Number of the beast
The Number of the Beast (Greek: Ἀριθμὸς τοῦ θηρίου, Arithmos tou Thēriou) is a term in the Book of Revelation, of the New Testament, that is associated with the Beast of Revelation in chapter 13. In most manuscripts of the New Testament and in English translations of the Bible, the number of the Beast is 666. In critical editions of the Greek text, such as the Novum Testamentum Graece, it is noted that 616 is a variant.
- 1 Revelation 13:18
- 2 Interpretations
- 3 See also
- 4 Footnotes
- 5 References
- 6 External links
The Number of the Beast is described in the passage of 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 χξϛʹ, or sometimes literally as ἑξακόσιοι ἑξήκοντα ἕξ, hexakósioi hexēkonta héx, "six hundred and sixty-six". There are several interpretations-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", "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.
Although Irenaeus (2nd century AD) affirmed the number to be 666 and reported several scribal errors of the number, there is still a minority of theologians who have doubt about the original reading because of the figure 616 being given in Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus (C; Paris), one of the four great uncial codices, as well as by the Latin version of Tyconius (DCXVI, ed. Souter in the Journal of Theology, SE, April 1913), and by an ancient Armenian version (ed. Conybaere, 1907). Irenaeus knew about the 616 reading, but did not adopt it (Haer. v.30,3). However, several centuries later, correcting the existing Latin language version of the New Testament, commonly referred to as the Vetus Latina, Jerome left it in. (De Monogramm., ed. Dom G Morin in the Rev. Benedictine, 1903). "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)"
Around 2005, a fragment from Papyrus 115, taken from the Oxyrhynchus site, was discovered at the Oxford University’s Ashmolean Museum. It gave the beast’s number as 616. This fragment happens to be the oldest manuscript (about 1,700 years old) of Revelation 13 to date.
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.
Identification by gematria
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)
In Greek isopsephy and Hebrew gematria, every letter has a corresponding number. Summing these numbers gives a numeric value to a word or name. The use of isopsephy to calculate "the number of the beast" is used in many of the below interpretations.
Preterist theologians typically support the numerical interpretation that 666 is the equivalent of the name and title, Nero Caesar (Roman Emperor from 54-68). Charagma is well attested to have been an imperial seal of the Roman Empire 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, reminding one of Revelation 13:17.
Preterists argue (with others) that Revelation was written before the destruction of the Temple, with Nero exiling John to Patmos. Most scholars, however, argue it was written after Nero committed suicide in AD 68. The Catholic Encyclopedia has noted that Revelation was "written during the latter part of the reign of the Roman Emperor Domitian, probably in A.D. 95 or 96". Additional Protestant scholars are in agreement. Because some believe Revelation 13 speaks of a future prophetic event, "All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." (Revelation 13:8 NKJV), some have argued that the interpretation of Nero meeting the fulfillment is an impossibility if Revelation was written around 30 years after the death of Nero. However, rumors circulated that Nero had not really died and would return to power. It has also been suggested that the numerical reference to Nero was a code to imply but not directly point out emperor Domitian, whose style of rulership resembled that of Nero and who put the people of Asia (Lydia), whom the Book of Revelation was primarily addressed to at the time, under heavy taxation. The popular Nero Redivivus legend stating that Nero would return to life can also be noted; "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. And, indeed, at least three false claimants did present themselves as Nero redivivus (resurrected)."
An Aramaic scroll from Murabba'at, dated to "the second year of Emperor Nero", refers to him by his name and title. In Hebrew it is Nron Qsr (Pronounced "Nerōn Kaisar"). 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|
Gematria has also been used with the word Maometis (Greek: Μαομετις); which scholars have described as a dubiously obscure Latinsation of a Greek transliteration of an Arabic word. In Quia Maior, the encyclical calling for the Fifth Crusade, Pope Innocent III identifies Muhammad with the beast of Revelation, although later popes did not. A leading exponent of the Maometis interpretation was Charles Walmesley, the Roman Catholic bishop of Rama. He falsely claimed that the name Muhammad was spelled Maometis or Moametis by Euthymius Zygabenus and the Greek historians Zonaras and Cedrenus. Sources indicate that Euthymius Zygabenus and Zonaras wrote the name as Maometh and Cedrenus wrote the name Mouchoumet none of which is the "Maometis" in question. Other proponents include Charles Montagu[who?], Gilbert Genebrard, Francois Feuardent, and Rene Massuet. Maometis in Greek numerals totals 666:
In the 1923 book The Number And Names Of The Apocalyptic Beasts, David Thom rejects "Maometis" as a valid translation, observing that "of the seven different ways in which Muhammad’s name is written in Euthymius and the Byzantine historians, not one is the orthography in question". None of the given spellings add up to 666 under Greek gematria.
Other suggested names
- Arethas of Caesarea 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).
- Victorinus of Pettau 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 or 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, 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 = 300, but the accusative must be taken and spelled Antechristum.
Mark of the Beast
The mark (Ancient Greek: charagma, χάραγμα) is mentioned in Revelation 13:16.
A preterist view of the Mark of the Beast is the stamped image of the emperor's head on every coin of the Roman Empire: the stamp on the hand or in the mind of all, without which no one could buy or sell. New Testament scholar Craig C. Hill says, "It is far more probable that the mark symbolizes 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). 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." 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 the Jewish institution of tefillin – Hebrew Bible texts worn bound to the arm and the forehead during daily prayer. Instead of binding their allegiance to God to their arm and head, the place is instead taken with people's allegiance to The Beast.
The idealist perspective on the number of the beast rejects gematria, envisioning the number not as a code to be broken, but a symbol to be understood. Idealists would contend that because there are so many names that can come to 666 and that most systems require converting names to other languages or adding titles when convenient, it has been impossible to come to a consensus. Given that numbers are used figuratively throughout the book of revelation, idealists interpret this number figuratively as well. The common suggestion is that because seven is a number of completeness and is associated with the divine, that six is incomplete and the three sixes are "inherently incomplete". The number is therefore suggestive that the Dragon and his beasts are completely inadequate.
A futurist view of the Mark of the Beast is that the rise of a supranational currency could be a hallmark of the End Times and that the mark of the beast will be a sign on the forehead or on the right hand.
Religious difficulties with a world currency currently exist. According to the Futurist view, to overcome the extant difficulties the Antichrist will use forced religious syncretism (i.e. in the name of counterterrorism and world economic stability) to enable the creation of the supranational currency. Some interpret the mark as a requirement for all commerce to mean that the mark might actually be an object with the function of a credit card, such as RFID microchip implants. In Christianity, some believe the implantation of chips may be the imprinting of the Mark of the Beast, prophesied to be a requirement for all trade, and a precursor to the events of the Book of Revelation.
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."
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, (see also the scholarly accepted year of birth of Jesus about 666 years before as well as the concept of Mawali who were non-Arab Muslims but not treated as other Muslims) who continued to pay the tax required of nonbelievers and were excluded from government and the military, and thus bore a social "mark".
- 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). 6 is also the numerical value of one of the letters of God's name.
- Beale 1999, p. 718
- 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 ..."
- "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
- 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.
- Paul Lewes, A Key to Christian Origins (Watts & Co., London, 1932, p. 140
- Stewart 2011, pp. 40–1
- "Papyrus Reveals New Clues to Ancient World". News.nationalgeographic.com. Archived from the original on 2008-01-10. Retrieved 31 March 2014.
- Hoskier, Herman C. (1929). Concerning the Text of the Apocalypse: A complete conspectus of all authorities (vol. 2 ed.). p. 364.
- Philip W Comfort and David P Barrett, The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts, (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers Incorporated, 2001)
- Cory 2006, p. 61
- Garrow 1997, p. 86
- sources, translated from the original languages with critical use of all the ancient (2005). The Catholic youth Bible: New American Bible including the revised Psalms and the revised New Testament (Rev. ed. ed.). Winona, Minn.: Saint Mary's Press. ISBN 978-0-88489-798-9.
- Just, Felix (2 February 2002). "666: The Number of the Beast". Retrieved 6 June 2006.
- 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. 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
- 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
- (whose name, written in Aramaic, can be valued at 666, using the Hebrew numerology of gematria), a manner of speaking against the emperor without the Roman authorities knowing. Also "Nero Caesar" in the Hebrew alphabet is נרון קסר NRON QSR, which when used as numbers represent 50 200 6 50 100 60 200, which add to 666. The Greek term χάραγμα (charagma, "mark" in Revelation 13:16) was most commonly used for imprints on documents or coins.
- Elwell 1996, p. 462
- Haines 1995, pp. 41–2
- Robinson, J. (1976). Before Jerusalem fell
- Holding, J. P. Dating and interpreting revelation: A preterist perspective
- Our Sunday Visitor's Catholic Encyclopedia, p. 861
- Understanding Bible Prophecy for Yourself by Tim LaHaye p. 126
- Hegel's grand synthesis: a study of being, thought, and history By Daniel Berthold-Bond p. 118, notes in consensus that Revelation was written around 95 AD
- Understanding the book of revelation by dr. terri lewis - He along with other scholars note that Revelation was written about 95 AD.
- books.google.com Your Study of the New Testament Made Easier Part 2: Acts Through Revelation], By David J. Ridges p. 409 - states "The book of Revelation was written by the Apostle John about AD 95"
- books.google.com The New York Times guide to essential knowledge], By The New York Times p. 73
- 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
- Hillers, D. R. (1963). Revelation 13:18 and A Scroll from Murabba'at. BASOR, 170. p. 65.
- The Gentleman's Magazine, Volume 10. Retrieved 31 March 2014.
- The contribution of British writers ... - Google Books. Books.google.ca. 1983. ISBN 978-3-16-144497-5. Retrieved 17 July 2010.
- The Number and Names of the Apocalyptic Beasts: With an Explanation and Application in Two Parts. Part 1. The Number and Names. Retrieved 31 March 2014.
- 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.)
- Paul Spilsbury (2002), The throne, the lamb & the dragon: A Reader's Guide to the Book of Revelation, InterVarsity Press; p. 99
- Craig C. Hill (2002), In God's Time: The Bible and the Future, Eerdmans; p. 124
- Craig R. Koester (2001), Revelation and the End of All Things, Eerdmans; p. 132
- Stan Campbell and James S. Bell (2001). The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Book of Revelation. Alpha Books. pp. 212–213. ISBN 9780028642383.
- Beale, Gregory K. (1999). The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 722. ISBN 080282174X. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
- "Here Comes the Beast (Revelation 13:1–18)". Bible.org. Retrieved 11 August 2010.
- "Verse-by-Verse Commentary by Dr. Grant C. Richison". Versebyversecommentary.com. 31 December 1998. Retrieved 11 August 2010.
- Scheeres, Julia (25 November 2003). "When Cash Is Only Skin Deep". Wired News (wired.com). Retrieved 25 November 2003.
- "Revelation 14:9-11". Bible Gateway. Retrieved 3 July 2010.
- Albrecht, Katherine; McIntyre, Liz (31 January 2006). The Spychips Threat: Why Christians Should Resist RFID and Electronic Surveillance. Nelson Current. ISBN 9781418551759. Retrieved 31 March 2014.
- Baard, Mark (6 June 2006). "RFID: Sign of the (End) Times?". Wired.com. Retrieved 13 October 2009.
- 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.
- 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.
- "Six Six Six " Ask The Rabbi " Ohr Somayach". Ohr.edu. Retrieved 17 July 2010.
- Beale, G.K. (1999). Revelation : a commentary on the Greek text (3. Dr. ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans. ISBN 978-0-8028-2174-4.
- Cory, Catherine A. (2006). The Book of Revelation. Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press. ISBN 978-0-8146-2885-0.
- Elwell, ed. by Walter A. (1996). Evangelical dictionary of biblical theology. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books [u.a.] ISBN 0-8010-2049-2.
- Garrow, A.J.P. (1997). Revelation. London.: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-14641-8.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.