The actual Number of The Beast is only mentioned in Revelation 13:18; In the Greek manuscripts, the number is rendered as χξϛ or "six hundred and sixty-six".

In 2005 Oxford University's Ashmolean Museum revealed the discovery of the oldest manuscript (about 1,700 years old) of Revelation 13 which gave The Beast's number as 616 χιϛ.

How this discovery will effect bible prophesies based on number 666?

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    I think it is related but different, as this question does not ask which is more likely to be correct, but what the effect would be on prophecies. Commented Mar 28, 2015 at 9:02
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    It is a different question and an interesting one: some American televangelist prophesies are based on the number 666! Commented Mar 28, 2015 at 17:58
  • None - does oldest manuscript automatically mean most correct?
    – Beestocks
    Commented Mar 28, 2015 at 20:52
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    @curiousdannii I agree with that reasoning, unless the question is edited to identify a denomination or group that believes in biblical prophecies based on number 666. That is why I am not answering it. Commented Mar 30, 2015 at 2:37
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    The earliest one to comment on this was Irenaeus in the second century (Heresies 5.30). He was a disciple of Polycarp who was a disciple of John. He said the correct number was 666. Commented Mar 30, 2015 at 13:50

1 Answer 1


If we assume copying 666 as 616 is an unlikely scribal error, and I believe this to be the case, then it means there must be an explanation as to why in some manuscripts it is written as 616. If we understand the reason as to why it might have been re-written as 616, then this reason would be hugely influential in our understanding in biblical prophecy.

If the reason for the discrepancy is a result of (for example) Nero's name having two different potential spellings, and it can be shown that these two different spellings add up to either 666 or 616, then it would be very difficult for anyone (on TV or otherwise) to argue that that prophecy finds it's fulfilment in anything other than (for example) Nero. Except for perhaps an argument that shows that the scriptures were changed as a result of encountering a new "anti-christ" who's name added up to 616. What I mean by this is, for example, a line of copies that were deliberately changed to 616, which the readers would have recognised as a deliberate change, indicating to them that someone is conveying that a later "anti-christ" is being deemed as fulfilling this prophecy as well.

That however is a big if. If instead it can be shown to be scribal error, then there is obviously no impact on biblical prophecy except that someone has made a copying mistake.

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