Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Memorization Strategy for Verbatim Text

If you'd like to improve your ability to memorize Bible texts, or any texts, try out this very powerful strategy: take a long text and produce a memorization aid of just the first letter of each word.

Let's say you want to memorize Mark 1:1-8

1The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

2It is written in Isaiah the prophet:
"I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way"—
3"a voice of one calling in the desert,
'Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.' " 4And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 6John wore clothing made of camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7And this was his message: "After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

You study the text, and then use this to help train your brain to recall it:

1 b o t g a J C, t S o G.

2 i w i I t p:
"I w s m m a o y,
w w p y w"—
3"a v o o c i t d,
'P t w f t L,
m s p f h.' " 4 s J c, b i t d r a p a b o r f t f o s. 5 w J c a a t p o J w o t h. C t s, t w b b h i t J R. 6 w c m o c's h, w a l b a h w, a h a l a w h. 7 t w h m: "A m w c o m p t I, t t o w s I a n w t s d a u. 8 b y w w, b h w b y w t H S."

I know this probably sounds wacky, but it works.

There is a nice online tool to make this simpler available here. Paste in the original text, hit the "convert" button and you get the memorization string instantly.

If you're memorizing individual verses, flash cards are still probably the most powerful way to go. But I recommend this strategy for longer passages.

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