“We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell” – Oscar Wilde

Truly infernal…

Don’t you hate it when you dial the wrong demon?  If your numerology is wrong, there’s no telling whether your infernal contract is valid.  I tried 666, just like my heavy metal albums told me to, but the number was disconnected.  As it turns out, contrary to popular belief, the infamous Number of the Beast is probably a typographical error.  Rumor is that 616 is actually the correct numerological representation for the author of all evil.  Kind of like when the pretty girl at the local watering hole gives you a fake phone number.  Totally diabolical.

The whole notion that 666 is the Number of the Beast derives from Revelation 13:15–18, only mentioned once, in verse 18, rendered in Greek numerical form as χξϛ (six hundred sixty-six).  This is all well and good, but remember that the Bible was not originally written in Greek, and was quickly redacted in several different languages when Christianity started to take hold, and we don’t have any originals.  Guess it sold out quickly and they never did a second printing in the original language.

It seems that the Greek translation that popularized the New Testament had a few transcription errors.  A 5th Century A.D. Greek translation called the Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus, the Latin version of Tyconius, and an Ancient Armenian translation (keeping in mind that Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianity as a state religion) maintain that the number is 616.  Not only that Arabic Papyrus 115 from a collection unearthed at Oxyrhynchus in Egypt that contain the oldest extant copy of Revelation 13 available to us (about 1700 years old) gave the beast’s number as 616(χιϛʹ).

Around the time when the New Testament was being widely translated into Greek and Latin, Roman Emperor Nero (37-68 A.D.) was regarded by Christians as the incarnation of the Devil on earth, mostly because he had a serious predilection for torturing and executing the Christian faithful.  When the name “Nero Kesar” is translated from its Greek form to its typographically vowel-less Hebrew form of NRWN QSR, the numerological value winds up as 666, unless of course, you’re translating back to Hebrew from Latin, rather than Greek, in which case the number is 616 (The Latin version of the name drops the second Nun (נ), so that it appears as NRO and transliterates into Hebrew as נרו קסר, yielding 616).

If you’ve been trying to contact the Devil without success, you might want to check the number you’ve dialed.  Up until 2007, the 666 area code got you Reeves, Louisiana.  616 is Grand Rapids, Michigan.  I guess Hell must finally be freezing over.