As a young Christian I purchased a copy of Halley’s Bible Handbook. While I had some problems with some of its theology, I found it to be a very helpful volume for summarizing the books of the Bible. It was said that it contained more biblical information than any other book of its size and was translated into many different languages. Ryken’s Bible Handbook will soon become a standard tool for all preachers, teachers, and students of the Bible, just as Halley’s Bible Handbook.
Ryken’s Bible Handbook contains maps, charts and many illustrations. Also, key doctrines, overviews and main themes are highlighted throughout. J. I. Packer writes, “This is truly an educational treasure trove.” All who aim to be discerning biblical Christians will appreciate it enormously. Two of the authors, Leland Ryken and James Wilhoit are faculty members at Wheaton College. Philip Ryken, the third author and son of Leland, is pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church, PCA, in Philadelphia.
In this handbook each book of the Bible is outlined with information such as: implied purposes, author’s perspectives, implied audience, what unifies the book, special features of each particular book, challenges facing the reader or teacher of the book and how to meet that challenge. I was particularly impressed with the key verses and key doctrines contained in each book. For example, 2 Chronicles key doctrines: the sovereignty of God, the justice of God, human responsibility, sin, providence, history, worship, and prayer.
Ryken’s Bible Handbook also contains great maps clearly printed in color and easy to read. There is also a one-year Bible reading plan that offers a workable procedure for reading the Word. With great sensitivity to the readers, they include tips for reading each particular book. One of the important tasks in studying and teaching the Bible is to know where each part relates to the whole and how they fit together. They have given us rich insights to that end.
I recommend that pastors, teachers, Bible students and families have this book at their disposal. If there has ever been a time when we need to address Bible illiteracy, it is today. Also with today’s postmodern influence on culture, we need to see the grand story of the Gospel of the Kingdom and how the various parts contribute to the whole with all of their uniqueness, mystery, and diversity.