Monday, October 28, 2019

Falling bodies

This is a quick afterthought to my Ehrman/Williams debate review:

1. A few more reflections on the death of Judas. I'll edit this into my original post. 

The description of events in biblical narration is generally quite sketchy, so there are many variations on how to visualize the an event happened. 

i) Suppose you have a corpse that falls from a hilltop. The slope of a hill means that it's narrower on top but spreads out further down. Depending on the slope, a body could tumble down a hill. It's in one position when it begins the descent, but rolls over and over, picking up speed on the way down. It's in a different position when it reaches bottom.

ii) Or a corpse might begin the descent feetfirst in freefall for several yards, then strike the side of the hill one or more times. Bouncing off the hillside repositions the body. 

There's nothing ingenious about these explanations. They're realistic, commonplace scenarios. 


  1. It's not hard to think of scenarios. Suppose the body was discovered. One person cuts the rope while someone else stands under the body to try and catch it. The person whose job is to catch the body grabs at the legs and this causes the body to tip over so that it hits the ground head first.

  2. I think too we should set aside the idea that "falling headlong" has to mean it was literally completely upside down. If it just goes down bang, flat, prone on the front that could easily be called "falling headlong." And the people who find the corpse are just going to be theorizing about how it fell. It's not like there was an eyewitness to the fall. If they find the corpse down flat on its face and splattered around (not to be too graphic) they could easily say, "He fell headlong."

    That is then very easily satisfied. Just a wind breaking the branch and flinging it and the body hard forward onto the ground from a height would do it.

  3. It's not terribly difficult to reconcile Judas' death in Mt 27:3-10 with Judas' death in Acts 1:18. There are plainly several different ways both accounts could complement one another. Any of which could have occurred. In short, the real issue isn't that these accounts contradict one another like Ehrman assumes. Rather the real issue is we don't have enough information to determine which theory is correct.

  4. I don't know when Judas died. But presumably he would've died around the time Jesus died. If so:

    Matthew notes in the same chapter as Judas' suicide (27:51): "And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split."

    If Judas died around this time, or at least if his body was still hanging at this time, it's possible either/both the earthquake and/or whatever caused the heavy temple curtain to be torn in two (perhaps a strong enough wind?) could have caused Judas' body to "fall headlong" as well.

    Furthermore, Mt 27:45 states "there was darkness over all the land". This darkness could have come about by various means. One possibility is dark clouds. Perhaps storm clouds. If so, then that would fit with a strong wind that could have likewise torn the temple curtain in two.

    Another possibility is the darkness came about due to an eclipse. If so, then perhaps wild dogs or other animals would have had more incentive to come out. They could have latched onto Judas' body and tried to pull it down as Steve mentions in his original post.

  5. Doctor Bart Denton Ehrman has ruled it a contradiction. So all the comments above are all illegitimate and ad hoc appeals to mass, gravity, physics, inertia, postmortem decay et cetera. Turning to everyday realities to harmonize Bible contradictions is an obvious desperate attempt to salvage the dogma of Biblical Inerrancy.

    Oh, I forgot to use the bogey word "Fundamentalist". Fundamentalist.

  6. The death of Kenneth Kantzer's mother sounded like a contradiction, as William Lane Craig recounts in the following video (already cued up):