One of the five “canons” of classical rhetorical theory is called “memoria.” It has nothing to do with memorizing a speech or recalling its content. It is about having a beneficial and sufficient memory, which can hold on to and call up at a later time, all kinds of information!
In the classical day of Aristotle, Plato, Qunitillian, and Cicero a speaker would be called upon to stand up and speak extemporaneously and impromptu to address the people. A simple and well-known example of this is Paul at Mars Hill!
Just like Paul, to be effective, the speaker would have to think on his feet. To do that effectively, the more information a speaker has “stored in his mind,” the more resources one has available for that speaking occasion.
Most pastors can easily lay out the general details, people, and events of . . . .
- Old Testament history
- The Outline of Redemption from Genesis to Revelation
- The Dissolution of the Northern and then the Southern Kingdom
- The First Three Kings Over United Israel
- The Flow of Leadership From Peter to Paul in Acts
- The Events of Passion Week
- The Days of Creation
- The Judgements of Revelation
- The Plagues of Egypt
- The Prophetic Outline of the Last Days
- Acts 2, 8, 10, 19 — speaking in tongues
Sometimes, those events-people-details are so well known, that a preacher could answer a question or lay out the flow with little preparation — BECAUSE of MEMORIA!
Having some and/or more of all of these in our “rhetorical mental repository” help in various speaking situations and as messages related to that material are developed.
Here are two “mental packages” you may want to add to your mental storehouse. As I listened to it, I thought — “I wish I had that all down. I never grasped the flow of that area of biblical history as well as I should or could have.”