Re: [asa] A case of non-biological ID

From: Vernon Jenkins <>
Date: Mon Jan 14 2008 - 17:21:32 EST


There are several good reasons why those of us who take Book of Revelation seriously will want to bring to a swift end the current debate concerning the proper reading of 13:18: viz. are we to understand the number of the beast to be 666 (as our Bibles inform us), or 616 (as some currently active investigators would have us believe)? With this in mind I've put together a brief historical reconstruction which, I trust, will confirm your own views. Observe that it also authenticates my claimed _666-Genesis 1:1_ link.(see

To place things in perspective, the papyrus fragment to which you have drawn our attention (and which purports to assign the number 616 to the beast) dates from the early third to fourth centuries AD. It was found at Oxyrhynchus, an Egyptian town that lies some 300 km south of Alexandria. Even at this comparatively late date it is rated to be one of the earliest surviving fragments of the Book of Revelation. (see

Now, let's rehearse some relevant events that occurred _some centuries earlier_:

Circa 95 AD (the generally accepted date for the writing of Revelation), John (not necessarily 'the disciple whom Jesus loved') writes the details of his heavenly-inspired vision. In obedience (1:11), he posts a _first generation_ copy (prepared by himself, or by one under his supervision) to each of the churches in Asia Minor - including one to the church in _Smyrna_ (2:8-11) where Polycarp (69 - 156 AD) was deacon (and, later, elder and bishop). He (Polycarp) would therefore, at the earliest possible date, have been brought into direct contact with a _pristine copy_ of this Book.

As a well-informed Christian (enjoying contact with many who had walked with the Lord during his earthly ministry) - later martyred for his faith - Polycarp would have appreciated the significance of the 'number of the beast' in respect of, [1] it being the key to wisdom (13:18), [2] it being something to gain victory over (15:2) and, [3] it being a number that Christians should refuse to carry as a mark (13:16,17). The author of the Book being still alive, we reasonably infer that any doubts that might then have arisen concerning the number would have been properly resolved.

Let us therefore, with confidence, claim that Polycarp _must have known what the true number was_. Irenaeus (early 2nd century AD), Bishop of Lyon, had been a disciple of Polycarp; _he, therefore, cannot fail to have known what the true number was_. Here is an excerpt from Book V, Chapter 28, of his 'Against Heresies':

"And he will cause a mark [to be put] in the forehead and in the right hand, that no one may be able to buy or sell, unless he who has the mark of the name of the beast or the number of his name; and the number is six hundred and sixty-six,"... that is, six times a hundred, six times ten, and six units. (see

For good measure, as you have already quoted, '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".

Would you not agree with me, therefore, that the foregoing observations settle this most vexing matter which must now be counted immune to all current and future speculation? The correct number can be none other than 666!


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Received on Mon Jan 14 17:22:56 2008

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