It’s interesting to think about how our brains are bad at remembering numbers yet good at memorizing images. Perhaps this is why The Major System is so popular! It’s a system that allows us to convert dull numbers into striking word images! In this video, Josh together with James Maples and Carlin Day, will walk us through the major system and how it is used in Bible memory.
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The Major System is based on the principle that visuals are easier to remember than numbers. So, it works by converting numbers into sounds, then the sounds into words, and finally, the words into images.
The basics of this system and how it relates to Bible memory have been detailed here, but you can also download a free PDF that explains all of this and gives you the tools to create your own Major System number grid. Grab your copy here:
The Major System | Rules to Start
In order to understand The Major System, you need to begin with a set of initial rules. These include:
- Follow the sounds not the letters: Beginners with this method often want to work with how a word is spelled, but this is wrong. You want to listen to how a word is pronounced.
- Vowels (a, e, i, o, u) and w, h, y letters are ignored. Basically, it’s all the letters that don’t necessarily have a consonant-like sound.
- Create visual images (nouns). In other words, create nouns not verbs.
- Create images that you will remember. Personalize the images you create. What works for me might not work for you.
- Don’t give up too fast! It might be too overwhelming at first, but I encourage you to not give up and just give it a try. It’s not as complicated as it sounds.
Now that you have the initial rules of the system, let’s take a look at how The Major System works.
The Major System Explained
Turning numbers into words requires us to make every number equal a particular sound. So, what we will do is take these numbers (0-9) and assign them a sound.
- 0 = s , z (It’s a zero, so it’s a “s/z” sound)
- 1 = d, t (It looks like a T standing up, so it’s a “d/t” sound)
- 2 = n (If you turn the number 2 on its side, it looks like an n. So, it’s a “n” sound)
- 3 = m (If you turn it the number 3 its side, it looks like an m. So it’s a “m” sound)
- 4 = R (The number 4 makes an “-our” sound at the end, so it’s an “r” sound)
- 5 = L (If you hold your 5 fingers up, it makes an L shape so it’s a “l” sound)
- 6 = sh, j, ch (The number 6 looks like a curly looking j, so it’s a “sh/j/ch” sound)
- 7 = K, ck (The number 7 makes the hard c/k sound, so it’s a “k/ck” sound)
- 8 = f, v (The number 8 looks like an infinity symbol, so it’s a “f/v” sound)
- 9 = p, b (The number nine makes a p/b, so it’s a “p/b” sound)
Basically, the whole point of the system is we assign sounds to numbers, create solid words based on the sounds created, and then put meaning behind these words to generate images.
Here are a couple examples of how that would work:
- 32 = “MooN”: The number 3 makes the “m” sound and the number 2 makes the “n” sound. When you add the vowels, you can create the word “MooN”.
- 47 = “RoCk”: The number 4 makes the “r” sound and the number 7 makes the “ck” sound. Together, we can turn that into “RoCk” or even “RooK” if you wanted.
How to Use The Major System for Bible Memory
There are a few different ways that you can use The Major System within your Bible memory framework. We’ve created a free Major System Memory Guide to explain some of this, but here are some examples for you to use.
Memorize 66 Books of the Bible, Forward and Backward
It is possible to assign each book of the Bible a number and then using The Major System, associate each book with the number.
- Example #1: The number 32 is (M-N): As discussed above, I associate the number 32, to the word “MooN”. And since the 32nd book of the Bible is Jonah, the way that I remember this is that “Jonah getting spit by the big fish over the MooN”.
- Example #2: The number 48 is (R-F): As discussed in the Major System table, 4 is the “r” sound while 8 is the “f” sound. So, I associate the number 48, to the word “RooF”. The 48th book of the Bible is Galatians, and the way that I remember this is that “Gale-force winds remove the RooF of my house”.
In our Major System Memory Guide, we’ve listed out every book of the Bible, the corresponding number and an example you can use to help you remember. Give it a try and see how fast you can memorize all 66 books of the Bible!
Memorizing Verse/Chapter Numbers
This use of The Major System is quite common in the Bible memory community, particularly those who use a memory palace for Scripture memory.
Let’s look at a couple examples:
In the above verse, if I wanted to remember that it’s the 52nd verse in Psalm 119, I associate the number 52 to the word “LioN”. Then, whenever I memorize this verse, I find a way to incorporate a lion into the memory (i.e. a lion eating the laws, or finding comfort by hugging a big, fluffy lion).
Here’s another example:
I associate the verse 29 to the word “NaP”. So whenever I come across this verse in my memory palace, I think of 4 people who are taking a nap and one of them is my friend Grant. This helps me get started with “For (4) it has been GRANTed (my friend)…”. Since they’re all napping, I know it’s verse 29.
Memorizing Numbers within Verses
This use of The Major System for Bible memory involves memorizing numbers within verses, such as the number of years or how old someone is. Instead of arbitrarily memorizing these numbers, you can use the Major System to memorize these.
Within this example verse, it talks about the law being introduced 430 years later.
You actually can just arbitrarily memorize the number 430. But what I do is I use the Major System to turn the 4 – 3 – 0 into an actual image. I associate the number 430, with the word “RaMS” or “aRMS” (remember, the “a” is ignored).
So, I just think of the two tablets of Moses suddenly growing arms.
Memorizing Important Christian Historical Dates
This may not be important to everybody, but it’s another interesting use of The Major System for a Christian. Keep in mind that in most cases, when people memorize dates using The Major System, they don’t include the “1” at the beginning, since it makes it harder to create an image and it’s assumed that you’ll know that the event happened in a particular century at least.
Here are a couple examples that I came up with as examples:
- 325 AD – Council of Nicaea: I associate this with the word MaNhoLe. So, I just create this vivid picture in my head of all these men gathering around in the council of Nicaea and they are trying to avoid this huge manhole in the middle.
- 1382 – Wycliffe English Bible Published: The “1” is usually dropped. So I’m left with 3-8-2 which I associate with the word “MuFFiN”. In my mind, I imagine John Wycliffe eating this massive English muffin.
In the end, it all boils down to how vivid you can create these images. So, make sure to put feelings into each of these images and personalize it according to your liking!