Contradiction About The Death Of Judas?

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It is written:

Matthew 27:3-5-Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4  saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” And they said, “What is that to us? You see to it!” 5  Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself.


Acts 1:16-19-Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus; 17  for he was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry.” 18  (Now this man purchased a field with the wages of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out. 19  And it became known to all those dwelling in Jerusalem; so that field is called in their own language, Akel Dama, that is, Field of Blood.)

Eric Lisle wrote a powerful book some years ago regarding alleged Bible contradictions.

He noted:

“What is the critic’s most common error? Amazingly, it is a simple failure to read the text carefully and in context. This is the kind of error we expect from a six-year-old who is just beginning to read. But for an adult to make this kind of mistake so frequently is simply inexcusable. Is this really what passes for scholarship among Bible critics? In the political arena, people will sometimes intentionally take their opponent’s words out of context in a deliberate and unethical attempt to make their opponent look foolish. Is this what the Bible critic has done in his list? Or is the critic so eager in his attempt to mock Christianity that he is simply careless in his research? Either option does not speak well of the critic. The second most common error the critic makes is the bifurcation fallacy—presenting two options as if they are the only two and are incompatible, when in reality a third option exists. Of these, most examples amount to compatible differences, akin to the statements “the car is fast” and “the car is red.” The statements certainly differ. But there is no contradiction at all—no reason why both cannot be true. So, was Abraham justified by faith or by works? “Both”—of course—is the answer (see #139). Was Abiham’s mother called “Micaiah” as in 2 Chronicles 13: 2 or “Maachah” as in 1 Kings 15: 2? “Both” again is the answer. Equivocation was the third most common error—the conflation of different meanings for a word that has more than one meaning. Context determines meaning, and we’ve already seen from the critic’s most common error that he really isn’t interested in reading the text of Scripture in context. Many of his equivocation fallacies assumed that no two people have ever had the same name. Also, as #293 and #385 illustrate, there are many times when an English word is used to translate more than one Hebrew or Greek word. If these differences in original vocabulary are ignored (as a hasty conclusion of “inconsistency” is alleged) this constitutes an equivocation fallacy. The failure to distinguish different times was the fourth most common of the critic’s errors. Some things are true at one time, and false at a different time. This is not contradictory. Of course, the number of people from a particular family who returned from Babylon will be different at one time from another time. So, naturally, there will be some numerical differences between the list in Ezra chapter 2 and the list in Nehemiah chapter 7. That’s hardly surprising, since the Nehemiah list was found a century later and therefore includes additions for late arrivals and deletions for those who moved away. One critic chose to list this as 17 separate alleged contradictions, perhaps to make his list look longer than it really is. He even distributed them among the other examples, perhaps hoping that no one would notice. If so, this would be the fallacy of elephant hurling—particularly since not one of these 17 examples is genuinely contradictory. The above considerations prompt us to ask, “Do Bible critics do any legitimate research on these issues?” We can only conclude from this study that at least most critics do not. These oft-repeated examples are not carefully researched at all. It should be clear that most of the examples on the list were very obviously not contradictory at all when read in context. Only 9 (2%) required us to consult the original language to resolve any perceived problem. Only 8 required textual transmission analysis to resolve. If anyone did bother to check the list, he or she surely would have seen this. We must therefore conclude that these critics are not concerned about being honest. If this is the best that the critics have to offer, then the Christian worldview really has no serious competition at all.” (Dr. Jason Lisle, Keeping Faith in an Age of Reason: Refuting Alleged Bible Contradictions, 236-238 (Kindle Edition): Green Forest, AR: Master Books)

An example of this kind of error in logic may be seen from the criticism that is often made regarding the death of Judas. One account says that Judas hanged himself: another states that Judas fell headlong into a valley and his entrails gushed out. Critics claim that this is a contradiction here: yet a little study demonstrates that this is not the case at all.

How could this alleged contradiction be resolved?

First, there is no reason to think that Judas could not have hanged himself, and also at a later time his body fell headlong into the valley. Quite often, alleged Bible contradictions are cleared up easily by noticing that some events may be describing different timeframes. Ken Ham well points out:

“But what constitutes a contradiction? Most alleged biblical contradictions are not even “apparent” contradictions because there is no necessary conflict between the two propositions….A contradiction is a proposition and its negation (symbolically written, “A and not A”) at the same time and in the same relationship. The law of non-contradiction states that a contradiction cannot be true: “It is impossible to have A and not A at the same time and in the same relationship.” The last part of this definition is crucially important.” (Ken Ham, Demolishing Supposed Bible Contradictions: Volume One-Exploring Forty Alleged Contradictions, 13 (Kindle Edition); Green Forest, AR; Master Books).


“For there to be a legitimate contradiction in the Bible, one must be referring to the same person, place, or thing in the same sense at the same time. Suppose that someone says, “Terry Anthony is rich,” and “Terry Anthony is poor.” Do those two statements contradict each other? Not necessarily. How do you know the same Terry Anthony is under consideration in both statements? It could be that Terry Anthony in Oklahoma is rich, but Terry Anthony in Tennessee is poor. The same person, place, or thing must be under consideration. Furthermore, the same time period must be under consideration. Terry Anthony could have made a fortune in his early 20s as a business consultant and been very rich, but after a terrible stock market crash, lost everything he owned. At one time, then, he was rich, but now he is poor. The two statements could have been accurately describing his life at the time each was made. Also, the same sense must be under consideration. Terry Anthony could have more money than anyone else in the entire world, but if he is not following God, then he is poor. On the other hand, he could have absolutely no money, but be rich in spiritual blessings. After all, “Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith” (James 2: 5)? These examples reveal that a mere difference does not make a contradiction. For a thing both to be and not to be for the same person, place, or thing in the same sense at the same time is a contradiction. But, if it cannot be shown that these three things are all the same, then one cannot say truthfully that there is a contradiction.” (Kyle Butt, Eric Lyons, Wayne Jackson, Surveying the Evidence by Kyle Butt, Eric Lyons, 1760-1771 (Kindle Edition): Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press, Inc.)

It is possible that Judas hanged himself (per Matthew), and then some time later his body plunged into the valley (per Luke in Acts).

Second, Brad Harrub goes into great details bout this, demonstrating from a scientific point of view how this two accounts may be easily reconciled.

“One of the favorite alleged contradictions that skeptics like to use is the method of death for Judas. In Matthew 27: 5 we read, “He [Judas] threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself” (Matthew 27: 5, emp. added). However, in speaking of Judas, Acts 1: 18 records, “Now this man purchased a field with the wages of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out” (Acts 1: 18). So which was it? Did Judas hang himself as Matthew indicated, or did he fall headlong and burst in the middle? Atheists are quick to point out these two different scenarios and boldly proclaim that the Bible is not inspired. However, a more scholarly investigation reveals that both instances could (and did) occur. When the body dies, bacteria that are normally kept in check inside the body begin to immediately multiply and produce gases, which cause the body to swell up. [Today we don’t worry about this much thanks to preparations made at funeral homes.] A quick look at animals killed on the side of the road will attest to this truth, as their bodies can oftentimes be seen swollen and bloated. When Judas hung himself, his body experienced this same phenomenon, with bacteria producing gases as his body was suspended in the sun. While we are not told how he was brought down, two very good possibilities exist: either (1) he was cut down prior to the observance of special religious days (e.g., Sabbath); or (2) the rope he used eventually broke due to the weight. In either case, we can see how his body would fall—headfirst, as the torso is heavier than the legs—and then the bloated body burst open to reveal his entrails. Did Judas hang himself? Yes. Did his body burst after hitting the ground? Definitely. Are these two different accounts contradictory, leaving the inspiration of the Bible in question? Absolutely not!” (Ph.D. Brad Harrub, Convicted: A Scientist Examines the Evidence for Christianity, 69 (Kindle Edition): Brentwood, TN: Focus Press)

It is an encouragement to Christians to know that no true Bible contradiction has ever been found within the pages of Scripture.

“When all the facts are considered, each alleged biblical contradiction has been shown to be something other than a legitimate contradiction. That is a powerful statement, considering the fact that no book in the world has been examined more closely or scrutinized more carefully. After the Bible has been put under the high-powered microscope of hostile criticism, and dissected by the razor-sharp scalpel of supposed contradictions, it rises from the surgery with no scratches or scars, none the worse for wear.” (Kyle Butt, Behold! The Word of God, 644 (Kindle Edition): Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press, Inc.)

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

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