For 2000 years, the number 666 was considered the symbol of the terrible Antichrist who will come to rule the world before the Last Judgment. For many, this number is unlucky: even in the European Parliament, the number 666 always remains empty.
The number 666 came to us from Revelation - the latest and strangest of all books in the Bible. “Whoever has intelligence, count the number of the beast, for it is a human number; his number is six hundred and sixty-six."
But this is the wrong number.
This "stub" is the only basis for the assertion that the number of the beast is not six hundred and sixty-six, but 616 (XIC).
There is an opinion that, perhaps, in the first centuries, a mistake was made when rewriting the Revelation of St. John, since in a number of early sources (including the one found during excavations of the oldest papyrus list of the Apocalypse around 225-275 ) the number of the beast is indicated as 616 (ΧΙϚ - chi, iota, numeric digamma), not 666 (ΧΞϚ - chi, xi, numeric digamma). But it is difficult to establish exactly which version is correct. Irenaeus of Lyons also mentioned option 616, but denied it was correct.
In 2005, a translation of the earliest known text of the Book of Revelation was made, which makes it clear that we are talking about the number 616. The 1700-year-old papyrus was found in the dump of the Egyptian city of Oxyrinhus and deciphered by a group of paleographers from the University of Birmingham under the leadership of Professor David Parker.
If the new number is indeed correct, the find is unlikely to please those who have spent a fortune trying to avoid the old option. So, in 2003, the famous American highway 666 - known as the "Devil's Highway" - was renamed highway 491. The Moscow Department of Transport will be even less happy. In 1999, its officials assigned a new number to the "sinister" bus route 666. The bus was renamed 616.
Disputes over the number of the Beast have not stopped since the 2nd century. The version of the Bible, which refers to the number 616, was criticized by the Bishop Irenaeus of Lyons (130-200) as "erroneous and false." Friedrich Engels analyzed the Bible in his book On Religion (1883). He also calculated the number of the Beast as 616, not 666.
Revelation is the first book of the New Testament and is full of numerical riddles. Each of the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet has a corresponding number so that any number can be read like a word.
Both Parker and Engels argue that the Book of Revelation is a political, anti-Roman treatise, coded numerically to obscure the main message. The number of the Beast (whatever it may be) refers either to Caligula or to Nero - the hated persecutors of the early Christians - and not to some imagined evil spirit in human form.
The Book of Revelation has often caused and causes controversy, gave rise to many comments, sometimes even absurd. Recently, the discussions about the possible identification of the number 666, which had subsided, flared up with renewed vigor.
The peoples of the Mediterranean in antiquity did not have numbers. They were replaced by letters of the alphabet. And many authors, in the spirit of the era, used letters as numbers: either in order for their works to satisfy the literary rules of that time; whether from a desire to hide the true meaning from censorship. We find a good example of the first of the cases in the famous monument of ancient literature - the books of the Sibyls, which in the Greco-Roman world were considered prophetic.
The author of the first book Sibyl speaks directly about the coming Christ and alludes to the events described in the Gospel of Matthew, “they will bring him gold as a gift, incense and myrrh” (v. 334). However, the author does not name the name of Christ, he only informs the numerical value of this name - 888, and also that “he will have four vowels and a double consonant” (Art. 325-326). The use of the letters of the Greek alphabet allows us to conclude that we are talking about the name "Jesus" (in Greek, this name consists of 6 letters, among which 4 are vowels).
The author of the book of Revelation, who “was on an island called Patmos, for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1: 9), encrypted the name of the beast for the simple reason that the persecution of Christians did not dispose to write directly about events known to all. Imagine the following situation. In 68 or 69 A. D. e. The exiled presbyter writes a large letter to seven churches of Asia at once, whose parishioners are concerned about rumors of a possible war with the Parthians and the return of Nero, and directly points to the emperor Nero, as to a beast from the abyss! Of course, John could not afford this, otherwise his message would have been destroyed by the Romans like other Christian writings. However, the author gave a fairly clear indication that behind the numbers is a specific and well-known person: “Here is wisdom. Whoever has a mind, count the number of the beast,for this number is human; his number is six hundred sixty-six”(Rev. 13:18). It was not in vain that the author wrote literally "the number of a man", thus he indicated that the number 666 means a specific person, whose name must be read by the letters that make up this number.
And now directly deciphering the number 666. There were many Jews among the readers of John, and the author himself thought in Hebrew (the bad Greek language of the book of Revelation betrays the author). Therefore, the number 666 must be “collected” from the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. If you add the consonants that make up the phrase "Caesar Nero" (there were no vowels in the Hebrew alphabet at that time), you get the indicated number. Letters: Kof-Samekh-Reish (KeSaR) Nun-Reish-Vav (O) -Nun (NERON)
Numbers: 100, 60, 200, 50, 200, 6, 50. Amount: 666.
Help to decipher this number and some manuscripts in which the scribes changed it to the number 616. The scribes perfectly understood whose name was hidden under the numbers, so they changed it according to the Roman style. In Latin (as opposed to Greek), Caesar Nero is written as Caesar Nero. The scribes accordingly dropped the last letter Nun, which made the number decrease by exactly 50. Therefore, both 666 and 616 are only different forms with the same content.
In the whole story with the number of the beast, the idea of a modern man in the street about him is striking, where there is a lot of far-fetched mysticism, almost sacredness. In fact, the manuscripts of the Book of Revelation contain different versions of this number: 666, 665, 646 and 616. So which of these numbers threatens us with danger? And in general, is it worth fearing dead numbers? In the books of Sibyls (V, 28) Nero “the sign of fifty is appointed by fate”, but this new “number of the beast” adds nothing and does not subtract anything in the disgusting portrait of Nero.