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Categorized | Religion

Hang Him High

James_Tissot_Judas_Hangs_Himself_300The Judas story conflict exists because the fourth century editors who decided which writings should be part of the Bible didn’t worry about whether one author’s story conflicted with another.Those who wrote Matthew says that Judas hanged himself (Matthew 27:1-5 and Matthew 27:3-8), while
those who wrote Acts says that he fell and his guts spilled out (Acts 1:16-19).

Now let us see Michelle Arnold’s ( Apologistng Catholic Answers Forum:) answer to the problem.He said, “There are two possible ways to reconcile the verses: Luke’s
purpose in Acts may have been simply to report what Peter
said at a point in time when the apostles’ information on Judas’s
death may well have been sketchy. After some of the Temple priests
converted (cf. Acts 6:7), they may have given further details on
Judas’s death that were later incorporated into the Gospel accounts.”

Mr. Arnold continues, “It is also possible that after Judas hanged
himself the rope broke
and he fell onto rocks that disemboweled him postmortem. Matthew’s
emphasis then would have been Judas’s actions in taking his own
life, while Peter’s emphasis was on what happened to him after his

Yet other Christians concluded: No. Both accounts are true. Apparently Judas first hanged himself. Then, at some point, the rope either broke or loosened so that his body slipped from it and fell to the rocks below and burst open. (Some have suggested that Judas didn’t do a very good job of tying the noose.) Neither account alone is complete. Taken together, we have a full picture of what happened to Judas. (For similar assumptions, see: Answers to Common Questions ,Whither the Traitor? and CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS & RESEARCH MINISTRY )

Now, maybe it’s better that we use a little common sense here? It should be noted that Judas fell headlong, meaning head first. So, an explanation is needed as to why Judas’ body rotated 180 degrees upon the rope breaking. Judas could have hung himself from a tree branch that protruded over a cliff in order to all the fall sufficient distance so that his body could flip, but that seems strange, First, why hang yourself to a tree with a branch that is portruding to a cliff as it would not have contributed to the hanging unless Judas meant for the rope to break? In fact it would have made it needlessly difficult as Judas would have had to climb out onto the tree to reach the protruding branch and tie the rope on that brance.

Now, did Judas fell and hit another such as another tree branch, that caused his body to flip? This is possible, but it would make more sense for Judas to simply choose the lowest branch that he could find that was sufficiently high. A branch with a branch underneath it would have only gotten in the way.

Various assumptions can be made about the organization of Matthew and Acts in order to justify placing the hanging part of the death in Matthew and the falling part of the death in Acts. Perhaps Matthew preferred to talk things in the air whereas Acts preferred to talk about things on the ground. Such assumptions seem arbitrary and contrived unless they are vindicated by the rest of the text.

Regardless of what is assumed about the organization of Matthew and Acts Judas died only once. Either Judas died when he hung himself and then later fell, or he was still alive when he fell and died when he hit the ground. In either case either Matthew or Acts neglected to mention how Judas actually died. Appeals to the idea that the authors of Matthew and Acts each knew what the other would write and wished to not be redundant are difficult to defend in light of the amount of repeated material in the rest of the New Testament; particularly the synoptic gospels.

There are other contradictions beside those stated above:

In Matthew, Judas threw away the money to the priests before
dying, then he went to hang himself. After that, the priests bought
a field. In Acts, Judas used the money himself to buy a field.

Let me add an additional item of interest. In Matt. 27:9-10, it is asserted that the prophet Jeremy (Jeremiah) uttered a prophecy regarding Judas, but no such statement is found in the book of Jeremiah. Instead, a similar statement is found in the book of Zech. 11:12,13. So did Jesus erred?

So whether those who wrote Matthew recorded their own fiction, or Acts recorded their own fiction, we will never know.

DISCLAIMER: The opinions in this post do not necessarily represent the position of the Filipino Freethinkers.