Monday, September 14, 2020

The Facts and Truth about the Neck of Land and the Narrow Passage – Part I

Despite what Mormon so clearly tells us, Mesoamericanists erroneously have as many as three narrow passages and a 144-mile-wide “narrow” neck of land. In addition, the Heartland/Great Lakes theorists have as many as four narrow passages and two narrow necks. However, Mormon tells us that the Land of Promise was divided into two land masses, which he called the Land Northward and the other the Land Southward.

He also tells us there was only one connection between these two land masses, referred to as the Narrow Neck of Land. As he states: “the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla were nearly surrounded by water, there being a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward” (Alma 22:32, emphasis added). In another instance, he stats: “Hagoth, he being an exceedingly curious man, therefore he went forth and built him an exceedingly large ship, on the borders of the land Bountiful, by the land Desolation, and launched it forth into the west sea, by the narrow neck which led into the land northward” (Alma 63:5, emphasis added).

That is, the Land Southward and the Land Northward were connected by a small or narrow neck of land between the two major lands. Now, when Joseph Smith translated those words, he chose to use “small” and “narrow” neck of land,” as well as “narrow pass” and “passage” (Alma 50:34; Mormon 2:29).

Joseph Smith translates the Book of Mormon, dictating the text to his scribe Oliver Cowdery


Obviously, the Spirit agreed with Joseph’s translations, and it stood as Mormon’s meaning. Now, according to Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary, which Joseph Smith had in his possession (later recommending the dictionary for the “School of the Prophets”), which gives definitions of words as they were understood in 1829 and 1830 in New England and along the eastern states.

The two words used to describe the neck of land are “Small”  (Alma 22:32), and “Narrow “ (Alma 63:5).

• Narrow: Of little breadth; not wide nor broad; having little distance from side to side.

Now, does that sound like 144-mile wide land connection?

• Small: Slender; thin; of little diameter; hence in general, little in size; not great; minute; the slender part of a thing.

Again, does that sound like the 144-mile wide Isthmus of Tehuantepec?

Neck: A long narrow tract of land projecting from the main body, or a narrow tract connecting two larger tracts. Today it is defined as “a relatively narrow strip of land with water on both sides connecting two larger land areas.”

Now “small” is how Mormon describes the neck of land that he said lay between the Land Northward and the Land Southward (Alma 22:32). On the other hand, “narrow” is how Moroni describes this same neck of land (Ether 19:20). So “narrow” or “small,” the wide Isthmus of Tehuantepec simply does not match the description of the neck of land of the scriptural record.

The Land of Promise according to the Heartland theorists


Heartland/Great Lakes theorists claim that the Narrow Neck of Land is the isthmus between Lake Eire and Lake Ontario, known as the Niagara Peninsula. This isthmus is mostly flat and is described as two contrasting plains separated by the Niagara Escarpment. The Ontario Plain, with fertile, sandy soils and a favorable climate, contains the Niagara Fruit Belt, where much of Canada's soft fruits and vines are grown. Much of this flat plain lies between the Niagara Escarpment and the Onondaga Escarpment, the latter another bluff running through the Niagara Peninsula parallel with Lake Erie.

Again, this escarpment does not obstruct travel across their narrow neck.

It should be kept in mind that Mormon describes this narrow neck as a “choke point” or bottleneck where natural movement was hindered or reduced—it was a geographical feature such as a narrow valley, defile or break in the mountains. Militarily, its purpose was to force an armed body to pass, on a substantially narrower front and therefore greatly decreasing its combat power, to reach its objective.

Such is seen when Capt. Moroni ordered Teancum to hurry north to keep Morianton, in his rebellion, from reaching the Land Northward. As Mormon recorded it: “Therefore Moroni sent an army, with their camp, to head the people of Morianton, to stop their flight into the land northward.

They did not head them until they had come to the borders of the land Desolation; and there they did head them, 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 50:33-34).

Now in the scriptural record, the Narrow Neck, as in all its geographical descriptions, has a pass or passage, requiring something to obstruct movement through the neck.; however, the Niagara Peninsula are two 2 contrasting plains separated by the Niagara Escarpment. The Niagara Escarpment, in its Ontario portion, is 450 miles long, covering 1195 square miles, with a maximum height of 1100 feet. An escarpment may be defined as a steep rock face of great length formed by an abrupt termination of strata.

However, this escarpment runs the length of the isthmus along Lake Ontario and not across it, thus it does not block progress through their narrow neck, nor does it need or provide a narrow pass.

A Heartland theorist’s view of the Land of Promise. Note how they ignore Mormons words and his description of geographical facts


First of all, there is no narrowing of the land through (red circle) the Narrow Neck of Land into the Land Northward—while the approach from the east (white arrow) could qualify as a choke point or a restriction on movement into the Land Northward, the purpose is negated by (yellow arrows) and the open movement to the west of Lake Erie. Obviously, this nullifies the purpose of a narrow pass or passage.

In addition, it might be of interest to see how theorists often treat the scriptural record. Take the location of Hagoth’s shipyard which the theorist places on the northwest shore of Lake Ontario (their Sea East) when Mormon tells us: “Hagoth, he being an exceedingly curious man, therefore he went forth and built him an exceedingly large ship, on the borders of the land Bountiful, by the land Desolation, and launched it forth into the west sea, by the narrow neck which led into the land northward” (Alma 63:5, emphasis added),which would have been impossible from the Sea East.

In addition, Mormon states that “the Nephites had taken possession of all the northern parts of the land bordering on the wilderness, at the head of the river Sidon, from the east to the west, round about on the wilderness side; on the north, even until they came to the land which they called Bountiful” (Alma 22:29, emphasis added). Yet, the theorists shows that their city of Nephi is on about the same latitude as the city of Bountiful.

Also, Mormon describes the location of the city of Teancum, writing “Now the city Teancum lay in the borders by the seashore; and it was also near the city Desolation” (Mormon 4:3, emphasis added).  However, the theorist places these two cities 680 miles apart. Interesting that the Nephites in the city of Desolation when they were driven out by attacking Lamanites, who killed many Nephites and took many prisoners (Mormon 4:2), fled, according to the theorist, to join the inhabitants of the city of Teancum 680 miles away. Really?

Also, the city of Teancum was in the Land Northward; however, the theorist places it in their Land of Bountiful, in the Land Southward.

These are just a few of the inaccuracies of the Heartland/Great Lakes theorists. Certainly their claim that the Niagara Peninsula is the Narrow Neck of Land is inaccurate for it is not the only way into the Land Northward on their map nor is it the only land mass that connects the Land Southward with the Land Northward as Mormon states (Alma 22:32).

(See the next post, “The Facts and Truth about the Neck of Land and the Narrow Passage – Part II,” for more descriptive information and description of the errors about it)

1 comment:

  1. Del or anyone: how do the Heartland theorists justify seas to the north and south of their narrow neck of land when the BoM says the narrow neck had seas to the east and west of it?

    Their model is so different how could they use Sorenson's idea of a "Nephite north"?