In Islam, the words Hafiz and Hafiza are used for someone who has memorized the entire Qur’an. Why aren’t we Christians memorizing the entire Bible?
The Qur’an is perhaps the only book, religious or secular, that has been memorized completely by millions of people, says William Graham. 1 Those who have done so are highly respected within the Islamic community.
Having memorised the approximately 80,000 words of the Qur’an, the hafiz or hafiza must then ensure they do not forget it.
To ensure perfect recall of all the learned verses requires constant review.
And millions of Jewish people have memorized the Torah. There are 79,847 words in a Torah scroll, according to Ask Moses.
So the Torah has approximately the same number of words as the Qu’ran.
Why haven’t millions of us Christians memorized the entire Bible?
The problem might be the colossal number of words. The New Testament has 138,020 words, according to Felix Just, S.J., Ph.D.
To memorize it would be like memorizing two Qu’rans or two Torahs.
And the entire Protestant Bible has approximately 800,000 words. Memorizing that would be like memorizing ten Qu’rans, or ten Torahs!
Maybe we could simplify things and focus on the four gospels. They have 64,766 words, according to Felix Just, S.J., Ph.D.
There are some Christians who have made substantial progress. One is a blind woman named Nadine Hammonds. According to Baptist Press, she has memorized the New Testament.
A simpler goal is to work with our Scripture Memory Project.
We memorize a verse or so each week. That is a modest pace. But over time, it adds up. In four years, we have memorized 11 chapters totaling about 5,000 words. That is equivalent to 1/16 of the New Testament.
Having said that, it is still surprising to us how few Christians are interested in memorizing Scripture, whether a verse or two at a time, or a chapter at a time.
Perhaps they want to avoid the negative stereotype of those who memorize Scripture, such as to win arguments or out-achieve somebody else.
Instead of those motives, why not memorize Scripture for a great motive? How about, let’s say, because we love the Lord Jesus Christ and the Scriptures? How about because we want to grow deeper in our love with God?
- William Graham, “Beyond the Written Word,” UK: Cambridge University Press, 1993, p.80.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.