My question regards the story of Lot’s wife. I had a discussion a week ago with an atheist who told me that the Bible is a book of legends and a good proof for that is the story of the wife of Lot who was turned into a pillar of salt. He referred to Wikipedia’s article where its supported that the whole story is a folk legend about how the rock formations in the Dead Sea were formed. And indeed there is a rock formation there named Lot’s wife which resembles the figure of a woman. So could this rock become the inspiration of Genesis account? Is it possible that a folk legend became part of a biblical narrative?


If you spend any time in Israel, or even in the surrounding countries, you will find that anywhere you go there is someone claiming that such and such house is the house of  Simon the Tanner, or such and such tree is the one Abraham stood under and the like.  It has been said that if all the supposed pieces of the “true cross” of Jesus were put together, they could shingle a large house.  Bogus “relics” have been a plague on Christianity since the Medieval period.  None of these claims are true, or perhaps we should say that the vast majority are untrue.  They are a way to play on the gullibility of people and to make a profit.  They appeal to the sincere devotion of relatively uneducated people.  This may seem innocent enough, but it can become a big problem.  The reason is that such examples of gullible people believing in such claims tends to make Christianity look foolish, especially to atheists and others who have an agenda to discredit Christianity.  We are, in essence, giving them a gift by our foolish devotion to bogus claims.

This applies to claims that a rock pillar somewhere in the Dead Sea area is actually the remains of Lot’s wife.  No educated person would take such a claim seriously.  Salt is soluble in water.  If Lot’s wife were in fact turned into a pillar of salt, that pillar would have dissolved a very long time ago.  Anyone looking for this pillar is behaving foolishly.  Even if, by some miracle, the pillar had somehow survived for nearly four thousand years (an impossibility, really, but…) how would we know that it was the right one?  This would be a joke, except that it brings disgrace on all believers and gives an excuse to skeptics and critics.

Next question: Did this really happen?  Was Lot’s wife actually turned into a pillar of salt?  The answer is that it is very obvious we cannot prove this happened.  If it happened, it cannot be proved, but it also cannot be disproved.  I believe the story of Lot’s wife because I believe in the historical accuracy of the Bible in general, and because I believe in the inspiration of the Bible as well.  I do not expect an atheist or an unbeliever to accept this story uncritically.

However, there is evidence from recent excavation near the Dead Sea that there were in fact five cities there around 2000 BC. There is also convincing evidence that all five cities were destroyed around 2000 BC, probably at the same time, and never reoccupied.  To me, this makes the story of the destruction of Sodom more believable.  Does this prove Lot’s wife was turned to a pillar of salt?  Not even close!!!  I will freely and openly admit that I believe this by faith in the reliability of the Bible and due to the rather indirect evidence from the general reliability of the Bible as history, but it do not claim I can prove that it happened, or even that I have evidence that it happened.

In any case, it is not logical that the existence of pillar formations would have produced the story of Abraham and Lot. There is no evidence whatsoever that geological formations near the Dead Sea would have produced the biblical story of Abraham, which is the story of an actual person who lived nearly two thousand years ago.

John Oakes

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