My recent post on Judas Iscariot has raised a number of questions among readers of the blog.  Here is one of them, about Judas’s death.



Do you have any sense of how Judas met his end after the betrayal? Matthew’s version seems at least somewhat plausible, but Act’s doesn’t.  Or maybe he just took the money and moved elsewhere.



              This is an interesting question for a number of reasons.  For one thing, the only writers who thought that Judas’s demise was important enough to deal with were Matthew and Luke – Mark, John, Paul, and all the others are silent on the matter.  As far as we would know from the Gospels of Mark and John, Judas would have lived to be an old man.  They just don’t say.   And Luke doesn’t give an account in his Gospel, but only later in the book of Acts.  Moreover, the account in Acts certainly seems to stand at odds with what Matthew says in his Gospel.

To make sense of it all we need to look at each passage – the one in Matthew and the other in Acts.  This post will deal with the former, the next with the latter, and then I’ll attempt to figure out if we can say anything historically about what actually happened.

The following comes from my study The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot.




Unlike Mark, Matthew tells us what Judas did after the betrayal.  When he saw “that [Jesus] was condemned,” he repented of his deed and brought the thirty pieces of silver back to the chief priests, telling them “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood” (27:3-4).  When they refused to take the money, he threw it down in the temple and “went out and hanged himself.”

The story doesn’t quite end there, however.  The chief priests decide they can’t return the money to the Temple treasury, since “it is blood money” – that is, since it has been connected with the execution of a convicted criminal.  And so they use it to purchase “the potter’s field” as a place to bury strangers.  Because it was a field purchased with blood money, we’re told that the place came to be “called the Field of Blood.”  Matthew indicates that all of this was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price set of the one on whom the some of the children of Israel had set a price, and they gave these for the potters’ field, just as the Lord commanded me” (Matt 27:9-10).

Scholars have long puzzled over why …

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