Number of the beast
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The number of the beast (Greek: Ἀριθμὸς τοῦ θηρίου, Arithmos tou Thēriou) is the numerological identifier ascribed to the beast from the sea, the first of two symbolic beasts described in the Book of Revelation's thirteenth chapter. In most New Testament manuscripts, the number is rendered as 666, but the variant 616 is found in critical editions of the Greek text, such as the Novum Testamentum Graece.
Catherine Cory has identified the number as having symbolic correlation to the Emperor Nero, whose Greek name transliterated into Hebrew has the numeric value of 666, whereas his Latin name written into Hebrew is 616. In Revelation's narrative, the "mark of the beast" is used to identify the beast's acolytes. The number is one of three choices in Revelation 13:17— "And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name." The "number of his name" is mentioned also in Revelation 15:2 distinctly from his mark. It is widely thought among dispensationalists that the mark will take the form of a number or symbol that will be revealed only during the End Times.
Revelation 13:17-18 
According to Cory, Revelation 13 concerns the vision of two beasts. The first beast emerges from the sea having seven heads inscribed with blasphemous names, reflecting the titles given to Roman emperors ("Lord and Saviour", "Saviour of the World"), considered to be blasphemies in the eyes of Christians. This is followed by a second beast, who emerges from the earth and "speaks like a dragon". He derives his authority from the first beast and probably represents the emperor himself. It is the duty of the second beast to ensure that everyone is required to bear the mark of the first beast on their right hand or forehead, "And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name."
The number of the beast is described in Revelation 13:15–18, and the actual number is only mentioned once, in verse 18. In the Greek manuscripts, the number is rendered in Greek numerical form as χ ξ ϛ, or sometimes literally as ἑξακόσιοι ἑξήκοντα ἕξ, hexakósioi hexēkonta héx, "six hundred and sixty-six". There are several interpretation-translations for the meaning of the phrase "Here is Wisdom, Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast" where the peculiar Greek word ψηφισάτω (psefisato) is used. Possible translations include not only "to count" and "to reckon", but also "to vote" or "to decide".
17καὶ ἵνα μή τις δύνηται ἀγοράσαι ἢ πωλῆσαι εἰ μὴ ὁ ἔχων τὸ χάραγμα, τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ θηρίου ἢ τὸν ἀριθμὸν τοῦ ὀνόματος αὐτοῦ. 18Ὧδε ἡ σοφία ἐστίν· ὁ ἔχων τὸν νοῦν ψηφισάτω τὸν ἀριθμὸν τοῦ θηρίου· ἀριθμὸς γὰρ ἀνθρώπου ἐστί· καὶ ὁ ἀριθμὸς αὐτοῦ χξϛʹ.
In the Novum Testamentum Graece, the number is represented by the final three words, ἑξακόσιοι ἑξήκοντα ἕξ, meaning "six hundred sixty-six":
17καὶ ἵνα μή τις δύνηται ἀγοράσαι ἢ πωλῆσαι εἰ μὴ ὁ ἔχων τὸ χάραγμα, τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ θηρίου ἢ τὸν ἀριθμὸν τοῦ ὀνόματος αὐτοῦ. 18ὧδε ἡ σοφία ἐστίν· ὁ ἔχων νοῦν ψηφισάτω τὸν ἀριθμὸν τοῦ θηρίου, ἀριθμὸς γὰρ ἀνθρώπου ἐστίν· καὶ ὁ ἀριθμὸς αὐτοῦ ἑξακόσιοι ἑξήκοντα ἕξ.
P115 (P. Oxy. 4499), located at Oxford University's Ashmolean Museum, dates to around 300 AD. The manuscript is one of the oldest fragments of Revelation containing Chapters 2–15. It agrees with both Codex Alexandrinus and Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus, two of the best-known witnesses to Revelation. However, only Codex Ephraemi agrees with the number 616, which is argued to be the original reading of the Greek text, written out as: ἑξακόσιοι δέκα ἕξ, hexakosioi deka hex (lit. "six hundred and sixteen").
Although Irenaeus (2nd century AD) affirmed the number to be 666 and reported several scribal errors of the number, he knew about the 616 reading but did not adopt it (Haer. v. 30,3). However, several centuries later, correcting the existing Latin version of the New Testament, commonly referred to as the Vetus Latina, Jerome left 616 in. "The number 666 has been substituted for 616 either by analogy with 888, the [Greek] number of Jesus (Deissmann), or because it is a triangular number, the sum of the first 36 numbers (1+2+3+4+5+6...+36 = 666)".
Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666. (Rev.13:18 – NKJV)
Interpreting the identity and the number of the Beast usually falls into three categories:
- Using gematria to calculate the number of a world leader's name, in order to match it with the number of the Beast.
- Associating the number of the Beast as the duration of the beast's reign, in order to compare the length of reign to an entity, such as: a heathen state, Islam, or the Papacy.
- Corresponding symbolism for the Antichrist and antichristian power.
Numbers were represented by letters in Koine Greek and Ancient Hebrew. The practice of converting Greek letters into Greek numerals is known as isopsephy. In Hebrew, the practice is known as gematria, where every letter corresponds to a number. The sum of these numbers gives a numeric value to a word or name.
Victorinus of Pettau (d. c. 303) gives the names Teitan, Antemos ("opponent"), Diclux ("double dealer") and Genserikos; the last he calls Gothic. As it is plainly Genseric, the Vandal king, who captured Rome in 455 AD, the passage as whole can not go back to Victorinus, who belonged to the 3rd century. It is not, however surprising that the commentary should be brought up to date, after Genseric became notorious through the sack of Carthage and of Rome. Of the other names in Victorinus, only Diclux needs mention. It is said to be the Latin counterpart of Teitan, and by reckoning each letter at its value in Roman numerals, the total of 666 is again given.
Beatus of Liébana (c. 730 – c. 800), a Spanish monk, gives eight names among which are Damnatus ("damned"), Antichristus ("Antichrist"), and Acxyme ("for aichime or achine=666"). The numerical interpretation of Antichristus is based on the order of letters in the Latin alphabet, a = 1 to x = 30, but the accusative must be taken and spelled Antechristum.
Arethas of Caesarea (b. c. 860) in his Commentary on Revelation gives seven names: Lampetis (the lustrous one), o Niketes (victor), Teitan, Palai baskanos (ancient sorcerer), Kakos Odegos (bad guide), Alethes Blaberos (really harmful), and Amnos Adikos (unjust lamb) each of which gives a total of 666. Most of these names are repeated by Arethas of Caesarea, who in his Commentary adds Teitan from Irenaeus and o Niketes (the winner).
Neron Caesar 
It is widely accepted by many scholars that Roman Emperor Nero (ruling 54–68) is the first Beast of Revelation 13. This interpretation was received by enumerating his name and title Neron Caesar to the Number of the Beast. An Aramaic scroll from Murabba'at, dated to "the second year of Emperor Nero", refers to him by his name and title where in Hebrew it is Nron Qsr (pronounced "Nerōn Kaisar"), and in Latin it is Nro Qsr (pronounced "Nerō Kaisar").
- Nron Qsr
|Resh (ר)||Samekh (ס)||Qoph (ק)||Nun (נ)||Vav (ו)||Resh (ר)||Nun (נ)||Sum|
- Nro Qsr
|Resh (ר)||Samekh (ס)||Qoph (ק)||Vav (ו)||Resh (ר)||Nun (נ)||Sum|
In the Nero Redivivus legend, a belief that Nero returns to life is noted that "After Nero's suicide in AD 68, there was a widespread belief, especially in the eastern provinces, that he was not dead and somehow would return (Suetonius, LVII; Tacitus, Histories II.8; Dio, LXVI.19.3). Suetonius (XL) relates how court astrologers had predicted Nero's fall but that he would have power in the east. At least three false claimants did present themselves as Nero redivivus (resurrected)." It has also been suggested that Nero's return to power would be through emperor Domitian, whose style of rulership resembled that of Nero and who put the people of Asia (Lydia) under heavy taxation.
Mark of the beast 
Imperial seal 
The mark A. Gk., charagma, χάραγμα, in Revelation 13:16 had been attributed to the imperial seal of the Roman Empire that was used on official documents during the 1st and 2nd centuries. In the reign of Emperor Decius (249–251 AD), those who did not possess the certificate of sacrifice (libellus) to Caesar could not pursue trades, a prohibition that conceivably goes back to Nero. The significance of this imperial seal had been paralleled to verse 17.
In 66, when Nero was emperor, about the time some scholars say Revelation was written, the Jews revolted against Rome and coined their own money. The Greek word translated as mark (of the beast), χάραγμα, also means stamped money, coin or the impress on the coin hence, "no one buys or sells without the money of the beast."
New Testament scholar Craig C. Hill suggests that the mark symbolized the all-embracing economic power of Rome, whose very coinage bore the emperor's image and conveyed his claims to divinity (e.g., by including the sun's rays in the ruler's portrait). Zealot Christians from the 1st century refused to carry, look at, or manufacture coins bearing any sort of idolatrous image. Thus it had become increasingly difficult for Christians to function in a world in which public life, including the economic life of the trade guilds, required participation in idolatry. Adela Yarbro Collins further denotes that the refusal to use Roman coins resulted in the condition where "no man might buy or sell" (Rev.13:17).
A similar view is offered by Craig R. Koester, "As sales were made, people used coins that bore the images of Rome's gods and emperors. Thus each transaction that used such coins was a reminder that people were advancing themselves economically by relying on political powers that did not recognize the true God."
The passage is also seen as an antithetical parallelism to tefillin (small black leather boxes containing scrolls of parchment inscribed with verses from the Torah). Instead of binding their allegiance to God to their arm and head, the place is instead taken with people's allegiance to the beast.
Belief systems 
In the writings of the Bahá'í Faith, `Abdu'l-Bahá states that the numerical value given to the beast referred to the year when the Umayyad ruler Muawiyah I, (who opposed the Imamate according to the beliefs of the Shi'ites) took office as Caliph in 661 AD. He continued to pay the tax required of nonbelievers who were excluded from government and the military, and thus bore a social "mark". See also the scholarly accepted year of birth of Jesus about 666 years before.
- Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses believe that the beast for which 666 stands symbolizes many unified governments, harmonizing with the symbolic depiction of past governments (denoted as "kings") in the Book of Daniel as wild beasts. The beast is said to have "a human number" in that the governments that the beast symbolizes are all of a human origin, they aren't made up of spirit or demon entities. Furthermore, the number 666 "itself all point to one unmistakable conclusion— gross shortcoming and failure in the eyes of Jehovah," thus imperfection (7 is used by God in many ways to indicate perfection such as days in the week, hence 6 is the number of imperfection, falling short of 7).
In Kabbalistic Judaism the number 666 represents the creation and perfection of the world. The world was created in 6 days, and there are 6 cardinal directions (North, South, East, West, Up, Down).
- Seventh-day Adventists
Seventh-day Adventists believe that the mark of the beast (but not the number 666) refers to a future, universal, legally enforced Sunday-worship. "Those who reject God's memorial of creatorship—the Bible Sabbath—choosing to worship and honor Sunday in the full knowledge that it is not God's appointed day of worship, will receive the 'mark of the beast.'" "The Sunday Sabbath is purely a child of the Papacy. It is the mark of the beast."
See also 
- Garrow 1997, p. 86.
- Beale 1999, p. 718: "the number is that of the first beast who is described in 13:1-8, not of the second beast described in vv 11-16".
- Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle and Aland, 1991, footnote to verse 13:18 of Revelation, page 659: "-σιοι δέκα ἕξ" as found in C [C=Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus]; for English see Metzger's Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, note on verse 13:18 of Revelation, page 750: "the numeral 616 was also read ..."
- Cory 2006, p. 61.
- Cory 2006, p. 57.
- Cory 2006, p. 59.
- Cory 2006, p. 58.
- "Revelation 13:18". Stephanus New Testament. Bible Gateway. Retrieved 22 June 2006.
- "Revelation 13:18". Westcott-Hort New Testament. Bible Gateway. Retrieved 22 June 2006.
- "Revelation 13:18" (JPEG). Codex Alexandrinus. Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts. Archived from the original on 23 March 2006. Retrieved 22 June 2006.
- Samuel Fuller, The Revelation of St. John the Divine self-interpreted, page 226
- Textus Receptus Greek NT (edition Stephanus, 1550): Revelation 13:17 and 18
- Revelation in the 26th/27th edition of the Novum Testamentum Graece
- Parker 2009, p. 73
- Stewart 2011, pp. 40–41.
- "Papyrus Reveals New Clues to Ancient World". News.nationalgeographic.com. Retrieved 11 August 2010. Unknown parameter
- Comfort 2000, p. 66.
- Schnabel 2012, p. 187.
- Philip W Comfort and David P Barrett, The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts, (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers Incorporated, 2001)
- Anderson, Tom (1 May 2005). "Revelation! 666 is not the number of the beast (it's a devilish 616)". The Independent (London). Retrieved 1 March 2009.
- Hoskier, Herman C. (1929). Concerning the Text of the Apocalypse: A complete conspectus of all authorities (vol. 2 ed.). p. 364.
- De Monogramm., ed. Dom G Morin in the Rev. Benedictine, 1903
- Paul Lewes, A Key to Christian Origins (Watts & Co., London, 1932, p. 140
- (DCXVI, ed. Souter in the Journal of Theology, SE, April 1913)
- Beale 1999, p. 718.
- Henry A. Sanders (1918) "The Number of the Beast in Revelation", Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 37, No. 1/2. (1918), pp. 95–99 (Subscription required for JSTOR link.)
- Garrow 1997, p. 86: (Bauckham, 1993, p. 387).
- Just, Felix (2 February 2002). "666: The Number of the Beast". Retrieved 6 June 2006.
- Some Recently Published NT Papyri from Oxyrhynchus: An Overview and Preliminary Assessment by Peter M. Head, Tyndale Bulletin 51 (2000), pp. 1–16 http://www.tyndale.cam.ac.uk/Tyndale/staff/Head/NTOxyPap.htm#_ftn39
- Hillers, D. R. (1963). Revelation 13:18 and A Scroll from Murabba'at. BASOR, 170. p. 65.
- Hillers, D.R. (1963). "Revelation 13:18 and a Scroll from Murabba'at". Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 170 (170): 65. doi:10.2307/1355990. JSTOR 1355990. Unknown parameter
|curly=ignored (help) Note: website requires subscription. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary. Ed. Raymond E. Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, and Roland E. Murphy. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1990. 1009
- Harpers Bible Commentary, ed. James L. Mays (Harper Collins: San Francisco:1988), 1300
- An introduction to the New Testament and the origins of Christianity by Delbert Royce Burkett, p.510
- Encyclopedia of Prophecy by Geoffrey Ashe, p.204
- From every people and nation: the book of Revelation in intercultural perspective, p.193
- Elwell 1996, p. 462
- Haines 1995, pp. 41–2
- Henry George Liddell & Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon. Revised and augmented throughout by Sir Henry Stuart Jones with the assistance of Roderick McKenzie. Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1940.
- Craig C. Hill (2002), In God's Time: The Bible and the Future, Eerdmans; p. 124
- Adela Yarbro Collins (1984), Crisis and Catharsis: The Power of the Apocalypse, Westminster John Knox Press, p.126
- "Collins, 1984, p. 126: Adela Yarbro Collins writes, "The juxtaposition of buying and selling with the mark of the beast refers to the fact that Roman coins normally bore the image and name of the current emperor. "The inability to buy or sell would then be the result of the refusal to use Roman coins."
- Craig R. Koester (2001), Revelation and the End of All Things, Eerdmans; p. 132
- Paul Spilsbury (2002), The Throne, the Lamb and the Dragon: A Reader's Guide to the Book of Revelation, InterVarsity Press; p. 99
- Research Department of the Universal House of Justice (7 January 1986). "Interpretation of Biblical Verses". Bahá'í Library. Retrieved 16 May 2007.
- "Student Resources, Chapter 12: The First Global Civilization: The Rise and Spread of Islam, The Arab Empire of the Umayyads – Converts and "People of the Book"". Occawlonline.pearsoned.com. Retrieved 11 August 2010.
- "Identifying the Wild Beast and Its Mark". The Watchtower. 1 April 2004. Retrieved 29 June 2006. Unknown parameter
- "Six Six Six " Ask The Rabbi " Ohr Somayach". Ohr.edu. Retrieved 17 July 2010.
- Seventh-day Adventists Believe (2nd ed). Ministerial Association, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. 2005. p. 196.
- Advent Review, Vol. I, No. 2, August, 1850.
- Beale, G.K. (1999). Revelation: a commentary on the Greek text (3. Dr. ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. ISBN 978-0-8028-2174-4.
- Comfort, Philip W. (2000). The essential guide to Bible versions. Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers. ISBN 9780842334846.
- Cory, Catherine A. (2006). The Book of Revelation. Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press. ISBN 978-0-8146-2885-0.
page 59 "second beast"
- Elwell, ed. by Walter A. (1996). Evangelical dictionary of biblical theology. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books [u.a.] ISBN 0-8010-2049-2. More than one of
- Garrow, A.J.P. (1997). Revelation. London.: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-14641-8. More than one of
- Haines, C. Marvin Pate & Calvin B. (1995). Doomsday delusions: what's wrong with predictions about the end of the world. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press. ISBN 978-0-8308-1621-7.
- Parker, David C. (2009). Manuscripts, texts, theology: collected papers 1977–2007 ([Online-Ausg.]. ed.). Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. p. 73. ISBN 978-3-11-021193-1.
- Hill, Craig C. (2002). In God's Time: The Bible and the Future. Eerdmans.
- Stewart, Bart D. Ehrman & Daniel B. Wallace in dialogue; Robert B. (2011). The reliability of the New Testament. Minneapolis: Fortress Press. ISBN 978-0-8006-9773-0.
- Schnabel, Eckhard (2012). 40 questions about the end times. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications. ISBN 9780825438967.
Further reading 
- Kleinhenz, edited by Christopher; LeMoine, Fannie J. (1999). Fearful hope: approaching the new millennium. Madison, Wis.: University of Wisconsin Press. ISBN 978-0-299-16434-8.
- CYB (2005). In Brian Singer-Towns. The Catholic youth Bible: New American Bible including the revised Psalms and the revised New Testament (Rev. ed.). Winona, Minn.: Saint Mary's Press. ISBN 9780884897989.