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Posted August 16, 2013
God's destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah remains one of the most fascinating accounts of the Old Testament and one of the most terrifying records of God's wrath. There is no shortage of scholarly opinions about the historicity of the biblical account, and the mystery of Sodom's exact location adds to the fascination. Some scholars say the biblical record is a "pious fiction" invented by Hebrew priests. Others say it reflects the "cultural memory" of some ancient catastrophe that the Hebrews adopted as their own. Still others dismiss the story as mythology, pure and simple. All of these opinions, as well as others, are described and discussed in Dr. Steven Collins' half of Discovering the City of Sodom.
For the book is divided into two parts, the first by Latayne Scott (PhD in Biblical Studies) and the second by archaeologist Steven Collins. Both authors have worked together on the archaeological site Tall el-Hammam in Jordan, where Dr. Collins is director. Both presentations are based on evidence and logic, though Dr. Scott follows those chapters with limited speculation as to the means by which the destruction of Sodom may have occurred.
In proposing Tall el-Hammam as the location of Sodom, both authors begin with geography as fact. Then they attempt to match biblical narrative with the unchanging facts of geography, e.g., What parts of the Jordan River Valley could Abram and Lot actually see from their location near Bethel and Ai when they decided to go separate ways? This consideration alone leads them toward rejecting locations south of the Dead Sea. What other parts of biblical narrative describe identifiable geographical or architectural features?
Both scholars agree that the location of Sodom must also comply with the historical age of Abram and Lot, and they devote considerable space to establishing that time as the Middle Bronze Age 2, roughly 1800-1540 BC. (They also note widely variant ages proposed by other scholars.) Still, though, the proposed location and time must be confirmed by archaeological evidence.
It is in that evidence that the authors' arguments become most convincing. For in the archaeology of the site at Tall el-Hammam there is a historical gap. As the archaeologists dig downward, the seven-hundred-years-later Iron Age layer gives way directly to the centuries-earlier Middle Bronze 2 layer of ash containing "smashed and charred pottery vessels…and human bones—all violently churned into a telltale, ashy matrix." And the architectural features uncovered thus far in Tall el-Hammam coincide with those noted in the Sodom of biblical narrative.
The book is not casual reading, but neither is it overly difficult. For the committed reader it reveals voluminous detail and proofs that can only be suggested here. And for the student of the Bible it is especially rewarding: Those who read it will find their understanding of the biblical narrative of Sodom filled with insights not afforded to them before.
Posted May 8, 2013
Dr. Steven Collins and Dr. Latayne C. Scott in their new book "Discovering The City Of Sodom" published by Howard Books gives us The Fascinating, True Account of the Discovery of the Old Testament's Most Infamous City.
From the back cover: Like many Christians today in the academic world, Dr. Steven Collins felt pulled in different directions when it came to apparent conflicts between the Bible and scholarly research and theory--an intellectual crisis that inspired him to lay it all on the line as he set off to locate the lost city of Sodom.
Recounting Dr. Collins's quest for Sodom in absorbing detail, this adventure-cum-memoir reflects the tensions that define biblical archaeology as it narrates a tale of discovery. Readers follow "Dr. C" as he tracks down biblical, archaeological, and geographical clues to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, narrowing the list of possible sites as he weighs evidence and battles skeptics. Finally, he arrives at a single location that looms as the only option: a massive ancient ruin called Tall el-Hammam in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
Many scholars who were initially opposed to Dr. Collins's theory now concede that history books may need to be rewritten in light of his groundbreaking discovery. It--along with several other recent finds--is challenging the assumptions of academics and asserting a new voice in the controversy of biblical archaeology and the dispute over using the Bible as a credible historical source.
Move over Indiana Jones you have met your match. Dr. Steven Collins is everything you are but better. Genesis Chapter Nineteen tells us of the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities of the plain. However no one has ever really been able to find them. There have been rumors of where these cities once stood but no real proof. Dr. Collins felt that evidence existed and set out to find this evidence and then find the cities. He accomplished that goal. How he was able to do that is worth of a movie. This is pretty exciting stuff, if I do say so myself, and what's even better is that it is all true. Based entirely on The Biblical narrative Dr. Collins presents all the story that led him from point to point until he found exactly what he was looking for. This is not some college lecture that will make your eyes glassy. "Discovering The City Of Sodom" will keep you interested and flipping pages until the very end. Then you will want to go back and read the Genesis account to really appreciate exactly what is going on in the story. Thank you Dr. Collins for proving that Science and The Bible agree with each other perfectly!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Howard Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Posted April 11, 2013
"'Welcome to Sodom' signs are absent - so had Steven Collins found the place? The destruction of the Cities of the Plain - Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim - is proverbial. The events described in Genesis 19 are so well known that anyone with a minimal knowledge of the Bible is familiar with the dreadful destruction by fire and brimstone that God brought on these "sin cities." Paintings have been made of Sodom's overthrown, book written, and movies made.
When, in 2009, Dr. Steven Collins asked me to help him with the recording of the architectural remains of a site that he believed to be Sodom, I was very skeptical about the possibilities of finding any vestiges of this city of infamy. A key verse in the New Testament, Jude 7, indicated that the destruction of the Cities of the Plain was an example of annihilation by eternal fire. So - my reasoning went - how could one expect to find any traces of them." - Dr. Leen Ritmeyer (pg 4).
One of the most vivid stories of the Old Testament is the tale of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 18-19. Sodom and Gomorrah, two of the five "cities on the plain" adjacent to the Dead Sea, were steeped in wickedness, and the Lord was determined to destroy them. The Lord was willing to change his mind if Abraham could find at least ten honest people in the towns, but alas, he could not, so "the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from heaven, overthrowing those cities and all of the plain." (Genesis 19:24-25).
For centuries most folk who rooted their faith in the Bible took this and other stories of the patriarchs at face value, while others simply tended to see the Bible as mostly pious poetry - beautiful and of high moral value, but with little or no historical basis. In either approach, it is necessary to find a site that would explain the origin of the Sodom narratives, and just possibly one that produces evidence that the narration as it appears in the Bible may not be disconnected from historical reality after all. This is what the authors of this book have done.
In the novel, Discovering the City of Sodom by authors Dr. Steven Collins and Dr. Latayne C. Scott, this adventure-cum-memoir reflects the tensions that define biblical archaeology as it narrates a tale of discovery. Readers will follow "Dr. C" as he tracks down biblical, archaeological, and geographical clues to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, narrowing the list of possible sites as he weighs evidence and battles skeptics. He wanted to make sure that before he put his endorsement behind that discovery, it matched up with where the Bible said it was.
I received Discovering the City of Sodom by Dr. Steven Collins and Dr. Latayne C. Scott compliments of Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster Publishers and received no monetary compensation for a favorable review. The opinions expressed are my own based on what I read and understand. I love it when history is finally starting to unveil all the truth that Christians have based their faith in, that the Bible is 100% true and is the Word of God.
It seems each year, science unravels more and more of undeniable evidence that the places and events the Bible describes in great detail are true. I reviewed this book simply based on wanting to know what science again has yet uncovered and how they are able to confirm it really is or isn't the city of Sodom and Gomorrah that the Bible describes. What Dr. Collin's has discovered is groundbreaking and is challenging the assumptions of academics and asserting a new voice in the controversy of biblical archaeology and the dispute over using the Bible as a credible historical source. I rate this book a 4 out of 5 stars and encourage others to review and read this one for themselves before taking my word on it. Some will simply attempt to disprove the theories and evidence in this book and others like myself will take it on faith that once again God is revealing the truth we've known all along.