Reconcile the seeming difference in the description of Judas
Posted by catholicfaithdefender on March 31, 2008
Question: How do you reconcile the seeming difference in the description of Judas’ demise between Mt 27:5 (hangs himself) and Acts 1:18 (“Now this man bought a field with the reward of his wickedness; and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out”)? Is the “man” mentioned in Acts 18 referring to Judas or some other man who bought the field?
Answer: The Bible is referring to Judas in both accounts. I was just standing on Mount Zion two days ago looking down into the Hinnom Valley at the place where Judas hanged himself.
The Greek for “fell to his death” means, literally, “having become prone.” And the term “fell headlong” seems to have been a medical term for “swelling up” which certainly would happen if he was left hanging for any period of time. Augustine harmonizes by suggesting he hanged himself and then fell, by his own mistake or when someone cut him down. In other words, he hung himself and maybe the rope broke or slipped and Judas plunged to the ground to be gashed open by rocks or some other object below.
One commentary states it this way: “ ‘And becoming prone, he burst in the middle, and all his entrails poured out’ (literal translation). The NIV probably is right in interpreting the strange phrase “becoming prone” as “fell headlong.” The picture is that of a fall so severe as to open his body cavity and cause his inner organs (splanchna) to spill out. In consequence of this gory death the field became known by Jerusalem locals as Akeldama” (Polhill, J. B. (2001, c1992). Vol. 26: Acts (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (92). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers).