Biblical Archaeology


Stephen Collins, an Albuquerque biblical archaeologist, says he has uncovered the definitive site of Sodom and Gomorrah in Jordan.

Collins has excavationed at what is known as Tall el-Hammam and is planning several more.  He is the dean of archaeology and biblical history at Trinity Southwest University in Albuquerque.

“It’s not just because we think it might be Sodom but that we can learn how people lived and what kind of crops they were growing and what kind of language if we discover inscriptions,” he said. “We can get a real understanding of 5,000 to 6,000 years ago and how people came and went.”
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(Photo courtesy of Trinity Southwest University)

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Writing in Issue Three of Volume #60 of the Biblical Archaeologist, Dr. Larry G. Herr writes (excerps) . . .

[Yet] permitting one’s present understanding of the biblical text to dictate how archaeologists understand what they dig up, and how they dig it, is intellectual looting.

It remains difficult to interpret archaeological remains completely independent of literary sources.

Must we then disavow use of the Bible to help us understand archaeological finds? . . . . . just as objective biblical scholarship attempts to work without imposing religious or theological preconceptions on the text, so archaeology must be practiced free of any historical or religious preconceptions, including those we have of the Bible. Only then can archaeology be an accurate tool for biblical study. Otherwise, our understanding of both the Bible and archaeology is warped by our preconceptions.

Despite its limitations, the Bible still remains our best extra-archaeological artifact. It often helps us give names to things we find, from statues of gods to agricultural items. Without the Bible, our understanding of Iron II archaeology would be monochromatic; and without archaeology our understanding of the world of the Bible would be just as lackluster.

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Larry G. HerrLarry G. Herr received his Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University in 1977.

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Hopkins, D. 2001, c1997. Vol. 60 numbers 1-4: Biblical Archaeologist : Volume 60 1-4. Biblical Archaeologist volume 60 numbers 1-4. (electronic ed.). Logos Library System. American Schools of Oriental Research: Philadelphia