A few nights ago, my wife and I were discussing the role and aftermath of Judas, so I went to the Scriptures and determined to clarify my position on Judas. This is part 3 of a 3 part series (starting here) in which I examine Judas according to the Scriptures. This is, as always, open to discussion.
Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him– but some of them doubted! (Mat 28:16-17 NLT)
So they rushed back from the tomb to tell his eleven disciples– and everyone else– what had happened. (Luk 24:9 NLT)
And within the hour they were on their way back to Jerusalem. There they found the eleven disciples and the others who had gathered with them, who said, “The Lord has really risen! He appeared to Peter. ” (Luk 24:33-34 NLT)
Matthew seems to be referring to Thomas, the quintessential doubter, and not cannot really be used to to say that Thomas was not with the Apostles in Galilee. Luke, on the other hand lists Eleven Disciples hidden away in a room on the First Day of the Week. In Verse 36, Christ appears in the room, with the Eleven.
But, who were the Eleven? Thomas, if we believe John, was missing:
One of the disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. They told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.” Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. (John 20:24-26 NLT)
Roger Pearse notes that Papias, who by Tradition, was a disciple of the Apostle John (as was Blessed Polycarp) noted a different (perhaps) ending for Judas. He cites a 4th century apologist who wrote:
Judas did not die by hanging, but lived on, having been cut down before choking. And this the Acts of the Apostles makes clear, that falling headlong his middle burst and his bowels poured forth. And Papias the disciple of John records this most clearly, saying thus in the fourth of the Exegeses of the Words of the Lord:
and then one of two versions:
Judas walked about as an example of godlessness in this world, having been bloated so much in the flesh that he could not go through where a chariot goes easily, indeed not even his swollen head by itself. For the lids of his eyes, they say, were so puffed up that he could not see the light, and his own eyes could not be seen, not even by a physician with optics, such depth had they from the outer apparent surface. And his genitalia appeared more disgusting and greater than all formlessness, and he bore through them from his whole body flowing pus and worms, and to his shame these things alone were forced . And after many tortures and torments, they say, when he had come to his end in his own place, from the place became deserted and uninhabited until now from the stench, but not even to this day can anyone go by that place unless they pinch their nostrils with their hands, so great did the outflow from his body spread out upon the earth.
the other being:
Judas lived his career in this world as an enormous example of impiety. He was so swollen in the flesh that he could not pass where a wagon could easily pass. Having been crushed by a wagon, his entrails poured out.
Matthew gives the account this way:
When Judas, who had betrayed him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse. So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he declared, “for I have betrayed an innocent man.” “What do we care?” they retorted. “That’s your problem.” Then Judas threw the silver coins down in the Temple and went out and hanged himself. The leading priests picked up the coins. “It wouldn’t be right to put this money in the Temple treasury,” they said, “since it was payment for murder.” After some discussion they finally decided to buy the potter’s field, and they made it into a cemetery for foreigners. That is why the field is still called the Field of Blood. This fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah that says, “They took the thirty pieces of silver– the price at which he was valued by the people of Israel, and purchased the potter’s field, as the LORD directed. ” (Mat 27:3-10 NLT)
We have distinctive Matthean ques here, namely the action, the result, and the why. The money, thirty pieces of silver, were used to be a potter’s field, according to the words of the prophets. For Luke, the story goes,
(Judas had bought a field with the money he received for his treachery. Falling headfirst there, his body split open, spilling out all his intestines. The news of his death spread to all the people of Jerusalem, and they gave the place the Aramaic name Akeldama, which means “Field of Blood.”) (Act 1:18-19 NLT)
In my opinion, there is not much difference between the Lukan account and that of Papias – no differences which cannot be attributed to an author’s method, especially given that the parenthetical does not mean that it took effect immediately. Further, in a real sense, Judas’ money did purchase the field of blood, so the difference between Matthew and Luke is narrowed. We do know that regardless of anything else, Judas was no longer numbers among the Apostles by the Day of Pentecost.
There is the matter, though of Matthew’s version which describes Judas as going out and hanging himself. In the text, it is seen as something almost immediate, right? In the Synoptics, we have the accounts that Jesus appeared on Resurrection Day to the Eleven Disciples, but in John, we find that Thomas was not present and did not meet Christ for eight days. Is this a contradiction between the Synoptics and John? Or could Judas have found his way for a few days with the disciples and then to die, as Papias would say, eaten alive by infection of his aborted hanging?