If Christians believe the risen Jesus appeared to the apostle Paul on the road to Damascus, why shouldn’t they accept Joseph Smith’s claim that this same Jesus appeared to him in New England in 1820?
This is the central question Robert M. Bowman Jr. addresses in Jesus’ Resurrection and Joseph’s Visions: Examining the Foundations of Christianity and Mormonism. It’s a question worth exploring across the pages of this well-written and carefully documented new book.
Bowman, widely regarded as the leading evangelical scholar addressing Mormon and Jehovah’s Witness interpretations of the Bible, is well qualified to examine the evidence – both the claims of the apostle Paul and of Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Bowman approaches his study using evidence and reason – evidence meaning factual information that provides objective support for a particular conclusion, and reason meaning the use of methods of drawing conclusions from available information.
This is a fair-minded approach upon which skeptics and true believers may agree. It holds both the Bible and the Latter-day Saints’ additional scriptures (The Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrine and Covenants) open to the same levels of scrutiny. In the end, Bowman shows that Paul’s claims to have seen the resurrected Jesus are well-grounded in evidence and reason; Smith’s claims of seeing Jesus are not.