Just in time for Latter-day Saints' yearlong study of the Old Testament beginning next year, a revolutionary new learning resource has been offered by the Church, "Old Testament Visual Resource DVDs."
Three years in the making, as a collaboration between the Church Educational System and the Curriculum Department of the Church, the set includes two discs containing more than 300 visual resources: videos, interactive charts, paintings and quotations from latter-day prophets and apostles. A third disc in the set, "Old Testament Stories for Children," has existed for years under separate cover, it being a nonanimated video recording of the illustrations and narrated text from the book Old Testament Stories.
"We are grateful to have this new DVD set to help teach the Old Testament," said Elder Paul B. Pieper of the Seventy, assistant executive director of the Curriculum Department.
"The best visual resources that the Church has produced have been compiled from many sources into a single product to assist parents to teach the Old Testament to their children and to help teachers in a classroom setting," Elder Pieper said. "Now, parents or teachers, for the first time, can find all of these resources in a single product."
He said this is a prototype for the development of visual resource products related to other books of the Standard Works.
Citing the Church resource guide, Teaching, No Greater Call, Elder Pieper said it points out that most people will learn better and remember longer when they are taught with visuals (see p. 182). "This product gives individuals and families over 300 visuals to help them understand the principles, doctrines and stories of the Old Testament," he said.
He noted that each movie, picture, chart or quotation is associated with a study activity that sends the user to the scriptures to learn. "Parents could use these activities for family home evening or family scripture study," he said.
Elder Pieper pointed out that besides the DVDs, an accompanying booklet in the set lists 143 topics, such as courage, gratitude and obedience. "This index will help you know where to go in the Old Testament to teach these topics of the gospel," he said.
Some of the topics are Abraham, Adam and Eve, Adversity, Agency, Charity, Chastity, Courage, Covenant People, Foreordination and Jesus Christ.
"We built curriculum into the DVD menuing system," explained Michael G. Madsen, planning and development specialist in the Curriculum Department.
People who have used DVDs know that they have menus whereby viewers can select individual scenes or "chapters" in, say, a motion picture.
"We said, 'If we have the capability of doing that, why can't what you see on a DVD screen be the structure of the scriptures?" he said.
Thus, users of the new DVD set will encounter an on-screen index whereby they can select individual scripture blocks, based on the seminary curriculum.
Suppose a user selects the topic "Genesis 5; Moses 6." He is then taken to a menu screen offering an assortment of study activities and visual resources: paintings, quotations from Church leaders, videos and interactive charts.
Selecting the study activity associated with Moses 6:1-9, the user would see a screen with the words "Parents have a duty to rear their children in love and righteousness." The associated study activity would instruct: "View the picture and search Moses 5:10-12 and 6:1-9 to identify specific ways in which Adam and Eve reared their children in love and righteousness."
The user may then enlarge the associated picture, a Del Parson painting depicting Adam and Eve teaching their children.
Also offered in connection with the DVD topic on Genesis 5 and Moses 6 are pictures of Adam ordaining Seth, Adam blessing his posterity and Enoch preaching the gospel; a motion picture about the first principles and ordinances of the gospel, and quotations about books of remembrance from President Spencer W. Kimball and the doctrine of sanctification from Elder Bruce R. McConkie.
In another topic, covering Genesis 6:14-22, a user might view an interactive chart showing how Noah's ark would compare in size with other ships such as an ocean liner, an icebreaker, a man-o'-war and a Greek trireme (the ark is about the size of an icebreaker).
Brother Madsen said the set has 32 such charts, 54 videos, 136 quotes and 104 paintings.
Five new video productions were filmed expressly for this new product, Brother Madsen said, and several others were pieced together from existing video for it.
"One of the nicest pieces we made was telling the story of Josiah, who became the king of Israel at a very young age and helped his people come back to God," he said. "The Church Audio-visual Department has a very talented staff. They produce high-quality films."
Other newly made videos pertain to David, Daniel, Esther and Moses.
"We think we've been able to successfully build a product for two audiences, because this works beautifully in the classroom as well as in the home," Brother Madsen said.
In a classroom, where there is access to a DVD player, the new DVD set can serve as something akin to a PowerPoint presentation, offering flexibility for the teacher in using scripture activities and any of the visual resources.
The new set is intended to replace a half dozen products, including materials used in seminaries and institutes and, for the Sunday School gospel doctrine class, the Old Testament DVD Presentations, Brother Madsen said.
For the Old Testament alone, the set has almost as many pictures as are contained in the Church's Gospel Art Kit.
The purchase price is $6.50. It may be obtained from Church distribution centers or ordered online at ldscatalog.com.