long ago ideas

“When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago." - Friedrich Nietzsche. Long ago, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery conquered false claims that the Book of Mormon was fiction or that it came through a stone in a hat. But these old claims have resurfaced in recent years. To conquer them again, we have to return to what Joseph and Oliver taught.

Monday, February 26, 2024

Podcast: the narrow neck of land

In the pursuit of clarity, charity and understanding, I'll begin by re-emphasizing that we like and respect everyone involved with Book of Mormon studies, including the awesome people at Book of Mormon Central. We seek unity in diversity, meaning we are happy for people to believe whatever they want. 

We hope all faithful Latter-day Saints share our pursuit of clarity, charity and understanding, which leads to nomorecontention.com. As we seek to understand multiple working hypotheses, everyone can get along as we work together to establish Zion, despite different opinions about the origin and setting of the Book of Mormon .


In this podcast, we discussed the topic of the "narrow neck of land."


One of the most common questions people ask me about geography is "where is the narrow neck of land." I always respond, "It's in Ether 10:20." 

Most people are surprised to learn that is the only reference in the Book of Mormon to the "narrow neck of land." 

There are other features--a small neck of land, a narrow passage, a narrow neck--but different terms normally describe different things. People conflate these terms because they have been conditioned to think that all of the geography must fit within an hourglass shape with the "land northward" separated from the "land southward" by "the narrow neck of land."

In 1917, RLDS scholar L.E. Hills published his M2C map based on his "hourglass" interpretation. 

In the 1980s, LDS scholars copied Hills' map as their own (now found on the BYU Studies website) and more recently, M2C scholars created the BYU fantasy map.
BYU Studies M2C map with Cumorah

BYU fantasy map with Cumorah

When we look at how the term "narrow neck of land" was actually used in the days of Joseph Smith, we see that George Washington and others used the term to describe local features such as in Boston Harbor or along the Hudson River.

While it's easy to see how people simply assumed the "narrow neck of land" was the isthmus between North and South America, it's even easier--and more rational--to interpret the text using the ordinary and contemporary meaning of the terms, as we discussed in the podcast.

I've discussed this in my books as well as here:


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