Overview/Book

HISTORY OF THE SCRIPTURE MEMORY PROJECT

In 1972 I started memorizing entire books of the Bible by putting the scripture to music as David did with the Psalms.My goal was to increase my knowledge of scripture and to grow in my relationship with Christ. Young adults and teens in my church also wanted to learn. They asked me for a cassette tape containing various Bible chapters. They had fun and learned simply by singing along and rewinding their tape for practice and review. Individuals who memorized scripture using this method still remember entire chapters and even entire books of the Bible word for word, 35 years later, with little or no review (see Testimonies).

 

Now I have developed a comprehensive memorization system converging my experience as a composer, minister, and educational psychologist. This teaching program is the culmination of many years of work. I invite you into a rewarding musical learning experience that has been carefully developed to maximize your success.

 

The Word for Word Scripture Memorization System involves all learning modalities (auditory, visual, kinesthetic) and impacts numerous brain regions insuring long term retention. Areas of the brain that control language, emotion, breating/heart rate, hearing/vision, movement/rhythm, long term memory, and behavior are all impacted by music and specifically by the type of music used by Word for Word Ministries. Those brain areas include (respectively) the temporal and frontal lobes, amygdala, brain stem, auditory/visual cortices, cerebellum, anterior thalamic nuclei, fornix, septum, and limbic cortex.

 

Word for Word Ministries joyfully provides a fun and highly effective way to memorize extensive amounts of scripture both textual and topical.

I commend you for your desire to memorize scripture.

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SCIENTIFIC - HISTORICAL - BIBLICAL FOUNDATIONS  

Abstract – Sometimes I am asked if I believe we are living in the last generation. My response is always an emphatic – “Yes!” I answer “Regardless of when Christ returns to earth – soon or in 1000 years – this is the last generation for you – and for me too.” Each of us has just one life – one generation to live for Him. We have one opportunity to impact the world for Christ. And now that one life – that one opportunity – has become very exciting!

Now – stunningly – you and I are presented with the chance to change the planet forever – to accomplish something dynamic and earth shaking. It is something incredible and wonderful that (amazingly) has never been done in the history of the Church! It is a ‘sign and wonder’ that has been hidden in plain sight – reserved for this generation.

That ‘something’ is –

To create, for the first time in history, a musical version of the Bible – The Music Memory Bible – that innovatively and uniquely presents the entire Word of God in song – word for word – allowing millions to memorize God’s Word and to meditate on it day and night – obedience to Christ being the glorious end goal. I am amazed to realize that God has chosen me to pioneer and accomplish something that has never been done in the history of the world. No one has set the entire New Testament to music for any purpose.

My undertaking to textually ‘through-compose’ the entire New Testament (and important topical themes from Genesis to Revelation) has never been attempted or accomplished. I am astounded and awed by this fact. It is an idea that God has apparently kept hidden until the present time.

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to
search out a matter is the glory of kings.
Proverbs 25:2

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it
springs forth, do you not perceive it?
Isaiah 43:19

In 1972, inspired by David’s Psalms, I started memorizing entire books of the Bible by putting scripture to music. My goal was to increase my knowledge of God’s Word and to grow in my relationship with Christ. In the process of doing this, I invented an entirely new and exciting method of combining music with scripture that expedites quick memorization and ensures lifetime retention. In the church where I was the youth pastor, young adults and teens wanted to memorize scripture the way I did. Those who memorized scripture using my method still remember entire chapters and even complete books of the Bible, word for word, 35 years later.

An exciting adventure awaits us –

You will meet a man who memorized the entire Bible by the age of 7 – and went on to do things so extraordinary as to seem impossible.

You will meet a woman who memorized the Pentateuch, the four Gospels, Proverbs, Song of Solomon and many Psalms by the age of 15 – and went on to compose 8,000 hymns.

Do you know which renowned Christian composer gloriously set scripture to music only to have his music scores (today priceless) used as wrapping paper by merchants and butchers?


We will learn about the ancient music of Israel – how faithful Jews have memorized the Old Testament (Torah) for centuries.

You will be introduced to ancient cultures that have successfully used music to pass down traditions and scriptures verbatim for millennia – even a remote tribe in China still chanting the story of Noah!

You may very well be shocked to learn that millions of Muslims around the world are currently memorizing the entire Koran word for word – and many of them memorize the entire Koran in just two years!

Together we will ask why – in 2000 years – the Church has never set the entire New Testament to music so that we can memorize God’s Word.

We will explore my innovative scripture-to-music invention that changes everything. It makes it easy and fun for anyone to memorize the Bible.

We will celebrate the truth that for the first time in history; millions of Christians will memorize the New Testament – even the complete Bible – Word for Word.

We will explore how we can combine the Word for Word method with amazing technology to reach the 6,809 people groups of the world with the gospel – in the next 15 years.

This is really exciting!

We will explore the origin and purpose of music in the universe and the effect of Lucifer’s rebellion on worship and angelic singing.

Here is one reason why we must memorize scripture. Get ready for a shock. 100 million Americans attend church each Sunday – and many more watch television preachers yet – only 55% of self-avowed Christians in the United States believe that Christ was sinless. Wow!

All these topics and more will be contextualized in a biblical, historical and eschatological perspective. This grand vision cannot be accomplished by one person alone. I will explain how you can partner with me to rock the world – for the Rock. What did Jesus the living Word do when He fought the most intense battles of his earthly ministry? Jesus quoted the written Word.

Think about that!

 >This Ministry Vision Statement explains the scope and power of our amazing opportunity.

>It elucidates the creative innovations and bold strategy that will enable us to fulfill the vision.

>It boldly trumpets colossal possibilities and invites your intentional beneficent partnership with Word for Word Ministries.

I encourage all those with a brave heart – who seek destiny and legacy rather than fame and fortune – who tremble at the Word not the world – to boldly participate in the dramatic release and expansion of this world-changing ministry as an ongoing contributor or as a major benefactor.

 

This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and
contrite in spirit, and trembles at my Word.
Isaiah 66:2

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Is not my word like fire," declares the LORD, "and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces? Jeremiah 23:29

A good hockey player plays where the puck is.
A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.

- Wayne Gretzky

Introduction

The Challenge

Right now – in the midst of significant world chaos – we have an incredible opportunity to advance the gospel and impact the world.

This great vision cannot be accomplished without a team of dedicated Christians. Let’s get this done!

See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.
Colossians 4:17

An Explanatory Owner’s Manual Good News – No Assembly Required

You may be like me. You value your time. To save time we sometimes skip ahead in books (jumping to Revelation is not advised) and seldom consult instruction manuals no matter how difficult the assembly or technologically advanced the gadget. In dismay, around 3 AM on Christmas Eve, we glare at the hodgepodge of swing-set parts that mockingly surround us on the patio cement. In frustrated exhaustion we finally surrender and – read the dreaded manual – only to discover that parts are missing! What is my point?

You are in for a pleasant surprise. This Ministry Vision Statement is like an owner’s manual that you don’t need to read. The swing-set is already fully constructed and ready to be enjoyed. Swing away! Nothing could be easier than learning scripture by singing it!

Explaining the Obvious

So why bother to write a detailed explanation about something as obvious as scripture memorization using music? Because this unique innovation represents a historic paradigm shift.

Many people hear just a few words about this vision and immediately light up with joy and revelation realizing they are about to be involved in a world changing ministry miracle.

They say things like –

  • This could change the whole world!
  • What a genius idea!
  • You are 5 years ahead of the Body of Christ.
  • I can’t believe that no one ever thought of this before. This must be from God.

Others, however, have mental roadblocks to overcome. The most common being –

  • Oh, that is just too hard – I can’t memorize anything.
  • Bible memorization – that’s just for little children in Sunday School.
  • The Pharisees searched and memorized the scriptures and they didn’t find Christ.
  • The devil can quote scripture.
  • The letter kills but the Spirit gives life – we don’t want to fall into legalism.

This unique Word for Word ministry gift is for all the Church not just for those who immediately see the potential and understand the vision. It is for Thomas as well as John – so to speak. This scripture memory innovation is best understood when it is set in historical, scientific, and scriptural context. It deserves careful and comprehensive explanation because it will impact millions of people for generations until the Lord returns. That is the reason for this treatise.

Vision Précis

Scientific, historical, musical, and scriptural explanations require a bit of cognitive heavy lifting – no worries mate – thisIntroduction was written with busy people like you and me in mind. Here you are provided a ‘vision synoptic’ – a summary for anyone with limited time who may be inclined to skip to the Action Plan in the last chapter. Even so, for comprehensive understanding of this ‘monumental musical memory miracle’ it isadvisable to read the entire work.

This vision is new and innovative – cutting edge. In point of fact, it has never been done before. The potential we have for doing good is so remarkably stunning as to cause momentary shock or alarm. Literally – a staggering opportunity. I have a deep sense of destiny as I joyfully and thoughtfully proclaim this vision to you. If there is such a thing as bold trepidation – I have it. What now comes to mind – are the experiences of Daniel and Habakkuk.

A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees.
Daniel 10:10

The Lord replied: Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a heraldmay run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; itwill certainly come and will not delay.
Habakkuk 2:2-3

What makes the Word for Word method unique and transformational?

It is a simple yet profound paradigm shift. It is much like those who first discovered that the earth is round and not flat – or those who finally realized that the earth rotates around the sun – not vice versa. They finally see it. They suddenly ‘get it’.

And after they see it everything changes forever. Nothing will ever be the same again.

The innovation described in this document has the potential to affect the world as much as the – discovery of penicillin – invention of the light bulb – application of Newton’s laws and Einstein’s thought experiments.

That sounds ostentatious until one understands that the Word for Word innovation, like all the aforementioned inventions and discoveries, is not amazing in itself. All of these advances only allow the world to experience and enjoy the benefits of wonders that God has already provided in the universe – ready to be discovered. Jesus Christ, the Living Word created electricity, light, gravity, and atomic power – and is thus greater by definition.

The light bulb may be ingenious – but if no one turns on the switch – everyone remains in the dark. So also the Word for Word invention – thedynamic-through-composed’ New Testament – is just a vehicle to convey the miracle power of the Word of God. Millions of Christians can finally ‘turn on the switch’ and experience the power of abiding in the Word.

With that back drop I joyfully, profoundly and humbly introduce Word for Word Ministries. How is the Word for Word memory system new and unique? Why does it work? How does it turn on that light switch?

A Quantum Leap in Scope – Method – Technology

Scope – The entire Bible set to music in all major world languages

Method – A ‘river of melody’ that flows – never repeating – from Genesis to Revelation

Technology – Creative use of technology for accelerated outreach and world impact

The Essence of Change

New inventions seldom arise without precursors. Isaac Newton declared “If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.” World changing insights and inventions are frequently innovative and creative ways of combining familiar ideas.

Certainly many believers have set scripture to music before. It is a concept as ancient as Miriam and Moses whose songs actually became scripture. It was continued by psalmist David and many others. The synagogue chants and songs of the Jewish people were influential to the songs and liturgies of the nascent Christian Church. Ancient Coptic Christian chants have been seamlessly communicated without variation for 20 centuries by the “blind cantors”.

Most of the music of the Jews, and in fact the world, was monophonic in nature for millennia achieving ethereal beauty in the Gregorian chant. Polyphonic musicof the Late Middle ages and Renaissance employed two or more concurrent melody lines. The Reformation – and in particular Martin Luther – brought harmony front and center in Christendom. A celebration of sound ensued with the amazing compositions of beloved Christian composers like Handel and Bach. Music, which had for so long reverently utilized minor modes – exploded into the colorful textures of harmonies in major keys. The pendulum had swung.

Ironically, it may have been this celebration of God’s glory in harmony, counterpoint, polyphony, and instrumentation that postponed until now the revelation that full textual memorization of the New Testament is possible. Did the scripturally inspired music – due to its overwhelming beauty and glory – begin to overshadow, and eventually even eclipse, the words of scripture? If that is so, it is highly ironic that the wide use of the new music was greatly inspired by Luther – the proponent of sola scriptura.

Now – the quantum leap – the admixture of the monophonic through-composed New Testament for memorization with the wonder of orchestrated major keyed harmony for worship – the best of both approaches combined. Now we can all memorize the whole Bible and then we can sing it back to God with full orchestration in praise and worship – a joyful expression of our love.

That quantum leap began 40 years ago when I first realized that I could not repeat melody lines if I intended to memorize thousands of scripture verses word-for-word. It is vital that each verse be unique because the individual notes of the melody create vital memory connections for the words. This requires creativity – a new song for each Bible verse requires 31,103 melodies.

Multiple verses with the same melody would become confused. Word for Word prioritizes scripture memorization over entertainment. This style of music is pleasant yet unfamiliar to most of us. The goal is memorization. Effectiveness takes priority over aesthetics.

Our appreciation of music is somewhat conditioned by culture and familiarity. Most of us are not familiar with through-composed music. There are some fairly well known examples of modern through-composed music. Les Misérables and Jesus Christ Super Star include some through-composed selections. Haydn’s Farewell Symphony is also through-composed.

I (serendipitously) discovered that singing entire chapters of the Bible from memory can be even more delightful than enjoying a popular verse-chorus-verse “top 40” song. Everyone who has learned Word for Word music says once you know it – it is delightful to sing. My dynamic-through-composed music includes permutations of meter, rhythm, mode, cadence, key, genre, chromatics, progression, and syncopation. It is, by far, historically and scientifically, the most successful way to memorize vast amounts of text.

The Three Historic Methods of Memorization

In history three methods were used to memorize information. I have named them –

1) Visual/Imaginative

2) Oral/Musical

3) Rote/Repetitive

The first two methods have been used successfully for thousands of years to memorize and recall information. However, only the second of those two the – oral/musical method – is effective with word-for-word memorization and recall – and that is obviously the kind of recall we need for memorizing scripture word-for-word. The visual/imaginative method is very effective for other memorization goals.

The third methoduses rote repetition and is the least effective and (naturally) the one most of us use all the time. Just repeat that phone number over and over and over – and over? Just recite that Bible verse over and over and over. That does eventually work. Frankly, in modern society we are using memory less and less. We either write things down or rely on technology. We store the information in day planners, phones, computers, thumb drives and ‘in the cloud’.

Expansion of the Word for Word Memory System

An augmented version of Word for Word is being developed to benefit the hearing impaired. Read-Write-Sing-Recite will be computer enhanced and include reading, writing, visualization, and movement. Naturally multi-modal learning only further enhances the system for everyone.

The Founder of Word for Word Ministries International

My name is J. David Newquist. It was only retrospectively that I realized how God orchestrated my life experiences, family heritage, and educational background to prepare me for this ministry project. It is an apostolic vision that encompasses music, missions, linguistics, biblical studies and education.

I am an ordained minister, worship leader, composer, and Educational Psychologist (LIC #2508). Ministry experience has included being Director of Ministry for Summit Bible College, youth pastor and missionary-evangelist for Westminster Presbyterian Church and Hope Presbyterian Church, Director of Adult Education and Training for Vineyard Christian Fellowship, and principal of a Christian home schooling network named Pilgrims School.

My educational training included ethnomusicology, oceanography, English literature, Biblical studies, educational psychology, and international relations. The studies were accomplished at Multnomah Bible College, Portland Bible College, Summit Bible College, Portland State University, the University of Washington, UCLA, Fresno State University, Fresno Pacific University, California State University, and Fuller Theological Seminary.

Missionary work included preaching, teaching, and helping build an orphanage in Haiti in my youth and preaching the gospel in a dozen or so countries in Asia and Europe as an adult. I was also privileged to take books and Bibles to the underground Church in communist countries.

Representative musical accomplishments:

  • Composer/music supervisor (5 years) for the Producers Guild of America – Celebration of Diversity Awards (film & television).
  • Founder – New Quest Composers Consortium – a network of skilled film and television composers (vitae included) available to expedite this project.

I was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, lived in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Washington, Oregon, and California. My father, David C. Newquist directed Forrest Home Campground for Henrietta Mears. Billy Graham and Bill Bright were in the college group he was leading. My father subsequently served as a pastor and leader of pastors for 62 years.

There is a rich godly heritage on my mother’s side as well. I recently discovered that my maternal great grandfather would sit on the porch in North Carolina and quote entire chapters of the Bible from memory to his grandchildren. I am blessed to have two amazing daughters. One daughter has worked as a missionary in Mexico, the Philippines, and Mozambique, Africa. My other daughter is raising, and home-schooling my two wonderful grandchildren. Both of my daughters and two of my five sisters also compose scripture to music.

Scripture Memorization in other religions compared to Christianity

When we compare our scripture memorization efforts to the efforts applied in other religions it is very challenging (euphemism for downright embarrassing). We have a love letter from the one and only true almighty God. Why then do other religions treat their scriptures more respectfully?

Hinduism

The Hindus (from which Buddhism and Jainism derive) have used music to carefully preserve and pass down over 100,000 verses of their Vedas (their scriptures or ‘agamas’) word-for-word for centuries, even millennia. Comparatively, the entire Bible has about 31,103 verses.

Judaism

Jewish believers have intonated the Pentateuch and other scriptures for centuries in songs and chants. Dedicated Jews continue to study and memorize the Old Testament today.

Hinduism and Judaism are the most ancient of all religions. Unlike Christianity, they were established before the advent of written language. There was no other way to preserve their teachings verbatim than through oral transmission.

Islam

Contrariwise, a ‘late comer’ religion initiated six centuries after Christianity (circa 622 A.D.) also uses an oral word-for-word memorization technique. In the last 1,400 years Islam has grown exponentially – eclipsing all religions except Christianity. Islam is now the second largest world religion. At this very moment, millions of Muslims all over the world are memorizing the entire Qur'an (Koran) word-for-word. The Koran is about the same length as the New Testament. Some Muslim children attend schools where they memorize the entire Koran in just 2 years.

Incredibly – most of those around the world memorizing the Koran must learn it in a second language! The Koran is only to be memorized and recited in its original Arabic. Yet, only 15% of Muslims speak Arabic as a native tongue. Think about it. It would be like you memorizing the New Testament in German or Chinese.


We must wake up Church! ‘Blow the trumpet – sound an alarm in my holy mountain’
(Joel 2:1).

Islam has quickly and recently (historically speaking) become the 2nd largest religion of the world – its followers memorize their scriptures word-for-word. Hinduism has survived from the most ancient times and has preserved its writings syllable-by-syllable using intricate music. Hinduism is the 3rd largest religion in the world. Judaism, though small in numbers, has survived what no other religion has ever survived. They have twice been removed from their land – the second time scattered all over the world for almost 2,000 years. Nevertheless, they are back in their land and their scriptures are intact because of music and because of meticulous efforts of scribes. All of those religions have survived or thrived because of carefully attending to the preservation of their writings – through memorization using music.

What about Christianity?

We Christians are entrusted with the actual Word of God. A review of the history of Christianity sometimes causes us to shake our heads and wonder how we could have been more wrong-headed. All we like sheep have gone astray. It seems like we are often playing ‘catch up’.

Fortunately, God is never taken off guard. All things are being restored to the Church in the fullness of time. Thy kingdom come – thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Let’s cooperate with the Holy Spirit and fill our hearts with God’s love letter – the Bible. And let’s do it using his other love language – music. It is time. It is high time. And with Word for Word it is not only possible – it is easy!

Amazing Memory Abilities of the Brain

We will be greatly encouraged when we study the brain’s capacity for memorization. We will learn that God has gifted us all with incredible potential. Memory skills have been exorcized through lack of exerciseapathy has resulted in atrophy. The advent of the printing press and the subsequent avalanche of electronic information storing devices have almost obviated the need for human memory skills. ‘No need to remember that phone number – got it right here in my cell phone’. ‘I have that verse right here in my BlackBerry or iPod’.

Interestingly however, there is a resurgent interest in human memory ability and potential. This has been stimulated, at least in part, by the study of the brain, the study of savants, the discovery of ‘normal’ individuals with superior autobiographical memory, and the advent of ‘memory competitions’ producing national and world ‘memory champions’. We will look at all of this.

Suffice it to say for now – the findings about our human memory potential are stunning beyond comprehension. Our memory capabilities are astronomical. When we study the amazing human brain – you will be introduced to the man who memorized the entire Bible by age seven.


The Art and History of Classical Memory vs the Ancient Musical Intonation of Scripture

We will contrast the ancient art of memory (classical memory) with the oral mnemonics used by religions and cultures. The classical memory method, known by Aristotle, Cicero, Augustine, and others, is primarily a visual approach using ‘places and associated things’. We will chart the progress of both the oral/musical and visual/imaginative systems from ancient times to the present – and will see how both have been applied to Bible memorization.

Most importantly, we will ‘blow the lid off’ the (now archaic) notion
that Christians cannot memorize the entire Bible word-for-word.

There is no good reason for that kind of thinking anymore.

Music and Worship – in the Bible; in Church History; and in the Universe

What could be more fun than the joy of studying music, worship and God’s Word? Our present goal of this study is to stimulate the Church to memorize scripture for two primary reasons. When our hearts and minds are saturated with God’s Word we can –

  • Meditate on it day and night and obey it readily – God promises great rewards for both.
  • Freely sing God’s Word back to Him – which is one of the highest forms of worship.

We will look carefully into scripture to discover where music originated, what happened to music when Lucifer rebelled, the place of music and worship in the Word and how the ancient Tabernacle of David relates to us today. We will consider the distinct possibility that the worship leader of heaven lost his job – and the Church (Christ’s Bride) is in training to be the new worship leader – for eternity. The Song of Solomon which is always included in the poetic books of the Bible – is also one of the most prophetic books in the Bible.

We will briefly mention the wonderful hymnology and creative music of Christian history – some of the greatest music of all time has been created by classical Christian composers. At that time we will discover the genius Christian composer, whose work is now revered and performed by orchestras all over the world, who was so underappreciated in his own time that his music scores were used by butchers and grocers for wrapping paper!


How We Will Change the World

Finally, we will look at exactly how we will work together to change the world. Clear vision imperatives will be explained along with a targeted release of the Music Memory Bible – English Version. Paul the apostle had a plan to reach the whole world with the gospel. The Word for Word action plan is all encompassing yet always flexible to the leading of the Holy Spirit. It is obvious that the next generation is critical to the future of Christianity. Our young people must be prepared with a deep personal knowledge of God through relationship with Christ and plenary knowledge of the Word of God.

Logically, the 7 million Christian children being schooled at home and in Christian Schools will be some of the first to enjoy the benefits of the revolutionary Word for Word approach to scripture memorization. Detailed demographic information on Christian home-schooling and Christian private schools in the United States and the rest of the English speaking world will be discussed later in our call to action.

I will outline the global missionary vision of Word for Word Ministries. Together we will reach out to millions of Christians in churches across America – and then around the world. My team of skilled composers is ready to complete the New Testament and the rest of the Bible in English. The method, team, and vision are in place. All that is now required is adequate funding.

After the English version of the Bible is completed the Spanish Version can ensue. Also we will reach out with critical topical scripture themes (e.g. salvation; discipleship) to the 6,809 people groups around the world – every tribe and tongue – using God-Pod like solar powered devices.

The ministry vision of Word for Word is a historic paradigm shift that will create a fulcrum – a tipping point – for global gospel advance. We are spiritual change agents. The Word of God in joyous song will be a well-spring of life flowing from the throne of God and flowing out of the innermost being of Christians everywhere. Let us help ignite revival fires around the world – catalytically blessing every Christian ministry – helping prepare the Bride for the return of the Bridegroom.

I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire.
Revelation 15:2


And he showed me a river of water of life, bright as crystal, going out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. Behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me, to render to every one according to his work … The Spirit and the bride say Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
Revelation 22

Now God's Word can truly "dwell richly" in the heart and mind of every believer.