Monday, August 29, 2016

Loops and Skips

As one makes progress through memorizing a long passage of Scripture, sometimes the inspired Word and the translation will have characteristics that present additional challenges for hiding it in a person's heart, particularly repeated lines, phrases, or even similar-sounding phrases.

When coming across a phrase appearing more than once, one of two things can happen. One may recite a phrase that occurs more than once and inadvertently skip over everything from one time it occurs to a later time. Or the reverse: hitting a latter instance of a repeated phrase, and accidentally jumping back to an earlier time it occurred, repeating everything in between again.

This is usually a surprise when it happens because it only can happen when one memorizes something that is the same as or sufficiently similar to something one has already memorized. Also, as often happens with memorizing, one can get to a point of being able to quote it without thinking about it. That usually happens after one has been familiar with quoting a passage for a time (which is good), and that is also when the looping or skipping challenges tend to surface. One can overcome the additional newly presented hurdles and get back to that passive reciting state.

Looping and skipping show up in different ways. Looping is the more obvious of the two. (“Didn't I just say this?”) There are also red flags for when one has skipped a major section. (“That didn't take as long as it normally did.”) That these problems can at first go unnoticed is a reason recordings are especially helpful in noticing misses and tracking down where exactly the skip or loop occurred and extra reinforcement practice is needed.

Here are a couple examples I had to work through in Romans:

And yes, I had to work through both tendencies. Sometimes I would skip chapter 6 entirely, and other times I would find myself in a loop talking about baptism all over again. That stretch of Romans 7 is filled with lots of the same words, but it was easier than expected until it became harder than expected specifically because of the identical long phrase. These additional challenges may be another reason Romans took longer than expected to memorize.

Just as stitching verses together is a natural and necessary part of memorizing a long passage, so is overcoming the loop/skip tendency. In fact, this really becomes just an extended part of stitching a long text together. One overcomes these challenges by re-practicing and reinforcing previously-learned phrases, not just with their own meaning, but with additional focus on their larger context of what comes before those phrases so one is ready for those repeated phrases heading into them.

More patience and persistence!

Some of the repeated phrase occurrences I've encountered may be particular to my chosen translation that is based on the Majority Text. The Critical Text may have fewer repeated phrases because it tends to eliminate some of them on the assumption that they are copy errors. I personally would rather put in extra effort to overcome these hurdles, than to risk ignoring parts of God's inspired Word.

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