The Museum of Biblical Art acknowledges the passing of one of the leading minds in Biblical and Theological scholarship, Dr. Charles Caldwell Ryrie, with A Tribute to Dr. Charles Ryrie: The Story of the Bible Exhibition, a display of his personal collection of rare Bibles at the Museum of Biblical Art in Dallas, TX. The Story of the Bible Exhibition is a rare view into Dr. Ryrie’s significant work and the vast impact of the Biblical story.
A TRIBUTE TO DR. CHARLES CALDWELL RYRIE
THE STORY OF THE BIBLE EXHIBITION
Dr. Charles C. Ryrie’s personal Bible collection forms the heart of the library which is dedicated to the study of the history of the Bible, and the Bible as an art form.
The Charles C. Ryrie Bible Collection is one of the most important and rare Bible collections in the world. “It is an honor for the Museum of Biblical Art to be chosen as the repository of this remarkable collection,” said Scott Peck, Museum Co-Director and Curator, “Its significance cannot be overstated. To have this many first-edition volumes and fragments of Bibles from numerous religious traditions in the collection of a single person is most unusual”.
The full collection contains over 100 Bibles, pages and fragments. The initial phase of the collection was first exhibited in 2011 during the 400th Anniversary of the King James Bible and remains on view in the galleries leading to the library. The second phase—now housed in the library—features unique selections such as Eliot’s Bible (1663) in the Native American Algonquin language—the first Bible to be printed in America; Wycliffe New Testament (1430) and one of the world’s few copies of Tyndale’s Pentateuch (1530).
Dr. Ryrie began collecting in 1960 after one of his classes gave him a framed page from the King James Bible, with all of their names signed on the back. “I started collecting pages,” said Dr. Ryrie. “Then I went on to books.” These treasures, carefully collected over the course of Dr. Ryrie’s lifetime, represent one of the most significant Bible collections by an individual and reflect Dr. Ryrie’s deep love and respect for the Word of God.
When asked what one thing visitors should be sure to see in the collection, Dr. Ryrie immediately said, “It’s hard to say just one thing. But, there’s no question about the Wycliffe manuscript. It is the first English translation. The Eliot Indian Bible is also important. It is the first printed Bible in America, although it is in a foreign language – the Algonquin Indian language. Eliot was sent here by a mission society in England to evangelize the Indians. He first had to teach them to write and spell, and then he translated the Bible into Algonquin.”
The most exciting find for Dr. Ryrie was the Complutensian Polyglot. It lays out several languages – Hebrew, Greek, Latin and others – side by side on the same page. “I found five out of six volumes,” he said. “Some years later in a catalogue from a different dealer, I saw the sixth volume. I ran to buy it. Now it’s a complete set. The last volume is more of a dictionary, so it is not as important, but it’s so wonderful to have the complete set,” said Dr. Ryrie.
The Collection includes such masterpieces as a page from the Gutenberg Bible (1450’s); the first edition of the King James Bible (1611); the Wycliffe New Testament (1430); Genoa Psalter (1516) with its footnote about Christopher Columbus; Coverdale’s first edition (1535) of the first printed English Bible; early Greek manuscripts of the New Testament; one of the world’s few copies of Tyndale’s Pentateuch (The first five books of the old Testament, called The Torah or Law in Hebrew-1530); and Erasmus’ New Testaments. Additional elements include Eliot’s Bible (1663) in the Algonquin language – the first Bible to be printed in America – as well as a variety of Greek, Hebrew, Latin and other language Bibles.
The museum’s current display of the original King James Bible which has been on view since 2011, will be complemented by rotating exhibits in the library from the Ryrie collection over the next five years.
ABOUT DR. CHARLES C. RYRIE
Dr. Charles C. Ryrie was a gifted scholar, educator and Biblical theologian. Ryrie was born in St. Louis, Missouri and grew up in Alton, Illinois. He was awarded degrees from Haverford College (A.B.), Dallas Theological Seminary (Th.M., Th.D.), the University of Edinburgh (Ph.D.), and Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary (Litt. D.) His background as an educator includes positions as Chairman of the Division of Biblical Studies and Philosophy at Westmont College and President of Philadelphia College of Bible and professor and chairman of the Department of Systematic Theology at Dallas Theological Seminary. Dr. Ryrie made Dallas his home for many years before his passing in February, 2016.