New Number for the Beast

That’s right, 666 was all just a big mistake, according to a recent story reposted at RNB. This is a real story, not a Sugar Beet spoof. According to the story, an ancient fragment unearthed (along with thousands of other fragments) at Oxyrhynchus, in Egypt, reveals that the magic number of evil was almost certainly 616. This is going to leave a lot of fundamentalist Christians temporarily disorientated, struggling to adjust to this radically different number that controls the fate of their apocalyptic future.

I thought I’d offer some friendly numerical observations to kind of ease that painful transition process from 666 to 616:

  • At least they are both even numbers, and neither is a prime. So 616 is still the same sort of number.
  • Like 666, the number 616 is symmetrical: Read it backwards, you get the same number! You could even think of it as a chiastic number, designed to emphasize the key digit “1”. This no doubt highlights the important gospel principle that there is but a single Evil One. You might even think of the “1” in 616 as “the Evil 1.” Wow—chiasmus really works!
  • The number 666 factors to the primes 2, 3, 3, and 37, whereas 616 factors to 2, 2, 2, 7, and 11. I’m sure this means something terribly important to some monk off somewhere pouring over numbers in his desert chamber.
  • People living in the 616 area code are going to be very unhappy about this development.
  • The Wikipedia entry “Antichrist” actually notes that a minority of previously extant manuscripts already used 616 as the number of the beast, so this news is not a completely new development.
  • For you numerology buffs, here’s a near miss: Add up Utah’s two area codes (801 and 435) and divide by 2, giving the quotient of 618. Whew! That was close.

Did I miss anything?


  1. I guess since I work at 666 Third Avenue, I can breathe a huge sigh of relief.

  2. I would note the following:

    US Highway 491 can now be changed back to Highway 666. Rampant theft of street signs bearing the number 666 will no longer be a problem.

    US Highway 616 will need to be changed.

    Satanists aren’t bothered by the change, according to a news article I read: “Peter Gilmore, High Priest of the Church of Satan, based in New York, said: ‘By using 666 we’re using something that the Christians fear. Mind you, if they do switch to 616 being the number of the beast then we’ll start using that.'”

  3. john fowles says:

    I read the news article announcing this and came away wondering why the new fragment is accorded more authority than the existing view of 666. Is it simply because it is an earlier fragment than the one from which we have 666? What about the already existing “minority” view of extant fragments that 616 is the number? If in the face of those, 666 was still regarded as authoritative, why should that change now just because a new fragment has been discovered that holds to this “minority” view? I assume that it is simply because this fragment is older. . . .

  4. That’s what I like about the Church of Satan — always willing to keep up with the times. God bless those Satanists!

  5. I remember hearing something about 616 being the numerical value of someone’s name: Nero?

    Can anyone enlighten me here?

  6. Ronan, I think you’re teasing us, but if you really need a primer, go read the Wikipedia entry “Number of the Beast.” Don’t miss the Joke section at the end of the article.

  7. There goes my theroy about Ronald Wilson Reagan. (6 letters in each name- its true!)

  8. john fowles says:

    Ronan, isn’t it Caligula?

  9. danithew says:

    Ronald W. Reagan
    6 1 6

    It still works! Egads!

  10. john fowles says:

    Ronan, I should have added the link where I saw that idea.

  11. danithew says:

    I wonder if this new revelation regarding 616 has anything to do with the sudden re-emergence of metal Christian band Stryper.

  12. To Hell With The Devil is back? Tell us more, Dan!

  13. a random John says:

    It is going to cost a fortune to reprint all those barcodes.

  14. HL Rogers says:

    And to re-program the microchip Satan already embedded in my head!!

  15. Yes, Satanists have always been a practical lot.

    I’m suddenly a bit irritated that I tossed that Iron Maiden album into the bonfire during a mutal activity some years ago.

  16. Speaking of the end of the world…

    Did anyone watch Revelations on NBC tonight? It’s awful, but it’s after Lost so I’m already in front of the telly.

    Anyway, tonight they had some bad guys trying to explain to a cop why the kid they had abducted (unbeknownst to the policeman) wasn’t in school, and why they didn’t have a gun in the trunk despite the fact that they were in hunting territory.

    “We’re Mormons,” says the bad guy.

    Mormons are anti-gun, anti-hunting, and pro-homeschooling apparently. If you’re going to peddle stereotypes, 1 out of 3 is pretty bad.

    I’m depressed. If here in America no-one knows who we really are, what hope is there elsewhere?

  17. Oh, and seeing as BYU helped with the imaging of said papyri, it is clear that the Mormons are involved in the devilish plot.

    Gordon B. Hinkly (sic!)

  18. Jonathan Green says:

    John, your question about the authority of the fragment, and my own reaction, are probably lost causes on this thread. Just in case–it’s a good question; older manuscripts are not necessarily better ones. Since other 616-style variants seem to have been known before, it’s not clear that this is anything more than an older witness of a minor manuscript variation.

    Besides, 616 is simply not as fearsome as 666. It reeks not of evil, but of banality. I’m leaving the tatoo just the way it is, thank you.

  19. Aaron Brown says:

    Since we believe the Bible is the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly, and since the JST does not inform us that 666 is a mistranslation, we can know with utter confidence that this hullabaloo about 616 is NOT consistent with what the original uncorrupt Bible really said, the silly and dangerous theories of men notwithstanding. All this talk about 616 is totally without foundation; in fact, it’s so wrong-headed that I’d say it’s Satanic, except that would be a refutation of my point, which is that 666 is Satanic, but 616 is not. You follow me?

    Aaron B

  20. Aaron Brown says:

    I guess now I’m going to have to throw out my DVD of “The Oman” now; That scene with Gregory Peck looking at Damian’s birthmark on his scalp is now totally inauthentic. Too bad.

    Aaron B

  21. I was able to grab a photo of myself next to a highway 666 sign while on my mission (using my fingers for horns). I was sorely disappointed when they changed the route number.
    Supposedly highway 666 was the most dangerous road, but I think it was likely due to its proximity to the Indian Reservation and how desolate the area is in that part of the country.

  22. Daylan Darby says:

    Uh, wasn’t the original written DCLXVI ( Which I kinda liked because it reminded me of Washington DC, Hollywood (LX -> LAX, which is airport code for Los Angles) and VI (Virginia – home of NSA/CIA, etc)).

    Now I’m going to have to think of something that ‘rhymes’ with DCXVI -thanks a lot.

  23. Justin H says:

    Ronan (#16)–Unfortunately I saw that silly show too, and had the same reaction to the Mormon reference. No guns OR hunting! Good grief.

  24. I was hoping that Harry Truman’s first name was short for Harold, which would yield


    (6-1-6), but alas, this is not the case. His middle name/initial really is just the letter S, though.

  25. Mark B. says:

    Wonderful misspelling of that old warhorse “The Oman”! If a typo (more or less–monks could type, couldn’t they?) could change the evil 616 to 666, then what about those Omans? Are they just a typo away from being the harbinger of the apocalypse? Or are they already that harbinger, and to hell with the spelling? And what about Aaron’s Spelling?

    The other good news about this change to 616: the New York Stake patriarch won’t have to apologize for his telephone number, which is in the 666 exchange. You may be able to Dial M for Murder, but it’s troubling to dial 666 for blessings!

  26. Last Lemming says:

    Ronald W. Reagan
    6 1 6

    You might even think of the “1” in 616 as “the Evil 1.”

    Therefore, the evil 1 = W

    Yup. It works just fine.

  27. I guess that 636 is still the Neighbor of the Beast, either way.

  28. I remember reading in psychology that words and numbers in dreams are often upside down and backwords. Since Revelations was a vision in a dream, the number should have been 999 maybe its now 919.

  29. Regarding Caligula, a professor in college taught us that adding up the number values of Nero equalled 666. Now the article says Caligula adds up to 616. I guess the point is that early Roman emperors are bad.

  30. Aaron Brown says:

    Oops! I meant “The Omen,” not “The Oman.” Or did I? I’ve never met Nate in person, but I hear audible Gregorian chants follow him wherever he goes, and he is frequently seen surrounded by Cujo and his minions.

    “And what about Aaron’s Spelling?”

    Well, for that matter, What about Aaron Spelling? Beverly Hills 90210 is obviously of the Devil, and if you look at Mr. Spelling closely, he kinda seems wicked. And don’t get me started on that tart Tori….

    Aaron B

  31. danithew says:

    6+1+6=13 Hmmmm …

  32. “The number of the Beast has changed. Please make a note of it. The new number is…”

  33. This is pretty old news. When a co-worker sent me this link, I was actually pretty shocked that it was being peddled as a discovery. Must be a slow news cycle.

    Here’s a letter that I wrote to my mother in law around 1991 in answer to some questions that she had about Revelations (she was my girlfriend’s mother at the time). It’s an extension of a phone conversation we’d had earlier that day. It lays out a brief explanation of the entire trippy vision sequence encompassing chapters 4 through 16 of Revelation. On page 3 of the letter, I lay out the fact that 616 is Caesar God, and 666 is Nero God. I don’t know where the Calligula idea came from. At any rate, the letter is not very polished, but you may still find it interesting.

    (Incidentally, I think I skipped a study group meeting for Dr. Faulkoner’s Hegel class to write the letter.)

  34. SeptimusH says:

    As an amateur numerologist I know that 666 is the only true Number of the Beast. It has several unique properties. For example, if you add the square of the first seven primes you get 666. 666 is also a base-10 repdigit, and a triangular number–in fact, it’s the largest repdigit traingular number. Plus, 666 is a smith number, meaning that the sum of its digits equals the sum of the digits of its prime factors (a composite number, of course). These are just a few of the unique qualities of the Number of the Beast.

    I’m here to tell you 666 is the real deal.

  35. I knew a fellow on my mission who was a born-again Christian — married to a member, and he insisted that the missionaries were the Beast, because we wore the following nametags:

    The CHURCH of Jesus Christ of LATTER-day SAINTS

    I asked him that since “Latter-day” is technically one word, maybe it would be more appropriate to include CHRIST as the 2nd 6-letter word. He didn’t like that at all.

  36. Sal, Joseph Smith always spelled it “Latter Day Saints.” But according to grammar rules prevalent in England, “Latter Day” is a compound modifier, and therefore it takes a hyphen. We Americans have no scruples about multiplying modifiers sans hyphen. At any rate, Brigham Young adopted the English spelling of “Latter-day Saints” after the church moved to Utah. Perhaps Brigham was just trying to hide our true nature from Evangelicals.

  37. Talk about off topic, Arturo. Anyway, I don’t think Joseph ALWAYS spelled it Latter Day Saints. He was not consistant about it. I have seen instances where he spells it Latter-Day Saints or even Latter-day Saints. Spelling wasn’t really standardized in those days, so it varied.

  38. todavia hablas de esto o ya no

  39. Well, it is certainly amazing the amount of time wasted discussing this topic. Wow! My goal is for myself and my family to make it to heaven, and point others toward Jesus along the way. This controversy about a number won’t change whether we make it to heaven, so……..

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