According to the original text of Acts 1:18, Judas purchased the field (not acquired/obtained). According to Matthew 27, the chief priests bought it.

Acts 1:18 Now this man purchased a field with the reward for his wickedness, and falling headlong, his body burst open, and all his intestines gushed out.

Mathew 27: 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.

Doesn't seem as two different stories?

  • I saw a movie once where Judas hanged himself and then the branch broke and he fell to the rocks below - his body bursting open. I suggest that is how a literalist would combine the stories. Me, I'd rather not waste time figuring it out. The moral of the story is similar. Nov 4, 2013 at 15:37

1 Answer 1


This contradiction seems to be a little embarrassing for some Biblical literalists, given the effort put into explaining away the differences between Matthew and Acts, both in terms of who bought the field and how Judas died. Both accounts were written anonymously, long after the time of the crucifixion, so there should be no surprise that the accounts differ, if we accept that the two accounts were not written by eyewitnesses, nor by any contemporary. After all, how could the author of Matthew's Gospel, writing in the eighties of the first century, or the author of Acts, writing later in the nineties or early in the second century, possibly know what Judas said to the priests or what he did with the money?

The author of Matthew's account appears to have based this account on Zechariah 11:14, in which he [the traitor] hurled the thirty pieces of silver back [to the potter] in the temple. He also relied on 2 Samuel 15:12-17:23 for the story of the traitor hanging himself. Similar explanations exist for the version in Acts of the Apostles. This means that neither account is really true, but they were literary creations for theological purposes. They differ because neither author knew what the other author wrote.

There was no potter's field, and probably no forty pieces of silver with which to buy the field.

  • @GoneQuiet very true! I'm not sure how a biblical literalist would feel about your statement though. They may dismiss that link and suggest that the prior was written to match the future case. Nov 4, 2013 at 15:47

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