Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Judas' death and evangelical concerns on inaccurate details

There have been a couple of posts concerning Ehrman's take on Paul's knowledge of Judas. It was quite striking for me to discover that this key villain to the gospel-writers is just totally absent everywhere else - how strange that no comparisons or warnings were ever levelled in any of the epistles or imagery taken for Revelation from that act of betrayal. It really is something of a head-scratcher.

But today let us just think for a moment about Judas' death. Some people like to use this as an example of where the Bible contradicts itself - Matthew has him hanging himself in a field that was later purchased with the money Judas had returned to the priests and elders, while Luke has him bursting open and his gut falling out.

Matt Slick of carm.org claims that the two accounts can be reconciled. I am not comfortable with smashing dissimilar stories together like he does here. Yes, what Slick describes the event with: "the rope or branch of the tree probably broke due to the weight, and his body fell down, and his bowels spilled out", not only do I not find that the most "probable" outcome (both writers selecting different details from an identical story), but it also does not really deal with who bought the field.

What is important to this story is that Judas came to a sticky end as Jesus had predicted in the synoptics (it is interesting to note that John makes no mention of Judas after Jesus is handed over, and is also silent on the "woe" warnings Jesus had previously given). So I think the church have basically gone about this the right way - not worrying exactly who purchased the field or when or the exact mode of death (Papias, early church Father, has a third version, you can read more about this here [see also the comments at the bottom] - it may be an attempt at reconciling these two versions, whereby the hanging was actually unsuccessful). Most people understand that Judas felt the worst kind of guilt possible and killed himself, fulfilling what Jesus had said when he said "woe".

Slick's approach could even be harmful to Christianity's historical credibility - what do you think? I'd be interested to see your comments.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks very much for your feedback, really appreciate the interaction.