Friday, May 10, 2013

Ryrie Library Opens at Dallas's Museum of Biblical Art

The Library is displaying one of the rarest Bible collections in the world in the exhibit, “The Story of the Bible.”

Yesterday the Museum of Biblical Art in Dallas dedicated the Charles C. Ryrie Library, named after biblical scholar whose name it bears. Dr. Ryrie, retired professor and chairman of the Department of Systematic Theology at Dallas Theological Seminary, has been collecting since 1960. He has amassed more than 100 Bibles, pages, and fragments from various countries and religious traditions. The scholar’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.

This Martin Luther German hand-painted Bible is on display
at the Museum of Biblical Art as part of the Ryrie collection.
The Ryrie 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,” according to Scott Peck, the museum's 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 renovated library includes specially designed cabinetry with mirrors to allow viewing of all sides of the manuscripts. The first phase of the collection was exhibited in 2011 during the 400th Anniversary of the King James Bible. The second phase—now housed in the library—features unique selections such as Eliot’s Indian Bible (1663) in the Algonquin language—the first Bible 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 signatures on the back. He started collecting pages, but  “then I went on to books,” he said.

When asked what one thing visitors should see, Ryrie answered, “There’s no question about the Wycliffe manuscript [1430]. It is the first English translation. The Eliot Indian Bible is also important.” Eliot is the name of a missionary sent to the U.S. by a society in England to evangelize the Native Americans. “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. Then, “some years later in a catalogue from a different dealer, I saw the sixth volume. I ran to buy it. The last volume is more of a dictionary, so it is not as important, but it’s so wonderful to have the complete set.”

The Ryrie Collection also includes such masterpieces as a page from the Gutenberg Bible (1450’s); the first edition of the King James Bible (1611); 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; and Erasmus’s New Testaments.

The museum’s current display of the original King James Bible which has been on view for the past year-and-a-half, will be complemented by rotating exhibits in the library from the Ryrie collection over the next five years.

The Museum of Biblical Art in Dallas is unlike any museum in the world. It has a simple mission: to display art with a biblical theme. Established in 1967, it was named the Museum of Biblical Art in 1999. Nothing of its size exists in the United States, making it a treasure for art enthusiasts. Diverse types of art are exhibited, including bronze sculpture installations, drawings, fine prints, and oil paintings. Specialized galleries have been created for Biblical Archaeology, Jewish Art, Religious Architecture, Israeli Art, African American Art, and Hispanic Art.

Museum of Biblical Art 
7500 Park Lane
Dallas, TX 75225
Across from the North Park Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus

Hours: Tuesday–Saturday 10:00 AM–5:00 PM
Late night Thursday until 9:00 PM
Sunday 1:00 to 5:00 PM

1 comment:

Dallas Sharon said...

Dear Sandra,
Thank you so much for letting your readers know about the new Charles C. Ryrie Library. It is a beautiful collection in a beautiful and fascinating museum. I hope all will come to see it.
Sharon Cooper