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Discovering the City of Sodom

The Fascinating, True Account of the Discovery of the Old Testament's Most Infamous City

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9 Item(s)

Is Biblical Archaeology Helpful to Faith?
When I was living with my grandpa, one of our monthly traditions was to go to a local meeting of the Biblical Archaeology Society. I long have had interest in archaeological findings, as I think it provides a richness and context to a variety of historical narratives. So getting the opportunity to review Discovering the City of Sodom: The Fascinating, True Account of the Discovery of the Old Testament's Most Infamous City was exciting.

Drs. Steven Collins and Latayne C. Scott explore the story of how Collins sought a new location for Sodom and his argument for Tall el-Hammam as the site of biblical Sodom. I found myself regularly tuning out of the first part of the book, detailing some of the historical arguments. While I've listened to many of narrator Sean Runnette's audiobooks, there was a lack of passion to hold interest in more nuanced intellectual arguments (and people who know me know I love those discussions :) ). It felt more like he was truly just reading a paper he knew nothing about. Unfortunately, I'm discovering a lot of Christian nonfiction narration is like that...

The explanations as to why Tall el-Hammam made sense as biblical Sodom was where more of my interest re-arose. Hearing about the historical context and how archaeology can help us better interpret the Bible is helpful.

I also really appreciated how Collins ended his book addressing the various critiques of his work. Some arguments center around whether a biblical Sodom ever truly existed while others debate biblical interpretation. Collins' biblical interpretation centers around a theory of true narrative representation. While I won't claim to fully understand this approach, I think it makes a few too many assumptions demanding the historicity of the biblical texts. I see it being driven more from a perspective of people's faith needing the Bible to be historically true than honestly approaching the texts and how they were meant to be read.

This doesn't mean they are not historically true. I don't see any need for the story of Sodom to be historically true. However, I think those who deny archaeological data supporting biblical Sodom's historicity due to their interpretations of the Bible aren't being fair or honest, either. While I am most definitely not even a novice or amateur at reviewing archaeological material, Collins' arguments make sense to me. His willingness to engage in debate and address disagreement lends credibility. He does seem to want to be academically honest with himself and others.

However, at the end of the day, does it matter whether Tall el-Hammam is biblical Sodom or not? Whether biblical Sodom was historically real or not? The latter may impact some people's respect of Genesis, but I think there's problems with that approach. I'm not sure identifying the physical location and archaeological remains of biblical Sodom really adds much to our understanding of the biblical world or narrative. Other archaeological sites can provide clarity, especially to more important narratives (yes, I'm saying the Sodom narrative is not one of the most critical). Some stories really can be elucidated more by archaeological evidence. But I'm not sure what the value added is to the Sodom narrative beyond it being it being interesting...

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. 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.”
Review by / (Posted on 6/7/2014)
A fun, interesting adventure
I grew up loving the Indiana Jones movies. I appreciated the action married with interesting (pseudo-) facts about history. I probably wanted to be an archaeologist once before I realized it involves a lot more digging and cataloging than swinging and shooting. I’d never read a book on biblical archaeology—or any archaeology for that matter—until I read Discovering the City of Sodom by Dr. Steven Collins and Dr. Latayne C. Scott. I thought it may be boring, having left the Indy dreams behind. I was mistaken.

This book immediately drew me in and took me on an adventure. A true adventure. A current, modern adventure. I was reminded that, even in the 2010’s, there are stories the dirt has yet to tell. There is more evidence for the validity of scripture that has yet to be found.
There is a framing narrative telling the story of “Dr. C,” an archaeologist and Near East tour guide who is beginning to believe that everything he has been taught about the location of Sodom is wrong. This frame story unfolds like a fictional narrative, but is meant to reflect Collin’s own very similar experience.

This story is broken up by accounts of Collins and his team setting out to find the real Sodom by doing something that seems like a no-brainer: starting with the Genesis account of the destruction of Sodom and going from there. Collins and Scott use an unprecedented combination of archaeology, geography, linguistics, mathematics, forensics, chemistry, and exegesis to all but prove that Tall el-Hammam, located northeast of the Dead Sea the kikkar of the Jordan is the Sodom of the Bible.

It’s a fascinating read, probably even for those who don’t read books about biblical archaeology or history—people like me. Discovering the City of Sodom is aimed enough at a popular level that it works as a kind of primer on biblical archaeology. It sent me looking for more information on the excavation of other biblical cities. Even though our faith isn’t solely dependent on the evidence unearthed by archaeologists, it’s nice to know that the historicity of the Bible is consistently reinforced by these discoveries.

One section I really appreciated was the authors’ admonition of the Bible scholar to always take the Bible authoritatively, but not necessarily always literally. What a great takeaway!

Sean Runnette does a great job on the narration, especially with a book that has so many difficult-to-pronounce place names. I highly recommend this book!

Please Note: This audiobook was gifted as a part of the Christianaudio Reviewers Program in exchange for my unbiased review of this work. This has in no way influenced my opinion or review of this work.
Review by / (Posted on 10/24/2013)
Discovering Sodom
Discovering the City of Sodom by Dr. Steven Collins and Dr. Latayne C. Scott is a very long but interesting account of the likely discovery of the ruins of the Biblical city of Sodom. It outlines the theories behind the discovery, the opposing theories of where Sodom was thought to be, the attempts to find it and the probable discovery of Sodom.

The background and history of the city of Sodom and the kikkar of the Jordan is outlined in great detail along with the various theories of where the ruins of the city would be as determined by well known archaeologists. The journey to finding the city with highs and lows is presented in great detail to show the process that was endured for the end result.

I found this quite an interesting book especially the history of the area over the last few thousand years and the eventual discovery of the city of Sodom. It is a probably a bit too long for a casual reader of the subject but quite an exciting discovery that I am glad I have heard about.

The narration was rather good but the topic of the book at times can get a bit dry which didn't really help the listening experience but overall it was good.

This book would be a great book for anyone interested in archaeology or finding evidence of Biblical places in the world.

This audio book was gifted as a part of the christianaudio Reviewers Program in exchange for my unbiased review of this work. More information can be found about this and other Christian audio books at
Review by / (Posted on 7/23/2013)
God's Judgement Revealed
Similar to many Christians, I have wondered where the city of Sodom was located. Since according to the Bible, the city was completely destroyed, I wasn’t sure that this city would ever be discovered. I have heard and/or read that the city was south of the Dead Sea and pretty much left it at that. Also, as a PhD scientist, I am a firm believer in authentication of Biblical historical accounts as a help in witnessing to non-believers in the scientific community who believe in evolution without testable evidence but are skeptical about the Bible. I once heard from a scientist who has spoken and written about science and the Bible that as science progresses, it is amazing that more and more Biblical accounts are proving to be true and accurate.

The work of Dr. Collins in uncovering artifacts which support his three tests of correct place, correct time and correct stuff (artifacts) has convinced me that he has indeed found the destroyed cities of the plain, Sodom, Gomorrah and associated cities.

The book is written in a step-wise scientific way which is convincing to those of us with scientific backgrounds. The logic which Dr. Collins uses to establish his findings is without flaw in my opinion.

My only hesitation about recommending the audio version of the book is the lack of figures and maps. Many audio books which depend on visual data such as figures and maps provide these materials as a supplement to the audio book so you can look at them while listening to the book. Even if such materials were provided, they would be difficult to use while driving. I was able to see some of the materials by searching the book on Amazon but an online supplement would be very helpful.

Sean Runnette does a very good job of narrating the book.

I was given a free audio version of this book for my agreement to review it but this has not influenced my personal impressions of the book.
Review by / (Posted on 7/21/2013)
When I first read the subtitle for Discovering the City of Sodom: The Fascinating, True Account of the Discovery of the Old Testament’s Most Infamous City, I seriously doubted that any book about Biblical archeology could possibly deliver such a promise. I am not disappointed to report that my doubt was unfounded. Authors Dr. Steven Collins and Dr. Latayne C. Scott deliver a stirring tale of the discovery of this infamous city that is easily understandable by a noob like me, but that I believe is also detailed enough to keep a more knowledgable reader interested.

The book includes enthralling narratives of the expedition to find Sodom, extensive Biblical context, and fascinating explanations about topics such as Biblical dating, including competing theories, to give context for understanding the issues involved in finding and verifying the true location of Sodom. I listened to the audiobook and many times discovered that my trip was over but I didn’t want to stop listening.

Speaking of the audiobook, narrator Sean Runnette provided an exceptional narration that made the already fascinating book truly engaging.

I recommend this audiobook for any Christian who is interested in learning more about Biblical archeology and how a team of archeologists is challenging the firmly held beliefs of academics around the world.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this audiobook free from the christianaudio Reviewers Program. 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."
Review by / (Posted on 7/12/2013)
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