Monday, December 19, 2011

Excavator Finds Evidence of Destruction at “Sodom”

Since excavations began at Tall el-Hammam in 2005, Steven Collins has been advocating the site’s identification as biblical Sodom. He believes that the biblical data indicates that Sodom should be found on the northeastern side of the Dead Sea and now he has been searching for archaeological confirmation in his six years of work at the site.

Last week we noted a report that the team was preparing to announce that Tall el-Hammam was destroyed in a “heat event.” An interview posted at ASSIST News Service sheds more light on that cryptic notice (HT: Mondo Gonzales). Collins makes some interesting statements about the Middle Bronze destruction of the city:

To put it simply, we have uncovered evidence of a massive, violent destruction.

To begin with, ash and destruction layers in the terminal Bronze Age strata MB-2. But the real big news is that we found skeletal remains that demonstrate a quick, violent death.”

They [two osteologists] found the bodies splayed out, face down, joints twisted, toes hyper-extended, with many signs of violent burial within collapsing debris. In short, the bodies were extremely traumatized in their death.

But generally speaking, skeletal remains were found throughout the area, following the same patterns. One skeleton seems to be crouching, as if in fear, protecting itself from the destruction.

It may be too early to say, but initial evidence points towards a large-scale destruction from a catastrophic event. I say this because, in that area, the skeletal remains were traumatized by an east-to-west directional event, demonstrating that the catastrophe came from a particular compass point.

Collins’ discoveries sound intriguing, but I still contend that every bit of evidence he uncovers for a destruction towards the end of the Middle Bronze Age (circa 1600-1500 BC) makes it all the more unlikely that he is excavating Sodom. The chronology simply will not work, unless you imagine that Abraham died when he was about 30, his son Isaac died when he was about 30, his grandson Jacob died when he was about 30, Joseph died when he was about 30, the Israelite sojourn in Egypt lasted about 40 years, and the wilderness wanderings lasted about 40 years. In short you have to massively compress all of the numbers in the biblical narrative to make everything “fit.” (By “compress” I mean to deny and invent your own to suit your theory.)

Collins cites several authority figures in the interview and so perhaps a word about authority is appropriate here. I’ve noticed over the years of reading updates written personally by Collins or sent by his organization that he is very careful to refer to himself as “Dr. Collins.” Since his title is clearly important to him, I took a look at his university profile and learned that his PhD is from Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary, an online distance education program for “self-directed adult learners.” (This is not the same school where Collins is now the Dean and “Distinguished Professor of Archaeology,” also a distance educational program without accreditation.) Collins appears to be a professor of archaeology who has never earned a degree from a school with an archaeology program.

It is to be expected that Collins would want to bolster the credibility of his work with scholars who have degrees in archaeology and he mentions two in this recent interview. Robert Mullins, an expert in Bronze Age pottery, is said to confirm Collins’ conclusions that “our findings are correct.” I suspect that Mullins has found some of Collins’ dating of material to the Middle Bronze Age to be accurate, but I doubt that he is endorsing the sensational claims concerning Sodom.

Collins also claims that Leen Ritmeyer was once skeptical but now believes that Tall el-Hammam is “the best candidate for Sodom.” This would be surprising to me, and it would be the first person whom I trust to come close to endorsing this identification.

I agree with Collins on one matter: Tall el-Hammam is a very important site and a careful excavation will be a great service to the world. My concern is that believers of the Bible who are less knowledgeable about biblical chronology and archaeology will be convinced by Collins’ exuberance and not realize that most evangelical scholars find his claims incompatible with Scripture.

For more detail about the chronological problems involved with identifying Tall el-Hammam with Sodom, see this post.

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32 Comments:

  • Todd,

    I did some circuitous drilling around on Dr. Collins' inter-linked websites, all related to this "Sodom" dig, and DID find a page with clear reference to Leen Ritmeyer's participation. I too trust Leen's take on most everything, but I can't help thinking that surely Leen is aware of this mention of his name. No? Not sure what it means, but the link is here.

    http://www.bletravel.com/About_Us.html

    By Blogger Daniel M. Wright, at Mon Dec 19, 02:46:00 PM  

  • And yet another reference to LEEN RITMEYER ... scroll down the page.

    http://www.tallelhammam.com/TeHEP_Events_and_Staff.html

    By Blogger Daniel M. Wright, at Mon Dec 19, 02:48:00 PM  

  • Daniel - Leen Ritmeyer is on staff with Tall al-Hammam as an architect. That's not news. What I did not know is that Ritmeyer apparently believes that Tall el-Hammam is the best candidate for Sodom.

    By Blogger Todd Bolen, at Mon Dec 19, 02:56:00 PM  

  • Guys, you may want to read Bryant Wood's excellent article on the cities of the plain, which he places in the southeastern coast of the Dead Sea. I might suggest the location that Collins is excavating could well be Shittim.
    The article can be found at http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2008/04/16/The-Discovery-of-the-Sin-Cities-of-Sodom-and-Gomorrah.aspx#Article

    By Blogger David Hansen, at Mon Dec 19, 05:28:00 PM  

  • In response to Todd and Daniel:
    Steve and I have been friends and working together since 1995 and when he asked me to be architect at the very interesting site of Tall el-Hammam, I agreed. That doesn't necessarily mean that I am 100% sure that this site is Sodom. I have helped other people by drawing up sites, although I didn't agree with their interpretation. For example I drew Golgotha in the location of the Holy Sepulchre for the ESV Study Bible while I have my doubts about that location.

    I was indeed skeptical about Tall el-Hammam being Sodom before I joined the team, and still have doubts and Steve knows that. However, I do believe that the location of Tall el-Hammam meets the requirements of Gen. 13, which stipulates that Sodom was located east of Bethel/Ai and in the Kikkar of the Jordan, i.e. northeast of the Dead Sea, below Mount Nebo. As the Jordan stops at the Dead Sea, the Kikkar cannot be located further to the south. Anson Rainey also agreed with Steve about the location of the Kikkar.

    If Tall el-Hammam doesn't turn out to be Sodom, which I could well accept, then nearby Sodom must have been blasted into oblivion. The site is a very large and impressive site, comparable in size with Hazor and Megiddo if not larger. It has a dramatic destruction layer with positions of skeletons showing that the site was destroyed in a major catastrophe.

    From an architectural point of view I do not treat this site differently from any other site I have worked on, i.e. you can trust my measurements and reconstructions. Like Todd, however, I have difficulties with the dating, as I believe that the Biblical date for the destruction of Sodom is the 19th Century B.C. while the pottery remains from Tall el-Hammam are from two centuries later. I do not have difficulties with a small Iron Age occupation, as Ezekiel 16.55 speaks of a future restoration of Sodom.

    Steve is a very honest person and he also knows about the chronological difficulty he is facing. I think that he should be given the chance to prove if this is indeed Sodom or not.

    By Blogger Leen Ritmeyer, at Tue Dec 20, 07:01:00 AM  

  • Leen - thank you for the explanation. I am certainly not arguing that Steve not be given a fair chance, but he has been claiming for years now that he has found Sodom and I've never once heard him admit to the chronological problem. Instead he is trying to create a new biblical chronology in order to accommodate his site. Should all excavators be allowed the same privilege?

    As for Ezekiel 16:55, a restoration future to Ezekiel (circa 580 BC) would be post-Iron Age. I think most would take that restoration as eschatological.

    Thanks again.

    By Blogger Todd Bolen, at Tue Dec 20, 08:45:00 AM  

  • Leen,

    I was interested to see that you have your doubts about the Holy Sepulcher location for calvary. You wrote: "I have helped other people by drawing up sites, although I didn't agree with their interpretation. For example I drew Golgotha in the location of the Holy Sepulchre for the ESV Study Bible while I have my doubts about that location."

    I saw your drawing for the "tomb" in the ESV Bible and was curious about your opinion. Clearly the location for Golgotha has been a matter of debate for some time [since mid-19th century] and I mistook your doing the illustration as agreement with that location. Thanks for explaining your role as architectural illustrator for clients, regardless of their interpretations. And thanks for the clarity on your participation in the Tall el Hammam site and their team.

    Back to the issue of Golgotha ... perhaps you would share your opinion/reservation about the Holy Sepulcher site?

    By Blogger Daniel M. Wright, at Wed Dec 21, 11:23:00 AM  

  • Leen, Todd, ALL,

    Actually ... found this detailed interview on the topic of CALVARY with the illustrations:

    http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2008/07/24/what-did-calvary-look-like-interview/

    Not sure how I missed this back in 2008! Thanks Leen.

    By Blogger Daniel M. Wright, at Wed Dec 21, 11:40:00 AM  

  • Todd, I have to agree with you. The whole ‘Trinity Southwest University’ thing seems really sketch. Very few of the faculty have bios I could find, but all but one seems to have their PhDs from Trinity Southwest University. That just screams problem.

    I can’t find bios or academic curriculum vitae on several of the key lecturing faculty. That’s not normal. I don’t know that I would call this a scam, but it looks like it’s on the very edge of legitimacy – at least for its academic credentials.

    I do see Leen is listed as a visiting professor, so one can only hope he is lifting the standards.

    By Blogger Al Sandalow, at Thu Dec 22, 12:02:00 AM  

  • Once again, proper academic discussion gets lost amid inuendo and ad hominum attacks. Yes, TSU is a very small school that has chosen to remain independent of the traditional educational establishment, but we'll put our programs up against anyone's. We do use many visiting scholars to lecture to our students, and we have for over 20 years. We do have some of our own graduates teaching with us. That's true of every other school you can think of. Our programs are rigorous, and we only graduate about 3 to 10 students per year. It takes some students as much as 5 or 10 years to get through one of our programs. But what has any of this to do with my arguments for the location of Sodom? I've been researching and excavating in the Holy Land for over 20 years. I'm not directing the Tall el-Hammam Excavation Project as a novice but as a veteran field archaeologist with 17 field seasons of experience, and another 15 exploration/survey stints in the region. The Sodom issue is only on tiny aspect of an extremely important excavation. In this regard, the chronological issues that people keep harping about only apply for those who take an early date for the exodus, which view is in the extreme minority among biblical and archaeological scholars. I take a middle date, and that helps, but I have come to realize that taking the biblical 'Bronze Age' numbers as base-10 arithmetic values is simply untenable in the face of almost every line of evidence from the ANE. These numbers are formulaic and/or honorific. Albright recognized this, as have many scholars. I suspect that few, if any, of the people posting in this thread have ever been to Tall el-Hammam or the Kikkar or studied the area geography in detail on the ground. Until you do, you have little or nothing to say about the geography of Sodom. After this season, I think Leen will take even a litter stronger geographical view of where Sodom is located. One should also read my response to Bryant Wood's article against my views. That will show just how weak the southern view is. My work on this issue has followed a rigorous scientific track. I did hold the southern view until I studied it in detail. Now I cannot hold it based on the textual, geographical and archaeological evidence. In the end, the chronology will be what it is on the ground, not according to someone's personal bias about the meaning of the numbers.
    Steven Collins, from the Dead Sea

    By Blogger Dr. Steven Collins, at Sat Mar 03, 05:35:00 AM  

  • Let me chime in on the discussion on the Tall el-Hammam excavation site. I have a PhD from the University of Aberdeen and have taught Biblical Archaeology for Liberty University and Crandall University in Canada for many years. I have never taken a course from Trinity Southwest University. I have been involved in the excavation from day one (7 years ago) working each season first in the Iron age area and for the past 5 seasons as the field archaeologist in the Roman area (Livias?). I have seen firsthand that Dr. Collins uses the most rigorous methodology available. We follow the Madaba Plains project handbook with some improvements to our data collecting. We use the Total Station for all survey work which is one of the few sites in Jordan who are doing this right now. He employs a triple blind method for pottery reading using Jordanian and American experts to read the pottery (Moslem, Christian and non-Christian). There are as many as 6 experts that read each piece of pottery that has come out of the ground and we typically get about 1000 publishables per season.
    Just because Dr. Collins has chosen to remain independent as a school does not affect his methodology nor should it affect his hypothesis that Tall el-Hammam is a reasonable candidate for Sodom. If one does not wish to take a late date for the time of Abraham that is fine but to stoop to using an argumentum ad hominem hardly seems fair or scholarly. Every archaeological site begins with a hypothesis and why cannot Dr. Collins begin with his hypothesis that Tall el-Hammam is Sodom?
    I argued for years that Sodom was Bab edh-Drah (with Dr. Bryant Wood) but have changed my mind based on the archaeological, and geographical evidence. As a well-informed evangelical I do not have a problem with placing Abraham in the MB period. Surely we should not let our conservative insistence on an early date get in the way of the hard evidence coming out of the ground for this massive city state. If it is not Sodom then tell me what city got missed in the Biblical narrative because it was one of the big players in the region during the MB period. Frankly I see more hard evidence for Sodom than for Abel-Shittim. And almost everyone accepts Abel-Shittim was around Tall el-Hammam but there is no hard evidence to support this claim just a flat plain.
    Lets play out the archaeology and see if Dr. Collins hypothesis holds up but in the meantime let’s not sink to name calling and celebrate the contribution that Dr. Collins is making having raised over 2.5 million on his own to do this important research.
    Dr. Graves

    By Blogger Dr. David E. Graves, at Sun Mar 04, 06:25:00 AM  

  • The innuendo of previous bloggers attempting to cast doubts on my academic credibility, and that of TSU, as a means of countering my views on the location and identification of Sodom are simply fallacious, if not mean-spirited. Indeed, my doctorates are in biblical hermeneutics and religion. But it is a fact that many of us who have enjoyed long careers as field archaeologists do not hold PhDs in archaeology per se. Much excellent work in archaeology has been accomplished by men with doctorates in theology, religion, biblical studies, Old Testament, history, and other branches of the social sciences. I could cite quite a long list. Oh, and I suppose Dr. Charles Page’s excellent reputation as an archaeologist working in Israel for several decades should be called into question because he and I have doctorates from the same institution! Fact is, I’ve been researching in the field of archaeology and anthropology since high school. Anthropology was my major field of study as an undergraduate (I knew my way around an excavation even before I hit grad school), and biblical studies, archaeology (under Dr. Robert Coleman) and ANE languages were my concentrations in a 3-year M.Div. program at SWBTS. (I have also lectured on archaeology at SWBTS twice in the last couple of years, and I’m currently assisting in the development of archaeology programs at two major seminaries.) My mentor in Levantine ceramic typology was the late Glenn Carnagy (a DTS graduate in theology) who worked with me on the staff of the Khirbet el-Maqatir Excavation for six seasons under Dr. Bryant Wood (where we both plied our ceramic expertise at the pottery ‘reading’ table). Glenn also worked for many years at the Abila Excavations (Decapolos, Jordan) under the direction of Dr. Harold Mare (doctorate in theology). Besides field methods, one of my areas of expertise is ceramic typology in which I have over 25 years of experience. In a negative manner, it was suggested above that I ‘prop up’ my archaeological work up with ‘authority figures’. Really? The facts in this regard are these: Although I am thoroughly qualified to direct an excavation (and do) and call my own diagnostic pottery (and do), the rigorous nature of my personal scientific standards leads me to assemble around me fellow experts who are capable of augmenting the archaeological process for which I am ultimately responsible. My professional staff is made up of American, international, and Jordanian archaeologists and other experts. Some are Christians. Some are Muslims. Some are atheists. Some are conservatives. Some are liberals. Some agree with me about Sodom. Some do not. I run a strictly scientific operation, and agreeing with my views on Sodom in no way enters into my choice of staff. Since when is surrounding yourself with renowned experts a source of criticism? I have over 25 years of field experience in southern Levantine archaeology (not including prior undergrad and grad experience in anthropology and archaeology). I’ve been teaching field archaeologists and biblical studies students for at least that long (also Hebrew and a couple of Semitic cognates, and Greek, OT, ANE Studies, and anthropological archaeology). But I thrive on the critical views of others who force me to dig ever deeper in all my pursuits. That’s why I hang around with people like Ritmeyer, Maltsberger, Moore, Mullins, and Clayton. That’s why I’ve maintained many years of email interactions with scholars like Finkelstein, Ben-Tor, Mazar, Rainey, Schaub, and a host of others. That’s why I give papers every year at ASOR and NEAS, and sometimes SBL (last year the TeHEP team did 2.5-hour sessions at SBL’s invitation in London and San Francisco). So, let’s keep this discussion intelligent and academic, shall we?

    By Blogger Dr. Steven Collins, at Thu Mar 08, 11:21:00 AM  

  • Steve,

    Because you are an archaeologist without a degree in archaeology, you have more to overcome to be a credible voice. (Just as a medical doctor without a medical degree would face more scrutiny.) It's true that many who have worked in archaeology had degrees in other fields, but this is not the 1930s or the 1950s any longer, and the discipline has advanced and a more developed country like Israel does not give excavation permits to people without a graduate degree in archaeology.

    I'm not issuing excavation permits and my concern is the evidence. This is precisely where I find your conclusion (made before you began excavating) that Tall el-Hammam is Sodom to be lacking warrant. Despite your many protests, the geographical and chronological evidence in the Bible does not allow the identification of Tall el-Hammam as Sodom. The only way around that is to do as you now appear to be doing (but without being upfront with your evangelical financial supporters): change the Bible to fit the archaeology.

    This approach has been tried many times before and ultimately it always fails. A good example of this is changing the date of the exodus/conquest to the 13th century. Success is not determined by whether you convince me or everyone at ETS or SBL or all of your donors that Tall el-Hammam is Sodom but whether it really was. I wish you all success as you pursue the truth.

    By Blogger Todd Bolen, at Thu Mar 08, 11:56:00 AM  

  • In a response above, Todd Bolen states the following about my views on Sodom: “he has been claiming for years now that he has found Sodom and I've never once heard him admit to the chronological problem. Instead he is trying to create a new biblical chronology in order to accommodate his site. Should all excavators be allowed the same privilege?”

    This couldn’t be further from the truth. My initial paper to NEAS (2002, I think) had a detailed section on the chronological problem. My book on the subject has an entire chapter devoted to it. But to say that I’m suggesting “a new biblical chronology” is only partially accurate. In fact, there are many ‘biblical’ chronologies out there already. The majority view (by far), which takes a late date (13th century) for the exodus, is that Abram and Lot belong to the latter part of MB2 (Albright, Kitchen). My date for the destruction of Sodom based on the stratigraphy of Tall el-Hammam is in this ballpark. Thus, one could say that my date for Abram and Lot is the majority view (I have been thanked for supporting a late date of the exodus, but I don’t!). One should also note that scholars like Albright and Kitchen in no way took a ‘literalistic’ approach to the patriarchal numbers. They saw in all of those numbers a figurative formula of one sort or other. The fundamentalist or literalist view of the patriarchal numbers puts Abram and Lot back around 2000 BCE or 1800 BCE, depending on whether one adopts a long or short Israelite sojourn in Egypt. This view, however, is in the extreme minority, and I do mean extreme. Anson Rainey took a ca. 1200 BCE date for Abraham, which idea is also in the extreme minority. I take a ‘middle’ date (14th century BCE) for the exodus, which means that taking the patriarchal numbers literally does cause problems for me in identifying Tall el-Hammam as Sodom. But since I realize that fact-based geography and archaeology must trump any of our pet chronologies, I have no choice, based on solid evidence, but to let the chronology of Tall el-Hammam provide an empirical basis for my biblical chronology. The Bible indicates that Sodom was the largest fortified city in the Rift Valley. Tall el-Hammam fits that description by several orders of magnitude (meaning: no viable second choices---and the ‘underwater’ hypotheses are all geological and hydrological nonsense, Albright notwithstanding!). Thus, I have figured the date of Sodom’s destruction based on the violent, terminal destruction of Tall el-Hammam (along with all of its many satellites). This is a perfectly logical and reasonable thing to do. Because among scholars there are such diverse dates for Abram and Lot (from the 21st to the 12th centuries BCE), it is illogical to dismiss Tall el-Hammam as Sodom based solely on a single, minority chronological theory. My suggestion is that we can all get a better handle on the biblical chronology by letting both archaeology and geography (with climatology) have much more of a say in determining our assessment of historical synchronisms between the biblical and ANE histories.

    Steven Collins

    By Blogger Dr. Steven Collins, at Thu Mar 08, 12:20:00 PM  

  • It would be more accurate to say that there is one biblical chronology and there are many alternate chronologies which choose which parts of the biblical data to accept and which to reject.

    You write:
    "fact-based geography and archaeology must trump any of our pet chronologies, I have no choice, based on solid evidence, but to let the chronology of Tall el-Hammam provide an empirical basis for my biblical chronology"

    The biblical chronology is not a "pet chronology." But I submit that you are creating (another new) pet chronology that will not be standing when the next guy comes along with his particular hobbyhorse.

    It should be observed that what you're doing here is saying that on the one hand, on the basis of the biblical account, you've determined that TeH must be Sodom. On the other hand, since TeH is Sodom, the biblical account (at least the chronology) cannot be trusted as it is but it must be reinterpreted. I do not believe that this is sound methodology.

    By Blogger Todd Bolen, at Thu Mar 08, 12:42:00 PM  

  • I would like to make one additional comment about one of the criticisms leveled against the school with which I am privileged to associate: Trinity Southwest University. One of the previous comments in one of this blog’s threads included a negative comment to the effect that TSU seemed to use a lot of visiting lecturers. Yes, this is what we do. We follow a highly creative, nontraditional educational methodology (a unique modular system) in which we utilize a wide range of learning experiences, including many outside lecturers in seminars and symposia. Within the past ten years, the TSU College of Archaeology & Biblical History has had a long list of world-class scholars streaming to Albuquerque, including names like Ritmeyer, Ben-Tor, Wood, Aling, Mazar, Dever, Hoffmeier, Maltsberger, Strange, Stager, Arav, Meyers, Magness, Currid, Chavalas, Bierling, Krahmalkov, to name a few. That the practice of bringing in such scholars to lecture to and interact with our students could somehow be construed as a criticism of our program is baffling to me. We are what we are and we do what we do by specific design. Most of our students find our masters and doctoral programs as or more rigorous than those of traditional institutions. A significant number of our students come to study archaeology with us as a second career. Many of my students are physicians, physicists, engineers and scientists of various kinds who already hold master’s degrees and doctorates in their fields. They find our programs equal in rigor to what they’ve already experienced in the academic world. And we do all this while respecting the historical credibility of the Bible. TSU isn’t for everyone. (We only graduate a handful of students on average per year out of about 400 enrolled at a given time worldwide.) In general, Christians should be careful not to get too cozy and smug about being ‘as good as’ what’s in the world. Indeed, even a fine, ‘accredited’ institution such as the Master’s College is categorically looked upon by liberal academia as a Bible-thumping, fundamentalist, narrow-minded, cookie-cutter, dogma factory. But they, and we, follow God’s direction in the purposes to which we are called, regardless of what liberals (or some Christians!) think.

    Steven Collins

    By Blogger Dr. Steven Collins, at Thu Mar 08, 01:01:00 PM  

  • Steven,

    Who we're both talking to here by writing on this blog are those who care about what I think. Those with fundamentally different assumptions about the Bible aren't likely to be reading my blog. So you and I are each trying to persuade a certain small segment of society concerning the location of Sodom. I am warning readers who trust me to be wary of your conclusions because they require alterations of the biblical text that they should not be comfortable with.

    By Blogger Todd Bolen, at Thu Mar 08, 01:30:00 PM  

  • Todd:

    I appreciate that your blog focuses on people who care about and/or trust what you think. That's fine. But I also thought a blog, even yours, would entertain discussion about what you think. You do have a website that's quite popular with many people, and rightly so. You've done an excellent job with it. And you are focusing on biblical geography, which is something I deeply appreciate. I'm just very surprised that you’ve continued to support a southern Sodom in the face of so much evidence against it. The problem with the southern view for conservative Bible-believers is that the lack of evidence in favor of it has led scholars like Dever (and a host of others) to completely deny the existence of the cities, much less their heaven-borne destruction. The evidence from Tall el-Hammam comprises a significant confirmation of the reality of the historical framework of the patriarchal narratives. As for emending the clear meaning of the biblical text, the southern view majors in this practice at every turn. And it violates the literal biblical chronology just as much as the Hammam view, only going in the opposite direction. All of the fortified sites in the southern Dead Sea area were abandoned by 2350 BCE, after which severe climate change made it impossible for them to survive there ever again. The shallow basin of the Dead Sea S of the Lisan was variously dry or under heavy salt water during the Bronze Age, so no settlements developed there (or ever for that matter). With the earliest ‘literal’ date for Abram’s birth being 2166 BCE, none of the southern sites would qualify based on simple chronology, being at least two centuries too early. I suppose if you could somehow find a way to remove the Intermediate Bronze Age and move the end of the EB down that couple of centuries to perhaps the 20th century BCE (which Wood actually suggests!), then you could bring the biblical and ANE dates closer in order to ‘fit’ the story. But that isn’t going to happen, and it’s a ridiculous thing to suggest. The only way to salvage the southern view would be to move the biblical date of Abram back a few centuries, but then you’ve done the unthinkable (in your view) by changing what the text ‘says’. So, what’s worse, inventing a new biblical chronology by taking Abram back into the 24th century BCE, or re-adjusting the biblical chronology by taking Abram forward into the 17th century BCE? The amount of time needed to do either is about the same. In my view, I want to understand what the proper patriarchal timeframe is within the confines of well-established archaeological chronologies which allow for the narratives to occur ‘naturally’ by way of historical synchronisms. As an empirical factualist and a Christian, I am not prepared to ignore solid geographical and archaeological data in order to maintain an unrealistic approach to the text. In other words, I’m unwilling to treat the historically-authentic Bible like Latter Day Saints treat the Book of Mormon by insulating it from rigorous archaeological and historical inquiry. I do recommend a dialogical approach to archaeology and the Bible which allows both ‘text’ and ‘ground’ to interact in a synthetic manner in seeking ‘authenticity’ not merely ‘literalism’.

    Anyway, thanks for posting my comments. Much appreciated!

    Steven Collins

    By Blogger Dr. Steven Collins, at Fri Mar 09, 12:48:00 PM  

  • >>But I also thought a blog, even yours, would entertain discussion about what you think.

    When has it not? How many comments of yours have been rejected? I have never rejected a non-spam comment to this blog.

    >>The problem with the southern view for conservative Bible-believers is that the lack of evidence in favor of it has led scholars like Dever (and a host of others) to completely deny...

    Replace "southern" with "early date conquest" and you have a rather clear parallel. I contend that your view is the equivalent of the 1930s theory that the conquest occurred in the 13th century. Any hopes of saving the conquest for critical scholars have been shown to be false. Meanwhile, those conservatives who compromised on the Scriptures to reconcile the Bible with archaeology often themselves ended up denying the Bible's historicity. Are you and your followers next?

    >>What's worse, inventing a new biblical chronology by taking Abram back into the 24th century BCE, or re-adjusting the biblical chronology by taking Abram forward into the 17th century BCE?

    Are there no other options? Is this really a binary decision? I challenge you to come up with other possibilities. Surely you can think of some. Here's one: is it possible that the cities were destroyed in such a way that modern science has not yet located? If that's even remotely possible, then no one is forced to re-write the biblical text to conform to archaeology.

    You've certainly heard the saying, he who marries the science of this age is a widow in the next. You're making a gamble that I can't afford. And I wish your followers understood just what the cost is.

    Just for the record, I'm not defending Bab edh-Dhra as Sodom. That's not the issue for me. But if I was absolutely forced to choose that site or TeH, I'd quickly opt for Bab edh-Dhra because it requires only a shift of the archaeological data, with certain dating problems, and not a denial of the biblical text. But I don't have to believe in Bab edh-Dhra just because I don't believe that TeH is Sodom.

    >>I am not prepared to ignore solid geographical and archaeological data in order to maintain an unrealistic approach to the text.

    There's nothing "unrealistic" about taking the text as the author intended. This same sort of thinking justifies every liberal approach to the text: I know better and so I'll change it to suit my needs.

    I'm ignoring none of the evidence. Everything at TeH should be studied properly. I'll gladly welcome it into my understanding of the land. But there is no empirical data *from the tell itself* that demands that TeH is Sodom. That is purely a proposal based on the biblical text alone.

    BTW, you recently wrote that no one has found an inscription identifying the sites of "Jerusalem, or Megiddo, or Hazor, or Lachish, or Jericho, or Dan, or Ashkelon." In fact, we have inscriptions found at five of those sites that give the site's name! (You sure picked the wrong places for examples! In the case of Jericho, the name has never been forgotten; and Megiddo has other corroborating inscriptional evidence, such as the Shishak fragment.) Keep digging at TeH; maybe you'll find something that looks different from what we see at most of the other Middle Bronze sites in Israel and Jordan.

    (to be continued)

    By Blogger Todd Bolen, at Fri Mar 09, 02:11:00 PM  

  • >>I'm unwilling to treat the historically-authentic Bible like Latter Day Saints treat the Book of Mormon by insulating it from rigorous archaeological and historical inquiry.

    Steven, I'm getting a bit tired of the way you mischaracterize my views (albeit indirectly). You're insinuating that I (and those like me who trust the Bible--just like you do in other areas!) insulate it from careful study. That is patently absurd. I challenge you to find me one person in the entire world who can speak about the theories for the location of Sodom who "insulates the Bible from rigorous inquiry." If, on the other hand, your charge is that because I don't accept your view, therefore I am unwilling to conduct "rigorous inquiry," then I submit that it is you who will not "entertain discussion about what you think."

    Sometime when it is convenient I would like to see your reconstruction of the chronology, including:

    Destruction of Sodom
    Death of Abraham
    Birth of Joseph
    Death of Joseph
    Exodus
    Conquest

    If you have something written that you can point me to, I would appreciate it.

    By Blogger Todd Bolen, at Fri Mar 09, 02:12:00 PM  

  • After reading the last few letters about the excavation at Tell el-Hammam, I decided to weigh in with a couple of comments. I have been involved with Dr. Collins, TSU and the excavation at Tell el-Hammam since its inception. Enough has been debated about his background, qualifications, and levels of technical expertise of the excavation. Suffice it to say that Hammam is a very exciting excavation which is proceeding according to the highest possible professional standards. That being said, it is time to discuss the “elephant in the room.”
    Let’s put aside the rather childish, and often churlish, discussion of whether TSU is a small, essentially unknown, school (and it is), or what the professional qualifications of the excavators may be (and they are of the highest standards). Let’s admit that the excavation has been dismissed or ignored for several years as an enterprise being conducted on an unimportant site in what was considered an archaeological backwater of the ancient world. Curiously enough, during that time, considerable publicity was available for many small, relatively unimportant, excavations lauded for finding the occasional attractive artifact. For Hammam, that has all changed in the last two seasons. Collins has been given an unprecedented ten-year excavation permit by the Department of Antiquities of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan which has also requested to be recognized as an excavation partner to the enterprise. This should be enough of a recommendation about the level of professional expertise to satisfy any sensible and open-minded critic.
    And that leaves the “elephant” to identify. The last two seasons have shown Hammam to be be a huge, exciting, and previously unknown, archaeological treasure. The area enclosed by the walls is enormous. The city existed continuously for nearly two millennia as the political and economic power of the region before being destroyed in a catastrophic fire. The material wealth of the city is obvious. Some of the discoveries of the last two seasons are simply stunning and are soon to be publicized. And all of this is totally unexpected, a city which has not even been hypothesized in this region. So the issue that we should be discussing is this: what was its name? What city was this? This was the dominant metropolis of this region for most of the EB and MB periods and it demands identification. If one reads the text carefully, and lists the references to “Sodom” which are contained in the Bible, it is possible to create a checklist of the location and features of that city. When the checklist is compared to the findings at Hammam, it is reasonable to argue that the author(s) of that text was writing about Hammam. If there are those who disagree with this conclusion for whatever reason, chronological or otherwise, then the burden falls upon them to hypothesize another identification. If you don’t think this was Sodom, what do you think it was? To what references or texts do you defer to provide an identification for this fantastic city? It is time to stop the ad hominem attacks and the smug dismissal of the excavators and engage in the debate as to the identification of their discovery. The site is, as I said above, an archaeological treasure, totally unexpected and previously unknown. A true scholar should be delighted to join in the search for a name. This city will cause a dramatic rewriting of the history of this region, and it is time to join that effort. Read the publications by Collins about the site, read the archaeological reports, come to the site and see for yourself. Then join us in this challenging enterprise instead of sitting on the sidelines casting criticism and aspersion. The “elephant” is there, whether you like it or not.
    Dr.John Moore

    By Blogger Archaeo, at Sun Mar 11, 02:45:00 PM  

  • A casual reading of the comment by Dr. John Moore makes it clear that it was not written by someone familiar with scholarship or the discussion on this blog. I looked him up and learned that he earned
    his MA and PhD under Steven Collins. Thus he cannot be considered an independent witness to the standards of the excavation. Only if he said something that didn't sound like he was parroting his teacher and his ideas would it be a valuable contribution to the discussion.



    John, you are wrong that because I or others determine that a site does not match geographical, chronological, and/or archaeological evidence that it is incumbent upon *us* to provide an alternate identification. We can make a contribution simply if we help others to *avoid* coming to an inaccurate conclusion. You would agree that this is the case with regard to Ron Wyatt and his discovery of the ark of the covenant. The one who shows that this is a fraud does *not* at the same time have to show where the ark really is in order to make a contribution.



    Furthermore, contrary to statements that you and Dr. Collins have made, it is entirely possible that a large city such as Tall el-Hammam could be not named in the limited sources we have from the Middle Bronze Age. I'm not sure that such is the case, but it is poor scholarship to suggest that we have to force a name on a site even if the geographical, chronological, and archaeological evidence does not fit.



    Perhaps the real "elephant in the room" is that using the name of Sodom is a spectacular identification that has and will continue to bring millions of dollars and hundreds of volunteers to the site. For that reason alone, the burden of proof is naturally higher on those who make such a proposal.

    By Blogger Todd Bolen, at Sun Mar 11, 03:18:00 PM  

  • I decided to respond one more time simply because of rather rude and dismissive comments about my qualifications and background and yet another indirect ad hominem attack on Dr. Collins, his excavation, and his scholarly motives (which is really beneath any level of dignified, scholarly debate and should be a cause of embarrassment). About me, you wrote:
    “not written by someone familiar with scholarship or the discussion on this blog” and
    “parroting his teacher”

    I have been involved in the activities at Hammam for many years I agree with the theory, the archaeological process and the conclusions being developed. If the acceptance of theories in which one is involved is “parroting one’s teacher,” then the same charge could be leveled against most of the scholars in our field who have ever accepted and agreed with the positions of their mentors (perhaps even you agree with some of your professors, Todd). Clearly, this is a rather silly charge to make.

    To make a blanket dismissal of my comments regarding the nature and technical quality of the excavation because I happen to be involved, means that you must, as a logical extension, reject any opinion from any archaeologist regarding any excavation with which he is also involved. This, too, is a rather silly position to take. I have been there and have direct knowledge of the excavation, something that is lacking from most of the detractors of Collins. The professional level of the excavation at Hammam is not subject to debate. There have been only positive compliments and no credible criticism of the process by any observer at any time for the last seven years, and the issue really should be put to rest. The enormous confidence in the excavation shown by stringent evaluation of the Department of Antiquities in Jordan should suffice to silence any doubt on that subject.

    As to my basic point, namely that the comments in your blog on this subject are simply a repetitive rejection of a theoretical identification of the site, I have only one point to add. Tell el-Hammam is rapidly becoming recognized as a remarkable archaeological discovery, and one which will significantly affect our understanding of the history of the region. In one of your recent postings, you ask Dr. Collins for a few specific items of information. In kind, I would ask a few questions of you and your other respondents. Specifically, have any of you actually been to Hammam to examine what is being discovered? If not, what is the source of your information about the site? Have any of you actually read any of the articles prepared by the Hammam scholars about their findings? Are you adequately informed about the geographical and archaeological bases for selecting the site of Hammam for excavation? If the answer to any of the above is “No,” then you are in a rather weak position to debate the site or the findings with any degree of authority. You can, of course, argue the chronological issues associated with the site, but they are only a part of the puzzle, and they will certainly force a strong discussion of the issue. This is only to be desired. However, if the chronological issues were settled, and so easily determined, and so certain, then why do we have so many “high,” “middle,” and “low” chronologies in all areas of archaeology?

    By Blogger Archaeo, at Sun Mar 11, 09:40:00 PM  

  • John,

    I didn't dismiss your comments because you "happen to be involved." Please read my comments again. You put yourself forward as a "Dr." and declared that Steven Collins' work was of the highest professional caliber. You did not make note of the nature of your relationship with Dr. Collins. It's not that a student cannot say of his teacher, "he really does a great job," but unless that student has some independent credibility, no one takes it very seriously. Everyone knows that your teacher defined "highest possible professional standards" for you, so naturally he meets with the definition he created. That doesn't mean that he doesn't operate by the highest standards; it does mean that outside observers won't consider your testimony meaningful.

    That a series of supporters of Dr. Collins (students and partners) suddenly show up to comment on a post that is three months old makes me suspect that this is a collaborative effort orchestrated by Dr. Collins.

    As for your questions,

    Yes, I've been to Tall el-Hammam.
    Yes, I've read many of the articles associated with Tall el-Hammam.
    Yes, I am informed of these matters.

    Instead of asking me those questions, why don't you read what I have written and point to specific matters that reflect my ignorance or failure to understand? Explain how standing on the tell, or seeing the excavations of a wall, *changes* the geographical or chronological data. Until then, I will conclude that insistence by the excavators that one is disqualified from speaking about the site are simply an attempt to silence anyone not associated with the dig and in debt to Dr. Collins for their degree.

    I think it is a fair observation that the lead archaeologist never earned a degree in archaeology and the degrees that he earned and he issues are of a dubious nature. What the accreditation process does, in part, is to have independent scholars *verify* that the work is credible. When a school resists accreditation, for whatever reason, there is no *verification* that the work is credible. That doesn't mean it's worthless, but many schools without accreditation are worthless. Many schools that offer distance education have priorities greater than offering the best education. If TSU issues non-accredited PhDs, then it should only be expected that people will question their value. You should have expected that when you enrolled. Instead of *telling* everyone what a great school it is, you can help to demonstrate it it by doing excellent work worthy of respect.

    (continued below)

    By Blogger Todd Bolen, at Mon Mar 12, 10:07:00 AM  

  • (continued)

    Yes, there are different chronologies. This doesn't mean that everything is up in the air. If your statement is intended to suggest to readers that "well, everything chronological is rather dubious and therefore chronology doesn't matter," you won't satisfy anyone who has knowledge of the subject. Some things are not agreed on (e.g., the transition date from MB to LB), some things have limited options (e.g., the length of the sojourn in Egypt), and some things are rather clear (e.g., the date of Merneptah's campaign to Israel).

    If you want someone like me to withdraw my objection that chronological issues prevent TeH being identified as Sodom, then you have to make your case. If you don't make a case (and I first asked on this blog two and a half years ago), you cannot convince me to follow you. I suspect that the excavators don't want to publicly state such specifics because it will cost them supporters who recognize that the TeH-Sodom equation requires a *radical* re-write of the biblical chronology. TeH is not off by 20 or even 100 years. It was destroyed about *500 years* too late. To erase 500 years out of the biblical record, you have to do more than shorten Joseph's lifespan of 110 years. I suspect that soon we'll see a proposal, with every number reduced as much as possible to *make it fit.* This is not the way that scholarship works. We don't manipulate the data to achieve our desired conclusion.

    By Blogger Todd Bolen, at Mon Mar 12, 10:08:00 AM  

  • John Moore was ‘Dr.’, a scientist, surgeon, and astute geographer, long before we ever met. I am honored that he also chose to do further study with us at TSU. And, Todd, if ‘accreditation’ is such an issue for you, then what would you say about the fact that 95% of scholars in accredited ‘evangelical’ schools would not agree with your biblical chronology, but would take a late date (13th century BCE; a ‘formulaic’ date) for the exodus, and would not agree with your perspective on the issue? Would you question their scholarship? Did their ‘accreditation’ lead them to the correct date for the exodus? No, it didn’t. That fact is that all this talk about such subjects has nothing to do with the correctness or incorrectness of ideas or theories. You pay lip service to academic process, but you have categorically avoided citing any shred of evidence, other than your personal views on biblical chronology, either against Tall el-Hammam as Sodom or in favor another location. How about doing that debate I mentioned earlier? That would be a good objective means of measuring the factual value of our different theories.

    I was entirely correct in my comment on inscriptions for the sites I mentioned. No in situ, in period, inscriptions have been found at any of these sites that identify them. They may be mentioned in the Bible or an occasional Egyptian inscription, but I’m talking about inscriptions discovered at a given site, such as the one from Ekron which does mention the name of the city and its king. All the cities I mentioned were identified based on textual geography, not by in situ inscriptions. If something has been found recently, of which I am unaware, I’m certainly glad to remove such a site from my list. I’d be glad to hear about it and see the documentation.

    As for dig directors who do not hold PhDs in archaeology per se, I was talking about today, not last century. This is a simple fact. Archaeological research can fall under many disciplines such as anthropology, Near Eastern studies, biblical studies, Old Testament studies, ancient history, etc. I mentioned Dr. Charles Page, who’s a licensed, well-respected archaeologist working in Israel, who has the same Ph.D. from the same school as I do. In field archaeology, experience counts as much, or more, than classroom education. And we all read the same books and lots of them! Field experience is paramount, along with the ability to ‘read’ ceramic assemblages!

    I have done the following with great rigor: Follow the geography of Genesis 13:1-12, point by point, to a northern location of Sodom.

    Now, could you do something for your readers that I’ve never been able to get anyone to do? Follow the geography of Genesis 13:1-12, point by point, to a southern location for Sodom.

    I shall be glad to address the points you’ve mentioned regarding chronology, but I’ll do it in a subsequent posting, because I’ll quickly run out of room here.

    Steven Collins

    By Blogger Dr. Steven Collins, at Mon Mar 12, 04:02:00 PM  

  • Bolen said in response to Moore:

    “Yes, there are different chronologies. This doesn't mean that everything is up in the air. If your statement is intended to suggest to readers that ‘well, everything chronological is rather dubious and therefore chronology doesn't matter’, you won't satisfy anyone who has knowledge of the subject. Some things are not agreed on (e.g., the transition date from MB to LB), some things have limited options (e.g., the length of the sojourn in Egypt), and some things are rather clear (e.g., the date of Merneptah's campaign to Israel).”

    What Todd has done here is to obfuscate the issue of imprecision. Indeed, there is a high, middle and low biblical chronology, all held by evangelical scholars. The large majority hold to a late date for the exodus (13th/12th century). Only a handful hold to the early and middle dates. Todd holds to an early date (15th century), I hold to a middle date (14th century). So, yes, this does mean that for the subject of biblical chronology, everything is ‘up in the air’! There is a 300-year swing between them, and I’d call that anything but clear. As for the MB to LB timeframe, the only people who’ve called that into question are those who need for something to shift in the archaeological record in order to bring it into line with their pet biblical chronology. Archaeologists are, in fact, quite firm about the end of the MB (and no, Jericho’s MB2/3 demise can’t be brought down to 1400 BCE, a much as Livingston, Bimson and Wood would like!). Further, only the 10th century CE Masoretic Text supports a long Egyptian sojourn, while all other lines of evidence (Paul, Josephus, LXX, ‘internal’ MT, and logic) show clearly that “from the giving of the promise to Abraham to the coming of the Law there was 430 years.” And certainly the date of the Merneptah Stela shifts according to the high, middle, and low Egyptian chronologies.

    Both the biblical and ANE chronologies are anything but things of precision. Thus, there may be a better method of establishing links between the two. I think that better methodology is what I’ve called ‘historical synchronisms’. You simply get in the ‘ballpark’, then use historical synchronisms and elements of ‘cultural specificity’ to advance from there. Here’s what I’ve come up with in my research (assuming a formulaic/honorific understanding of the patriarchal lifespans):

    Destruction of Sodom = 1650 BCE +/- (the destruction date of all the Kikkar sites).

    Death of Abraham = sometime between the destruction of Sodom and the Hyksos expulsion from Egypt (a time of famine in Canaan due to prolonged droughts).

    Birth and death of Joseph = sometime before the Hyksos expulsion from Egypt (still a time of famine in Canaan due to prolonged droughts).

    Date of the exodus = death date of Tuthmosis IV (at which point the decline and demise of Egypt’s 18th Dynasty begins).

    Date of the conquest = early reign of Akhanaten (Egyptian hegemony in Canaan at zero, ca. 40 years after the exodus).

    That’s how I see the biblical and ANE chronologies fitting together in a reasonable, cause-effect manner, allowing ANE history and archaeology a voice in the process.

    Steven Collins

    By Blogger Dr. Steven Collins, at Mon Mar 12, 04:47:00 PM  

  • Steven,

    At the bottom of the "accreditation" issue for me is that I have detected for as many years as I've been reading what you've written about Sodom that the issue is not the evidence but your authority. You ask other people to believe you in spite of the evidence.

    Accreditation, and respect in the academy in general, is based on method, not conclusions. Thus I can respect the work of someone like Kenneth Kitchen, even if I do not agree with all of his conclusions.

    >>you have categorically avoided citing any shred of evidence, other than your personal views on biblical chronology, either against Tall el-Hammam as Sodom or in favor another location

    I'll let my readers determine if this is true or not. A simple way to check is to go to the search box for the blog and search for "Sodom" and see what I have written.

    >>your personal views on biblical chronology

    This is thoroughly dishonest and you know it.

    >>How about doing that debate I mentioned earlier?

    I won't be at the Annual Meetings this year. Even if I was, I have no interest in someone who speaks of "your personal views on biblical chronology."

    >>No in situ, in period, inscriptions have been found at any of these sites that identify them.

    Where was Lachish Letter #4 found? What does it say?
    Where was the inscription "to the god who is in Dan" found and what does it say?
    What about the cuneiform tablet discovered at Hazor in 1996 that mentions Hazor by name? And another tablet, also found at Hazor, which mentions Ibni (Jabin)? When you dig up the name of Bera, you'll strengthen your case that the site is Sodom.

    >>Follow the geography of Genesis 13:1-12, point by point, to a northern location of Sodom.

    1. Genesis 13 does not demand a northern location.
    2. There are other relevant texts that point to a southern location. You consistently ignore these, or dismiss them as late, poetic, or irrelevant.
    3. Why is it reasonable to follow Genesis 13:1-12 "point by point" as a trustworthy account when you dismiss and deny other parts of Scripture as non-literal or non-base10? What is it about Genesis 13 that trumps all other biblical texts, except that it fits your conclusion?

    I recommend to the reader the post written by Bill Schlegel for more detail on some of the issues.

    By Blogger Todd Bolen, at Mon Mar 12, 04:55:00 PM  

  • Steven,

    You are a dishonest man. You twist the truth in order to deceive. I will end our discussion here (and not accept any further comments that contain indisputable falsehoods) with a brief list of deceptions in the first paragraph of your most recent comment:

    >>What Todd has done here is to obfuscate the issue of imprecision.

    False. My statement was clear and accurate.

    >>Indeed, there is a high, middle and low biblical chronology, all held by evangelical scholars.

    False. You'll search the library in vain for any reference to a "high biblical chronology," "middle biblical chronology" or "low biblical chronology." Any reader can check this very quickly by googling the phrases.

    >>The large majority hold to a late date for the exodus (13th/12th century).

    False. If you're talking about evangelical scholars, most would opt for an early date. If you're talking about critical scholars, most would deny an exodus. No evangelical scholars hold to a 12th century date for the exodus.

    >>Only a handful hold to the early and middle dates.

    False. I know of at least 20 who hold to the early date. I suspect there are hundreds if not thousands. I know of 1 who holds to a "middle date."

    >>So, yes, this does mean that for the subject of biblical chronology, everything is 'up in the air'!

    False. The issue of the date of the exodus/conquest is disputed. "Everything" is not up in the air.

    >>There is a 300-year swing between them, and I'd call that anything but clear.

    False. There is not more than a 200-year difference between evangelical scholars (1446 to 1260).

    >>As for the MB to LB timeframe, the only people who've called that into question are those who need for something to shift in the archaeological record in order to bring it into line with their pet biblical chronology.

    False. Major archaeological textbooks by Israeli scholars date the end anywhere between 1650 and 1550.

    >>Archaeologists are, in fact, quite firm about the end of the MB (and no, Jericho's MB2/3 demise can't be brought down to 1400 BCE, a much as Livingston, Bimson and Wood would like!).

    False. Wood has not, at least for the last 20 years (if ever), argued for bringing the end of MB to 1400.

    >>Further, only the 10th century CE Masoretic Text supports a long Egyptian sojourn, while all other lines of evidence (Paul, Josephus, LXX, 'internal' MT, and logic)

    False. A case can be made for a 215-year sojourn, but it is not true to say that "all other lines of evidence" support it.

    Genesis 15:13 and Acts 7:6 speak of "400 years."
    There is no such thing as "internal" MT.
    There are 10 generations between Joseph and Joshua in 1 Chronicles 7:20-27. This requires more than 200 years.
    The increase in population requires more than 215 years.
    And if you believe that the Masoretic Text, by virtue of it being from the "10th century CE," is unreliable, you have more troubles than Sodom.

    That's nine factually inaccurate statements in one paragraph. As I said, I'm not going to do this anymore. If you were my student, I'd send you back to the library to open up a few books. You, however, know the facts but are purposefully distorting them to support your own agenda. I am unhappy with myself for spending my time in responding to you.

    (more below)

    By Blogger Todd Bolen, at Mon Mar 12, 05:56:00 PM  

  • (continued from above)

    For the sake of any others who stumble upon this post, I want to observe that Collins' chronology requires that Joseph died less than 100 years after Abraham died. Thus, in less than 100 years, Isaac was born and died, Jacob was born and died (after a period of Rebekah's barrenness), and Joseph was born (#11 of 12 sons) and died. Even if one rejected every biblical number in the account (which one must do), it still won't work. It also won't help Collins' theory to accept a late-date conquest view, because Joseph must die before the Hyksos are expelled.

    One more point: once you deviate from the biblical data, you just create for yourself a whole host of problems. You change one thing to accommodate something else and realize you created two new problems. You fix those two and create four more. A better approach is to trust the Bible. Over the years, it tends to show itself trustworthy.

    By Blogger Todd Bolen, at Mon Mar 12, 05:56:00 PM  

  • Todd,

    You have accused me of many things. You twist what I say, or ignore it, or attempt to contradict me by making statements that are simply false (exactly what you've accused me of doing!). I will not answer each point, because you would simply ignore what I say. But a couple of them will show that you are simply wrong about the 'facts' you seem so confident in.

    Wood does, in fact, suggest moving the MB destruction of Jericho down to 1400 BCE. I worked with him for many years, and we've talked about it, and he has published on it in BAR. I used to agree with it until the evidence from Hammam made it impossible to hold that view (Mullins influenced me on this quite a bit, and I think he's correct on the Jericho ceramics as compared to Hammam).

    Dr. Ortiz at SWBTS is one of our finest evangelical archaeologists, and he holds a late date for the exodus. As does Hoffmeier. As does Kitchen. Aling and Billington hold a middle date only 8 years off from my date. Ryrie always pushed a middle date (reign of Amenhotep III). On and on. Regardless of what you say, the late date is still dominant among even conservative scholars. Perhaps I should not have used 'evangelical' but 'conservative', as many, like Kitchen, would not syle themselves as evangelicals.

    I do respect the views you hold regarding chronology. I used to have the same views. But since the historical narrative of Gen 13:1-12 is the primary passage on the location of the Kikkar, I have been forced to deal with the issue of the destruction date of the Kikkar sites and the occupational hiatus of the area (also reflected in the Pentateuch).

    I suppose that we will just have to agree to disagree on many points.

    Steven Collins

    By Blogger Dr. Steven Collins, at Tue Mar 13, 11:45:00 AM  

  • Steven,

    You just can't stop with the distortions.

    >>You twist what I say

    Please provide even one example where I have done this. If I have, I will apologize. I gain *nothing* by twisting your words. You make this accusation because you believe readers will take it at face value without investigating. It is a baseless charge. Everything is here for readers to evaluate.

    >>or ignore it

    Well, if you're suggesting that I must respond to everything you say, I disagree. You certainly do not respond to everything I have written here. Some things that I ignore have been answered elsewhere. Other things do need a response. When you say something accurate, I do not need to respond to that.

    >>or attempt to contradict me by making statements that are simply false

    If I have made any false statements, I will correct them. I would note in the following paragraphs that you cited only one apparent example. I will respond to that below.

    >>I will not answer each point, because you would simply ignore what I say.

    What you really mean is "I'm humiliated by the exposure of my false statements before, but I am unwilling to admit it, so I will pretend there is another reason."

    >>Wood does, in fact, suggest moving the MB destruction of Jericho down to 1400 BCE.

    I note that you have revised your previous statement, so that this one is less incorrect. Before you said that Wood ended the Middle Bronze in 1400 BC. In fact, he argues that Jericho was occupied in the LBI and destroyed at the end of that period. He believes that MB ended circa 1500. (In the BAR article you cite, Wood writes, "the destruction of City IV occurred around the end of the Late Bronze I period, about 1400 B.C.E.")

    >>Regardless of what you say, the late date is still dominant among even conservative scholars.

    I disagree. I don't know how you know this. Of course, it doesn't really matter to either of us. I note that you didn't acknowledge your error that "only a handful" of scholars hold to an early date.

    >>I do respect the views you hold regarding chronology. I used to have the same views.

    A few days ago you called it a "pet chronology." Now you respect it and admit that you used to hold to it.

    >>I suppose that we will just have to agree to disagree on many points.

    I don't think you can act unethically, refuse to repent, and then assume that we can just "agree to disagree." I am happy to agree to disagree with many people of all sorts of persuasions and convictions. I am happy to agree to disagree with those who hold to a northern view of Sodom. I am happy to agree to disagree with those who have a different view on Exodus 12:40 or the date of the conquest. But when one distorts the truth, twists the words of others, and is very calculated in his efforts to deceive, I am not going to pretend otherwise or continue the conversation.

    By Blogger Todd Bolen, at Tue Mar 13, 01:09:00 PM  

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