200 Years of Faith: A Multimedia Tour of the Holy Land (Compushan, 2000, 2 CD Roms, $80.00. Available from AD Books, also Nutramag International +61 (03) 9571 9516)
This CD-ROM of the Holy Land, which includes two discs, explores the rich history and beauty of the Biblical sites and educates the user at the same time through interactive games and puzzles.
The first disc visits each of the major Biblical sites from the New Testament, with a few minutes video footage of each one. The sites can be viewed individually, allowing the user to visit them in any order desired, or viewed as a chronological sequence, starting at the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth and ending in Jerusalem, where the Crucifixion and (it is believed) the Ascension took place on the Mount of Olives.
The footage of the Via Dolorosa (Way of the Cross) is especially vivid, as it follows the Stations of the Cross through the streets of Jerusalem bringing to life the scenes of Our Lord's passion. The beauty of the Sea of Galilee is also well captured. Photographs can be viewed showing different aspects of each site.
A reference section of corresponding Biblical passages and articles outlining the history of each location are valuable educational sources presented at a level suitable for older children while being at the same time interesting for adults.
The second disc is more interactive, with a chronological video presentation following the story of Jesus' life and ministry through the Holy Land. There are three games, including a general trivia section, allowing one to choose the level of difficulty, and challenging one's knowledge of Scripture.
A Messiah Quiz provides a Biblical passage which has to be matched with a site in the Holy Land and an event in the New Testament. A puzzle section involves piecing together a photograph of an important Holy Site, which is an enjoyable way to learn Scripture and history at the same time.
A helpful section, titled "pilgrim information," provides details on places in the Holy Land where Masses are celebrated, or the location of Christian guest houses, including addresses and telephone numbers for anyone planning a pilgrimage or holiday. The "pilgrim diary" is for anyone who has been on a trip to the Holy Land and wants to record memories of places and people - making it a very personalised CD-Rom.
2000 Years of Faith is an ideal way to encounter this fascinating land via a PC, and a wonderful means of inspiring family interest in the lands of the Bible. By highlighting the reality of places where Jesus lived and taught, the Multimedia Tour makes it easier to believe he was a real person. It would make a first-class Christmas present for the whole family.
Catherine Sheehan is a Melbourne Catholic writer.