This review, by Dr. Nicholson, has been provided courtesy of Desert Bible Institute (www.desertbibleinstitute.com).
One of the great advantages of Discovering the City of Sodom was that not only did it take the topic of biblical archeology seriously, but it showed its audience how it went about doing this. Dr. Collins and Dr. Scott methodically explain the process of academic research and site excavation. This is of great advantage to the serious learner and provides their audience with confidence in the evidence that they present. This unfortunately is the Achilles heel of the audio version of this book since the acronyms abound and there is no quick reference chart to refer back to which the hardcopy likely has provided.
Sean Runnette does an excellent job in his reading of the book. This is the first non-fiction book that I have heard him narrate, and he does a first-class job. He was, of course, clear and consistent in his speech which makes him a pleasure to listen to. He also has a very rich and dynamic way of presenting the characters in the narrative sections of the book. The one distracting thing was that the authors should have considered revising their book for an audio format. While abbreviations and acronyms smooth out reading, they become confounding when several are used together in an audiobook.
Perhaps the most controversial part of the book was the sections presented in fictional format while supported with actual facts. Initially I liked this and assumed that it was used to smooth out the technical aspects of the book and add continuity to the book as a whole. As I got further into the book; however, this aspect became confusing and a little distracting. Alternately, I thought that this might have been done to provide anonymity for some of the people involved and research that had been done. Ultimately though, the book would have flowed fine without this contrivance and would prove more believable without the mixing of fiction and non-fiction. This was a great idea but, in the long run, unnecessary.
Another boon/bane of the book was the biblical background information. I personally loved all the exploration of the Old Testament. The retelling of stories and examination of the text was a pleasure to listen to. This had the unfortunate side effect; however, of causing long lulls between the sections of scientific evidence given. I could see how this, coupled with the narrative sections, could frustrate some readers. Therefore this element is a mixed blessing. It helps the person with a weak knowledge of the Old Testament get a big picture of what’s going on, but it does go into more detail than is probably strictly necessary for a book like this. Whereas I enjoyed it (it felt like a science class and a Bible study happening at the same time) this will inevitably grate against the patience of some readers.
At the end of the day, this is a book that all serious Christians should have. If for no other reason, this book is worthy of owning and listening to due to how it sets up and supports its position through empirical and provable facts. Too often, as Christians, we base our opinions on little more than what our pastors say or the literary cleverness of a popular author. This book, beyond everything else, is a careful, well thought-out examination of the history and location of the city of Sodom.
Trent Nicholson, Ph.D., D.Min.
Desert Bible Institute, President
Dr. Nicholson is a member of the christianaudio review program. To learn more, visit their website at: http://www.christianaudio.com.