This is my final entry to my study Bible reviews. We will take a look at one of the oldest study Bibles on the market today, the Ryrie Study Bible. Dr. Charles Caldwell Ryrie compiled this study Bible. He was a Christian writer and theologian who served as Professor of Systematic Theology and Dean of Doctoral Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary and as President and professor at Cairn University. Next to my Scofield Study Bible, the Ryrie Study Bible is probably dearer to me. I used the Ryrie through four years of Bible College, and at least the first couple of years in full-time ministry before retiring it to a shelf. I later picked up a newer version in the New American Standard Bible version (Expanded Edition) years later. Although I don’t use it for preaching or teaching, I still enjoy reading from it on occasion because of that particular version.
Let’s look at the layout. I find it very appealing, but it might be because I’m a little sentimental and way too familiar with it. Thinking a little more objectively, the print is clear and my “over 60” eyes find it easy to read. The study notes are also easy to read, with the chapter and verse numbering in bold print. You will not find any color between the bindings; this is strictly a black-and-white “plain Jane.” You will find timelines, charts and maps. The page format is verse-by-verse, but the numbering is bold to indicate paragraph breaks.
When it comes to content, the Ryrie Study Bible boasts of having 10,000 study notes, which are theologically conservative. It has a dispensational bent. The introductions are concise and well written. Each of the 66 books have detailed outlines that could be used for dividing up lesson plans for that Bible teacher who doesn’t want to reinvent the Biblical wheel. If you are looking for the study notes to cover every passage, you will be disappointed. However, I have found that Ryrie does, in some cases, deal with difficult passages, which is a real blessing!
The cover and paper are what I would call the standard mix. It is nowhere close to the selection that is in the Cross Way Study Bible, but for what there is, it is good enough for the price. It comes in genuine, bonded, and imitation leather, as well as hardbound. It also has the option of thumb index or plain. The binding is sewn. The paper quality is durable but has ghosting (bleed through). I have marked up mine with both highlighter and pen (note taking), and very little shows through to the other side of the page. Will it stand up to hard use? I can only tell you that I used mine nearly exclusively for six years day-in-and-day-out. I took it to work, graduate school, backpacking, mission trips, and just about every conference and committee meeting I attended in that time. During that tenure I gave the cover a “duct tape facelift” because my first Ryrie was bonded leather. My second Ryrie is genuine leather and has held up well, but it has not seen the spiritual combat action (abuse) that the first had to take.
Versions are plentiful and include NASB (my personal favorite), KJV, and ESV. If you look really hard, you might find it in the NIV 1984 edition. That will be a rare find because the demand for the 1984 version is somewhat high at this time. You can also pick up the Ryrie Study Bible in Spanish.
As I conclude my review, I want to say that the Word of God is like no other writing in the world. It is not just a sacred text; it is the sacred text. Christians, especially those living in America, ought to take advantage of the glut of Bibles (especially study Bibles) in the marketplace. I believe we will never be judged by God at the Bema Seat of Judgment (the judgment seat of Christ) for what English version we used (or didn’t use, for that matter). However, I do believe we will be judged for our lack of reading, studying, and knowledge of this perfect and holy text. The truth is we cannot obey what we do not know, and there is no excuse for not knowing what we should be obeying. How can we call ourselves Evangelical Christians and ignore the Word of God day in and day out by allowing His Holy Word to sit on some darkened shelf collecting dust? The number of people who attend worship service on Sunday morning who don’t even bring a Bible with them distresses me. Is the Word of God of such little value that there is no reason for checking out what the pastor teacher has said? We ought to be like the noble Bereans who checked out the Apostle Paul’s preaching to make sure he was preaching the Word of God truthfully (Acts 17:11). It is my prayer, if you have read these reviews for the past six months and have not come to that point of purchasing a study Bible, that God would lead you to do so. If you have a study Bible, it is my earnest prayer that you use it thoughtfully and regularly.
This is Pastor Whalen; wishing you joy in Jesus!