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ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO (ANS) -- I met Dr. Steven Collins in the reception area of Trinity Southwest University in Albuquerque, where he serves as provost and professor. Instead of staying at the school, we headed off to a local coffee shop.
|Dr. Steven Collins, on the right, assessing a find|
Dr. Collins didn’t look like your average jet-setting archeologist: no Indiana-Jones leather jacket, hat, or whip. Instead, Steve wore jeans, sandals, and a “Life is Good” t-shirt. And for Steve, that motto is playing out in his own life.
With his newest discoveries in Jordan, life is turning out very good for the unassuming archeologist from New Mexico.
I first got word of his recent finding at Calvary of Albuquerque, where Steve sat down for an interview with Senior Pastor, Skip Heitzig. Steve brought some convincing evidence of a monumentally significant find. Dr. Collins contends that he may have discovered the historic city of Sodom.
Steve told me in our interview that his interest in the location of Sodom began in 1996. Then, Steve was working on a dig in the West Bank north of Jerusalem, the site of biblical Ai, but was also leading archeology tours in the Near East.
It was on one of these trips that Steve began to question the traditional site of Sodom, what is known as the “Southern Theory.” This theory attributes the site of Sodom to the southern region of the Dead Sea.
|A typical dig day|
“I began to read Genesis 13-19, and realized that the traditional site did not align itself with the geographical profile described in the text,” Steve told me.
“Now let me say,” he continued, “that many scholars don’t have a high view of Scripture. Some even frown upon using biblical texts as a tool for location designation. My philosophy is that the text is generally reliable and can—and should—be used (at bare minimum) as a basic guide for a geographical profile.”
“When I read how the author of Genesis described the area of Sodom and then looked at the area of the traditional site in the Southern region, I said: ‘This cannot be the place. There are too many differences of description.’
“Sadly, because of my work at the site of Ai, I was unable to really investigate and do research on my initial thoughts. So I let it sit for over five years.”
The geographical point at issue, according to Steve, is how the text in Genesis describes the region of the Kikkar, understood as “the disc of Jordan.”
Dr. Collins continued, “When the Bible uses the description of Kikkar, it is only referring to the circular region of the Jordan Valley east of Jericho and north of the Dead Sea.”
“This region is the breadbasket of the area, full of freshwater and farmland,” he explained. “All of this is interesting to me because Kikkar can also mean “flat bread,” like a tortilla here in New Mexico.”
So what’s the issue?
According to Collins, “The traditional “Southern Theory” site of Sodom does not have the geographical parallels described in the text. Namely: 1. One can see the whole area from the hills above Jericho (Bethel/Ai), 2. It must be a well-watered place (described, “like Egypt.”), 3. It has a river running through it (the Jordan), and 4. It must follow the travel route of Lot” (who went to the other side of the Jordan, eastward, away from Jericho.)
Though the traditional site does not have any of these geographical indicators, the site in Jordan, Tel-al-Hamman, does. How did Dr. Collins become aware of this site? That is a fascinating story in and of itself—which we’ll turn to in Part 2.
|Brian Nixon is a pastor, writer, musician, and family man. He currently lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.