Memorizing the Bible


I hope you all realise that the word ‘verbatim’ only makes sense when you’re memorising the source text in Hebrew (OT) or Greek (NT) - every translation is an interpretation.


Valid point, but in my opinion - and this indeed would be a whole another discussion - even the original teachings can’t be completely exempt from subjectivity and interpretation. But loyalty to the ideas, concepts and structure of the original texts would be an important factor in determining the best translation, of which King James version is generally the most renowned if your target language is English. Citing verbatim would mostly be useful in debate and for flexibility of interpretation.


Source text? What source text? Why is that your criteria for verbatim? If you don’t know, let me enlighten you: we don’t have originals of any of the books of the bible. We don’t even have copies of the originals, or copies of the copies of the originals. Add to that, the many copies we have of the texts all have differences (some major, some minor). So, if we took your argument seriously, there wouldn’t be a way to memorize the bible verbatim. Your definition is way too restrictive and in this case absolutely impossible. Find your so called source text( s ) and I’ll memorize Mark verbatim. Find your so called source text( s ) and you will be wealthy beyond belief.

My definition of verbatim memorization of the bible has to do with the accepted versions. If I say that I’ve memorized verbatim the New American Standard version of the book of Mark, then I have a claim to verbatim memorization. You could challenge that the New American Standard version is inaccurate in certain areas of translation. However, to dispute my claim of verbatim memorization of the New American Standard version, you could only challenge me with the text of the New American Standard version.

If you seek more history of the books of the bible (New Testament specifically), I recommend the works of Dr. Bart D. Ehrman, a New Testament expert.


The problem with this is that if you discuss a biblical topic with someone and there is disagreement, they can void your argument by referring to translations that are believed to be closer to the originals. One might ask what’s the point of possessing vast amount of inaccurate information. If the Bible was arbitrarily chosen as a challenge or object of personal accomplishment, then this poses no problem.


Huh? Relax.


You have me WAY wrong! First, I’m not a Christian. I’m not memorizing Mark in order to win an argument or lose an argument or advance an argument. I’m not memorizing Mark to get closer to the Christian god or farther from the Christian god. I’m not memorizing Mark to wave a little Christian banner: “Look at me! Look at me!”

I am memorizing Mark because there are things that I like about the book. There are things that I don’t like about it, but again, that is for a different type of forum.

You have come into my world with an assumption about me. Had your assumption been correct, then we could have debated on whether or not your argument was correct. However, we can completely bypass that because your assumption is incorrect. Nor is this a personal challenge for me, and Mark was not arbitrarily chosen.

For my purposes, my verbatim memorization of the New Standard American version of the book of Mark works perfectly. As for religion, we can discuss that somewhere else. It is one of my favorite subjects and I am extremely well read and versed in its history and application.


Setting aside which version of which text you choose to memorize…

I should note that in the middle ages, when verbatim memorizing big chunks of the Bible (the Vulgate, of course) was basic education for a lot of monks and priests, it was rarely done with things like the method of loci. A lot of it was what amount to pegged grids: you memorized a page as a sheet with words on it, and memorized where all the words were. The page IS the image, you might say. That’s tricky with modern Bible printing – very small words! – but it could be done. Or you could re-set the text easily enough with some basic word-processing.

The standard place to begin was the Psalms. You really knew them when someone could say, in effect, “give me verse 8 of every Psalm, beginning with 135 and working backwards to 10” (that is, recite Ps. 135:8, 134:8, 133:8, … 10:8 ). Yes, verbatim: not conceptions or basic ideas, but word by word.

If you’re wondering whether that’s really sanely doable, note that lots of Talmud students play the pin game – “I’m sticking a pin in this word on page X, volume Y, of the standard Talmud edition. What does it hit on the next page? And the next? How many pages can you do?” Or consider how Brahmin priests have traditionally been trained: “recite X cluster of chapters/sections from the Vedas or Upanishads, going backwards syllable by syllable” (I.e., if the passage concluded with the English word “conclusion,” you’d recite “sion - clu - con”.

Yes, it can be done. But loci probably aren’t the best way to go about it.


I just got a “new post” email about this thread, but there doesn’t seem to be one. Any ideas?


When a spammer posts in a thread it causes the new post message, when Josh finds the spam he deletes it.
If you visit the thread after the spam has been deleted it looks like there are no new posts.


Thanks for this discussion. It has been most useful.

I am very much new to memory techniques, palaces and such. I am about to embark on a similar project, albeit to learn the Qur’an by heart. I will be doing this (as is the tradition) in Arabic. I speak some Arabic, so it’s not as bad as memorising things I have no understanding of, but the priority is the Arabic, and then I’d like to be able to paraphrase the translation.

I’d like to be able to include chapter (sura) and verse (aya) numbers along with the text (and paraphrased translation).

I’m a bit overwhelmed by the need to structure it all before I start, and to have a good grasp of some of the basic techniques.

It seems, from what I read on this forum, that I should first get to grips with the major system, and then start to learn how to use the loci method?

Any other suggestions?


Yes, you need to learn the method of loci and at least the major system. They are the tools you will be using to build your house.

Many people try to learn the skills on the fly, and more often than not they conclude that the system does not work. First master the tools you want to use, and then attempt to craft something special



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!


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?

  1. 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 leave…lol).

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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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


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!


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.

  1. 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).

  2. 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


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?


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!


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.



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.



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