Monday, September 18, 2017

The Location and Nature of the Narrow Pass

In an article by Ted Dee Stoddard, Professor Emeritusof Management Communication at BYU, where he taught business writing throughout his academic career, he describes the location and nature of the Narrow Pass (or Passage) that Mormon describes on four different occasions (Alma 50:34; 52:9; Mormon 2:3; 3:5). In the first two of these, Mormon uses the term “Narrow Pass,” and in the last two, he uses the term “Narrow Pass,” and “Narrow Passage,” to describe the same place, i.e., the southern terminus of the land the Lamanites granted to the Nephites in the treaty enacted in 350 A.D., when their lands were divided, with the Lamanites taking all the Land Southward and the Nephites taking the Land Northward.
In 350 A.D. Mormon and the Lamanite King entered into a Treaty where their lands were separated by the narrow neck, with the Nephites obtaining the land northward and the Lamanites the land southward of this narrow neck
The dividing line or dividing point of these lands was the narrow neck of land, and the Pass that cut through it, providing egress between the two lands or major land masses of the Land of Promise.
    We also should understand that these four statements show that the narrow pass or passage provided a Nephite who was in the Land Northward a way of traveling into the Land Southward (Mormon 2:29; 3:5. Conversely, if a Nephite was in the Land Southward, the narrow pass led into the Land Northward (Alma 50:34; 52:9). It was here that Mormon “did place our armies, that we might stop the armies of the Lamanites, that they might not get possession of any of our lands; therefore we did fortify against them with all our force” (Mormon 3:6).
    Eleven years after this treaty, in 361 A.D., “the Lamanites did come down to the city of Desolation to battle against us; and it came to pass that in that year we did beat them, insomuch that they did return to their own lands again” (Mormon 3:7). The next year the Lamanites came down again and were beaten by Mormon’s entrenched army (Mormon 3:8), but the following year the Nephites violated the Lords injunction and attacked the Lamanites south of the Narrow Neck (Mormno 4:1-2) and were soundly defeated, which was the cause of all their future losses.
    Thus, shortly after the treaty where this Pass and Narrow Neck became the dividing line between the Nephites and Lamanites was the site of the beginning of the last wars between the two, which eventually led to the invasion of the Lamanites into the Land Northward and the final battle at Cumorah.
Top: Photos of narrow passages; Bottom: Photo of a narrow neck of land 

Thus, the pass or passage mentioned were one of the same, one single pass, which provided passage between the two major land masses, the Land Southward and the Land Northward. There is nothing mysterious about this area, and since it was the dividing line between the Land Northward and the Land Southward (Mormon 2:29), it obviously was located within the Narrow Neck of Land. This is because the Land Southward (including the Land of Nephi and the Land of Zarahemla) were nearly surrounded by water except for the narrow neck of land that separated the two lands (Alma 22:32)—which also included the Land Bountiful “And he also sent orders unto him that he should fortify the land Bountiful, and secure the narrow pass which led into the land northward (Alma 52:9)
The two areas often discussed as the narrow neck of land is shown above in (left) Mesoamerica and the Isthmus of Tehuantepec; and (right) in the Isthmus of Panama. In both cases, passing through thre claimed narrow pass from east to west or west to east as shown, the sea would be on the north and south, not the east and west as Mormon writes in Alma 50:34 

This is also verified by the fact, that the narrow neck of land had a sea on both sides, as seen in the description: “by the narrow pass which led by the sea into the land northward, yea, by the sea, on the west and on the east” (Alma 50:34; emphasis added).
    Thus, the picture Mormon draws for us of the Narrow Neck of Land and the Narrow Pass (or Passage) is one of two large land masses, connected in between by a Narrow Neck of Land and through that Narrow Neck of Land was a Narrow Pass that provided egress between the two lands.
    Notwithstanding all of this simple explanation Mormon gives, so many theorists miss the mark when they try to place two entirely different locations for the Narrow Neck and the Narrow Pass, as Joseph L. Allen does, and all the Great Lakes, Heartland and Eastern U.S. theorists do.
    Sorenson, on the other hand, seems to understand that these two are in the same location, when he states: “Another geographical question that keeps coming up as one reads the Book of Mormon is the nature and location of the “narrow passage” referred to in Alma 50:34 and 52:9 and Mormon 2:29 and 3:5. It’s apparent from these verses that the pass is not the same as the narrow neck itself. Rather, it is some kind of specific feature within that neck area.”
The Narrow Pass or Passage is within the Narrow Neck of Land; the narrow neck of land connects heo Land Northward to the Land Southward; the narrow pass or passage allows egress from one land to the other 

Agreeing, Stoddard states: “The terms narrow pass/narrow passage and the term narrow neck of land are not synonymous terms. Seemingly, readers can easily discern that the narrow pass was located in the narrow neck of land.”
    Interesting how many others do not see it that way. Take F. Richard Hauck, who states: “One of the traditional assumptions of Book of Mormon scholars and casual readers has been to equate the 'narrow neck of land' with an isthmus... it has complicated and confused the numerous attempts made to identify the setting of the book, for the identification of the proper isthmus is frequently the primary focus of attempts made to identify the Book of Mormon geography...The west sea is clearly evident in the descriptions given in the text, but the east sea is never specifically mentioned as being associated with the narrow corridor” (Deciphering the Geography of the Book of Mormon, Deseret Book Co, 1988, p12).
    It seems Hauck missed Mormon’s statement: “by the narrow pass which led by the sea into the land northward, yea, by the sea, on the west and on the east” (Alma 50:34). Now there is simply no way to disregard the fact that Mormon describes a sea on both sides, “by the sea, on the west and on the east” though Hauck evidently attempts to ignore or negate that comment.
    David G. Hennesey of BMAF who tries to place the narrow neck of land as a small part of a much larger land area, claiming it is the small part that is the narrow neck, with the narrow pass beyond at the far end.
An example of a Great Lakes Narrow Passage. Note 1) White Arrow shows 120-mile-wide entrance, not easy to black by a small Nephite force; 2) Red Arrow shows an approach to the pass, 3) Blue Arrow shows an end run around the wide open lands to the east of the pass, impossible to block by any size Nephite force. This simply is not a workable location for Mormon’s descriptions 

Wayne May, the founder of Ancient American magazine and author of This Land book series, shows a map of the Narrow Passage at the Great Lakes. His proposed Narrow Pass is at least 300 miles long (or 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. Nor does it give a single egress point, since the pass can be bypassed to the east around the south-eastern end of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.
    There are numerous other theorists’ models showing similar unworkable approaches. However, the simple answer is as stated above, a Narrow Pass within the Narrow Neck of Land, which is the only access between the Land Northward and the Land Southward.
    Yet, Stoddard, quoting Sorenson, in another source, says: “The pass led to the land northward. Control of the pass was required to get into the land northward (at least that part of interest to the Nephites then).” By “then,” Sorenson is referring to Alma 52:9, which dates to the first century BC. Sorenson is confused. At this point in time (the first century BC), as reflected in Alma 50:34, the Nephites are not on the north side of the narow neck (his Isthmus of Tehuantepec). Rather, they are on the south side, near the borders of the land Desolation. “By the sea, on the west and on the east” means they were at the west sea (Pacific Ocean, his Gulf of Tehuantepec) on both the west side and east side of the narrow pass that led into the narrow neck of land.”
    However, Stoddard seems confused, for Sorenson is merely stating that the Narrow Pass was controllable by the Nephites and was the only access into the Land Northward, for in the first century B.C., the Nephites were moving into the Land Northward in large numbers (Alma 63:9), therefore, this information would have been known to them. And Sorenson’s point is well taken: “The pass led to the land northward. Control of the pass was required to get into the land northward.”
    It is a simple understanding, yet even Stoddard and Sorenson have inaccurate concepts of the idea, as do almost all other theorists who try to bend Mormon’s simple explanations to fit their own Land of Promise models—and in so doing, change the meaning of Mormon’s simple descriptions.

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