one for associating the verses with them. Each location is for one verse. Also, these location spots are the same in each of the rooms. This way I can keep up with the verse numbers without having to make additional associations. For instance, the left corner of Room #1 (regardless of Book) is always Verse 1, and in Room #2 it is always Verse 11. Verse 5 is always in the upper right corner of Room #1. In Room #2, it is for Verse 15. Got it?
2) Now for the fun! I'm sure someone has done something like this, but since I've been in seclusion for years, I just haven't seen anything done quiet like this. I call it VERBATIM MEMORIZING using 3 Visual Alphabets (feel free to dump this and
The first Visual Alphabet is 26 Lady Friends or celebs from A to Z. The second is Men Friends or celebs). Lastly, OTHERS (A to Z) ... this is anything (visual), plants, animals, objects, etc... with the exception of ladies or men. These three visual alphabets are the foundation for pegging every word in the verse or chapter, not just thoughts. I refer to them as Alpha Characters (AC). And each AC will hold 4 words. If you're ambitious, the AC can hold 8 words using peg and link.
I call this the Lanier Verbatim Memory System, simply because my name is Lanier and the process, regardless of how effective or ineffective it is, is uniquely designed for me, by me to help me memorize scripture even though I have ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). It demands my total focus which is exactly what I need.
3) Next it's time for TANGIZATION. I don't think this is really a word but for me it means to make seen. To each Bible verse or chapter, I assign a tangible (something I can visualize) SOUND-LIKE or SYMBOL that represents each word. In other words, every WORD in the VERSE or CHAPTER has a VISUAL REPRESENTATIVE or SUBSTITUTE. To me this is like learning a new language. I have an Excel file of all my SUBSTITUTE WORDS and continually add to it.
4) Here's how it works:
Suppose I want to memorize Romans 6:1: What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abide?
1. Mentally (imaginatively) the entrance to Room #1 has ROUGE all over the doorway. This let's me know immediately that it is Romans Chapter 6 (RO = Romans, UGE= 6)
2. I look in the left hand corner where my Verse 1 location is and see a BED. This location will be my work area for memorizing every word in Verse 1.
3. In the middle of the BED, I see a LIGHT BULB. This is my SOUND-LIKE or SYMBOL for the word WHAT (Watt = WHAT). It is the first word of the verse (New King James Version). This word, WHAT, tells me which ALPHA CHARACTERS I will use to PEG or LINK the rest of the words in the verse.
4. Ladies first. Wenda, Hilary, Alice, and Teresa (come up with your own Alpha Characters) hold no more than 4 words each. I can share later how I do this through a little acronym using F-A-C-E. Works like a charm. Anyway each Lady AC (Alpha Character) is like having a piece of paper with one line where you can write four words. Since we have 4 Ladies, that gives us lines and room for 16 words.
5. One thing that helps me start in the right place and continue in the right direction is: START AT THE TOP AND READ LIKE A CLOCK.
Try it and see what you think.
Hope I didn't bore you or wear out my welcome to this great website.
Great post Garry. I have a few questions.
How do the alpha characters store the words?
What do you do about words like 'and','of' and 'that'?
Perhaps you could expand and continue the explanation of Romans 6:1?
When do you use the men and the objects?
What do you do if a verse has more words than you have room for?
See if this helps.
Question 1: How do the alpha characters store the words?
I associate (link or peg) the ACs to the words assigned to them. Each AC holds 4 words.
This is where the FACE acronym comes in. Or maybe for the astute memorizer, the PAO system.
There are four facts I know about each Alpha Character. Each fact holds one word. But sometimes I might use one fact to hold all 4 words. Just depends on the particular AC.
Feature - Something that stands out or I cause to stand out or exaggerate with my imagination. It could be their face, body or even a certain expression.
Abode – Where does the AC live? What does their HOUSE look like? If I don't know, I might assign one to them. But it is important that it's always the same place. Or if they are a movie star, I might picture them sitting on the HOLLYWOOD sign in California. Or if they live in Texas, they can stand by BIG TEX at the state fair. Anything that will fall into the ABODE column will work.
Career- What do they do? (doctor, entertainer, housewife, dentist, athlete, artist, teacher, etc.)
Event or Enjoyment- What HAPPENING or HOBBY can you associate with this AC? Do they like to play golf as a hobby, or fish. It doesn't have to be a hobby. It could be some funny thing they did like driving a VW into a swimming pool to see if it floats. I was told Frank Sinatra did that. That would fall into the EVENT category.
A good way to start this is by taking just one verse at a time instead of trying to come up with all the ACs at once. As you begin the process you can keep a notebook and simply add the ACs as needed. You could have 5 columns (AC name, FEATURE, ABODE, CAREER, EVENT/Enjoyment).
Question 2: What do you do about words like 'and','of' and 'that'?
I handle all words the same. I use a visual SOUND-LIKE or SYMBOL for each word. On some words I have more than one SUBSTITUTE. AND=HAND (I imagine a big cartoonish like hand that I've seen at football games being waved back and forth). OF=OFF (I see a can of OFF bug spray doing it's job on some poor WORD SUBSTITUTE). THAT=DAD or DAT TAPE (rapped around a word sub). THE=TEA (maybe a word sub soaking in a cup of tea).
Question 3: Perhaps you could expand and continue the explanation of Romans 6:1?
Maybe in another post.
Question 4: When do you use the men and the objects?
There are basically 3 modes I use: Ladies ACs, Men ACs, and Others ACs as mentioned in my first post. My rule is, Ladies begin the odd numbers, Men begin the even numbers. That way I always know which AC mode to use (1, 3, 5, 37, 57 is for the Lady ACs and 2, 4, 58, 78 is for the Man ACs).
Question 5: What do you do if a verse has more words than you have room for?
I have room for every word in the verse. In Romans 6:1, the first word is WHAT. As mentioned before, each letter represents an AC that holds 4 words each. That's enough to hold all the words in that verse. I call this the verse title.
But suppose instead of 14 words, it was 48 words? Simply continue by using the Men ACs (using the same TITLE word "WHAT") and then the OTHER ACs. BINGO! It really works.
If the verse is really long, like Rev. 20:4 (70 words), just add an extra word or two to the TITLE (link these words together). AND I SAW is the title I use for Rev. 20:4. That gives me 7 ACs for each mode (Mens Mode, Others Mode, Ladies Mode). Since this is verse 4, the Men ACs start. By the way, this is the longest verse in the NT. Get this one and you're ready to handle them all.
God is GOoD

9 December, 2012 - 16:38
Joined: 4 years 11 months ago

Ok, so some people have made some absolutely awesome techniques. I think scratch62 and garylanier really have something going. Could it be possible for us to work together on a particular book on this forum and we all pitch in as we go along in the book. I dunno which one, but somebody pick a book, any book and we'll have a look at it!

9 December, 2012 - 22:39
Joined: 5 years 4 months ago

Verbatim Memory System

Thank you Jamiegfinch for your interest in my Verbatim Memory System for memorizing scripture. It really works for me. I reap the enjoyment of opening the memory files of my mind anytime, day or night and stand amazed as each Bible verse or chapter that I'm working on begins to unfold before my very eyes.

Though this is still somewhat of a project in the making, I pretty well have the pieces in place and am enjoying the fruit of my labor.

There are procedures, mental exercises, and a few other things I do that help me expand my minds eye view, but what I've posted is enough to get anyone who is really interested in WORD for WORD memorization, through mnemonic techniques, well on their way.

Speaking of Mental Exercises

If you already know how to memorize a deck of cards mnemonically, here's an exercise that I like to do that greatly expands my minds Peripheral Vision. Believe it or not, there is a connection between this exercise and the way I memorize scripture word for word (every word has a place).


1) Shuffle a deck of cards and look at the first one. Visualize it and think of it as the MIDDLE card that will be surrounded by four others... one at its TOP, one to the RIGHT (from your mind's eye view), one at the BOTTOM, and finally, one to the LEFT (from your mind's eye view).

2) Now, mentally (visually) lock all these cards in place by whatever mnemonic device, association, imagination, etc. that works for you.

3) Without peeping, speak out each card beginning with the MIDDLE, then TOP, RIGHT, BOTTOM, and finally LEFT.

4) Once you can do this, do it backwards: LEFT, BOTTOM, RIGHT, TOP, and MIDDLE.

Can you see all these cards almost simultaneously in you head?

Review the cards in all kinds of ways: from first to last, last to first, top to bottom, left to right and right to left. When it becomes too laborious, take a break, then start


Let's add a few more cards.

5) Starting at the TOP card, add four cards around it like in step number #1 (suddenly the TOP card becomes the MIDDLE card for its group).

6) Do the same with the RIGHT, BOTTOM and LEFT card. Each one in its own environment becomes the MIDDLE card.


To me this is not an exercise for memorizing cards, but rather one for expanding my MENTAL PERIPHERAL VISION. What I have found is that as I train, using the CARD 21 EXERCISE, I can visualize in larger chunks. In other words, I see more in less time.

Once you get your fist 21 CARDS down, put a TIE (mnemonic number #1) on the very first card you started with (MIDDLE CARD LEADER), and continue by placing the next new card on NOAH (Noah's Ark which is mnemonic number #2). This is your NEW Middle Card LEADER. Now start the whole process again reaching for another 21.

This will give you 42 cards. That only leaves 10 more to complete the deck. Add a mnemonic number #3 (Ma or whatever your 3 is) and you have more than enough pegs/positions to complete the whole deck.


If each of these CARD CHUNKS represent scripture WORD CHUNKS, you can see that the potential RAM and ROM memory in our MINDS is enormous.

Sometimes, when I think of where I was before I began this great mnemonic adventure, and where I am now because of it, I feel a wave of refreshing and peace engulf me, knowing there is a PLACE within me that will safely keep whatever I want to REMEMBER. That place just needed to be respected, cared for, developed, trained, and to be used.

Anybody out

Pleasant Memories,
gary lanier

10 December, 2012 - 00:12
Joined: 4 years 11 months ago

Sounds good to me! So, taking the book of James for example, can we work on it if you guys are game (if someone wants to pick a different book, I'm open)? So that's 5 chapters, and about 108 verses. How can we start it off?

10 December, 2012 - 11:54
Joined: 4 years 11 months ago

Ok. So for example James 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are in the Dispersion: Greetings.

How would you use that technique in this situation.

Btw if anyone else has a method they would like to share. It would be appreciated!

11 December, 2012 - 11:31
Joined: 5 years 4 months ago

Below is the memory grid I use for James 1:1. The Alpha Characters (AC) are people I know or know of. For this system to work, you need to come up with your own group of ACs.

I just go through my memory procedures according to what I've already posted. Notice that I have given every intangible word in the verse a SUBSTITUTE that is tangible. That in itself can give a few key words that could help in memorizing James 1:1. After awhile the process gradually becomes second nature.


11 December, 2012 - 11:33
Joined: 5 years 4 months ago

The memory system I came up with to help me memorize scripture is very much customized for myself. I experience Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) symptoms. My very limited focus and attention spade is a continual battle field that I live in. I could hardly recommend this system to a normal

So, rather than collaborate on memorizing a book or chapter together, let me share my basic procedure for committing a verse or chapter to verbatim memory, by using the longest verse in the New Testament as an example. Then, take a look at the MEMORY GRID below the post and see if anything makes sense.

For reference, you might refer to POST #32 that explains a bit more of this memory concept.

Here's the verse

Revelation 20:4
And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

Memory Grid for Rev 20:4

The following is the memory grid I came up with that cues me in my verbatim memorizing system process. Since Rev. 20:4 is the longest verse in the New Testament, it assures me that there is a place for every word in any verse no matter how long.

I do this using what I call, Alpha Characters (AC). I use 3 sets (1) Lady Alpha Characters, (2) Male Alpha Characters and (3) Other Alpha Characters. I also use a Visual Alphabet where each Letter Symbol resembles the actual Letter (ex. A= Oil Derrick... I just see the oil gushing out).

Under the Book/Chapter/Verse heading, you will see, Rev. 20:4... and just below it, SNeeZe/Ray. The S in SNEEZE, represents Revelation (R has already been taken by Romans), the NEEZE, gives me the chapter number (mnemonic for 20). The word RAY is my mnemonic for number 4 which indicates which verse.

Notice that I have a TITLE for this verse, AND I SAW... these are the first 3 words of it. Every word in the verse has a tangible substitute or symbol, unless the particular word itself is tangible. These SUBS (substitutes) are the back bone for memorizing scripture word for word. So, the TITLE, "AND I SAW," encodes as HAND EYE SAW (picture SAWING something).

The letters in the TITLE let me know which Alpha Characters I will be using and the order of their appearance.

The VT on the blue Row stands for VERTICAL TITLE. This is where the AC are. Each one holds a line of 4 words. All I do is hang the SUBSTITUTE words that are next to each WORD of the verse, on the AC (Alpha Characters) in the proper places (Position #1, #2, 3# & #4) [refer to F-A-C-E in Post #47].

That's about it!

Once you get a feel for it, you'll see the AC without writing them out. Really works well for me.

I do entire chapters using these memory helps.

I use the term, START AT THE TOP AND READ LIKE A CLOCK, to keep me going the right direction as I keep pegging along.

I'm currently trying to pen my thoughts and systems in some kind of logical, understandable order. This is not easy for one whose organizational skills are less than the least... Also, maybe a series of videos.


11 December, 2012 - 12:09
Joined: 4 years 11 months ago

Scratch62, I'd be really interested as to how you'd memorize this verse. Could you give us an example?

11 December, 2012 - 19:53
Joined: 4 years 11 months ago

Hi folks!

Here's a radically different approach: it's much
easier if you memorize Scripture without any mnemonics at
. In my experience, mnemonics actually make
memorizing Scripture harder.

This is my first post here on mnemotechnics -- I am so
excited to discover this thread and listen in as you all
talk about your techniques. Here's what's worked for me.

"Stories" Are Easier Than Individual Verses

A few years ago, I memorized the entire Gospel of Mark. I
thought I needed mnemonics. I used the loci method, one
image per verse. I arranged the images carefully so that I
could find, say, Mark 13:2.

Then I maintained these memories with Anki flashcards, one
card per verse.

But I eventually discovered that breaking up Mark into
individual verses like this made it harder to remember them.
I lost all the context. I lost all the connections. It was
much easier when I memorized entire stories.

(I got this idea from the Network of Biblical Storytellers
(, some of whom have memorized several
books of the bible.)

Rhythms Make Memorizing Easier

Another major key for me: Biblical rhythms. Rhythm is
huge. Most, if not all, of the Bible is extremely
rhythmic. But we lose those rhythms by cramming the texts
into boxy columns. Which is easier to remember:

And it came to pass that in those days there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled.

or this:

And it came to pass
    that in those days
there went out a decree
   from Caesar Augustus
that the whole world
    should be enrolled.

The huge chunk of paragraph is too much, and too boring, to
remember. But breaking it down into individual words, with
visual mnemonics, is, I think, also too much.

Memorizing is very personal, so if it works for you, that's
great. For me, short, rhythmic lines are much more natural.
Think of all the song lyrics you've memorized without even
trying. Our minds are actually very good at remembering
texts, if we give them a chance.

Focus on the Words Themselves

After learning Mark, I've tried a new way of memorizing, and
it seems much more natural. I found it described in an old
book as the "cumulative method". Basically, you start with
one verse a day, but really look at that verse. Say
it a few times throughout the day.

Tomorrow, say that verse again, and also learn one new

On the third day, say the two verses you've learned so far,
and learn a third verse.

This may seem slow, but you are training a new skill. You're
training your mind to pay attention to the actual words you

Perfection actually becomes easier than "almost" knowing the
verse, because with perfection, you have no hesitation. You
know what comes next.

Instead of diverting mental energy into mnemonics, you are
focusing your entire attention onto experiencing the words.

And not just your sense of sight: you say the words out
loud, you hear them, you even feel the shapes in your mouth
if you speak clearly.

And because you're not using mnemonics, your imagination is
free to simultaneously delve into the meaning of what you're
saying, whether that's imagining a scene or connecting to
abstract feelings or ideas. And that's the ultimate goal
anyway, right? We memorize this stuff so we can
think about it.

Gradually Learn Faster

At the end of a month (or so), you can learn two verses a
day. Next month, try three. And so on.

If you start now, and max out at five new verses per day,
you could learn the entire Gospel of John in about eight

John has about 880 verses.

Month 1: 30
Month 2: 60
Month 3: 90
Month 4: 120
Month 5: 150
Month 6: 150
Month 7: 150
Month 8: 130 verses

Keep in mind, the entire New Testament is only about 8000
verses. You could probably learn even more verses per day if
you really wanted to -- but at that point, I wouldn't
consider it a "spare time" activity!

Do you repeat everything you've learned every day?
No. When I know a chapter perfectly, I give it a break, and
review it later. Ideally, I'd schedule my reviews of those
chapters using spaced repetition.

Loci to Navigate Large Chunks?

I've tried this cumulative system to learn John chapters 2
and 3. So far, it works great.

I've also found that reviewing the texts I'd already
learned, such as Mark, is much simpler when I focus on the
stories and rhythms. If my memory for a verse fails, the
most efficient response is to look at the text
and form a clear impression.

No mnemonics, just attention and review. It really is
amazing how well you can remember something simply by giving
it as much attention as you can, and repeating it a few
times a day over several days.

Now, I'm open to the possibility that I might ultimately use
a small "memory palace" to store navigational markers to the
stories in each chapter. For instance, John 2 would have two
mnemonics, one for the Wedding Feast at Cana and one for the
Cleansing of the Temple.

I don't know yet whether you'd need those mnemonics to help
navigate a large amount of material. Even so, we're talking
two or three mnemonics a chapter -- quick and easy.

I do know, from experience, that this "cumulative method" of
training your attention is much simpler, more natural, and
ultimately faster than trying to use mnemonics on every word
or even every verse as you memorize Scripture.

I've written a whole series of articles on this technique
over at my blog. Since it's Advent, I'm helping some people
memorize the Christmas story from Luke 2:1-20, one verse a
day. Every day, I'm posting a new verse and a new memory
article explaining more about how to memorize without

You can start here, with the slideshow:

At the end of that article, you can follow the link to the
next article, and work through the series.

For a similar but different perspective, here's a review of
and link to a great article by Dennis Dewey, a professional
storyteller who explains how he's memorized several books of
the Bible:

And here's a selection from that old book that talked about
the "cumulative method":

And that's probably enough for a first post! I'm excited to
hear what you all think.

Bill Powell

11 December, 2012 - 21:32
Joined: 5 years 4 months ago

billisalive... great read. Thank you for sharing.

I think for many, your method is a perfect fit. Why try and develop a tedious mnemonic system when the contextual and literary flow of the written Word makes sense.

Who can argue with that?

I can remember Bible stories and I have some understanding of difficult passages. That which you know can be remembered, though maybe not always in the same perfect detail.

One way mnemonics helps me, is when my natural memorizing process breaks down for some reason, and I need just a little help to get back on track. Most people would probably agree or at least not cringe at something like that.

Let's say I have several chapters or a few thousand Bible verses memorized. For me, if not impossible, it would be more than difficult to give Book, Chapter, and Verse number if I didn't use mnemonics. Though I don't believe this is important compared to the content, it is helpful when someone needs a scripture reference.

If a person continually has a problem memorizing after seemingly trying all the processes that deal with natural memory, understanding, context, organization, ect.... as I have experienced; an unorthodox use of mnemonics may be in order. It was and is for me. How weird it is to see a COW and call it 7. That is unorthodox in my opinion.

I know where I've been, I know where I am, and I don't care to go back to where I was. I lean heavily on mnemonics.

My wish is for all to have wonderful minds that have no problem remembering and retrieving information, regardless of how it's done. If it's a natural thing, you are blessed. If it's not so natural but works, you are blessed.

13 December, 2012 - 14:25
Joined: 4 years 11 months ago

Hi garylanier!

Thanks for your thoughts. I definitely agree that mnemonics
are essential for chapter and verse.

Also, I don't mean to say that mnemonics are
cringe-worthy. :) I used them for years, and enjoyed them,
and learned a lot about how my mind works.

What I wonder now is this: when we hit that wall where we
have trouble remembering some text (and we all do, sooner or
later, probably sooner), what is the next step? Is a
mnemonic system the best next step? Or would we better off
spending that mental energy and focus on the words
themselves: looking at them for longer, saying them slower,
louder, with rhythm, thinking about what they mean, and so

In one sense, this is always a personal question. If
mnemonics work for you, great!

But here's the paradigm I currently see:

Almost everyone in contemporary Western civilization thinks
it's impossible to remember a text of any great length.

A small group of memory enthusiasts do believe it's
possible, but only with a complex mnemonic system. When they
think about learning something, the first question is, how
will they build the necessary mnemonics?

I'm suggesting that normal people can remember as much text
as they want, but the solution has much more to do with
attention, focus, and interest than with mnemonics.

This is a huge paradigm shift for me. Learning texts by
heart definitely did not come naturally. I trained myself
to use mnemonics. Then I realized that I could go further,
and train myself not to need them.

I guess I just don't want to see people starting with
mnemonics because they think they can never do without them.
I already went down that path myself.

13 December, 2012 - 18:08
Joined: 5 years 4 months ago

Hello billisalive... Your point is well taken and I believe we should all aspire to the joy of memorizing whatever you desire, and not the drudgery of the process.

I am not like most normal people. I experience chronic ADD symptoms. Mnemonics helps keep me on track by giving a visual path to what I want to memorize. Everyone has to find his/her own customized procedure that works best for herself/himself. I have mine and though it is an ongoing journey of tweaks and adjustments, it has helped me immensely and I'm grateful for that.

So, bottom line, whatever works for you or someone else, I'm happy for both sides and all that's in between.


14 April, 2013 - 13:22
Joined: 5 years 7 months ago

i appreciate the perspectives on word for word mnemnonics that i have gained from you sharing.

as an P.S.(at the tip of my tongue)
Billisalives approach reminds me of something called lectio divina....

when this has been said:

i am glad to see that you find your ways of exploring.

15 April, 2013 - 09:38
Joined: 4 years 7 months ago

Some very interesting techniques! Many thanks guys. I am over here taking notes.

I am with Bill Powell in 'simplisity' mainly because I do not think I could handle the exotic sophistication of Gary's technique, though I think in my younger days, I certainly could.

In my journey into learning and memorizing Scripture, I use a simplified version of photo memory and mini stories. I cant say its Locci, but rather turning some words into pictures, and creating a mini story of that Scripture into something that will have fish hooks for me to remember it by, and at times, words will have pictures where I might have trouble remembering certain words. (For some reason, some words evade my memory. Oddest thing. To get around it, I can create pictures that will enable me to remember the word, then later, I can remember it after quite a few recalls).

But.... By creating the mini story, I tie in the numbers (chapter/verse) into the 'name' of the book being studied. This enables me to then recite the Scripture and its book location. The mini story fish hooks have the meanings of the scripture, etc, and this helps with key words in the scripture.

My thing is learning the promises. I do not know if I will ever be learning entire Books in the Bible. But... If I keep going, all the Scriptures may one day all line up and fill the gaps and I will have achieved that. ;) But until then, I am sticking with Scriptures.

That is one massive undertaking. I wish you all well with doing that. Remember, one must recite it often to keep it alive and locked in. Rust destroys hard work. :S


16 April, 2013 - 05:34
Joined: 4 years 11 months ago

lobra66 -- that's so interesting that you saw the connection with Lectio Divina. I was vaguely familiar with that concept many years ago, but it's only recently that I've taken a deeper look. I wrote a short blog about the Lectio Divina here: It looks like the practice is more nuanced and even refreshing than I'd assumed.

lionheart, glad to hear that simplicity works for you too. And I couldn't agree more about the need to renew memories. Rust is an excellent analogy.

16 April, 2013 - 16:15
Joined: 4 years 9 months ago

There is no way to claim how "we" would be better off if "we" had trouble remembering any kind of text--should "we" use mnemonics or spend "mental energy on the words themselves"?--whatever that means!

Who has the authority to claim what would be the "best next step"? Who can say what would be the best way to begin remembering when our "natural" memory hits the wall?

Who speaks for "we"?

How do you know that " Almost everyone in contemporary Western civilization thinks it's impossible to remember a text of any great length"?

Did you talk to almost everyone or read somewhere that showed a poll of almost everyone in contemporary Western civilization?

No. True "memory enthusiasts" (as opposed to those who insist on creating complicated, twisted, intricate systems) know that a mnemonic system doesn't have to be "complex" (masquerading as "sophisticated"). A simple system, such as, for example, the Dominic System, or Harry Lorayne's system, works quite well. And the more you get into it, the sooner you learn the lesson that simple is better.

I agree that a text of any size is capable of being memorized, but I totally disagree that "the solution has much more to do with attention, focus, and interest than with mnemonics". On the contrary, it has everything to do with mnemonics. If you're not a savant, and if you don't use mnemonics, then you're left with rote memory which will work with texts only of a certain length (it's flexible), or only if you're at it for hours and hours day after day.

Nobody learns text "naturally" unless they're savants. (I assume you mean texts of substantial length, not a verse or sentence here and there.)

There's nothing at all wrong about people thinking "they can never do without them". Where's the downside if they think they can never do without them? The only result is that they continue to remember whatever they want to remember. Their recall gets better. Their concentration and focus get "naturally" better.

I started using mnemonics because I was absolutely convinced that I couldn't recall the things I wanted to recall (in the limited life-time that I have) without them. To this day, after many, many years, I've neither seen nor felt anything that would cause me to think that my initial belief was wrong or bad or somehow detrimental to my mind. In fact, with every passing year I become more convinced that that I must use mnemonics to remember anything that I either don't feel like writing down, or can't write down (at that moment), or wish to install in my long-term memory.

The belief that this somehow insults or offends or is somehow derogatory to so-called "natural" memory or that it's somehow inferior to using or relying on "natural" memory belongs to the thinking of the Middle Ages.

After using mnemonics for many things, I've never found it to be "drudgery" at all! Quite the contrary: it's always been fun and interesting.

Having said all that, let me add that if the rote process works for you, then who's to criticize? But remember, rote is slower than mnemonics and, to my mind, is a process of drudgery. If your time is open-ended, then you can take as long as you want to memorize something.

But if you don't plan on living for a thousand years, and if there are a lot (a lot!) of things you want to memorize, mnemonics will get you there at the speed of light, compared to rote and "looking" at words and saying them "slower", etc., an agonizingly time-consuming process which will only leave you wondering why you didn't use mnemonics in the first place.

16 April, 2013 - 22:29
Joined: 5 years 4 months ago

Hello lionheart. Thank you for your post in reference to my memory system:

"I am with Bill Powell in 'simplisity' mainly because I do not think I could handle the exotic sophistication of Gary's technique, though I think in my younger days, I certainly could."

I will be 70 this July (2013). So, without hesitation, I can say that SIMPLICITY is also important to me in memorizing... and also in my field as a music composer, arranger and orchestrator.

Though my mnemonic approach to scripture has several components in play at all times (Book & Chapter number, Verse title & Verse number), I have convinced myself, and the proof is in the pudding, that COMPLEXITY is only SIMPLICITIES ADDED TOGETHER.

Every component in my Verbatim Memory System is SIMPLE to learn and use. But, if the price is not paid to lay a sound foundation, the system will crumble and the builder will be disappointed.

As an INTRODUCTION, I uploaded a 5 minute video demonstration awhile back on this glorious site. Soon, I'll share a video OVERVIEW, explaining more in detail how the Book and Chapter are connected to the Verse and Title (generally the first word of the verse)...And how the Letters in the Title hold the words to the Verse.

I do not recommend my system to anyone but to MYSELF. It was designed for me by me. Sounds

But I'm willing to share my concepts with the desperate, for that is precisely who I was.

gary lanier

16 April, 2013 - 22:41
Joined: 4 years 7 months ago

Hey Gary,

Roger that and many thanks again for sharing these techniques. I could possibly be using them in the near future. I am so totally new to all of this. I do love my simple system, but I am sure that I will be growing into this and increasing my 'air speed' in learning what all is possible, in order to learn as much as possible. ;)

I would love to learn Japanese, more German, Italian, the constellations, stars names... So far with my system, I am getting my feet wet. Feels good...


14 March, 2014 - 14:17
Joined: 3 years 8 months ago

I've been enjoying the discussion. Here's another interesting concept for memorizing some of the more common Bible verses - gamification (did I spell that right??).



2 May, 2014 - 05:08
Joined: 5 years 2 months ago

Okay, so I've been interested in this for a while. I'm not so sure that you'd actually need a giant palace/journey though. I haven't memorized anything crazily long yet, so I'm not sure how well this would work for that, but I memorized Psalm 23 using mnemonic images, but not in a palace. It's not so much that they just exist in the empty blackness, but it's not really like an artificial palace either. Here's what it is:
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You annoint my head with oil. My cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

I just compared to an actual text, and it's darn close - close enough for my purposes. I interchanged "shall" and "will" a few times, and the punctuation isn't perfect (periods and semicolons switched a couple times).

But onto the actual memorization. As I go through detailing my method, I'm going to add comments about what will need to be changed for large(r) volumes of text.
I don't link the chapter and the first verse at all. These will need to be linked if I memorize really anything more than a few chapters.
The journey starts in a garden. There is a shepherd standing by me, and when I turn to look up at him, it appears to be the Lord. Probably need better association to the words.
A platter of dessert-type food and iced drinks and stuff are in front of me, but I don't want them, so I decline the food.
The shepherd tells me (well, motions) to lie down in the grass.
At this point I kind of turn into a sheep, I guess, because the next thing that happens is I'm following the shepherd to a still pond, but I'm not walking behind him, if that makes sense.
The shepherd bends down and touches my head and I feel restored. Kind of like knowing that the shepherd is supposed to be the Lord, this is really just a "feeling" that my soul has been restored
Then I stand up and follow the Lord into a forest. There are many blackened and non-"righteous" paths, but we follow a clear, clean, "righteous" one. I realized a few weeks ago that I didn't have anything for the "for his name's sake" bit, so I just made a note to remember that. No images.
We come out of the forest and into a dusty, sandy, valley. In the shadow of the cliff wall I can see skeletons and dead animals and the like. I feel frightened for a minute, but then the Shepherd puts his arm around me, like a parent would do with a child. The Shepherd takes his rod and staff and- actually, he doesn't do anything. They just comfort me that they are there. Again, kind of just a "feeling" thing going on
Near the end of the valley there is a table, but it doesn't have anything on it. I can see a large, glass, structure just a little ways past the table. I sit down at the one chair at the table and wait. The Shepherd prepares the table with food, drink, plates, silverware, etc. Standing behind him and watching are my "enemies" - kind of just two dark blob-y monsters, but clearly evil.
The Shepherd pours oil over my head and it drips everywhere. He pours a drink (wine?) into my cup, but gives me so much that the cup overflows.
I stand up and walk towards the glass building. I look over my shoulder and see that my "enemies" are gone, but I'm being followed by two things - Goodness and Mercy. probably needs more linking that the two blobs following me are goodness and mercy.
The Shepherd motions for me to enter the glass building. I enter the glass building and it's just pretty awesome. Again, just a "feeling" thing that I'm going to dwell here forever.

So yeah. This works pretty well for this. I'm wondering how well it will work for a larger body of text (i.e., a longer chapter or multiple chapters). But it seems to solve the problem of not having enough loci, I just need a way to link the Chapter and the first image.

25 December, 2014 - 14:07
Joined: 2 years 11 months ago

Larry wrote:
I was thinking of building two houses (before we begin, realize that people have remembered word-for-word far more material than the bible). An older house for the Old Testament, which would have 39 rooms. And a newer house for the New Testament, which would have 27 room. A chapter for each room, and I since this is my imagination, I could make the rooms as big as I wish, furnish them as I see fit. Paul wrote 14 books of the New Testament, so he gets his own wing.

I will admit that it took me a bit time to start using the Method of Loci. I required some clarification on how the Method of Loci can be applied so as to overcome some obstacles I perceived in doing so. However, now I am in the early stages of using it.

That said, all my loci are based on actual people or places. My account number at the utility company is attached to one of my electric outlets -- and their phone number is attached to it. I placed the phone number for Trader Joe's right at the entrance to the store -- and so on and so forth. What do all these places have in common? They are actual places.

How does it work then, to build a house for the purpose of memorizing something? I would think that any benefit of using the loci to attach images to would be off-set by the sheer effort of having to mentally construct (and remember) the fictional loci to begin with. But then again --- my experience on this board has also led me to suspect, whenever there is some trick that seems impossible for me, that there is *something* I am missing -- some *trick* to it that I am not getting. But I would need someone to clarify it --- to spell it out for me what exactly I'm missing. So --- I'm all ears.

20 September, 2015 - 06:53
Joined: 2 years 7 months ago

I am elated to have found this thread! I am a typical neophyte that has discovered mnemonics and has big plans for verbatim memorization. Before I die, I want to have the entire KJV memorized (I'm 42 now).

Larry said: “I think your first clue is in the Bible, ’In my father's house, there are many rooms’ ;)”

That made me smile quite a bit. What is even more interesting for me (since I use the KJV) is that it says, "In my Father's house are many mansions: ” (John 14:2) :)

The techniques that Scratch and Mr. Lanier use sound very exciting; I would like to know more about both.

Scratch said: “Christ Jesus, well, I haven't come up with that one yet

How about an image of Jesus as an adult looking up His own Name in the phonebook? (Christ, Jesus)

I'm just trying to take as much in as I can before getting my feet wet. What I am most afraid of is starting off by learning techniques that don't work for me, or using techniques in the wrong way only to get frustrated and having to unlearn bad habits.

Thank you all for posting so much information. I hope to learn from you all and get to know you all.

1 October, 2015 - 06:59
Joined: 2 years 7 months ago

In his book, "The Glorious Heritage of the King James Bible," David Cloud writes about the team of men who translated the texts of the Textus Receptus, from which, in part, we get the King James Bible.

One of those men was named John Rainolds. Read this excerpt from Brother Cloud's entry on him:

John Rainolds (or Reynolds) (1549-1607), the leader of the Puritan party at Hampton Court, was president of Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He had become a Fellow of Corpus Christi at age 17 and a Greek lecturer at age 23. McClure observes:

“It is stated that ‘his memory was little less than miraculous.’ He could readily turn to any material passage, in every leaf, page, column and paragraph of the numerous and voluminous works he had read. He came to be styled ‘the very treasury of erudition;’ and was spoken of as ‘a living library, and a third university.’”

It is obvious that Mr. Rainolds was a master of mnemonics. Such a level is one which I highly admire. Somehow, this makes my goal of memorizing only one book, the King James Bible, seem much more attainable.

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