Shit My Bible Says: The Multiple Deaths of Judas

In case you don’t remember how Judas dies, here’s Matthew 27:3-10:

3When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. 4“I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”

“What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”

5So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.

6The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.” 7So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. 8That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “They took the thirty pieces of silver, the price set on him by the people of Israel, 10and they used them to buy the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.”

Or, if that’s not how you remember it, it’s understandable, since Acts 1:18-19 says:

18 (With the payment he received for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. 19Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)

The most obvious difference is that in Matthew, Judas hangs himself, while in Acts, he falls into a field and bursts. But there are other differences: in Matthew, Judas throws the money into the temple; in Acts, he uses it to buy a field. And in Matthew, the Field of Blood is called that because it was bought with blood money — payment for Jesus’ blood — while in Acts, the name “Field of Blood” comes from the fact that it was soaked with Judas’ blood.

Now, if you were desperate to prop up the dogma that the Bible doesn’t contradict itself, and wanted to reconcile these two passages at all costs, you might note that Acts doesn’t explicitly say that Judas didn’t hang himself, and Matthew doesn’t explicitly say that he didn’t burst open, so hey, maybe both of those things happened.

You know, just like how if some conspiracy site says that Obama is a lizard-headed alien who gave instructions on the best way to invade Earth at his last State of the Union address, and the CNN article doesn’t explicitly say that that didn’t happen, then hey, the two are perfectly compatible, right?

But of course that would be silly. So let’s see what earnest apologetics site CARM has to say on this subject:

So, what happened here is that Judas went and hung himself and then his body later fell down and split open. In other words, the rope or branch of the tree probably broke due to the weight and his body fell down and his bowels spilled out.

Or the Restored Church of God:

Acts 1:18 describes what occurred after Judas hanged himself in Matthew 27:5. His body began to decay as it hung from the rope. Eventually, his corpse fell, and “burst asunder” when it hit the ground—he literally burst apart.

Or christianthinktank.com:

since suicide by hanging was usually accomplished (at least by poorer people) by jumping out of a tree with a rope around one’s neck, it was not unusual (nor is it uncommon in India today) for the body to be ripped open in the process. I hesitate to say that this was exactly what happened, but it is certainly a plausible explanation.”

Never let it be said that apologists aren’t an inventive bunch.

And if you enjoyed that, as a reward for making it all the way through to here, I present you Trektonics Apologetics Ministries’ definitive proof of the absence of any contradictions in Star Trek.

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