Archive for February, 2013

I have been reading this book by Gordon Wenham with a group of guys from my church. The last chapter I read was particularly convicting especially after we discussed it last Wednesday night.

The chapter’s subject was “The Psalter As An Anthology To Be Memorized.” The idea of memorizing a large of amount of something turns me off. I remember disliking my high school physics class because of the large amount of memorization involved (I loved my college physics class because I wasn’t required to memorize much of anything). The reason for my dislike of memorization is that (at least for me) memorization never lead to an  in-depth understanding of that subject. One could memorize equations in physics and use them to solve problems but never understand why that equation was necessary or where it came from. The knowledge that the person gained from memorization is trivial. 

I held memorization of Scripture in similar esteem. I hope that this attitude is not sacrilegious.  I have a pretty good memory. I can usually remember Scripture enough to know what book and approximately what chapter a verse came from. If I misremember, I can check google or use my excellent search algorithm in my bible software. Memorizing Scripture in and of itself does not necessarily lead to a greater depth of understanding either. Why spend that time memorizing verses when I can usually find what I’m looking for in 5 to 10 minutes?

In the light of this past chapter, I have adjusted my mindset about memorization of Scripture. Wenham says:

Works that are read again and again tend to be committed to  memory. Indeed, Griffiths argues that memorization is highly valued by religious readers. He goes further, maintaining that religious texts are often constructed in a way that aids memorization. For religious readers “the ideally read work is the memorized work, and the ideal mode of rereading is by memorial recall.” And as a reader memorizes a text, he becomes textualized; that is, he embodies the work that he has committed to memory.

I memorized Psalm 1 yesterday and plan on memorizing more as time goes on. I plan to do so because I want to be transformed by God’s Word. So memorization leads to the spiritual exercise of meditation and reformation. The act of memorization allows me to read and think without a text in front of me (I do not plan on substituting my memorized text for my written text). Memorization is not trivial if treated in this way; it fosters a love for Scripture and gives greater opportunity for reformation of the reader.


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