Steven Collins

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Steven Collins[1] is a Distinguished Professor of Archaeology at Trinity Southwest University and a Visiting Professor of Archaeology at Veritas Evangelical Seminary, and is most well known for being the chief archaeologist at the Tall el-Hammam Excavation Project in the Jordan, an excavation project at the ancient site of Tall el-Hammam, which has been identified with the biblical Sodom.[2]

Education

Steven Collins first received a B.U.S. in Anthropology and Linguistics from the University of New Mexico in 1972. In 1975, he then received an M.Div. in Theology, Biblical Studies, Archaeology and Languages at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. In 1978, he received a D.Min. in Hermeneutics and Exegesis from Luther Rice University. In 1983, he received a Ph.D. in Biblical History and Religion from Trinity Theological Seminary. He also went on to receive an M.A. in 1995 and another Ph.D. in 1999 from Trinity Southwest University in Archaeology & Biblical History. Between 1985-1989, he underwent Post-Doctoral Studies in Southwest Biblical Seminary and the University of Strasbourg.

Career

Steven Collins is currently a Distinguished Professor in Trinity Southwest University and Visiting Professor in Veritas Evangelical Seminary. He is also a professional member of the American Schools of Oriental Research, Society of Biblical Literature, and the Near Eastern Archaeological Society. Steven Collins has excavated in Khirbet el-Maqatir, Bethsaida, Kursi, and Tall el-Hammam.

Tall el-Hammam and the City of Sodom

Map of the location of Tall el-Hammam in the Jordan, north of the Dead Sea

Steven Collins is the chief archaeologist of the Tall-el Hammam Excavation Project under the auspices of the Department of Antiquities of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,[3] and so far this project has completed twelve seasons of excavations at Tall el-Hammam. Collins identifies Tall el-Hammam with the biblical Sodom. Steven Collins found Tall el-Hammam by following Genesis 13:1-12, what he says must be the primary biblical indicator of the location of the biblical Sodom.[4]

Genesis 13:1-12: Then Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev—he, his wife, and all he had, and Lot with him... He went by stages from the Negev to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had formerly been, to the site where he had built the altar. And Abram called on the name of Yahweh there... At that time the Canaanites and the Perizzites were living in the land. Then Abram said to Lot, “Please, let’s not have quarreling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and my herdsmen, since we are relatives. Isn’t the whole land before you? Separate from me: if you go to the left, I will go to the right; if you go to the right, I will go to the left." Lot looked out and saw that the entire Jordan Valley as far as Zoar was well watered everywhere like the Lord’s garden and the land of Egypt. This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. So Lot chose the entire Jordan Valley for himself. Then Lot journeyed eastward, and they separated from each other. Abram lived in the land of Canaan, but Lot lived in the cities of the plain and set up his tent near Sodom.

This biblical text records Lot's path to biblical Sodom, and Collins notices a number of geographical indicators throughout the text here. This includes that Lot went eastwards from the place between Bethel and Ai, that this area was a well-watered place, and that it is located in the plain (Hebrew: כִּכָּר; kikkār; meaning 'round', 'round district'[5]) of the Jordan. Sodom is supposed to be located in the 'plain' of the Jordan and east of Bethel and Ai, which is the area north of the Dead Sea, which is exactly where Tall el-Hammam is located. The plain of the Jordan contains numerous ancient Middle Bronze Age cities, and the largest one of these is Tall el-Hammam—therefore, because the Bible identifies Sodom as the biggest and most significant city of the plain of the Jordan,[6] Collins believes that Tall el-Hammam must be Sodom. In fact, Tall el-Hammam is one of the top 1% largest ancient sites, covering over 150 acres.[7] Furthermore, the ancient city of Tall el-Hammam came to its destruction around 1750-1650 BC,[8] during the Middle Bronze Age (c. 1900-1550 BC). Steven Collins has followed Kenneth Kitchen who has argued that the time of patriarchs must be somewhere in the Middle Bronze Age based on biblical synchronisms of the patriarchal age and the period of the Middle Bronze Age,[9] meaning that because Tall el-Hammam came to its destruction in the Middle Bronze Age, the destruction of Tall el-Hammam occurred at the right time to be Sodom. Perhaps one of the most convincing things for Collins' identification of Sodom, is the fact that Tall el-Hammam was not destroyed in just any way, rather it was destroyed in a fiery airburst from the sky,[10][11] a fact that highly resembles Genesis 19:24, which states "Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven..."

This findings of Collins have thus been endorsed by numerous highly prominent and influential archaeologists and ancient historians, including Aren Maeir, Robert Mullins, William J. Fulco, Leen Ritmeyer, Alan Millard, and others.[12][13] In 2016, Steven Collins wrote a book with Latayne Scott titled Discovering the City of Sodom: The Fascinating, True Account of the Discovery of the Old Testament's Most Infamous City, summarizing his archaeological findings and conclusions about identifying Tall el-Hammam with the biblical city of Sodom.

References

  1. Steven Collins, PhD, Dean, Distinguished Professor of Archaeology
  2. Collins, Steven, and Latayne C. Scott. Discovering the City of Sodom: The Fascinating, True Account of the Discovery of the Old Testament's Most Infamous City. Simon and Schuster, 2016.
  3. Tall el Hammam Website
  4. see ref 2, pp. 100-125.
  5. Strong's Hebrew Dictionary, kikkar
  6. see ref 2, pg. 159
  7. Collins, Steven. Tall el-Hammam: A Key Witness to the Archaeology and History of the Southern Jordan Valley—Summary, Conclusions, and Recommendations from the 2006/2007 Excavation Season. 2007. pg. 3.
  8. Collins, “Tall El-Hammam Is Still Sodom,” 9; “Tall El-Hammam Is Sodom,” 8; John Moore, “Dr. John Moore and Dr. Steven Collins Reflect on TeHEP’s First Nine Years,” Update: Tall El-Hammam Excavation Project, The Official Newsletter of TeHEP, April 11, 2014, 1; Collins and Scott, Discovering the City of Sodom, 226.
  9. Kitchen, Kenneth Anderson. On the reliability of the Old Testament. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2003. 313-372.
  10. see ref 2, pp. 216-230.
  11. “Terms of Destruction for the Cities of the Plain,” BRB 2.16 (2002)
  12. Discovering the City of Sodom, Book and Scholarly Praise
  13. Graves, David E. "My Journey to Locate the Genesis Pentapolis North of the Dead Sea." Biblical Research Bulletin 10.6 (2014).