Sodom, Once Again

01 Mar

We may not be online for awhile after tomorrow so we will provide as much reading material as we can in this internet session. After this article we will take a short break then come back to updating this website with new material. we decided to address the following topic because a person sent me the link to the story and said, this is your old pal. Well he is partially correct. I have known and talked, debated and argued with Collins but we are not pals.

What saddens us about Collins is that he is leading people, especially believers, to the wrong ideas about Sodom and the Bible. Here is the link to the story we were sent and then we will quote some of the key points from it.

It seems that Sodom and Gomorrah were not as “destroyed” as previously thought.

The ruins of the biblical city of Sodom reportedly have been discovered by U.S. archeologists in southern Jordan.

If it was in ruins, then it was destroyed. The key word in that quote is ‘reportedly’ and that is all that has been done except for lots of esiegetical work on the part of the archaeologist in charge and his associates.

The archeological team, directed by Steve Collins of New Mexico’s Trinity Southwest University, has been working for 10 years in the Jordan Valley. It now believes it has uncovered this magnificent historical site

The key words here are ‘it now believes…’ Believing you have found something is not the same as actually finding it- especially when it comes to ancient cities.Even if they found a sign that said: “City Of Sodom Lot slept here”it would not be evidence that the site was actually Sodom. Someone in antiquity could have been a sticky fingered tourist and taken the sign home from its original resting place. We can never be sure if we made a virgin discovery or not as we are not privy to all the actions of ancient people. For all we would know, the sign was part of a historical reconstruction similar to what Ken Ham is doing with the ark in Kentucky.

And perhaps most interestingly, the excavations are revealing that life in the city came to an abrupt end during the Middle Bronze Age (2000-1540 BC), seemingly consistent with the biblical story. Preliminary tests reveal there was a stark end of life that lasted for about 700 years.

This is what destroys Collins’ theory that he has found Sodom. The Bible does not say it was a temporary destruction but that this destruction was an example to the ungodly. We have those words in 2 Peter

2Pe 2:6 if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;

and Jude

Jude 1:7 In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire

The destruction cannot serve as an example to what happens to the ungodly if the example is buried then built over after 700 hundred years, continued to be buried for millennia after that. This is where Collins goes wrong and he refuses to correct his thinking on this issue as he restricts himself to the Genesis accounts of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah and sweeps aside this mitigating factors which ruin his theory.

Collins addressed the significance of this discovery: ”The archaeological team unearthed a gold mine of ancient monumental structures and artifacts that are revealing a massive Bronze Age city-state that dominated the region of Jordan’s southern Jordan Valley, even during a time when many other great cities of the ‘Holy Land’ region were either abandoned or in serious decline,” he told Popular Archeology, which first reported the findings

If this was the criteria for discovering Sodom then we would have numerous ancient candidates. All we would need is for an archaeologist to speculate and read into any number of ancient ruins the story of Sodom and turn every little artifact into evidence supporting that conjecture. One thing Collins does not mention here is that the Bible does not say Sodom dominated its region. In fact, it says little to nothing about the size and participation of that town. The only thing we know about its physical presence is that it had a gate, a square and houses. Anything else is pure speculation and unfounded.

Very, very little was known about the Bronze Age in the Middle Ghor (southern Jordan Valley) before we began our excavations in 2005,” he added. “Even most of the archaeological maps of the area were blank, or mostly so. What we’ve got on our hands is a major city-state that was, for all practical purposes, unknown to scholars before we started our project.”

He is in error here as well for we think that the location he is calling Sodom is actually another city but that identification and rebuttal needs to wait for another time. Archaeologists do not get the ancient world correct and we have written extensively on this fact.

Because Collins is so familiar with the excavated area and surrounding historical sites, he is fairly sure this is Sodom, he said.

He also has studied the descriptions of Sodom extensively. “Tall el-Hammam seemed to match every Sodom criterion demanded by the text,” he said

He has studied ancient authors and what they claim Sodom was like. It would be as hard for those ancient authors to paint a correct picture of life in Sodom and its place in history for it and all of its records were destroyed long before they came upon the scene. The Bible does not list any criteria to identify the city and it is the only eye-witness work we have on the issue. So Collins is making things up to fit his ideas instead of letting the evidence change his theory. Any criteria listed by ancient authors is suspect for we cannot verify one description they made.

The uncovered site contains both a lower and upper city, complete with a high city wall surrounding it, gates, and a town plaza. The city wall was constructed with mud bricks. The upper city was built to replace the lower city during the Middle Bronze Age.

Collins speculated that the upper part of the city was built for elites to escape threats from invaders. He also said the fortifications are much more extensive than previously imagined for communities during this age.

Case in point concerning the reading into the remains what an archaeologist wants to see. There is nothing that supports that theory except the wild speculations of someone who does not know what the ancient world was really like. Most archaeologists, and Collins is one of them, paint a picture of the past the way they want it to be, not the way it actually was. Collins may have studied all the extant material on Sodom but that does not mean he got the message the ancients were sending  correct. He is in error and he did not get the message correct for he is saying things that are not supported by the Bible or even close to the truth.

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Posted by on March 1, 2016 in academics, archaeology, Bible, church, controversial issues, education, faith, history, leadership, theology


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