I don’t know when I’ve seen anything like Doug Powell’s books Resurrection iWitness and Jesus iWitness. It’s not just their incredibly rich visual design, or their clear presentation of essential truths. It’s their interactivity: almost as if they could have been iPad apps. But wait—they are—and so is New Testament iWitness!
I’ve had a chance to treat myself to these three books/apps in both versions, print and electronic. Either way, the first thing I noticed was their rich graphic design. Their YouTube trailers don’t do them justice; if they did I would link to them here, but I’ll leave it to you to Google them if you wish. Just be aware that these books/apps are better than they appear there (at least in the videos I was able to find). Their iTunes app previews are a little better, but still inadequate to convey the beauty of the apps.
The books are coffee-table size, and the kind of thing you just love to pick up and hold and feast your eyes upon. I prefer the book, myself, just for that reason. The iPad version feels a bit crowded on the screen by comparison, but it makes up for it with its interactivity, as you click and see the various elements coming engagingly to the fore. (The books accomplish the same with leafs attached to each page.)
Either way these iWitness books/apps will draw you in, which is why I’ve dwelt on the graphics here. They make a terrific first impression. I first encountered them when Doug Powell, the author, was demonstrating them on his iPad to a few people between sessions at a conference last October. Every one of us was saying, “This is great! I want to see more! How can I get a copy?” I could see the books being great conversation pieces for witnessing or for study in the home, or the app doing the same at a coffee shop or a student lounge. The apps are inexpensive enough to give away to iPad-owning friends. If they’re not already believers you could use these apps them an introduction to Jesus, his resurrection, and the New Testament.
It’s not just about first impressions, for their value in that is not only in their presentation but even more so in their content. Each of them includes a concise summary of the most relevant teachings and stories surrounding their subject matter. Their quality is high enough to use as overview/summary material in home-schools with high-school age students, or for any Sunday School class from college age and up. Or maybe not just any class; it would take a pretty adventurous and creative teacher to bring it together. But it could be instructive and fun if done right. Serious students would probably want to supplement these books’/apps’ information from other sources, but even absent that, anyone who learned just what’s in the iWitness material would be at the head of the class.
New Testament iWitness, for example, presents virtually all the major information necessary for confidence in the New Testament: where it came from, how the canon (list of included books) was chosen, and how we know today’s New Testament is a faithful rendition of the original documents. All three of these books go beyond summarizing the subject matter to explaining how we can be confident that we know it’s true.
It’s December. If you’re thinking “gift book“ for anyone on your list, Jesus iWitness and Resurrection iWitness are literally the best I’ve seen in a long time. The apps would be great low-cost gifts for any iPad owner on your list. (I do not think New Testament iWitness is available in book form at this time.)
Which one do you start with? It depends on the topic you’re most interested in. My preference is always to start with the life of Christ–Jesus iWitness—but none of them would be a bad choice.
There are a lot of great books out there—I’ll be reviewing more of them this week—and any of them would be great to give for Christmas. These, however, have the added advantage of their look and feel: they would indeed be something special for Christmas. And while you’re at it, don’t feel bad about buying a copy for yourself. You’ll be glad you did.