By Brian Nixon
Special to ASSIST News Service
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. 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.
“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.
Report from the Christian Telegraph
One of the groups I have a lot of time for in Australia and one which I am planning to support in a more active way in the New Year (once I get back on my feet so to speak) is Bush Heritage Australia.
Bush Heritage Australia is actively seeking to protect 1% of Australia by 2025, ensuring the protection of our unique flora, fauna and wild places. This is done through purchasing land by money donated to it by those wanting to protect the Australian environment and natural heritage. Bush Heritage currently owns some 1 million hectares, meaning it needs to acquire a further 6 million hectares to obtain its 2025 goal.
In September 2008, Bush Heritage Australia purchased the 8 100 hectare Edgbaston Station, 140km north-east of Longreach in Queensland for 3.5 million dollars. In doing so, Bush Heritage has ensured the survival of Australia’s most endangered and smallest freshwater fish species, the Redfin Blue-Eye Fish. This region is the only location in which this fish species now lives.
But it is not only the Redfin Blue-Eye Fish that will be protected by the purchase of this property as this region and the springs found on the property is the only known habitat for several other species of fish, snails, plants and a crustacean.
The springs on Edgbaston Station are located in the upper catchment of Pelican Creek which flows into the Thompson River and Lake Eyre. There are some 50 artesian springs on the property, supporting a large diversity of life.
The 3.5 million dollars required for the purchase of Edgbaston Station included 1.324 Million dollars from the Australian government’s Maintaining Australia’s Biodiversity Hotspots program and donations from the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Water and the Queensland Department for Sustainability, Climate Change and Innovation.
Bush Heritage will be working alongside of the Iningai people, who are the traditional owners of the land on which Edgbaston Station is located, to manage the property.
For information on what you can do to assist Bush heritage Australia or to get more information on any of the reserves managed by Bush heritage Australia visit the web site below.