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I remember hearing an old legend growing up that Noah Webster (author of the American Dictionary) memorized the entire bible. The claims seem dubious and difficult to prove.

Has anyone ever memorized the entire bible and proven it somehow? Either by reciting great portions of it or perhaps reciting the whole thing?

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  • I'm not sure, but have you ever watched one of Zakir Naik's videos. Look them up in youtube, he recites verses and mentions their location in the bible from memory! – Ansari Apr 23 '15 at 5:31
  • Back in the ancient era Greek storytellers memorized the entire Iliad and Odyssey and several other sagas for public recitals. It's not outside the realm of possibility. That said, which bible? Which version and translation? The number of people fluent in Sanskrit and Hebrew is significantly lower than those fluent in English... – Shadur Apr 21 '16 at 21:33
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There were many reports claiming that people have memorized the entire bible. For example:

  • 15 years ago, Baptist Press released an article reported that Nadine Hammonds, a blind woman, has memorized the New Testament

    Nadine says it took her about three years to get the memorization done. She had memorized Scripture all her life, so she did have a history of Scripture knowledge, but her goal of memorizing the whole New Testament only took shape the last few years.

  • In 2007, Church & Ministry reported that Charles Matlock, 59, is known as the “Walking Bible of West Tennessee” has memorized most of the Bible and uses his gift to preach as a traveling evangelist.

    Matlock said he started to memorize the Scriptures when he was 12 years old. He recalled memorizing his homework one day and thinking to himself that he could also memorize Scripture.

  • Dr. William Evans wrote a book called How to Memorize the Bible in 1919. It is reported:

    Dr. Evans memorized the entire King James version of the Bible plus the New Testament of the American Standard Version.

    The site also has two chapters teaching how to memorize the bible by Dr. Evans:

    Although written in 1919, Dr. Evans’ scripture memorization techniques are still used today. Most books and websites that attempt to sell memorization techniques are largely using Dr. Evan’s ideas.

    His techniques for memorizing the Bible are simple, clear, practical and have immediate benefit. They work regardless of your age.

  • The most famous person who is said to have memorized the entire bible is Jack Van Impe:

    Regarding his extraordinary memory in regard to Bible verses, Van Impe has said that he has memorized 14,000 verses, and that it took him 35,000 hours to do so.

    Jack Van Impe recites has own website also along with methods:

    Eager to have others memorize the Bible, Dr. Van Impe has been willing to share the method that has made him "The Walking Bible."

    First, he prepares index cards with Bible verses on one side and the references on the other. He generally prepared 50 cards at a time. Others might not want to make that many. The important thing is to get a start with some set number of verses.

    He suggests choosing verses by subject or doctrine, not by chapter. At one time, he tried memorizing by chapter, but found himself less able to use the verses quickly. He would lose valuable time working through a number of verses to get to the one he needed. Memorizing by subject or doctrine is more liable to bring verses to mind when a given subject is raised.

  • It is also reported that John Goetch the Executive vice president at West Coast Baptist College has memorized over 14,000 verses and still does one per day as he is running his 5 miles at 5:30 A.M:

    As an added bonus, a special section devoted entirely to the subject of memorizing scripture is included. Dr. Goetsch has personally committed over 14,000 verses to memory.

    He also has a book on amazon (called: Homiletics from the Heart: Preaching God's Word God's Way) explaining his methods of memorizing the bible.

  • How To Memorize The Entire Bible In No Time Flat is a book by Adam Houge teaching how to memorize the entire bible.

  • 9 Months ago, is has been reported by the Baptist Press also, that a pastor memorized 35 books of the bible.

    But Davis, pastor of First Baptist Church in Durham, N.C., will tell you there is one book that has captured his heart; it is the Bible. And his desire to know God's Word has led him to memorize 35 of its books.

Those reports claiming that some people have memorized most if not all the New Testament of the Bible are weak evidence.

From a skeptical point of view, the question of "Has anyone memorized the whole Bible?" might be provable but is definitely unfalsifiable since it cannot be contradicted by an observation or the outcome of any physical experiment.

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    I disagree with your claim that the question is unfalsifiable. We only need to find one person to demonstrate that the claim is true. In the event of someone that is still alive you can test their claim by having them recite or write down everything from memory. – rjzii Apr 21 '15 at 15:29
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    @rjzii - You have that backwards. It's possible to prove that someone has memorized the bible, but it's impossible to prove that no one has. So the question is provable but unfalsifiable. – Bobson Apr 21 '15 at 16:32
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    @Bobson The question isn't up to Popper's standards of falsifiability, but if we have to go through life constantly asking questions by those standards we would be quickly exhausted. Plus, I still think that my overall point about the last two to three paragraphs of the answer being incorrect is still valid. – rjzii Apr 21 '15 at 17:11
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    This is a good list of self-claims and anecdotal reports listed. But the OP started with such a report about Noah Webster. It would be nice to see some independent verification that any of these people passed systematic tests of their knowledge. – Oddthinking Apr 21 '15 at 23:09
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    Debate about unfalsifiable questions on Skeptics.SE should be taken to meta. – Oddthinking Apr 21 '15 at 23:10

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protected by George Chalhoub Apr 10 '16 at 6:21

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