I'm glad you brought this up. I find it fascinating to see how folks deal with real or apparent contradictions in Scripture.
Originally Posted by duxrow
I think most folks who have been bothered by this question are Christians. Sure, the skeptics point to it as an obvious contradiction, but thoughtful believing Christians are usually quite disturbed by it when they first encounter it too.
Now your attempted solution is just that - an attempt to "fix" the Bible by adding ideas that are not actually stated in the text. You don't know things happened the way you say, and worse, the fact that you have to make up a story to fix the Bible proves that the Bible is in itself insufficient as our "only guide." It has lots of "holes" that need to be filled in with speculation. So even if your explanation were correct, the fact you need such an explanation proves that the Bible is far from perfect or complete. And you must answer this big question: Why did God want the Bible to look like it has contradictions and errors?
And more importantly, the solution you suggest does not seem to work. Why did Judas hang himself? Because he was remorseful for his role in the death of Christ:
Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. 5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. 6 And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. 7 And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in. 8 Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day. 9 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; 10 And gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me.So in Matthew, we see that Judas repented and threw the money back to the priests who had given it to him. He wanted nothing to do with the money, and he felt so guilty that he hanged himself.
Now let's look at what Luke said in Acts concerning this "same" event:
Acts 1:16 Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. 17 For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. 18 Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. 19 And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.Who purchased the field? Luke says Judas and Matthew says the priests. This is a flat out contradiction. So now you need to invent another speculation to "harmonize" these two stories. Most folks claim that we can say Judas bought the field because the priests used his money when they bought the field. Fine. But note, that's not what the text says, and so you are adding to Scripture if you choose to tell that tale.
But there are other much larger problems. First, you now have to assume that Judas went and hung himself NOT in the field that he himself bought (as Acts states), but in the field that the priests bought. Isn't that a little odd? Are we supposed to believe that Judas, wracked with grief and guilt, somehow found out that the priests had bought a field with his money (how would he know that) and that the field "just happened" to have a tree from which he could hang himself? That's a lot of "logic" and "forethought" for a man caught in the throes of suicidal guilt.
And there's yet another problem based of the order of events implied in Matthew. The text says that Judas repented, threw the many to the priests, and then "departed and hung himself." It is only then, after Judas hung himself, that the priests bought the field. So now we have to invent yet another weird scenario in which the priests go and purchase the field where Judas is hanging. But they couldn't do that, because the priests could not by land that was defiled with a dead body hanging from a tree! But even if they did purchase the defiled field, the order of events in Matthew and Acts are incompatible.
And now we come to the greatest contradiction of all. Matthew tells us that Judas was REPENTANT whereas Acts says that he "bought the field with the "reward of iniquity" - giving no indication whatsoever that he was repentant. The fact that his guts spilled out on the very field he bought with the reward of iniquity is a classic expression of "divine retribution" upon an unrepentant sinner common in the ancient near east and the Bible.
Thus, Matthew and Acts are fundamentally contradictory on these following points:
1) Who bought the field?
2) When was the field bought? Before or after Judas died?
3) Did Judas repent?
You assertion that only "skeptics" and folks who don't "want to believe the Bible" have problems with the contradictions in the Bible is obviously false. The problems are really there, and they cannot be simply dismissed by anyone who claims to love the truth.