The Apple Of God's Eye

April 17, 2009

Death of Judas Iscariot: Four Apparant Contradictions Solved!

127Is there a contradiction about the death of Judas Iscariot between Matthew 27:5 and Acts 1:18? Did Judas, after betraying Christ, hang himself or just swell up and burst open? Does it matter that history is completely silent on this issue?

First, to explain to the critics (though it will hardly satisfy), we should understand that God had His Word recorded in such a way that it could be misunderstood. Through one of the prophets we find that the Bible is written “here a little, and there a little” (Isa. 28:10). Each part is true, but the whole truth about a particular subject may not be found in any one verse or chapter. This is one reason Paul said that the Word of God must be rightly divided (II Tim. 2:15). 

By putting the two accounts of Judas’ death TOGETHER we get a clearer idea of what happened. Both events are true, yet there are some details which give critics a hard time, though we have only to apply some common sense. 

1) The first contradiction: Two separate deaths — Both events did not happen at the same time – simple. Matthew wrote that Judas “hanged himself” (Matt. 27:5), giving the means of death. He never denies that Judas fell and had his entrails gush out. Luke explained what happened later. He does not tell us that this is the means of Judas’ death, and he also does not deny that Judas hanged himself. He merely reports the end result. 

2) Second Contradiction: Why does Acts say the body of Judas burst open after a fall? — “Consider the following. When a person dies, the body begins to decompose. If left to itself (and not acted upon by the attempt to preserve the body), bacteria soon begin to break down various tissues. As a result, gases are released within the body, which in turn cause it to swell. A few years ago, the news media reported how a 50-ton sperm whale had beached itself on the shores of Taiwan and died. While on its way to being transported through a Taiwanese city to a particular research center, the swollen whale literally exploded and soaked pedestrians and motorists in blood and entrails. According to one Taiwanese scientist, “Because of the natural decomposing process, a lot of gases accumulated, and when the pressure build-up was too great, the whale’s belly exploded” (“Whale Explodes…,” 2004). In light of such events, it certainly is not difficult to imagine that a dead human body, which may have been swelling for a number of days, could have fallen a short distance (from wherever it was hanging), and easily burst open when striking the ground.” (Apologeticspress.org)

This idea has promise for several reasons: 

a) Judas hanged himself on Passover and before a Sabbath, and no Jew was going to touch the hanging corpse (touching a dead body caused defilement; it would have been work to take it down on the Sabbath; added to that, death by hanging was especially a disgrace; and hoisting a dead body isn’t an attractive vocation if it isn’t on your property). So it may be assumed that Judas hanged himself, his body was heated by the Palestinian sun, blew up, broke or slid through the knot of the rope, and fell down bursting open because of decomposition.

b) Another point to consider why the rope around Judas’ neck broke. Approximately six to nine hours had elapsed, and it was during this time that Judas hanged himself. The Bible relates that when Jesus died, there was an earthquake so mighty that rocks were broken and graves were opened. One may assuredly presume that an earthquake strong enough to rend a rock might also be powerful enough to break a rope or cord, specifically the rope from which Judas was hanging. Consequently, it follows, that while Judas did in fact hang himself, the cord from which he was suspended broke. 

3) Third ContradictionJudas did not really die? — Those who say the narrative is not literal but figurative need to consider Acts chapter 1.  Peter says that he fell headlong, burst asunder in the middle and his bowles gushed out, making it fairly clear that he is talking about someone who died. Luke, who was part of the early church, had no problem believing that Judas Iscariot died.  Also, if Judas Iscariot had not died, he would not have needed to be replaced.  

4) Fourth ContradictionHow could the body of Judas fall headlong if tied by the neck? — Can a body fall headlong from hanging? Would not he legs crash to the ground first? I’m not sure why this particular issue is such a stumbling block to people. The word here rendered “headlong” – πρηνής  prēnēs means properly “bent forward, head-foremost.” So there is little denial this happened. But how did his body rotate 180 degrees upon the rope breaking?

14First, we don’t know the height of the tree. Judas could have used a high branch to hang himself and his body hit another branch as the rope loosed, causing his body to flip? This is possible, but would it not make more sense for Judas to simply choose the lowest branch that he could find; one that was sufficiently high? Probably, since a branch with a branch underneath it may have only gotten in the way. But then again, the lower branch may have caused doubt and since the state of mind of someone bent on suicide is not the most stable, this scenario cannot be fully discounted.

Another scenario would simply state that Judas chose a branch suitably higher than himself and used a nearby rock to climb up to it – perhaps it was right underneath the branch. Once the rope broke, the body would have crashed down feet first into the rock (which could have been of a suitable size) and as such, the body simply pitched forward and fell headlong the rest of the way. It certainly is not an impossible circumstance!

Conclusion

I hope people stop making a huge deal out of nothing at all. The amount of information on the internet about this subject is tremendous, yet most is erroneous and proves a huge lack of faith. The Bible does not always give every detail, yet this does not mean the incident is fictitional. It simply means we have to look deeper into the matter, use faith and common sense. We also have to under stand that critics approach the Bible from the angle that God is lying, which contradicts what the scriptures say, “that God cannot lie” (Tit 1:2).

Advertisements

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: