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Narrow Neck Of Land


Uncle Dale

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The term "narrow neck of land" occurs occasionally in pre-1830 books written in English,

to designate an isthmus (such as Panama, Suez, or the one in Greece at Corinth).

A typical example can be found on pg. 134 of Rollin's 1820 book:

The Ancient History of the Egyptians, Carthagininas, Assyrians, Babylonians

"The Isthmus of Corinth, which separates the two seas, unites the continent of Greece with

that of Peloponnesus... which are there divided from each other by a very narrow neck of land"

A classical text on this same spot describes it as a narrow neck of land between a sea east and west.

So, the phraseology is not unique to the Book of Mormon -- we can all agree on that. But here is

another early example of a similar term -- and one which I found especally intriguing:

From each side of a narrow Isthmus [of Panama], resembling a neck,

two vast continents stretch... They resemble the wings of a bird...

Sheltered under the northern, and most expansive wing of this gigantic

Bird, the American nation bursts on the view...

http://olivercowdery.com/texts/1814McDn.htm#pg11a

The writer (rev. John McDonald) was writing his interpretation of the 18th chapter of Isaiah, in

which a far-off land was described as "sheltering with wings" and (McDonald thought) charged

by God to gather scattered Israel in preparation for the coming millennium.

The notion that America was this far-off land spoken of by Isaiah was published in the Mormon

Evening & Morning Star, in 1832, and reiterated by Nauvoo Era LDS and by later leaders

in the pages of the Journal of Discourses.

I found it curious, that this "America in Isaiah prophecy" concept was joined with "narrow neck of land"

phraseology as early as 1814.

1814Mac1.jpg

A few years later, the Rev. Ethan Smith expanded upon Rev. McDonald's ideas, adding to them the

notion that the American Indians were descended from Israelites, and that Isaiah elsewhere referred

in his prophecies to ancient America.

Clearly these ideas were not limited to the first Mormons -- they were part of early 19th century

American religious thought. Even the great Rev. Jonathan Edwards expressed his conviction that

"the latter day glory" would commence in North America (that it would play the major role in the

lead-up to the Second Coming, etc.).

UD

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Uncle Dale,

You think that's bad? Check this out!

Five-word Phrases Common to Whitman and the Book of Mormon

The meaning of all things. Whitman: "My knowledge my live parts, it keeping tally with the meaning of all things, . . ." 1 Nephi 11:17: ". . . nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things." (Tellingly, this passage is in a scene of prophecy, and the lifted passage from Whitman is associated with "prophetical screams.")

Of the souls of men. Whitman: "Of the progress of the souls of men and women. . . ." Alma 40:7: "I would inquire what becometh of the souls of men. . . ." The same phrase is also in Alma 40:9 (a double blunder!).

By day and by night. Whitman frequently uses the phrase "by day and by night," a five-word phrase found also in 3 Nephi 4:21: "safely by day or by night."

The beginning and the end. Whitman uses this phrase more than once. One example: "But I do not talk of the beginning or the end." Given Whitman's emphasis of this term, it should be no surprise to find it also in the Book of Mormon, specifically in 3 Nephi 9:18, where we read that Christ is "the beginning and the end."

The righteous and the wicked. Whitman speaks of "all the righteous and the wicked," which is parroted in 3 Nephi 24:18: "Then shall ye return and discern between the righteous and the wicked, . . ."

The face of the earth. This tell-tale phrase is one of the most common phrases in the Book of Mormon, repeated an astonishing THIRTY-EIGHT (38) TIMES! Examples include 1 Nephi 1:11, 1 Nephi 10:12,13; 1 Nephi 12:5, 1 Nephi 14:12; Alma 13:22; etc. It's source is a classic Whitman passage about the prophecies of seers and other spiritual topics, which we'll discuss in more detail below. (Thanks to Dr. Dr. Walter Reade for pointing this one out to me.) In fact, this actually should count as a SIX-WORD PHRASE, for Whitman speaks of things that are "on the face of the earth," and many of the 38 plagiarized Book of Mormon passages have "upon the face of the earth." The minor change of "on" to "upon" hardly conceals the crime of plagiarism. Thus, in all fairness, we have a SIX-WORD parallel--absolutely fatal to the cause of defenders of the Book of Mormon!

The Son of God shall come. Actually, this should also be counted as a six-word parallel, for Joseph Smith directly plagiarizes six words from Whitman's phrase, "The true son of God shall come singing his songs," vainly trying to disguise his crime by dropping the word "true." But with almost insane abandon, Joseph then repeats Whitman's phrase THREE TIMES in the Book of Mormon (Alma 9:26, Alma 11:35, and Alma 21:7). (Thanks also to Dr. Dr. Walter Reade for this one!)

But it get's even worse:

I just found a stunning SIX-WORD PARALLEL in a passage so typical of Whitman and the Book of Mormon, a passage dealing with obedience and faith. Here is the original from Whitman:

Of obedience, faith, adhesiveness;

As I stand aloof and look there is to me something profoundly affecting in large masses of men following the lead of those who do not believe in men.

This line was sloppily plagiarized in Mormon 9:1:

And now, I speak also concerning those who do not believe in Christ.

Exact five-word parallels are more than enough evidence to convict Joseph Smith of fraud, but here we have SIX WORDS lifted with NO CHANGE in order, grammar, spelling--an exact and surprising copy of the words as well as the themes of Whitman.

But it gets much worse. As we shall see below, there is a shameless SEVEN-WORD PARALLEL that Joseph boldly lifted from Whitman. Did he think we wouldn't notice??

Oh the humanity!!

Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.

Compare this to the following passage from Whitman, in section 40 of his most famous poem, "Song of Myself" (p. 74 in the Norton Critical Edition):

Sleep--I and they keep guard all night,

Not doubt, not decease shall dare to lay finger upon you,

I have embraced you, and henceforth possess you to myself,

And when you rise in the morning you will find what I tell you is so.

The SEVEN-WORD PHRASE (yes, seven!) "and when you rise in the morning" has only been changed microscopically in the Book of Mormon, replacing "you rise" with "thou risest" to give it a King James Version twang, but all will recognize that these are the same words. Thus, we have seven words lifted straight from Whitman--absolutely unaccountable except by BLATANT and SHAMELESS PLAGIARISM.

But there is more! Notice that Whitman's use of this unique phrase is in the context of sleep, and of being guarded and protected in sleep by one who loves and cares for the sleeper. This is exactly the case for Alma 37:37. Even the word "sleep" in that verse has been plagiarized from Whitman.

Ladies and gentlemen, my beloved Mormon brothers and sisters, honest people everywhere, look at the evidence! The case now is so strong, that the best descriptive words I can craft are these (feel free to quote me): "It is over. It is over. It is over." (No, Charles Larson did not come up with my phrase first.)

Of course, staunch apologists will argue that these are "just a few examples" of apparent plagiarism in "only a handful of sentences" that do nothing to account for the contents and stories of the Book of Mormon. To remove any foundation for such deceptive arguments, let us take a more sweeping look at the Book of Mormon, which shows evidence of plagiarism throughout.

http://www.jefflindsay.com/bomsource.shtml

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Uncle Dale,

You think that's bad? Check this out!

But it get's even worse:

Oh the humanity!!

http://www.jefflindsay.com/bomsource.shtml

You gotta wonder what that Whitman fellow was reading in his spare time, eh?

I wonder if the same results would pop up, in comparing his stuff with the PGP or D&C?

Still, not that many folks back in the 1810s and 1820s believed that Isaiah was writing about

the American continent.

Mormons believe it. A few Anglo-Israelite sectarians believe it. Who else?

UD

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I have heard theories that postulate a narrow neck of land in the BoM could be referring to a valley or land between two rivers or lakes. However, if the term 'narrow neck of land' was in usage in JS's time as an isthmus, then that seems to me a good indication that whatever the word or character being translated is indeed an isthmus and not one of the others.

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The phrase is actually the title of a hymn by Charles Wesley, published in 1780. And as we all know, Lucy was a Methodist, so she probably had THAT VERY edition of Wesley's hymnal in her home, or sang from it at church. In fact, she was probably humming it softly in the background while Alvin dictated place names from obscure maps he had perused at the "library" to Joseph, who was eagerly writing them into a notebook. The pieces to the puzzle are filling in fast.

Regards,

J "I'll play UD's six degrees of separation to the Dartmouth Library game" Green

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The phrase is actually the title of a hymn by Charles Wesley, published in 1780. And as we all know, Lucy was a Methodist, so she probably had THAT VERY edition of Wesley's hymnal in her home, or sang from it at church. In fact, she was probably humming it softly in the background while Alvin dictated place names from obscure maps he had perused at the "library" to Joseph, who was eagerly writing them into a notebook. The pieces to the puzzle are filling in fast.

Regards,

J "I'll play UD's six degrees of separation to the Dartmouth Library game" Green

Thought Mother Smith was a Presbyterian.

Uncle "I'd not have wanted to have been a Calvinist caught singing any Arminian hymns in 1820" Dale

.

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Thought Mother Smith was a Presbyterian.

I would characterize her upbringing as "revivalist." She certainly attended the Western Presbyterian Church some time after 1824--one of the few or only churches in Palmyra, if I remember--But she also drank the George Lane Methodism Kool Aid in a way that had more influence on her family.

J "no neocon unilateral religious backgrounds in New England" Green

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I would characterize her upbringing as "revivalist." She certainly attended the Western Presbyterian Church some time after 1824--one of the few or only churches in Palmyra, if I remember--But she also drank the George Lane Methodism Kool Aid in a way that had more influence on her family.

J "no neocon unilateral religious backgrounds in New England" Green

OK then -- Rev. Clark Braden seems to brand her as an Osgoodite or a Cochranite in her younger

days (the Smiths lived within walking distance of the Prophet Jacob Cochran's home in NH) -- but

perhaps the old lady did sing a bar or two with Lorenzo Dow, whenever he passed through Palmyra,

handing out cheap grace.

So, where does that leave us? Far from the land of our first inheritance, I'll wager.

Uncle "just call me wicked King Noah, folks" Dale

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OK then -- Rev. Clark Braden seems to brand her as an Osgoodite or a Cochranite in her younger

days (the Smiths lived within walking distance of the Prophet Jacob Cochran's home in NH) -- but

perhaps the old lady did sing a bar or two with Lorenzo Dow, whenever he passed through Palmyra,

handing out cheap grace.

So, where does that leave us? Far from the land of our first inheritance, I'll wager.

Uncle "just call me wicked King Noah, folks" Dale

I'd wager, but I wouldn't stick MY narrow neck too far out on it.

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Hi Dale,

Here are a few more references ...

It is that narrow neck of land which forms South and North America, by some writers called the Isthmus of Panama[.]

[George Sale et al., The Modern Part of an Universal History (London: T. Osborne et al., 1763), 39:155, long s modernized, bold emphasis added.]

DARIEN, or the Isthmus of PANAMA, a narrow neck of land, which joins North and South America.

[A Compendious Geographical Dictionary, 2nd ed. (London: W. Peacock, 1795), s.v. DARIEN, long s modernized, bold emphasis added.]

It consists of two large peninsulas, divided by a narrow neck of land about 60 miles over, called the Isthmus of Darien, or Panama.

[benjamin Workman, Elements of Geography (Philadelphia: W. McCulloch, 1809), 82, long s modernized, bold emphasis added.]

Q. What is an isthmus?

A. A narrow of neck of land between two seas, joining a peninsula to the continent: as the Isthmus of Darien, or Panama, which joins the North to South America.

[Richard Turner, An Easy Introduction to the Arts and Sciences (London: F. C. & J. Rivington, 1814), 90, long s modernized, bold emphasis added.]

But the great struggle of commerce will depend on the occupation of the Isthmus of Panama, and its vicinity. Whoever possesses that narrow neck of land ...

[Charles Taylor et al., The Literary Panorama, and National Register, vol. 9 (London: Simpkin & Marshall, 1819), col. 7, bold emphasis added.]

Da'-ri-en; (or Isthmus of Panama;) a narrow neck of land connecting North and South America.

[John Goldsmith, A Grammar of General Geography (London: Longman et al., 1821), 167, bold emphasis added.]

It consists of two immense tracts, called North and South America, connected by the comparatively narrow neck of land named the Isthmus of Panama, or Darien.

[W. Jillard Hort, A General View of the Sciences and Arts, vol. 1 (London: Longman et al., 1822), 169, bold emphasis added.]

Darien, Isthmus of, the narrow neck of land by which N. and S. America are joined together[.]

[Joseph Miller, The New London Universal Gazetteer, or, Alphabetical Geography (London: G. Virtue, 1827), 277, bold emphasis added.]

... And this is just the tip of such proverbial evidentiary 18thC and early-19thC icebergs.

My best,

</brent>

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Hi Dale,

Here are a few more references ...

... And this is just the tip of such proverbial evidentiary 18thC and early-19thC icebergs.

My best,

</brent>

Let me know if you come across the mention of the narrow neck, separating the sea east

from the sea west -- I think it was in a Loeb Classics edition of Livy.

UD

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And all along I thought the "narrow neck of land" was just something found in the Book of Mormon!

Yeah __ I used to think that too.

quite-a-long-neck.jpg

UD

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Let me know if you come across the mention of the narrow neck, separating the sea east from the sea west -- I think it was in a Loeb Classics edition of Livy.

UD

If memory serves, our friend Dan Vogel published an ealry-19thC reference on an east and west oceanic orientation of the Panama isthmus.

My best,

</brent>

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The term "narrow neck of land" occurs occasionally in pre-1830 books written in English,

to designate an isthmus (such as Panama, Suez, or the one in Greece at Corinth).

It's not just "occasionally" that "narrow neck of land" show up as a designation for an isthmus in pre-1830 texts--that's what the word isthmus literally means. Thus the definitions in the geography and maritime/navigation primers of the day pretty much use the exact phrase--and I quote--"narrow neck of land." As you acknowledge, and despite what Brent's culls would have us believe, the phrase shows up frequently in the context of descriptions of, oh, pretty much everywhere else, such as the Middle East (Walpole), Asia Minor (Knox), Siberia, France, etc. In other words, this argument has the same logic as my five-year-old who holds up a handfull of Skittles and insists that they're the same color as her shirt--Sure they are, as long as I ignore the green ones and the yellow ones and only focus on the red ones.

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Hi Dale,

Here are a few more references ...

... And this is just the tip of such proverbial evidentiary 18thC and early-19thC icebergs.

Brent,

You have only included references to the Isthmus of Panama as a "narrow neck of land." I'm curious if you've seen equal attribution to other locations, and if so, why you chose only to cite the ones you did. And would the other references equally be "tips" of an 18th/19thC. iceberg, or would they be more analogous to teeth in an airport access control system ready to puncture overblown . . . tires?

Regards

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Brent,

You have only included references to the Isthmus of Panama as a "narrow neck of land." ...

Do a Google search (or better yet, an advanced Google Books, pre-1830 search) with this input:

Corinth "narrow neck of land"

Suez "narrow neck of land"

That should give you a good start

UD

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And all along I thought the "narrow neck of land" was just something found in the Book of Mormon!

In all seriousness, I don't see the significance of Dale's find. Am I missing something? So what if Joseph wasn't the first to say "narrow neck of land?"

Can you find pre-1828 sources which also use the phrases "dwelt in a tent," "having been born," and "when you read these things?"

So what? We should expect that a translation be a translation into words that people know.

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Do a Google search (or better yet, an advanced Google Books, pre-1830 search) with this input:

Corinth "narrow neck of land"

Suez "narrow neck of land"

That should give you a good start

Hi, Unc. I had already done that when I asked the question, except I didn't limit the phrase with any qualifiers. No surprise to find that there are frequent hits for every context. Just as we wouldn't be surprised when people in all lands and languages use the word "lizard" to describe an alligator, because that is what the word "alligator" literally means, or when the words "climate" or "season" are used in the context of an "almanac" when that is what the word "almanac" literally means. Just as it is not surprising to find the opening of a river referred to as a mouth in many languages. Knowing this, I'm interested in understanding why Brent chose to gather only the examples that talk about the Isthmus of Darien. From the (albeit low-lying) perch in my narrow neck of the woods it looks like an attempt to create the expectation of an 18th/19th C. fascination with the ('unusual') phrase "narrow neck of land" in close association with the Isthmus of Darien. In any case, the idea of a narrow neck of land being used to describe an isthmus was indeed common in the 18th/19th C, just as it was (and is) in the centuries before and after. In fact, that fascination, by defintion would have to go all the way back to Greece. Also missing from the equation would be an analysis of the other similar terms used by the same author(s) in the BOM: What of 'narrow passage,' 'narrow pass,' 'narrow strip of wilderness,' and 'narrow course'?

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[...]

Clearly these ideas were not limited to the first Mormons -- they were part of early 19th century

American religious thought. Even the great Rev. Jonathan Edwards expressed his conviction that

"the latter day glory" would commence in North America (that it would play the major role in the

lead-up to the Second Coming, etc.).

UD

Interesting stuff Unk. Thank you for hookin' this up. I guess we are left with one of two avenues (or perhaps three, but the third Iâ??ve heard isnâ??t paved).

1) Joseph et.al. culled a popular religious ideology and incorporated it into the Book of Mormon and early LDS-Saint-ology.

2) Mormonism does not have a monopoly on truth, and others have received (either through study or revelation) proper scriptural interpretations.

3) A conglomeration of the two with a side of bacon (not a very kosher avenue, but itâ??s fun if you have four-wheel drive).

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What's funny is that some of the same types of people who turn their noses up at Nahom actually think this constitutes real evidence against the Book of Mormon. As one of my heros, Ross Perot, would say, "That's just plain sad, Larry."

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Hi J Green,

You can tuck away your conspiracy theory.

I confined my "narrow neck of land" references to the Isthmus of Panama because Dale's 1814 citation in the OP only mentions Panama. I didn't want readers of Dale's OP to mistakenly assume that usage of the phrase "narrow neck of land" was rare in 18thC and early-19thC literature or limited to theological rhetoric. You needn't look any further than Webster's 1828 dictionary to see the phrase's broad application.

ISTHMUS, n. ist'mus. [L. from Gr. ίσθμος.] A neck or narrow slip of land by which two continents are connected, or by which a peninsula is united to the main land. Such is the Neck, so called, which connects Boston with the main land at Roxbury. But the word is applied to land of considerable extent, between seas; as the isthmus of Darien, which connects North and South America, and the isthmus between the Euxine and Caspian seas.

[Noah Webster, An American Dictionary of the English Language (New York: S. Converse, 1828), s.v. ISTHMUS (see also NECK [2]), bold emphasis added.]

And, no, Cold Steel, I don't think JS's use of "narrow neck of land" in the BoMor proves modern authorship.

Kind regards,

</brent>

Edit: Corrected a typo.

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