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Why Use Acrostics For Biblical Retention? By Bruce H. Wilkinson

10 Apr

*Article Adapted from the Introduction to The Acrostic Summarized Bible by Barry Huddleston, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992.

Acrostics are nothing new. They are as timeless as the pages of Scripture and as contemporary as the morning newspaper. An acrostic is “a poem, word puzzle, or other composition in which certain letters in each line form a word or words.” Origin late 16th cent.: from French acrostiche, from Greek akrostikhis, from akron ‘end’ + stikhos ‘row, line of verse.’

Even in Bible times acrostics were known and used. The Old Testament contains fourteen acrostic poems, the most notable being Psalm 119. Though there are no acrostics in the New Testament, the early Christians identified one another by drawing the sign of the fish—in Greek ichthus—an acrostic for the Greek words meaning “Jesus Christ God’s Son, Savior.”

Chances are you use acrostics nearly every day of your life. Piano students often learn the lines of the treble clef with the aid of the acrostic: “Every Good Boy Does Fine” –EGBDF.

Acrostics have rescued many a grocery shopper who has arranged the list of needed items in such a way as to spell an easily remembered word. For example, here is a list of seven items. Read it over, close your eyes, and then try to recall all seven:

Onions

Watermelon

Soup

Flour

Relish

Eggs

Lettuce

Now try it again, this time with the aid of an acrostic. By rearranging these seven items into a particular order, you will find that their first letters spell the word FLOWERS. Now can you recall all seven using the acrostic?

Flour

Lettuce

Onions

Watermelon

Eggs

Relish

Soup

In much the same way, Bible readers down through the centuries have sought ways to remember the contents of Scripture. Ever since Stephen Langton hot upon the idea of dividing the Bible into chapters in A.D. 1228, men have searched for newer and better techniques for summarizing and memorizing God’s inspired Word. What Sunday School teacher hasn’t used the acrostic GRACE (God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense) and FAITH (Forsaking All I Trust Him) to help the learning process. You hold in your hands perhaps the most significant contribution yet to that continuing search. Barry Huddleston has created a unique approach that meets the three greatest needs of the serious Bible Student:

(1) A chapter by chapter summary of the Bible;

(2) A thematic overview of each of the sixty-six books; and

(3) A topical index that aids quick location of every chapter in the Bible dealing with a particular subject.

In the Acrostic Summarized Bible, short four-word phrases introduce each chapter of the Bible—from Genesis to Revelation. Then, reading down the page, the first letter of each chapter phrase forms another word, phrase, or sentence that accurately—yet succinctly—captures the theme of the book. The vocabulary is pungent and pithy.

*The Cold War was at its height; there was no such thing as a space shuttle, a PC, or the Internet; cars ran on leaded gas…and a Dallas Theological Seminary student named Bruce Wilkinson was wondering, “How can Christians teach a written Word in a visual age? How are we to present 66 books to a world that would rather watch 66 channels?” He answered his question by drawing from a concept in his master’s thesis and developed Walk Thru the Bible, a program by which, in just one day, just about anyone can learn the geography, characters, and key concepts of every book of the Old Testament in chronological order.

Twenty-five years later, Dr. Wilkinson’s teachings have helped thousands of Christians draw closer to God’s Word. Walk Thru the Bible is the largest conductor of live seminars in the world, religious or secular, and the world’s largest publisher of devotional magazines. Materials are available in more than 40 countries and 25 languages.

As the author of many books (including Personal Holiness in Times of Temptation, Talk Thru the Bible, and the best-sellers The 7 Laws of the Learner and The Prayer of Jabez), Wilkinson is an in-demand speaker, and makes frequent appearances at Promise Keeper rallies and the National Association of Christian Schools conventions. He is also a regular contributor to Dr. James Dobson’s radio program.

He is a “teacher’s teacher,” and sees everyone as a teacher of something to someone—for Christians, that “something” is God’s truth. The 7 Laws of the Learner shows parents, pastors, business professionals, and teachers how to expect and encourage the best from their children, congregations, colleagues, and students; apply what they’re teaching to their own lives; discover students’ needs and meet them; and overcome their own sins so they can help others grow in Christ.

His little book The Prayer of Jabez has taken the country by storm since it’s release. With 4 million copies in print since its first appearance in April 2000, the book has, indeed, become a call to live a more blessed life for countless readers. This master teacher does not avoid the prayer’s “name it and claim it” allusions, but puts them in proper biblical perspective. His conversational writing style persuades and challenges even the most cynical reader to seek God’s protection, blessing, and guidance—and watch God work! Jabez has been released in multiple forms for all age groups. The follow-up, Secrets of the Vine, which explores John 15 to show readers how to make maximum impact for God, is doing much the same thing with versions for adults through toddlers.

Other recent books by Wilkinson include 30 Days to Experiencing Spiritual Breakthroughs, The Dream Giver, 30 Days to Discovering Personal Victory Through Holiness, and Set Apart.

Dr. Wilkinson and his wife, Darlene, live near Atlanta, Georgia. They have two children, David, Jennifer, and Jessica, and four grandsons. A New Jersey native, he has degrees from Northeastern Bible College, Dallas Seminary, and Western Conservative Baptist Seminary. He is listed in Who’s Who in the World, Men of Achievement, and Personalities of America. He continues to pursue biblical answers to his life-long ministry question: “How can we fulfill the Great Commission in modern culture?

In the months to come I will be posting Acrostics from each book of the Bible from this fabulous resource as a helpful memory device – since it is no longer in print [Dr. David P. Craig].

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