The two accounts of the death of Judas Iscariot seem directly contradictory. Here's Matthew 27:5-8:
And here's Acts 1:18-19:
There are many problems in harmonising these verses. First, the most obvious: did Judas hang himself, or fall?
The simple reading of Acts is that Judas just fell, and died as a result. But that would be a rather bizarre event. By combining the accounts in Matthew and Acts, things actually make more sense: Judas hung himself and the corpse later fell and burst open. So on this point the two accounts actually fit together quite well. (Having said that, a reader points out that Judas falling "headlong" makes little sense on this view. There are translation problems here though, and "headlong" is not the only possibility, though it is by far the most common choice.)
Did Judas throw the silver away or use it to buy a field? This is as blatant as contradictions come.
Nevertheless: Matthew has the priests of the temple buy a field with Judas's money, and so some suggest that, by extension, Judas "acquired the field". This is the view of the NIV Study Bible:
The ESV Study Bible says the same. But this interpretation seems to stretch the meanings of words beyond recognition. The real meaning of Acts is seems clear: Judas bought the field himself.
In Matthew's account, the "blood money" that Judas returned to the priests was used to buy a field which was later used to bury foreigners. For this reason it became known as the Field of Blood. But Acts tells us that it was so-called simply because this was where Judas fell and his bowels gushed out.
Finally, why was Judas in the field? Under the natural reading of Acts, Judas was in the field because he had purchased it. But if Matthew is correct, this can't be the reason, since he didn't really purchase it.
Tektonics makes a valiant effort to combine everything Matthew and Acts say on the matter, and we end up with an account that looks like this:
While this almost explains everything, it leads to the bizarre result that Judas acquired the field after he was dead! This is, of course, not what Acts says. The sensible reading of Acts is that, while still alive, Judas acquired a field, and then he died in it. The above timeline is therefore ruled out.
If you accept the idea that Judas "acquired the field" when the priests bought it, I think you have to say that this happened before Judas died. He then went to that field to hang himself in. That might work, except that Matthew seems to have Judas kill himself first. Still, if you wish you can say that Matthew is not writing in order.
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