- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 22, 2002

In a media-saturated age, when "messages" blare at you from just about every side, how can a timeless message get through?
One answer is to be found in iLumina, a $50 software program from Tyndale House Publishers, the evangelical Christian firm whose "Left Behind" series of novels have sold tens of millions of copies. The 40-year-old company, however, has its roots in making the Bible more understandable. Founder Kenneth Taylor's "Living Bible" paraphrase gave birth to the company and a string of Scripture-related products.
While Bible-study software has been on the market for at least 20 years, two things about iLumina are particularly impressive. First, the price, which drops to just under $40 at such online sellers as Amazon.com and ChristianBook.com, is highly affordable. There are less-expensive "electronic Bible" programs, but nothing I've seen matches the quality and vibrancy of iLumina. At $50 or $40 depending on where you shop this is a tremendous bargain.
Second is the approach of the software and its format, which is unlike anything I've seen among the dozen or so Bible programs I've examined in recent years. Divided as it is into sections for the Bible, an encyclopedia, a Bible Atlas, historical timelines (called "Time Travel"), a media center and some "extra" features, moving among the units of the program is easy and quick.
The Bible itself, which uses the text of the New Living Translation not a paraphrase that Tyndale commissioned and sponsored a few years back, can be read on the computer screen just like a book. There's a two-column layout of text; chapter and verse numbers are supplied; and you can "page" through by clicking on directional buttons. If there's a footnote, clicking on the small asterisk brings up the note.
Commentary, evangelical in its viewpoint, appears in a window alongside the main text; click on the "commentary" label and you can bring up insightful questions to consider while reading a chapter, notes from Tyndale's "Life Application Bible," or a devotional reading to complement the selection.
In the lower right-hand corner of the screen often is a map, orienting the reader to where the biblical "action" is taking place. In the New Testament book of Galatians, a click on the map brings up the built-in Bible Atlas showing the cities in the ancient province of Galatia the apostle Paul might have visited.
For readers young and old, however, iLumina adds a dimension that could be breathtaking for many: narrated and musically scored animations of many Bible stories, from Moses and the Burning Bush to scenes of Jesus in the Temple at Jerusalem, as well as the discovery of the resurrection by four of Christ's followers. These animations are simple yet profound renderings of the stories, with rather nice creative touches. A "full screen" display mode also can be set up so that the images can be projected for a Sunday School class or perhaps during a sermon.
A collection of photos from Israel and surrounding lands is breathtaking. To have all these resources at such a reasonable price is, well, a blessing for those interested.
I would wish for only two improvements: The "paging" buttons in the Bible text are too close to other onscreen directional buttons and may confuse some users initially. Also, it would be nice to marry the text to the speech capabilities of Windows XP and be able to highlight and have the computer "read" a passage.
Otherwise, this is an excellent, needed introduction to the Bible that many will appreciate and enjoy. It's available in many retail outlets, with more information online at www.ilumina.com.
E-mail [email protected] or visit his Web page, www.kellner2000.com. Talk to him live on Fridays from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. EST on www.adrenalineradio.com.

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