The source material for this booklet was given to me by a trusted Pastor/friend. He mentioned it in the context of a discussion about a feat that may seem audacious... to memorize the content of every chapter of the Bible.
(For helpful guidelines and encouragement for Extended Memorization, see Rev. Andrew Davis’ Written on Your Heart: An Approach to Extended Memorization of Scripture. Many of his principles are applicable to this Book/Chapter summary memorization task; the main lesson being PRACTICE.)
Well, I am one for adventurous and ambitious (if not audacious) endeavors, so I produced this booklet as I proceeded through a read- the-Bible-in-a-year reading program with my family. When we read each morning and evening I learned that day’s phrases.
(Much of the year I was right on track with my memorization and when I fell behind a few days it wasn’t too hard to catch up. All told, I accomplished my goal but of course now (and for the years to come) I need to continue to practice in order to retain what I labored to acquire.)
The vast majority of the material is from the original author. That document is, in my humble opinion, a stroke of genius. I can’t imagine coming up with a phrase that captures the content of a whole book and has the same number of letters as there are chapters! And then think of a clause that summarizes the chapter’s content that begins with the appropriate letter... using only 4 words in each clause! At times it seems as though God inspired the length of a book with these phrases in mind (for example, Job with 42 chapters = the 42-letter phrase Job, God’s suffering servant is tested and restored).
As brilliant as the original document is, it could stand some refinement.
(No doubt further improvements could be made. Also, note that 2 Kings was not included in the photocopy of the original version I possess and I didn’t try to create it from scratch. I leave that to better minds.)
The occasional chapter clause needed a bit of modification either to correct an error in fact or for slight aesthetic improvements. For example,
- I changed Genesis 9 from “Initiation of rainbow promise” to “Initiation of rainbow covenant”—a preference of theological nomenclature.
- I changed Genesis 27 from “Esau robbed of birthright” to “Esau robbed of blessing”—thereby fixing an error.
The most significant changes came in the Gospels where I attempted to broaden the material covered and decrease repetition Rather than knowing that the Transfiguration is mentioned in Matthew 17, Mark 9, and Luke 9, I wanted to remember what else happened of note in Mark 9 and Luke 9.
My true goal is for this to be the beginning of a life-long personal and family ministry project. The chapter headings will form the basis of a dialog between my children and myself. I can ask them,
“What is Exodus about?”
“God bringing his people from bondage in Egypt to Mt Sinai’s Ten Commandments.”
“What happened to bring about the plagues?”
“The Israelites were enslaved in Egypt. In Chapters 2-4 God raises up Moses, calls him to service, and answers his objections. In Chapter 5 Egyptian oppression has increased, in Chapter 6 God promises deliverance. The plagues are God’s means for bringing about the promised deliverance.”
“What was the first plague, and what chapter is it in?”
“In Chapter 7 the plagues begin with the blood in the Nile.”
What were Moses’ excuses?...
How did Egypt’s bondage contrast with the Law’s freedom?...
A huge amount of information is captured in each book’s summary phrase and each chapter’s summary clause; there remains a wealth of detail to “hang” on those reference points, making the dialog suitable for children of all ages and adults.
May this reference booklet be the beginning of your own life-long endeavor to hide God’s word in your heart, speaking of it daily and teaching it to your children.
Soli Deo Gloria.
Michael Elliott, Editor
Omaha, July 2009