Sunday, June 23, 2013

A Narrow Pass Between the Great Lakes?

One of our readers sent me a map of a narrow pass between the Great Lakes taken from a website. The map is found in Wayne May’s “Book of Mormon Geography” presentation at the Ancient American History Conference in Salt Lake City, in April of 2011.
May’s Map of his proposed Narrow Pass through the Great Lakes
The trouble with this location for the narrow pass, which should be understood to be within the narrow neck of land, is that May’s line is at least 300 miles long (perhaps more) and at its widest is 140 miles, and at its narrowest is just over 50 miles, with another narrow area about 70 miles wide. By the very definition of a “narrow pass” is that it is narrow! Which this line is certainly not and cannot possibly be considered as such.
Another problem, since this narrow pass was the point of entry between the Land Southward and the Land Northward, it was also an easily defensible area for the Nephites to keep unwanted enemies from getting through to the northern land. First of all, the entrance into the narrow passage, between Lake Erie and Lake Michigan (roughly Toledo to South Bend) is 190 miles across, making it impossible for Teancum’s army to head off Morianton’s army from getting into the passage (Alma 50:33) since there would be no possible way for any army racing to intercept the northward flight of an enemy to 1) locate him across a 190 mile wide line, and two, guard against an enemy across that 190 miles to block the passage of that enemy.
In addition, to get into the passage, Morianton would have had to pass either to the south and east of Lake St.Clair, or to the north of the lake (which is more than 25 miles across), providing two points where Teancum would have had to guard, thus splitting up his army to do so, with one guarding a 20 mile wide line and the other guarding a 25 mile wide line.
Morianton had a choice of moving across 120 miles of open space and through one of two routes around Lake St.Clair—it would have been impossible for Teancum, who was rushing to catch up to Morianton to head him before he reached this "narrow" pass
In case you have never been in the military, stringing soldiers across a 20 to 25 mile line (without nothing but line of sight to spot an enemy in 72 B.C.) would take a very large force, far larger than Teancum’s army described in the scriptural record. But even if so, there would be no way to reform the army, once spotting the enemy, to win any battle of an aggressive, onrushing enemy as Morianton's force is described.
In addition, May’s "narrow" pass is not the only passage or way into his Land Northward. Any army bent on escape, or bent on outflanking the Nephites in his "narrow" pass could take an eastern route around Lake Erie and Lake Ontario and enter Canada (Land Northward) and across the St. Lawrence River north of Lake Ontario. A river is a hinderance, but not a total barrier for an army, with manpower to make rafts, etc., or they could travel up near present-day Montreal where the river has a series of rapids that could be crossed in the shallows.
Mormon describes a narrow neck of land and a narrow pass as the only entrance into the Land Northward, and that it was defensible against an enemy. May’s location would require tens of thousands of soldiers covering a hundred thousand square miles
In this same presentation, May showed maps of the Land of Nephi, located in Tennessee (3000 feet elevation), and the Land of Zarahemla (600 feet elevation), located to the northwest, in Iowa, which is a distance of over 500 miles. Now think about that. Every time the Lamanites came down to battle against the Nephites, they would be traveling some 500 miles to get to the battle site. 500 miles, which would have to have been on foot! 500 miles! In addition, they would have to cross the Ohio River and the Mississippi River, in order to get to the battle area.
Now tell me that makes sense!
It would appear that May, along with others who agree with these wide open areas they want to call a pass, do not understand the wordage Mormon used, and Joseph Smith translated. Looking at Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, we find that the word pass means “A narrow or difficult place of entrance and exit, a passage, as a pass between mountains.” And since Mormon described this as both a pass (Alma 50:34) and a passage (Mormon 2:29), the word passage is described as “Road, a way, a place where men or things may pass or be conveyed.” So we have a narrow passage that is difficult to enter and exit, where men or things can be conveyed, such as a narrow pass between mountains. The word “narrow” means “of little breadth, not wide or broad, having little distance from side to side, very limited.”
With this in mind, there is no way to describe the area between the lakes that May does, as being narrow in any stretch of the imagination. Fifty miles is not narrow, nor is 190 miles, or anything in between, which is the various width distances of his 300-mile long narrow passage.
A picture of a narrow pass between a mountain. As one can see, such a pass could be easily defended and would certainly restrict passage
We should also keep in mind that the narrow passage is the same as the narrow pass (Mormon 2:29 and Mormon 3:5). This pass “led into the land northward” (Alma 52:9) and “led by the sea into the land northward, by the sea on the west and on the east” (Alma 50:33), and also, obviously, “led into the Land Southward” (Mormon 2:29), and this pass was by the borders of the Land Desolation (Mormon 3:5), and between Bountiful and the Land Northward (Alma 52:9), as was the small or narrow neck of land (Alma 22:32; 63:5).
Now, since the entire Land Southward was surrounded by water except for the narrow neck of land between the Land Southward and the Land Northward (Alma 22:32), this narrow pass or passage had to have been part of, or ran through, this narrow neck of land from the Land Southward to the Land Northward as the above scriptures show.
Consequently, any suggestion of a narrow neck, a narrow pass, or passage, are all of the same topographical feature—that narrow strip of land between the Land Northward and the Land Southward. In addition, this narrow strip of land was also the only passage between these two lands, and was the focal point of the Nephite defenses, to preserve that land to the north and keep their enemies from gaining access to it by defending the narrow land in between (Alma 22:32-33).
Thus, any narrow neck of land, no matter the width, that does not have a narrow pass or passage through it narrow enough to guard against movement between the two lands, does not meet Mormon’s numerous descriptions and is simply not the narrow neck of land of the Book of Mormon Land of Promise. No amount of rhetoric, explanation, or deceptive dialogue can change this simple fact!

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