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Thursday, May 5, 2005

The new and improved number of the beast.

So it turns out that 666 — the infamous number of the beast — is wrong. Whoops! Scholars have been using some high-tech methods to examine a cache of ancient Greek manuscripts called the Oxyrhynchus Papyri and have discovered the earliest known version of Revelation 13:18. Instead of 666, it gives the unglamorous number 616 instead.

National Geographic says that the documents aren't only of interest to biblical scholars and apocalyptically-minded Christians; classicists are rejoicing, too:

Using a technique called multi-spectral imaging, researchers have uncovered texts that include

• parts of a lost tragedy by Sophocles, the 5th-century B.C. Athenian playwright;
•sections of a long-vanished novel by Lucian, the second-century Greek writer; and
• an epic poem by Archilochos, which describes events that led to the Trojan War.

Hellenistic culture wasn't all literature and revelation, though:

About 10 percent of the Oxyrhynchus hoard is literary. The rest consists of documents, including wills, bills, horoscopes, tax assessments, and private letters.

Oxyrhynchus Hoard: It's a blog name waiting to happen.

("Beast's Real Mark Devalued to '616'," Chris Wattie, National Post 5.4.05; "Papyrus Reveals New Clues to Ancient World," James Owen, National Geographic News 4.25.05)

Copyright © 2005 by Philocrites | Posted 5 May 2005 at 6:27 AM

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May 5, 2005 06:46 AM | Permalink for this comment

As a teenager, I had a shirt that said "668: Neighbor of the Beast."



May 5, 2005 09:48 AM | Permalink for this comment

I need that t-shirt. Bad.

My perverse private glory when I lived in Boston was my phone prefix: 666. I would tell people my number was "Mark of the Beast-1234."

Alas. Tis no more.


May 5, 2005 10:11 AM | Permalink for this comment

For a more scholarly -although too brief- analysis than our media can afford (or are intellectually able to provide), see the following site:

Jason Pitzl-Waters:

May 5, 2005 10:55 AM | Permalink for this comment

This will ruin my plans for a big party next year on June 6th.


May 5, 2005 07:10 PM | Permalink for this comment

Biblical literalists will weep and gnash teeth-- I wish that I had the Xanax franchise in the U.S. right about now.

I wonder if Tim LaHaye and Jerry B Jenkins will retro-edit the Left Behind series?

Scott Wells a.k.a. Geneva Gown:

May 7, 2005 11:05 AM | Permalink for this comment

No, not a blog: Oxyrhynchus Hoard sounds more like a drag name.

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