Christian Software survey, December 2000
Who Says There's No Christian Software for the Mac?
Steal a glance at the software shelves of your local Christian bookstore, and you might be tempted to conclude that there's no Christian software for the Mac. But as most Mac users soon learn, lack of shelf space doesn't necessarily mean a lack of good software. The trick is knowing where to find it. Toward that end, here is a partial list of software that is of interest to Christian Mac users, along with links to more information.
Bible Study Software
When it comes to Bible study software, Mac users have far fewer choices than their Windows-using brethren. But who cares? As with other kinds of software, what the Mac lacks in quantity it makes up for in quality. Though you won't know it by looking at the shelves, the Mac has the best commercial Bible software available, the best freeware Bible program available, and equal access to the broadest collection of classic Christian books available.
Accordance Bible Software: Because I help to develop Accordance Bible Software, I'll try to stick to the facts rather than giving you the sales pitch. Accordance is the only commercial Bible program I'm aware of developed exclusively for the Mac, and it includes a host of powerful features that enable you to study the Bible in ways you may not have imagined possible. Download the free demo and go through the included Apple Guide tutorial, and you won't need my sales pitch.
Online Bible: Powerful, easy to use, and extremely affordable (most modules are freely available for download, or you can purchase an inexpensive CD-ROM), the Online Bible was a prime reason why many commercial Bible software developers killed their Mac products. They just couldn't compete with this freeware program developed by Ken Hamel.
AGES Digital Library: AGES Software produces a variety of CD-ROMs which contain large collections of classic Christian books in Adobe Acrobat format. Though not as sophisticated as most specialized Bible programs, the Adobe Acrobat interface is more than adequate for viewing these electronic books and even lets you do some basic searches. Best of all, AGES' products are all extremely affordable.
Verse Search: One of the oldest Bible programs still available for the Mac is Verse Search by Bible Research Systems. While other commercial software vendors have abandoned their Mac products to concentrate on Windows, Bible Research Systems has continued to update its Macintosh version alongside the Windows version.
Bible Viewer: This simple shareware Bible search engine is available in two versions: King James or World English Bible (WEB), but as far as I can tell, you can only use one or the other. If you're gonna go with shareware, you'll find Online Bible to be much more powerful and flexible.
In addition to software which enables you to study the text of the Bible, you can use these products to learn more about the lands of the Bible.
Accordance Bible Atlas: The Accordance Bible Atlas enables you to explore the lands of the Bible through completely customizable maps, animated routes, detailed site descriptions, and the ability to "fly through" three-dimensional maps of Palestine and the Mediterranean. It can be used as a stand-alone or integrated seamlessly with Accordance Bible Software.
Manna Bible Maps: A SuperCard-based collection of 66 maps (additional maps are available in PDF format), over 200 color photographs of Biblical sites, timelines, genealogies, and detailed background information. A downloadable demo is available.
Accordance Bible Lands PhotoGuide: An extensive collection of more than 640 high-quality photographs with indepth information about the most important Biblical sites. It can be used as a stand-alone or integrated seamlessly with Accordance Bible Software and the Accordance Bible Atlas.
Zondervan Image Archives: This CD-ROM contains more than 5,000 photographs of Biblical locations, but they are so small and low-resolution as to be practically unusable. Even worse, the images are poorly organized and must be accessed through a kludgy image cataloguing program that is very un-Mac-like.
Many of the best Christian edutainment titles are available for both the Mac and the PC. And if you're like me, you take great satisfaction in flipping past the twenty-step installation instructions for Windows-users to read something like, "Insert the CD-ROM and double-click the program icon." Many of these products have been thoroughly reviewed by the people at Sunday School Software Ministries, so wherever possible, I've included links to those reviews. One of them I reviewed several years ago for the CMUG newsletter, and I've included a link to that review as well.
Bible Foundations with Philip Yancey: This multimedia CD-ROM set features nearly 200 interactive lessons covering Genesis through Revelation. Includes maps, charts, pictures, text, and audio.
Giants of the Faith: This CD-ROM contains multimedia lessons on the lives of sixteen important Christian men from the British Isles. There are sections on Bible Translators and Reformers, Founders of Hymnology, Missionaries and Evangelists, and Religious Literary Masters.
Pathways Through Jerusalem: This two CD-ROM set features nine onscreen video guides who each lead you along a particular pathway through Jerusalem. King David, King Herod, Queen Helena, Dirk the Crusader, and Suleiman the Magnificent each give you a feel for what Jerusalem was like during their respective historical periods. In addition, there are four pathways through the modern city, led by a Jew, a Christian, a Palestinian Muslim, and a Secular tour bus operator. Check out the Sunday School Software review of this product.
A Disciple's Diary: This multimedia CD-ROM, which appears to be in limited supply, presents the life of Christ in ten lessons, which can be accessed either from a reference archive or in the context of a Quest-oriented game.
To Be Continued . . . We have really just begun to scratch the surface of all the great Christian software that's available for the Mac, and this article is already too long as it is. We have yet to cover children's titles, church management software, journaling software, etc. So look for another installment of Who Says There's No Christian Software for the Mac? in the coming weeks. And in the meantime, if you're aware of some software that is of interest to Christian Mac users that you feel should be included in this series of articles, please e-mail me and let me know about it.
- Originally compiled by David Lang and posted on the old CMUG site Dec 17, 2000.