Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The Number of the Beast: 616 and Oxyrhynchus

On Ralph the Sacred River, Ed Cook draws attention to the National Geographic article on the Oxyrhynchus Papyri also discussed in Paleojudaica (and I really share their annoyance at Revelations). The National Geographic article writes:
The latest volume includes details of fragments showing third- and fourth-century versions of the Book of Revelations. Intriguingly, the number assigned to "the Beast" of Revelations isn't the usual 666, but 616.
and Ed comments:
My copy of Nestle-Aland (27th ed.) at Revelation 13:18 lists for the variant reading "616" only "C; Ir mss" (the 5th century uncial manuscript C and some manuscripts cited by Irenaeus). A 3rd or 4th century papyrus containing this reading would be extremely significant, although probably not enough to outweigh the many witnesses for "666."
The relevant article here is the following:

David C. Parker, "A New Oxyrhynchus Papyrus of Revelation: P115 (P.Oxy 4499)", NTS 46 (2000): 159-74

There is a very brief discussion of the variant in question on 169.


Anonymous said...

Funnily enough, if you were one to believe in the association of "666" with Caesar Nero, you could still justify it for the manuscripts with "616"! I found that very interesting!

Peter M. Head said...

This is also discussed in my paper: Peter M. Head, ‘Some Recently Published NT Papyri from Oxyrhynchus: An Overview and Preliminary Assessment’, published in Tyndale Bulletin 51 (2000), pp. 1-16 [see on-line version:; scroll down]

Anonymous said...

Damn. Now all those Iron Maiden songs are no good.

-Matty said...

Nero is misrepresented by a later writer. He was not the type of person we have been led to believe by Flavian historians who rubbished everything and everybody before Vespasian. said...

In fact, it seems that a later writer used the same technique in the Oxyrhnchus papyrus to rubbish Gaius. You see, there is another way of looking at this.