The Bible Unbound
These CD-ROM collections take the Bible and study guides out of their covers and puts them on your computer
BY: Karen Jones
Endlessly studied, highly cross-referenced and hard to lug around, few books are better suited to CD-ROM technology than the Bible. Many publishers have bundled their best Christian Bible software of late, offering them at very affordable prices. In this first installment of Beliefnet's CD-ROM selections, we review the best available binary Christian Bible "classics," as well as new material.
Tyndale New Media
Price: $19.99, Windows 95/98 Windows NT
Contents: One program on one CD-ROM
Availability: Christian booksellers, major retail and software chains, and www.tyndale.com
A joint project with Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network, Tyndale's CD-ROM shows the New Living Translation verse-by-verse on one window while a "working" window engages the reader with an atlas, "Great Stories From the Book" and "Great Chapters From the Book," plus a "People" section with detailed profiles of Biblical figures. A "Topics" area addresses the Bible's treatment of myriad human concerns, including love and marriage and depression.
Standard on most of these discs, but especially well done here, is the "Media" section, with photos, art, 150 dramatic readings, time lines, a personal journal of your journey through the Bible and the "photobubbles."
Zondervan Interactive/Mattel Interactive
Price: $49.99, Windows
Contents: Two programs on two CD-ROMs, plus a softcover book
Availability: Christian bookstores, major software and mass-market retailers, plus www.zondervaninteractive.com and www.shopmattel.com
Zondervan includes not one but two Bibles: "Comptons Interactive Bible New International Version" and "The Complete Multimedia Bible, King James Version," the later, more traditional CD-ROM containing readings by "The Voice" (a.k.a. James Earl Jones). Zondervan has also included a paperback, "Streams in the Desert: 366 Daily Devotional Readings" by L.B. Cowman.
The first Bible disc, Compton's Interactive Bible NIV, is the showcase and gets full multimedia treatment, with art, mini-movies, audio readings, overviews, inspirational introductions, and much more. Users can build, edit, and then display their own Biblical multimedia shows. An online link puts you directly into AOL's Christian Spirituality section.
The diverse inspirational music opens with a Haydn score for Genesis, and moves on to an Algerian folk song; Revelation features Brahms (with Mozart, Vivaldi, and more in between).
The Complete Multimedia Bible, King James Version, an older CD-ROM production, is less elaborate than the first disc's NIV, but includes photographs, paintings, video, music, and detailed maps of the Holy Land.
Price: $39.99 Windows
Contents: Five programs on three CD-ROMs
Availability: Major software retailers and www.encoresoftware.com
Jerusalem is a pleasant but not-too-challenging exploration of the 3,000-year-old city. Its four main sections: "Journey Through the Ages," "Eyewitness to Jesus" (Jesus' story in drawings and narration), an index to sites, and a cute historical game just right for older kids. Another game, on the Bible Builder disc, is simple enough for small children and will grow on older ones. An angel asks questions like, "Was the Good Samaritan the man who was robbed?" Correct answers net you a scrap of a Bible verse. After assembling all the pieces, winners guess where the verse is found in the Bible.
Also for kids is the Children's Bible Stories, a delightful animated series of classic Bible stories, including Noah's Ark and Jonah and the Whale, with animal narrators. The text of the story is highlighted onscreen, so kids can click through it as it's told, accompanied by upbeat music.
Finally, The Bible Library is a no-frills virtual shelf of 10 Bibles (though we could only open five in repeated attempts), best suited for Bible scholars in the family. There are no multimedia components.