Reviewed on PC


                      Reviewed By: Tim Emmerich

Computer Platform: PC
Produced by: Tyndale House Publishers
Price Range: $30-$39
Learning curve time: 15 minutes
Age level: 8 and up
ESRB Rating: Everyone
Patches / Upgrades: none
System Requirements: Multimedia PC, PII 300 MHz or higher, MS Windows 98 or later, 96 MB RAM (128 MB recommended), 200 MB hard disk space, Quad-speed CD-ROM or faster (or DVD-ROM), SVGA, 16-bit or higher, 1024 x 768 resolution, Mouse, Sound, Adobe Acrobat V 4.0 or higher, Media Player 6.4e or higher, Printer

Genre: Bible Encyclopedia
Christian Rating: 5 of 5
   (nothing offensive)
Gameplay: 4 of 5
Violence: 5 of 5
Adult Content: 5 of 5

Ilumina, the Bible Enclopedia brought to life

Ilumina is quite large. This review is a first look and may be expanded on in the future. There are several sections to Ilumina. Specifically, the Bible, Encyclopedia, Bible Atlas, Time Travel, Media Center, Extras, and Help. These sections are described in detail below:

Rated 'Exceptional' by Shepherd Staff Shepherd's Staff rates “Ilumina” as exceptional.

The Bible Section
The front end of the Bible section must have been inspired by the Life Application Bible. At the beginning of each Book, you have a wealth of information. The background of the book is explained, Vital Statistics like the purpose of the book, the audience, and author are given. The blueprint of the book is outlined showing key topics in each chapter. A small map indicates key places. A nice time line highlights major Biblical events around the time the book was written. “Megathemes” contained in the book are explained and their importance explained. Links to key topics are given. If you are a fan of the Life Application Bible, this will delight you. The power of the computer is exploited as you can just click on a specific scripture reference or related topic and be taken immediately to it.

Once you are in a book, you can easily read the scriptures. In the top left is a graphic representing something special about the book or a picture of the major location within the book. On the right-hand side is a commentary bar. You can select this to also display any Life Applications, Devotionals, or Insights associated with the specific scriptures on that page. A true wealth of information! Right below that is a map if appropriate. Clicking the map will take you to the full version in the map section.

Encyclopedia Section

Presents an alphabetized topic list that you can explore for more details and definitions. You'll definitely find more information than you can read in one sitting.

Bible Atlas Section

The Bible Atlas section contains maps. A lot of maps! There must be about 75 maps or so. Each one gives details about its importance and certain cities will be labeled. Each map is associated with its Bible book. For example, from the book of Daniel, the one map is “Taken to Babylon.” The text associated with it says "Daniel, as a captive of Babylonian soldiers, faced a long and difficult march to a new land. The 500-mile trek, under harsh conditions, certainly tested his faith in God." The route taken is highlighted on the map. See graphic showing just the text and map (not shown is the navigation window of all maps).

Daniel Map.  Illustration copyrighted.

For maps that take place in a city, the map covers that in detail. For instance, "Jesus' Trial" map from the Book of Matthew shows the full path from the Garden of Gethsemane, through the lower city of Jerusalem to Caiaphas' house and so. The text says "After Judas singled Jesus out for arrest, the mob took Jesus first to Caiaphas, the high priest. This trial, a mockery of justice, ended at daybreak with their decision to kill him; but the Jews needed Rome's permission for the death sentence. Jesus was taken to Pilate (who was probably in the Praetorium), then to Herod (Luke 23:5-12), and back to Pilate, who sentenced him to die. The associated map shows the city of Jerusalem and arrows indicating Jesus' path. See graphic showing this. Note that reference to Luke is clickable. Doing so takes your right to that scripture within Luke.

Jesus Trial Map.  Illustration copyrighted.

Most of the Bible books also have a table entitled “Key Places.” Any key geographical locations are listed. By clicking on their name, a short summary of their importance is presented.

Time Travel Section
A well-organized timeline comprises this section. A small timeline along the top represents all time with a larger one in the middle gives details. As well as plenty of clickable links if you want more details on the place or person mentioned. On the right hand side is a spotlight highlighting details. Along the bottom is “Other Happenings” that covers these topics that are of interest for the time period:

  • Technology
  • World Power
  • Culture
  • Religion & Philosophy
  • Beyond the Middle East

Media Center Section
Media Center section is comprised of Virtual Tours utilizing QuickTime VR, Bible Charts, Animations, Points in Time, and Photos. There are roughly 50 virtual tours. Some are more involved than others actually letting you walk through sections (like the Temple) and even have some nice audio to accompany portions. Meanwhile, others are just details about specific objects like the Ark of the Covenant and Curtains of the Tabernacle. The Bible charts contain many links. Most open up in Adobe Acrobat for viewing though. It would've been nice if they opened in the Ilumina program itself to minimize distractions. There are about 30 animations that are of exceptional quality. A dozen points in time that utilized Quicktime's VR (allows you to move around in the scene). You can also get more details by positioning your mouse over hotpoints. Lastly, the media center has hundreds of pictures, most of modern day Biblical places or items.

Extra Section
This section holds something very interesting. It says "iLumina is the core software program for an entire family of products …". That is great news. It further announces the Left Behind version! Also, it links to their web page where they claim that free downloads exist for animations and virtual tours. There is also a link for a look “Behind the Scenes” that supposedly explains it all.

Help Section
Clicking on help brings up an HTML-based help page. Here you can click on any of the before mentioned sections and get more details.

Ilumina comes on several CDs and a DVD (only if you have the capable drive and want to access files from the DVD).

First Look Summary
Ilumina is obviously a work of art. Lots of effort has gone into the development and animation. It can be a great tool to your study of God's word. It will hopefully encourage you to study.

Year of Release—2002

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Christian Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Films for Christ or the Christian Answers Network.

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