The Essential IVP Reference Collection. (Databases)

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Version 1. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Pr., 2001 $169 (ISBN 0-8308-1455-8). www.gospelcom.net/irpress.

Requirements: IBM-compatible Pentium class PC; 16 MB RAM; 2X or higher CD-ROM drive; Windows-compatible printer and mouse.

The Essential IVP Reference Collection is a comprehensive companion to Bible study from a scholarly, overtly Christian publisher. It comprises thirteen reference titles to form an electronic Bible reference library. Among the titles included are the Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels; the Dictionary of Paul and His Letters; the IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament; Hard Sayings of the Bible; and the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery. Also included is the King James Version of the Bible.

This CD-ROM installs easily in a couple of minutes; the disc comes with clear and basic instructions that will illuminate the process even for the inexperienced user. The introductory material and FAQs are readable and helpful, assuming very little expertise. A sidebar menu allows quick navigation among titles, and a handy right-click feature facilitates discovery of further information on a topic, printing, and the search features, which are commonsensical if not fancy. A Speed Search on a word can cover All Books, or be limited to Active Book or All Open Books. Alternatively, a Topic Search will search for the term as a keyword or "headword." A Reference Search will find all occurrences of a Bible reference anywhere in the library. Bible references are hyperlinks in the text of articles, and there are also links to other articles, Web pages, etc. There are a number of interesting features, but I couldn't find a search history feature, and, in general, it isn't possible to jump around among screens as quickly and cleanly as with, say, a Microsoft CD. A uniform table of contents at the start of each book offers use instructions and an explanatory preface, helping to tie the overall work together.

IVP's perspective is Protestant/ evangelical, and the focus here is preponderantly on the New Testament. Renowned biblical and theological scholars from around the world contributed, and the individual titles were widely reviewed in their print forms, often glowingly. …