The Number of the Beast is described in the Book of Revelation 13:17-18.
In the Greek manuscripts, the Number is rendered in Greek “six hundred and sixty-six".
Scholars such as Dr. Ellen Aitken, Dean of the Faculty of Religious Studies at McGill University, have speculated that the reference to this passage was a way of speaking in code about then contemporary figures about whom it would have been politically dangerous to criticize openly.
Many scholars believe that 666 refers to a Roman Emperor such as Nero (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.
Some commentators, not only the contemporary but also some ancient ones like Andreas of Caesarea or Origen, reflect an alternative attitude on textual matters of Revelation, in that they accept more than one reading when they know more.
The early Church father Irenaeus knew several occurrences of the 616-variant but regarded them as a scribal error and affirmed that the number 666 stood "in all the most approved and ancient copies" and is attested by "those men who saw John face to face".
In May 2005, it was reported that scholars at Oxford University using advanced imaging techniques had been able to read previously illegible portions of the earliest known record of the Book of Revelation(a 1,700 year old papyrus), from the Oxyrhynchus site, Papyrus 115 or P115, dating one century after Irenaeus. The fragment gives the Number of the Beast as 616 (chi, iota, stigma), rather than the majority text 666. The other early witness Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus (C) has it written in full: hexakosiai deka hex (lit. six hundred sixteen).
Significantly, P115 aligns with Codex Alexandrinus (A) and Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus (C) which are generally regarded as providing the best testimony to Revelation. Thus, P115 has superior testimony to that of P47 which aligns with Codex Sinaiticus and together form the second-best witness to the Book of Revelation. This has led some scholars to conclude that 616 is the original number of the beast. Read more ...
666=18=9 --- Reversed 999=27=9=Endings
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