Before reading what he wrote, Bowen tells us about himself:
I was a devout Evangelical Christian from 1970 to 1982. The study of philosophy, especially philosophy of religion, led me to see that my Christian faith was founded on weak and faulty arguments. I followed where reason led me, and left Christianity in favor of skepticism, critical thinking, and a secular humanist worldview. Background in Philosophy - B.A. in philosophy from Sonoma State University. M.A. in philosophy from University of Windsor. Candidate for PhD in philosophy from University of California at Santa Barbara.In this comment on "The Secular Outpost" discussing the reliability of the Gospel of John with regard to the resurrection, Bowen writes:
For the question of the resurrection, I believe that the devil is in the details.
One detail is that Jesus was supposedly nailed to the cross rather than tied to the cross.
Another detail is that Jesus was supposedly stabbed in the chest with a spear while on the cross.
These details are critical for establishing that Jesus died on the cross, but these details are found only in the Fourth Gospel.
I have been reading commentaries on the Gospels about resurrection appearances the past few days. Most of the commentaries that I own are written by Evangelical NT scholars. Although Evangelical NT scholars are more objective than Evangelical apologists, I am amazed at how often these scholars avoid discussing the contradictions between the resurrection appearance stories.
Evangelical NT scholars no longer reflexively try to harmonize apparently contradictory accounts of the resurrection appearances, but there are a number of obvious disagreements between the gospels in this area, and I would expect at least some sort of commentary and discussion of the historical issues involved in the apparent disagreements. But one is lucky to find even a paragraph in a 500 page commentary that discusses this issue. Some don't even mention the problem!
I can understand why liberal NT scholars would ignore contradictions between the gospels on the resurrection appearances--they either don't believe in a literal resurrection or they have no inclination to base their belief on historical facts, having long ago concluded that the gospels contain as much fiction as fact and that it is often difficult to determine whether a given detail is fact or fiction.
A liberal NT scholar will often expound on the theological or moral significance of resurrection appearance stories, but say nothing about whether the story has any basis in historical reality. But I would expect an Evangelical NT scholar to (a) be aware of apparent disagreements between the gospel accounts of resurrection appearances, and (b) make some attempt to determine which accounts and which details are probably true, and which are probably false.
I suspect that the reason why Evangelical NT scholars are so quiet on the contradictions between the Gospel accounts is that they know their opinions on this theologically sensitive area would likely get them into hot water. Thus, they choose to remain silent, rather than reveal their skeptical views and lose their academic positions and their standing in the community of Evangelical scholars.