A close-up photo of a worn-out Bible, pages turned and marked, showing the intricate network of handwritten notes and underlined passages, a testament to the countless souls who have memorized its sacred words.

How Many People Have Memorized The Entire Bible?

The Bible is the most widely distributed book in human history, with billions of copies printed over thousands of years. For devout Christians, memorizing passages or even entire books of the Bible is an important spiritual practice. But how many people have managed to memorize the entire Bible?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: only a few dozen people are known to have fully memorized the complete text of the Bible.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the history of Bible memorization, look at techniques used by ‘memorizers’, and highlight some of the most remarkable people who have committed the full Bible to memory.

A Brief History of Bible Memorization

Memorization key to oral traditions

For thousands of years, religious texts and scriptures were passed down orally from one generation to the next. Rhythmic poetry, songs, and repetition were used as memory aids to accurately preserve stories and lessons. Memorization was essential, as most people could not read or write.

The words of the Bible had to be memorized word-for-word to maintain their integrity and accuracy.

Early Jewish and Christian practices

In Judaism, memorizing the Torah has been an important tradition since antiquity. Jewish boys memorized their Bar Mitzvah portion, and some went on to memorize the entire Torah! Early Christians also emphasized Bible memorization, especially the words of Jesus in the Gospels.

Many experts believe the Apostles memorized Jesus’ teachings and passed them on orally before they were written down. As Christianity spread, catechisms were memorized before baptism.

Memorization in monastic communities

In the Middle Ages, monasteries became centers of Bible memorization. Monks would memorize up to four Bibles in their lifetime! Some fascinating memorization techniques were used, like dividing sentences into visual images. Saints like Anthony of Padua were said to have memorized the entire Bible.

Nuns also engaged in memorization. Biblia Pauperum contained shortened Bible stories with illustrations to aid memorization.

Changes after the printing press

After the printing press was invented, memorization declined as people could now read the Bible themselves. But some Christian groups like the Puritans revived the practice of memorizing Scripture. They believed memorization helped deepen spiritual growth and knowledge.

Even today, many churches and Bible camps encourage children to memorize verses and passages. Contests like Bible Bee motivate kids to memorize full chapters!

Techniques for Memorizing Scripture

Memorizing long passages of Scripture is a lofty goal that requires dedication and a variety of effective techniques. Utilizing a combination of mnemonic tricks, repetition, chunking, listening, and kinetic activities has helped many believers firmly cement Bible verses and chapters in their minds.

Mnemonic devices

Mnemonic devices like acrostics and acronyms transform longer scripture into an easy-to-remember word or phrase. For example, memorizing the books of the New Testament could be done with the acronym “MaTT LaNDeS CoPhiJameS PeJude ReLaTi.”

Breaking up hard-to-memorize verses into the first letter of each word also makes the information more retainable.

Repetition and recitation

Frequently reciting passages out loud and listening to recordings of yourself aids memorization through repetition. Studies show we retain only 10% of what we hear, 35% of what we see, but as much as 90% of we say and do.

Chunking passages into smaller sections

Trying to memorize entire books of the Bible can be overwhelming. Breaking scriptures into smaller chunks of a few verses or a chapter allows for more digestible pieces that are less intimidating. According to BibleGateway, focusing on 3-5 verses daily over months will help memorize large passages.

Listening to audio recordings

In addition to reciting verses out loud ourselves, listening to audio recordings of scripture also improves memory. We can listen to MP3s anywhere like driving, exercising, or relaxing. Bible.com and other sites offer many reading plans with audio support for memorization.

Memorizing along with physical activities

Associating verses and passages with physical routines, locations, or activities can solidify them in our brains through kinetic memory. Walking while reciting verses or scriptures connected to different parts of your home helps makes the words unforgettable through movement.

Notable People Who Have Memorized the Entire Bible

Thomas Cranmer (1489–1556) – English archbishop

Thomas Cranmer was an English archbishop and a leader of the English Reformation. He memorized the entire Bible and often quoted scripture verbatim in his writings and sermons. As a scholar, his dedication to studying and memorizing scripture was exceptional.

According to biographers, Cranmer had the Bible so mastered that finding any passage was “as easy as turning to the page on which it was printed.”

John Milton (1608–1674) – English poet

The acclaimed English poet John Milton is considered one of the most learned men of his time. He memorized the entire Bible in its original Hebrew and Greek languages. This gave him an exceptional command of vocabulary and style that was reflected in his writings.

His epic poem “Paradise Lost” contains over 13,000 allusions and references to scripture – evidence of his comprehensive biblical memory.

William Evans (1881–1918) – Welsh minister

The remarkable memory of Welsh minister William Evans earned him fame in the early 1900s. By age 15, he could recite over 1,100 verses of hymns. By 18, Evans knew the New Testament by heart. Two years later, he memorized the entire Bible.

Notably, a train accident left him with serious injuries but did not affect his recollection. He could still flawlessly recite complete books of the Bible from memory.

Ronald E. Man (1920–2019) – American pastor

Ronald Man spent over a decade meticulously memorizing the Bible word-for-word. This dedicated American pastor saw memorizing scripture as a way to effectively counsel church members without having to constantly consult reference books.

He recounted that after fully memorizing the Bible, he felt “armed and ready” with an arsenal of God’s word. Remarkably, even while battling dementia at age 98, Man could still quote large scripture passages flawlessly.

Tom Meyer (1952–) – American pastor

Hailed as a “walking Bible,” Tom Meyer began memorizing scripture at age 10 as a way to overcome a speech impediment. Meyer’s website notes over 1,000 memorized verses by age 13. While studying theology in seminary, he committed to memorizing the entire Bible over 3 years.

Today Meyer tours globally with his comprehensive recall, conveying Bible books verbatim from memory. He holds two Guinness World Records related to Bible memorization as well.


While memorizing the entire Bible remains an exceedingly rare achievement, the dedication of these memorizers is a testament to the powerful role scripture plays in the lives of some faithful Christians.

Even for those who don’t take on memorization at this scale, studying and memorizing parts of the Bible can be a deeply meaningful spiritual practice.

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