Interpretation Of The Number 666 (χξς) In The Apocalypse (13:18) And The Various Reading 616 (χις)- -- By: Ferdinand Benary

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 001:1 (Feb 1844)
Article: Interpretation Of The Number 666 (χξς) In The Apocalypse (13:18) And The Various Reading 616 (χις)-
Author: Ferdinand Benary


Interpretation Of The Number 666 (χξς)
In The Apocalypse (13:18)
And The Various Reading 616 (χις)-

Ferdinand Benary

Professor of Theology in the Frederic-William University, Berlin. Translated from the “Zeitschrift fur speculative Theologie,” 1836. Vol. I. Part II. By Rev. Henry Boynton Smith, West Amesbury, Ms.

After, the almost innumerable interpretations and applications which the “number of the beast,” (ἀριθμὸς τοῦ θηρίου) has received since the earliest Christian antiquity, from Irenaeus to our own

times, it may appear difficult, if not impossible, to succeed in a new attempt. Many may think it only a fruitless task. But, so long as we have not a satisfactory interpretation, the introductory challenge of the author of the Apocalypse, “Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast,” still sounds as a living warning in our ears. Hence the diligent reader, and, above all, the careful interpreter, will ever feel himself impelled anew to the solution of the proposed problem; and this feeling should be strong in proportion to the importance of such a solution to the right understanding of the whole book. The later commentaries have made a great advance towards a correct interpretation of this part of Scripture.

It is not necessary to give the many unsuccessful interpretations of this passage, as preliminary to the exhibition of our own views. J. C. Wolf, and the works which he cites, as well as Hartwig and Heinrichs, give a very copious, although somewhat incomplete register of them. We will begin at once, from what we consider the correct position of the matter, as Ewald has stated it. He justly remarks, that the general application of the number presents no difficulty; for, the name of a Roman emperor, perhaps of Nero himself, must necessarily be contained in it. But there is a twofold difficulty attending the elimination of the definite name. For, in the first place, the reading is questionable, as is well known. Irenaeus found not only the common reading, 666, but also the number 616. And, secondly, it may be questioned, whether John based himself upon the Hebrew or the Greek language; and, hence, in determining the number, χξς́ or χις́, whether we are to make use of the numerical value of the letters of the one alphabet or of the other. On this account, Ewald has reduced the choice to only two interpretations; which he, at the same time, divides between the two readings and languages. 1. According to the usual reading, and the value of the letters in the Greek language, we have, Λατεῖνος<...

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