The number of the Beast … 666 … or, is it 616 instead? (cf. Revelation 13:18) / PsiCop originalReligion makes people do really nutty, if not detrimental, things sometimes, even to themselves. Religionistic fear of the number 666 recently caused a devout Christian quit his job, as The Town Talk of Alexandria, LA reports (WebCite cached article):

A Clarksville, Tenn., man says he quit his job last week in order to save his soul.

Walter Slonopas, 52, resigned as a maintenance worker at Contech Casting LLC in Clarksville after his W-2 tax form was stamped with the number 666.

The Bible calls 666 the “number of the beast,” and it’s often used as a symbol of the devil. Slonopas said that after getting the W-2, he could either go to work or go to hell.

“If you accept that number, you sell your soul to the devil,” he said.

The article explains this is actually the third time Slonopas has run into this problem. Twice before he’d been assigned the clock number of 666, and on one of those occasions he quit, only to get his job back right away. It’s not clear if he’ll be rehired this time.

The Town Talk also describes the reason why 666 evokes such terror on the part of some Christians:

The number 666 first appears in Chapter 13 of the New Testament book of Revelation, which describes a Satanic figure called the beast or Antichrist who takes over the world and stamps everyone with a mark bearing the number 666. According to Revelation, no one will be able to buy or sell anything without that number stamped on them.

That has caused people to fear anytime that number pops up, said Jay Phelan, senior professor of theological studies at North Park University in Chicago. …

Amy-Jill Levine, professor of New Testament and Jewish studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School, said the writer of Revelation was using a technique called “gematria” — in which letters have numerical values — to refer to a Roman emperor as the beast.

She said that over the past 2,000 years, readers of Revelation have tried to use 666 to figure out who the Antichrist is. Among the candidates were political figures like Hitler, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama and corporations like Proctor & Gamble and IBM.

“The number of the Beast” is mentioned in Revelation 13:18, and in most manuscripts it’s 666, but some have 616 instead. These two variations have led most scholars to conclude that the author of Revelation had been alluding to the Emperor Nero, because when his Greek name was transliterated into Hebrew, it added up to 666, but when starting with Latin, it became 616. This particular coincidence doesn’t work with anything else. And if it’s the case that either 666 or 616 is a reference to Nero, then Revelation … written as it was during the latter half of the 1st century CE … couldn’t have been intended to describe the future prophetically; it was, instead, a description of past history.

At any rate, it looks as though Mr Slonopas’s metaphysics will leave him unemployed. Well done. I’m sure his Jesus is just so proud of him for being so stupid.

Photo credit: PsiCop original.

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