Union University
Union University School of Education
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About the Center

Listen to Dr. Ray Van Neste explain the vision and purpose of the Center.

One of the greatest needs in the modern church is the dynamic, spiritual growth of those who claim to be Christ-followers. The world too often sees conformation rather than transformation, Christians living according to the patterns of thinking offered by the world, rather than ways of thinking given by God. As Paul points out in Roman 12:1-2, transformation takes place by the renewing of our minds. As God’s people, interacting with God’s Spirit, live in meaningful dialogue with, and submission to, God’s Word, positive change takes place- change of each person, change in each church, and change in the world. Yet, 95% of Christians have never had any training in how to study, interpret, apply, or even to read the Bible well.

To address this critical need, the Center for Biblical Studies at Union University is developing a number of initiatives, including the following:

  • A 1,600 sq. ft. model library for use by students, pastors, and lay persons.
  • An affordable two-part video series on "Reading and Interpreting the Bible" and "Studying the Bible Step-by- Step."
  • An annual, national-level conference on Bible study and interpretation, with seminars for pastors, Bible study leaders, and Sunday School teachers.
  • A developing artifact exhibit to educate people in the backgrounds of the biblical world.
  • A web site dedicated to the processes of Bible study and interpretation.
  • Programs for student development and mentoring.

Letter from the Director

As Director of the Center I want to welcome you to our website. I hope this site can be helpful to you in your own study of Scripture.

The Center for Biblical Studies is a multifaceted project which intends to encourage and enhance biblical study and interpretation. This website is one facet of the Center and it may be useful to provide some explanation about the site.

One aim of the site is simply to advertise the Center and its projects such as conferences and the library. The Events page contains links to various announcements concerning the Center.

There are two holdings pdf files that will allow you to see the books we currently have in the Center and the ones which we are intending to obtain. We are building what we call an ideal pastors reference library. Any good pastor’s library will also include biography and books on Christian living as well but our focus is the reference books (such as commentaries, dictionaries, systematic theologies) which are so essential for serious Bible study and exposition. By listing these books on the web we hope to accomplish a few things. First, you can check to see what we have in order to see if you would be interested to come and use the resources here. Second, as we have sought to isolate the very best books available on each topic or biblical book, we hope our list might provide some direction as people seek to build their own libraries. Third, if you want to help further the mission of the center you could decide to donate one of the volumes in our projected list by contacting the Office of Institutional Advancement.

The Book Reviews page allows us to provide some more specific evaluations of resources including criticism and recommendation. The books reviewed are not necessarily held in the center’s library. We seek to review a wide array of books in the hope of being useful to people in their own decisions about books to read.

May God bless your study of His word.

Ray Van Neste, Ph.D.
Director, Ryan Center for Biblical Studies
Associate Professor of Christian Studies

R.C. Ryan

About R.C. Ryan

Ryan’s long-time support of Union University was built on a lifetime of Christian service.

During a revival meeting at Bush Arbor Campground in 1917, Robert Ryan accepted Christ at 11 years old. At age 15, Ryan was licensed to preach, and preached at his home church, Cypress Creek Baptist, on several different occasions as well as surrounding area churches.

Feeling such a strong call to full-time ministry, Ryan enrolled in Hall-Moody Baptist Academy at age 16 to study for the ministry. (Hall-Moody, located in Martin, later became a part of Union University.)

Ordained in 1935 at Gearins Chapel Baptist Church in Dresden, Tenn., Ryan began actively pastoring churches while continuing part-time college and seminary study. His ministry took him to five different states and eighteen different churches.

Ryan’s longest service occurred at Trenton Avenue Baptist Church in Bremerton, Wash. During the five years he was there, Ryan saw the ministry grow from its humble beginnings of knocking on doors to identify prospective church members and win the lost to its culmination in an active church, housed in a building of almost 6,000 square feet of church property.

A $600,000 gift by the retired Southern Baptist pastor was the latest piece of a total gift commitment of approximately $1.2 million to Union University. The total gifts was equally shared between the university’s Center for Biblical Studies and scholarships for Union students.

Brother Ryan passed away on April 14, 2001.