Edward L. Pothier  (July 1991)

I.  Against the Numerical Representation 666

     Perhaps the most famous (or infamous) number in the entire
Bible is the strange number six hundred sixty-six, the number of
one of the beasts in the thirteenth chapter of the Book of
Revelation.  From motion pictures and novels, many people, even
without any real biblical knowledge, are aware that it is a
number associated with evil and danger.

     Isolated down to the single verse of interest the translated
Biblical text in question is:  "This calls for wisdom:  let
anyone with understanding calculate the number of the beast, for
it is the number of a person.  Its number is six hundred
sixty-six" (Rev 13:18, NRSV).

     The purpose of this study is not to add to the enormous
literature about the apocalyptic images and this number.  Entire
books have been written on this subject[1].  Rather this study
will concentrate only on the representation of the number six
hundred sixty-six, arguing that to represent it as 666 (triple
six) is an error.  Such a representation can mislead modern
readers towards false interpretations.  It is a severely
anachronistic representation.

     However, a large number of modern English translations of
the Bible do use this numerical representation, using numerals
rather than words.  A non-exhaustive list of those translations
which use numbers includes:  the New International Version (NIV),
the Jerusalem Bible (JB), the New Jerusalem Bible (NJB), the Good
News Bible (GNB), the New King James Version (NKJV) and the
Living Bible Paraphrased (LBP).  In the Revised New Testament of
the New American Bible the text writes the words out for the
number, however the "official" footnote finishes:  "It has also
been observed that '6' represents imperfection, falling short of
the perfect number '7', and is represented here in a triple or
superlative form."

     Nearly every commentary, whether scholarly or popular or
even sensationalist, in at least part of its explanation of the
number, draws attention to some sort of "triple six" symbolism
similar to that expressed in the revised New American Bible
footnote quoted above.  Writing the number all in OUR numeric
symbols, 666, can only increase this dubious tendency.

     Despite our immediate, almost instinctive, ability to see
six hundred sixty-six represented as 666, this is a fairly recent
phenomenon.  The original readers (or more likely hearers[2]) of
the Book of Revelation (probably written late in the first
century AD in the Koine or common Greek of the time) would not
have seen or heard as specific a repetition of the number 6 as we
do in our 666.  To understand why the number six hundred
sixty-six should not be written as 666 requires a study both of
our modern representation of numbers and of the representation in
the Greek of the first century AD.

     While John the writer of Revelation may have been intending
to hide the identity of the "beast" from those outside, "those
with understanding", even in the first century, should have been
able to calculate (decode) the number and not have to await a
much later numerical representation.

II.  Our Modern Decimal Place-Value Numbers

     To represent numbers we use a decimal (base-10), place-value
system.  Using just the ten Arabic (or more properly Hindu-Arabic
or Indian) numerals (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 0) we can
represent an arbitrarily large number.  The use of the zero is
especially important in that it enables us (in a decimal system)
to need only the other nine numerals.  The same numeral can be
used to represent a number of units, tens, hundreds, thousands,
etc.  Its position or place in the composite number determines
its actual value.

     Because each place in the number represents how many of a
"power-of-ten" is contained in the composite number (including
none in some cases), we have a PLACE-VALUE system.  For example,
we interpret the number 123 as 1x100 + 2x10 + 3x1.  Similarly,
our designated number 666 is 6x100 + 6x10 + 6x1.

     Without a zero as a place holder, however, we would not be
able to represent a number like two hundred nine.  But since we
do have a zero, two hundred nine can be represented as
209 = 2x100 + 0x10 + 9x1.

     This all seems trivial.  We learned all this in elementary
school.  However, this relatively modern representation of
numbers, like many inventions, is the endpoint of much evolution
and even revolution.  At the time of the New Testament's writing
such numbers were far in the future.  In the West we received our
numeral system from the Arabs (hence the usual name, Arabic
numerals) through Spain.  The Arabs in turn had obtained them
from India.  The earliest introduction of these numerals into
Spain seems to be at the end of the first millennium AD, but it
was well into the second millennium before they took control[3].
Until then, i.e. well into the Middle Ages, Roman numerals were
the standard method until eventually displaced by our current
decimal, place-value system.[4]

III.  Greek Alphabetic Numbers at the Time of the New Testament

     Since the Book of Revelation, like the other twenty six
books of the New Testament, was written in Koine Greek in the
first or early second century AD, we must study how numbers were
represented at that time in Greek.[5]

     One early Greek numeral system, known as Attic numerals,
started at Athens and used symbols for the key numbers 1, 5, 10,
50, 100, etc.  The individual symbols of each type were repeated
as often as needed (up to four times) to make up a number's
representation.  This can be called a REPETITIVE 1-5 system.
This system was similar to the later (but more familiar to us)
system of Roman numerals except that it was always additive
(repetitive) unlike the Roman numeral system which has also
subtractive forms.[6]

     Another system also existed (not surprisingly considering
the independence and non-cooperation of Greek city states).  This
system, known as the Ionian or Milesian (from Miletus in Asia
Minor)[7], may have started in the 6th century BC.  The Attic
system was fading out of use, disappearing almost entirely in the
time of the Roman Empire.  The Milesian alphabetic numeral system
was officially adopted in Athens in the first century BC.[8]

     By the time of the New Testament we need only consider the
Greek alphabetic numeral system.  Although the Greeks had ways of
representing numbers in the thousands and also those above
ten-thousand (myriads), we will only consider how they
represented numbers up to nine hundred ninety nine.

     These Greeks, like us, used a decimal system but, unlike us,
they did not use a zero number[9].  Thus, although it was a
decimal system, it was not a place-value system.  Therefore more
symbols were needed than just the nine (plus zero) which we use.
To represent the numbers up to our 999, they needed 27 different
symbols:  nine for the units 1, 2, ..., 9; nine for the tens 10,
20, ..., 90; and still another nine for the hundreds 100, 200,
..., 900.

     For symbols they used the letters of the Greek alphabet.
However, an immediate problem arose since the Greek alphabet
contained only 24 letters.  To fill in the missing three, they
used old obsolete letters from previous alphabets and, somewhat
confusingly, these were interspersed with the regular letters.
The following table show the assignments[10].


     1 alpha        10 iota       100 rho
     2 beta         20 kappa      200 sigma
     3 gamma        30 lambda     300 tau
     4 delta        40 mu         400 upsilon
     5 epsilon      50 nu         500 phi
     6 [digamma]    60 xi         600 chi
     7 zeta         70 omicron    700 psi
     8 eta          80 pi         800 omega
     9 theta        90 [koppa]    900 [sampi]

     Note the obsolete letters in brackets in the table:  digamma
for 6, koppa for 90, and sampi for 900.  The koppa and sampi will
not affect us further except that the presence of koppa for 90
pushes letters such as rho, sigma, etc., one position down.

     The digamma at 6, however, will be directly relevant for the
representation of six hundred sixty-six.  This letter also became
known as stigma (note the "t") because the form of writing it
looked like the ligature (writing together) of the two Greek
letters sigma and tau, roughly corresponding to our s and t.  [If
not done carefully, it can even look like just a sigma, which
would be an error.]  For most of the rest of this study this
obsolete letter pushed into service to represent the numeral for
6 will be referred to as stigma.

     Now to represent a number in alphabetic symbols in the first
century AD[11] Greek writers could just use the individual
symbols concatenated together similarly to how we do it.  Because
there was no zero, more possible symbols were needed (the 27
listed above).  However, to represent a number which has a zero
in our representation, they would need less characters.  Our
number 123 would be represented the three letter symbols
(rho)(kappa)(gamma).  Our number 209 could be represented by only
two letters (sigma)(theta) and 300 by only one letter (tau).

     To distinguish letters used as numbers from normal letters a
horizontal line was usually written above the letter-numbers or
sometimes just a tick mark[12].  It should be noted that the
order of the letters needed to represent a number is not
important, since this system is not a place-value system.  Most
often, however, the highest valued letter would be put first.

     Thus to represent our number of interest, six hundred
sixty-six, rather than using three identical characters (666) as
we do in our decimal PLACE-VALUE system, a first century Greek
writer (if not spelling out the words just as we also can) would
use three distinct characters (chi)(xi)(stigma)!

IV.  Gematria and Isopsephia

     At the risk of transgressing the self-imposed restriction of
concentrating on how the number six hundred sixty-six should
be/was represented, a mention of gematria must be made.  Since in
the Greek alphabetic numeral system described above, every letter
of the Greek alphabet (and three which were not then even used as
regular letters) also had a numerical value, it would be possible
to give any word, name or phrase a composite numerical value by
adding together the numerical values of the individual letters.
And if a thing is possible, it is likely to be done.

     The Jewish rabbis had a similar procedure since the 22
letters of the Hebrew alphabet were also used to supply the first
22 characters of the 27 needed to represent numbers up to 999 in
their Hebrew system.  The twenty second (and last) letter
represented the value 400.  The remaining numerical values of
500, 600, 700, 800, and 900 needed either special "final forms"
of some letters or simple additive representations where 500
would be represented by combining the letters for 400 and 100,
etc.[13]  The important result was that every letter of the
Hebrew alphabet had a numerical value and by adding together the
numerical values of the individual letters a composite numerical
value of a word was determined.  This procedure is called

     In Greek the equivalence of gematria is sometimes called
isopsephia (from the words for "equal" and "count"[14]) since one
of the uses was to make connections between two words or phrases
which had equal numerical calculations[15].

     Although gematria was often thought to be primarily a Jewish
practice, its use in the Greco-Roman sphere is known[16] (with
the numbers often given in the Greek alphabetic system described
previously).  It is the most likely source for the numerical
value of the number of the beast in Rev 13:18.

     It was known even in the ancient world that, while it is
extremely easy to go from a word, name or phrase to a composite
number (one only has to add together the numerical equivalents of
each letter), it is impossible to UNIQUELY reverse the process.
Having a number does not enable one to get back to the word, name
of phrase, unless one has extra information.  Like a machine with
a ratchet or some form of animal traps, some procedures only work
in one direction.

V.  Greek NT Readings of Rev 13:18

     Having described above the Greek alphabetic number system,
it is now possible to look at how Rev 13:18 is represented in the
Greek New Testament.

     Until the Greek NT was first printed in the early 16th
century, each copy of each book in the NT was written by hand.
Variations were introduced, either accidently or deliberately.
Since we no longer have the absolute original autograph copies as
they came from the hands of the authors, a process of textual
criticism must take place.[17]  Textual criticism is both the art
and science of taking all the evidence as found in all the
various existing copies and attempting to reconstruct, as well as
possible, what the original text was.

     There are two major modern critical editions of the Greek
New Testament which serve as a DE FACTO "standard text."  They
are the Nestle-Aland twenty sixth edition (NA26) and the United
Bible Societies Greek New Testament third edition (UBSGNT3)[18].
These are not independent critical editions since they share
common editors and agree on the text readings included in the
text itself.  They differ in punctuation and typographical
features as well as in the documentation of textual variants of
different manuscripts.

     In the "standard" modern critical edition the verse we are
considering is given (using a transliteration scheme which
enables the reproduction of Greek text in Roman letters) as:
"ho:de he: sophia estin.  ho echo:n noun pse:phisato: ton arithmon tou
the:riou, arithmos gar anthro:pou estin, kai ho arithmos autou
hexakosioi hexe:konta hex." (Rev 13:18, NA26)

     In this verse one sees several times the Greek word for
number (arithmos), from which we get our English word arithmetic.
What is most important for our consideration is the last three
words which are the Greek words representing six hundred, sixty,
and six.  As can be seen from the transliteration, they all begin
with "hex", which is the Greek prefix which comes into English in
such words as hexagon and hexameter.

     So when the number words are written out in the Greek text,
i.e. not in just the alphabetic numerical symbols, a Greek reader
sees a identical start to each of the words ("hex"), just as an
English reader sees a "six" in the English words.

     In addition to the scholarly reconstruction of the "best",
i.e. as close to original as possible, text (obviously to some
degree a matter of opinion based on the evidence and scholarly
presuppositions), a critical edition also shows how the various
manuscript readings differ.  The NA26 edition does this through a
set of symbols in the text itself (omitted in the above
transliteration) and a compact set of "footnotes" which detail
each variant, listing the variant readings and telling which
manuscripts (using a standard notation for the names of the
manuscripts) contain which reading(s).

     The variants and the manuscripts which contain them are
listed for the number words at the end of Rev 13:18.  A text for
the three words exactly matching that of the critical text is
contained in the fifth century manuscript Codex Alexandrinus.  A
very slight variant involving only some insignificant grammatical
endings is recorded for some more manuscripts, including the
fourth century Codex Sinaiticus.  (Another important fourth
century manuscript Vaticanus is now incomplete, missing all of
the Book of Revelation and some other books at the end of the
NT).  A major different reading (from the reading of the critical
edition text) is recorded for another fifth century manuscript,
Codex Ephraemi Syri Rescriptus, which contains the number six
hundred sixteen instead of six hundred sixty-six.  There is also
another single late manuscript which contains a reading of six
hundred sixty five![19]

     Of particular interest to us are a set of manuscripts which
are recorded as affirming the reading for the number included in
the critical text.  These are the manuscripts which, instead of
writing out the words for the number, use the Greek alphabetic
notation, i.e. the three Greek letters (chi)(xi)(stigma).  The
manuscripts so listed are P47 (a papyrus manuscript, hence the P
in the name, from the third century, known as Chester Beatty
III), a tenth century manuscript known as 051, and the
"Majority-text" symbol (which indicates many late Byzantine

     P47 is from the third century and is the oldest manuscript
of the Book of Revelation.  It contains parts of chapters 9-17.
We will consider its readings for numbers in Rev 13:18 and
neighboring verses in the next section.

     Because, as listed above, the majority of the manuscripts
(mostly late Byzantine miniscule manuscripts) include the
representation of the number six hundred sixty-six by the three
letters (chi)(xi)(stigma), the text presented in another modern
(but non-standard) edition called not surprisingly THE GREEK NEW
that there is a major disagreement in presuppositions about the
value of various manuscripts and manuscript groups between the
editors of this edition and those of the standard editions.[21]

     The so-called Textus Receptus which acted as the standard
from the 16th century (the actual term first being used in the
17th) until well into the 19th century when modern critical
editions started to displace it, was an evolution of early
printed editions of the Greek NT.  Its printed text also used the
(chi)(xi)(stigma) notation.  The main textual basis of this
edition was only a handful of fairly late manuscripts, a subset
of the majority text.

VI.  Papyrus P47 in Detail on the Numbers of Rev 13:18

     As mentioned above, P47 is the oldest extant manuscript
which contains part of the Book of Revelation.  However, its
method of representing the number six hundred sixty-six (using
Greek alphabetic numerals) is not the one selected by the
"standard" critical text (which spells out the number words).
The textual apparatus of NA26 shows other variations of P47 from
the usual text, even in other places in Rev 13:18.

     Although the use of a modern printed critical edition of the
Greek New Testament is within the ability of anyone who can read
the Koine Greek, the potential of looking at actual copies
(reproductions) of individual manuscripts is slight.  Even many
theological libraries would not have the printed (published)
editions which would contain photographs of the desired

     In this case we are lucky because Kurt and Barbara Aland in
their widely available textbook (pun-intended) THE TEXT OF THE
NEW TESTAMENT (in both the first and second English editions of
1987 and 1989) include a Plate 23 on page 90 which shows
Rev 13:16-14:4 of P47.  (Note that the caption of this plate is
incorrect in that it attributes P47 to the the second century
whereas in other places in the book they give the usual third
century date).

     As mentioned in the description of the Greek alphabetic
number system above, the usual way to signal that letters are
being used as numerals is by a horizontal line above the
letter-numbers.  (A horizontal line can also mean something

     On the ninth line down from the top of this fragment (all
line counts will exclude what might be counted as the first line
which seems to include only one character at the very top of the
plate) we can see the first horizontal line overscore.  This is
indeed over the three letters (chi)(xi)(stigma) which represents
the six hundred sixty-six of Rev 13:18.

     Verse 14:1 starts immediately afterward (no gaps or
separations in such manuscripts), a clear reminder that the
chapter and verse divisions which we find so essential in
locating and referring texts are late additions, many centuries
after the books of the NT were written.  Two lines further down
the overscore is above the letters (rho)(mu)(delta).  This is for
the alphabetic numeral representation of the one hundred forty
four thousand.  In this P47 manuscript, at least, the number (one
hundred forty four) is written out in the Greek alphabetic mode.
The word for "thousands" is written following these "digits".
The same (rho)(mu)(delta) again with overscore also occurs four
lines from the bottom of the fragment picture.

     As an example that the horizontal line above letters does
not always indicate a Greek alphabetic number representation,
note the three letters (pi)(rho)(sigma) on line 12 that also have
the horizontal line above them.  This, however, is not a number.
The order is reversed from the usual descending order (which is
still possible) and two of the letters would stand for different
hundreds (100 and 200).  This horizontal line above letters
serves to signal that this is a NOMINA SACRA, a form of
abbreviation used in some Christian Greek scriptures for certain
COMMON "theological" words[22].  This is the abbreviation for
patros the Greek word for father (in genitive case), as in "the
name of his father" (Rev 14:1).

VII.  Translating the Numbers of Rev 13:18

     How should one translate the numerical words at the end of
Rev 13:18?  If you consider the text to be translated to be that
of the "standard" critical edition's text:  "hexakosioi hexe:konta
hex", with the numbers written out as words, then the English
translation should also certainly have the number words written
out such as "six hundred sixty-six." Even the structure of the
repeated Greek "hex" word beginnings goes over nicely into
English "six" word beginnings.  There is no justification, in
this case, to use the numeric representation 666.

     A question MIGHT be raised if the text which is to be
translated is as in P47 manuscript or in the "Majority Text" or
in the Textus Receptus, i.e. the number represented as the three
Greek letters (chi)(xi)(stigma).  Here there might be some
justification for using what would be the "English" equivalent,
namely the number 666.  This would carry the FORM of the original
text (that the representation was numerical) but it might not
carry over the original MEANING if the extra new symbolism of an
identical, repeated, numeral overrode the meaning of a given
numerical quantity.  We would have no way in English (using our
decimal place-value numbers) to be able to indicate that the
original Greek numerals used to represent the number were all
different.  A translator's footnote would be a possibility, but a
footnote is only a footnote.

VIII.  Irenaeus' "Against Heresies" and the Sibylline Oracles

     The two works considered in this section are both post-NT
and are semi-leftovers, slightly marginal to the main development
of the study.  They are included here since one is an early
discussion on the number of the beast and the other is an example
of gematria on Jesus' name.

     Irenaeus was the bishop of Lyons in the last half of the
second century who wrote an apologetic work entitled AGAINST
HERESIES (Adv. haer) which has survived in a Latin translation,
although the original was in Greek.  In several places in the
fifth "book" of this work he dealt with the number of the beast
in (what we call) Rev 13:18, eventually making several elaborate
(unsuccessful) hypotheses for reversing the gematria and getting
a name back from the number six hundred sixty-six.
(Adv.haer 5.30.2) [23]

     In several passages he mentions the repeated "sixness" of
the number six hundred sixty-six:  "that is, six times a hundred,
six times times ten and six units."(Adv.haer 5.28.2).  In another
passage he wrote "...  according to the Greek mode of calculation
by the [value of] the letters contained in it, will amount to six
hundred and sixty and six; that is, the number of the tens shall
be equal to that of the hundreds and the number of hundreds equal
to the units (for that number which [expresses] the digit six
being adhered to throughout...)" (Adv.haer 5.30.1)

     The last passage in particular might lead one to see
Irenaeus thinking similarly to the modern representation of 666.
However, this is no more than an artifact of the Greek system
being a base-10 system (although not place-value) and the words
for six hundred, sixty, and six all beginning with "hex" in

     In Adv.haer 5.29.2 Irenaeus shows how (in his scheme of the
beast being a recapitulation of all evil) the number of the beast
contains the six hundred from the age of Noah when the flood
started to wipe out the evil at that time (Gen 7:6).  It contains
the sixty from the height of the idolatrous image that the king
Nebuchadnezzar set up (sixty cubits according to Dan 3:1).  And
the six of the number is from the six cubit breadth of the same
statue.  Thus in this case he is more interested in a breakdown
along the lines of the individual Greek letter numbers.

     But overall, Irenaeus, although he admits that many names
are capable of yielding the number, is most interested in making
his attempts at decoding the gematria.  Unfortunately, less than
a century after the Book of Revelation, he is unable to be

     An example of Greek gematria which is able to be decoded
(because enough extra information is given) is included with the
Sibylline Oracles.  The Sibylline Oracles are a complicated
anthology, with problems due to different sources and times.  In
a Christian interpolation in Book 1, there is a description of a
gematria based on the name of Jesus (in Greek Ie:sous) in the form
of a "prophecy" after the fact:[24]
 324 Then indeed the son of the great God will come,
 325 incarnate, likened to mortal men on earth,
 326 bearing four vowels, and the consonants in him are two.
 327 I will state explicitly the entire number for you.
 328 For eight units, and equal number of tens in addition
        to those,
 329 and eight hundreds will reveal the name
 330 to men who are sated with faithlessness.  But you,
        consider in your heart
 331 Christ, the son of the most high, immortal God.  (1:324-331)

     Just using the standard numerical substitutions for the
letters of Jesus' name one gets the result that
Ie:sous --> 10+8+200+70+400+200 = 888 in our decimal system [and
could be represented as (omega)(pi)(eta) in the Greek alphabetic
number scheme].  Nothing more seems to made about the eights.
The same type of comments made in much of this study about the
666 representation follows for this 888.

IX.  Summary

     This study has attempted to argue against using the
anachronistic numerical representation 666 for the number of the
beast in Rev 13:18 because such a representation could not have
been made for many centuries after the Book of Revelation was
written.  Any interpretation based on this exact representation
would have to be highly suspect.

     In Section II (on the newness of our number system) the
facts were just stated and some references given in the Notes in
case more details are desired.  Knowing that the current system
of representing numbers is quite late is important to the
argument of this study, but the details are not.  Even if the
uncertainties were several centuries, no difference in the
implications would result.

     Section III dealt with how first century Greek writers
represented numbers by letters with an obvious side-effect,
namely gematria, described in Section IV.

     Section V dealt with the Greek NT text readings of Rev 13:18
and Section VI was a hands-on workout (if the Alands' book was
available) with the P47 manuscript in and around Rev 13:18.

     Section VII repeated objections to translating the number in
Rev 13:18 as 666, with a possible softening of objection if the
three Greek letter reading is being translated.

     Section VIII dealt with two post-NT texts, marginally
connected to the main development of this study.

     The purpose of this entire study was not just a cantankerous
attack on the use of the numerical 666 representation of the
number of the beast.  It might partly be that, but it is also an
attempt to remind us interpreters of the Bible that nearly 1900
years have passed since the last books of the NT were written.
Even if we share the same basic Christian faith as the original
writers and readers/hearers, we live in a vastly different
cultural and intellectual situation.  A tendency to read the
texts through our modern eyes makes us susceptible to modern
prejudices and anachronisms, even in something as simple as how a
number is represented.

                           -- NOTES --

     [1].  There is a more than 300 page book:  David Brady, THE
INTERPRETATION OF REVELATION 13.16-18 (Tubingen:  J. C. B. Mohr,

     [2].  Probably all of the New Testament books were
originally read aloud.  This may especially be true of the Book
of Revelation with its repetitive cycles and heavenly choruses.
Also see Rev 1:3, 22:18.

     [3].  For a detailed description of the evolution of our
current number system and how it gradually made its way to the
West see such works as:
  Graham Flegg (ed), NUMBERS THROUGH THE AGES (London:
Macmillian Education, 1989) 88-130.
NUMBERS (New York:  Viking, 1985) 428-497.
HISTORY OF NUMBERS (Cambridge:  MIT Press, 1969) 389-445.

     [4].  Incidently, some modern apocalyptic fanatics (or
"prophecy" students) who are most alarmed at the number 666 and
worry about large computer-based control systems that the Beast
will use should perhaps worry about a hexadecimal based system
(base 16) rather than the decimal based 666 number.  In the
modern computer hexadecimal number system a number is represented
using 16 possible "numeral" symbols:  our usual 0-9, then 6
additional "numerals":  A=10, B=11, C=12, D=13, E=14, F=15.  In
hexadecimal notation instead of having units, tens, hundreds
places one has units, sixteens, two hundred fifty-sixs places.
Thus six hundred sixty-six is represented as 29A (hexadecimal)
since decimally 666= 2x256 + 9x16 + 10x1.

     [5].  The relevant sections in the works in [3] are:
Ifrah, FROM ONE TO ZERO, 261-274.
     Also see O.A.W. Dilke, MATHEMATICS AND MEASUREMENT (London:
British Museum Publications, 1987) 13-16.

     [6].  A subtractive form means that sometimes a number such
as 9 is represented as IX, with the smaller unit (I) preceding
the larger (X) meaning one less than 10, rather than additively
as VIIII meaning four more than five.
     Interestingly, the Roman numeral system, which uses the
symbols I, V, X, etc., for 1, 5, 10, etc., gives a peculiar
representation for our number of interest:  six hundred sixty
six.  Since 666 = 500+100+50+10+5+1, in Roman numerals it is
represented as DCLXVI, using every symbol through D (=500) once
and only once.

     [7].  Miletus is mentioned in the NT (but with no numerical
connection) in Acts 20:15,17 and 2 Tim 4:20.

     [8].  Menninger, NUMBER WORDS AND NUMBER SYMBOLS, 268.

     [9].  Later, the Alexandrian Greek astronomer Ptolemy (2nd
century AD) used a symbol similar to zero in some astronomical
tables, but it never seemed to be developed by the Greeks.

     [10].  Bruce M. Metzger, MANUSCRIPTS OF THE GREEK BIBLE:  AN
Press, 1981) 7-9.

     [11].  These alphabetic numerals have mainly fallen out of
modern Greek which uses the regular decimal Arabic place-value
numbers.  They are still used, perhaps similarly to how we use
Roman numerals, to annotate items in a list.  An example of
useful non-library research was the discovery on the wall of a
local Greek pizza/submarine sandwich shop of a 1987 map of
Greece.  Around the edge was a table of the land areas of various
political regions of Greece.  Although the numbers for the areas
were written in Arabic numerals, the labels beside the names of
the regions used Greek letters:  alpha, beta, etc.
Interestingly, at the sixth location the two greek letters
(sigma) and (tau) were used, obviously from the old stigma.  The
list then continued with single letters up through the tenth
entry (iota), then double letters up to the fourteenth and last
element, represented by (iota)(delta).

     [12].  Metzger, MANUSCRIPTS OF THE GREEK BIBLE, 9.

     [13].  Ifrah, FROM ONE TO ZERO, 252-259.

     [14].  The Greek verb pse:phizo:, often translated "calculate"
or "count", comes from the noun pse:phos (pebble), since pebbles
were often used for counting and calculating.  The verb is used
in Rev 13:18.

     [15].  Ifrah, FROM ONE TO ZERO, 291-310.

     [16].  Adolf Deissmann, LIGHT FROM THE ANCIENT EAST (Grand
Rapids:  Baker Book House, 1978 [reprint of 1927 English
edition]), 276-278.

     [17].  Two of the standard introductions to the textual
criticism of the Greek New Testament written by editors of the
main critical editions of the NT are:
Oxford University Press, 1968).
  Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland, THE TEXT OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
(Grand Rapids:  William D. Eerdmans, 1987 based on German edition
of 1982).

     [18].  Standard modern critical editions:
  NA26:  Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce
M. Metzger, and Allen Wikgren (eds), NOVUM TESTAMENTUM GRAECE
26th edition (Stuttgart:  Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1979).
  UBSGNT3:  Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce
M. Metzger, and Allen Wikgren (eds), THE GREEK NEW TESTAMENT 3rd
edition (New York:  United Bible Societies, 1979).

     [19].  All descriptions and dates of manuscripts in this
summary are from tables in NA26 or in Aland and Aland, THE TEXT

     [20].  Zane Hodges and Arthur L. Farstad (eds), THE GREEK
Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1985).

FOR REALISM (Grand Rapids:  Baker Book House, 1979) contains a
sane discussion on the subject.  The title indicates that the
topic of the book is broader than just the majority text
vs. other critical editions.  The King James Version was
translated from a Textus Receptus type text which has
similarities to, but is not identical to, the Majority text as
compiled today.

     [22].  Metzger, MANUSCRIPTS OF THE GREEK BIBLE, 36-37.

     [23].  The quotations for ADV.HAER will be taken from the
translation of Irenaeus' "Against Heresies" in the ANF series
Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (eds), THE ANTE-NICENE
FATHERS (ANF) (Grand Rapids:  Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1979 reprint of
1885 ed).

     [24].  J.J. Collins translation of "Sibylline Oracles" in
James H. Charlesworth (ed), OLD TESTAMENT PSEUDEPIGRAPHA vol 1
(New York:  Doubleday, 1983) 342.

 = Edward L. Pothier              =
 = Physics Department / Northeastern University / Boston, MA 02115    =

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