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.

  • The Book
  • Zondervan New International Version Bible
  • Family Bible Collection Deluxe Edition
  • Ultimate Multimedia Bible Reference Suite
  • Treasures of the Bible

    The Book
    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


  • Chapter and Verse: Up-to-date and easy to use, with excellent multimedia toys, "The Book" is an especially good choice for computer beginners and evangelicals.
  • Added value: "Photobubbles," 360-degree panoramic images of the Holy Land
  • 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."

  • Click here to buy this CD-ROM on Amazon.com.

    Zondervan New International Version Bible
    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


  • Chapter and verse: A very well produced package, with two Bibles for the price of one, with recorded readings by James Earl Jones
  • Added value: Artwork and an inventive soundtrack build an inspirational mood
  • 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.

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    Family Bible Collection Deluxe Edition
    Encore Software
    Price: $39.99 Windows
    Contents: Five programs on three CD-ROMs
    Availability: Major software retailers and www.encoresoftware.com


  • Chapter and verse: Pretty basic, but at an unbeatable price
  • Added value: Fun games for kids and the "Jerusalem Jukebox"
  • 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.

    Ultimate Multimedia Bible Reference Suite
    Rhinosoft Interactive
    Price: $39.95 Windows/Macintosh
    Content: Seven programs on five CD-ROMs
    Availability: Christian bookstores and www.crosswalk.com


  • Chapter and verse: This disk lives up to its name, providing the most bang for the buck.
  • Added value: Videos that make you feel like you're sitting in a movie theater.
  • The title of this package says it all. Rhinosoft has brought together quite an array of quality software, with an impressive group of explainers, including the man who played Moses and Ben Hur on the silver screen. Charlton Heston's Voyage Through the Bible: Old Testament and Charlton Heston's Voyage Through the Bible: New Testament are loaded with beautiful art, music, computer animation, and of course, Mr. Heston's passionate voice-over. James Earl Jones' deep tones are also available here, on the same King James CD-ROM found in the Zondervan package. And for good measure, it includes the text version of the Zondervan NIV Bible, with no multimedia other than a search engine.

    Rhinosoft also includes Billy Graham: Steps to Peace with God, "The official CD-ROM of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association." "Steps to Peace with God" allows users to see and hear advice on achieving a closer relationship with God, with multimedia elements reminiscent of the popular computer game MYST.

    Actual Reality This energetic CD-ROM includes videos, interviews, and activities featuring 26 of today's young Christian pop stars doing what they do best--spreading the Word in a hip, funky, and unfailingly enthusiastic way.

    1000+ Bible Clip Art With the installation of the "Power Album" software included with this CD, users can view and organize religious art, both black and white and color. Categories include People, Jesus, Animals, and more. The art itself is better than most clip-art packages, though nothing that would win any awards.

  • Click here to buy this CD-ROM on Amazon.com

    Treasures of the Bible
    CounterTop Software
    Price: $29.99 Windows
    Content: Five programs on three CD-ROMs
    Availability: Major retail and software chains


  • Chapter and verse: For the Bible scholar in the family, with little need for interactivity
  • Added value: More sheer information than any other disc, including a disc that teaches Latin
  • Treasures of the Bible includes two Bibles, two lexicons, and the Logos Home Bible Software Instant Expert Guide, plus the necessary search engine and cross-referencing components. But it's the Home Christian Library Deluxe that stuns the user with the sheer amount of information. It contains the complete text of numerous Bibles, plus thousands of pages of inspirational and theological writings, all designed just like book pages, which makes this disc easy to read. Also included are Bible studies, maps, illustrations, reference, commentaries, dictionaries, and more.

    The Story of Jesus does incorporate a game and other multimedia elements, but this is a serious language program, and heavy going, except for those who want to study Latin seriously.

    For the rest of us, there's Bible Stumpers, a set of games that allows users to play against the computer or each other.

  • Click here to buy this CD-ROM on Amazon.com.
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