by Professor Revilo P. Oliver
One of our lesser gospel-gabblers is excited by a sensational discovery he has just made. Who is now the titular President of the United States? Give his full name. Ronald Wilson Reagan. Now don't you see it? Look again. How many letters in each name? Now you have it! So it's 6-6-6! And if you're well-trained in the True Faith, shivers are now going up and down your spine as you remember the Number of the Beast given in the "Apocalypse" (13.18) that was selected for inclusion in the "New Testament."
I hasten, therefore, to reassure you: that does not make it absolutely certain that Jesus is about to break out and raise Hell on Earth, as predicted by somebody named John after he had a nice dish of Amanita muscaria on the island of Patmos. The number of the beast-man's name, as given in almost all of the many manuscripts, is 666. Those are Greek numerals, of course: 600 + 60 + 6 = 666. And 666 is the total you will get by adding up the numerical values of the letters in the beast-man's name in the kind of divination called isopsephia. That's different from the number of letters in his name, so it looks as though Johnny didn't mean old Ronnie after all, whence it follows that Jesus won't start destroying the universe tomorrow, and you won't need to stay awake tonight.
As for who was designated by that cryptic allusion in that apocalypse, there have been innumerable "proofs." The Fathers of the Church had various suggestions, chiefly current competitors in the salvation-business. Ingenious moderns have demonstrated that the monster in human form so designated is one of several Popes, Martin Luther, Napoleon, or various others. So far as I know, odd as it seems, no one has thus far tried to fit the revelation to the awful monster who incinerated so many millions or billions of Jews, so there's an opening for you, if you want to go into the Jesus-business. 'Adolf' will give you 605 and 'Hitler' will give you 445, so it won't be easy to get a neat 666, but with a little ingenuity and, of course, divine inspiration, you should be able to turn the trick.
Today, theologians almost unanimously say the magic number stands for the Emperor Nero, even though they have a hard time explaining how it happened that Johnny's prevision of the future went sour at that point, and Nero's bestiality wasn't immediately followed by some yells from heaven and lots of singing and twanging of harps as the celestial orchestra and choir performed in honor of the Lamb and his blessed companions, the 144,000 holy male homosexual Jews who alone will be saved from the cosmophthorian catastrophe. Nero's name is obtained by some fancy juggling, turning Latin into Hebrew letters, which are then turned into Hebrew numerals and then put into Greek numbers, but it has the great advantage that it fits the Christian pretense that the Jewish Bolsheviks who were executed by Nero, after some of them confessed to having set the great fire that destroyed a large part of Rome in 64, were really Saints Peter and Paul and hundreds of other meek, peace-loving Christians who wouldn't have hurt a flea – not even one of their own. And if Nero was in the future when Johnny had his hallucinations on Patmos, Johnny must have been scribbling not long after the famous Crucifixion and that's the time at which the Faithful are told to believe the various screeds in the "New Testament" were written.
If you really want to know who was the individual whom the Christian writer so hated and didn't dare to name openly, the most reasonable solution is that 666 represents, by isopsephia, a Roman Emperor named Aurelius, most probably the famous Stoic, Marcus Aurelius.(1) He fits historically. He reigned from 161 to 180, just the time in which the Christians were most industriously scribbling gospels by the dozen. He tried to do something about the Christian menace, although he failed to take sufficiently vigorous action.(2) He was also, for the declining age in which he lived, a highly intelligent and civilized man, and he conscientiously labored to shore up the decadent Empire of which he was master. Thus the Christians had two reasons for hating him, and for adroitly spreading subversion with prophecies that he would soon be squelched, as soon as Jesus popped out of the clouds and started to bust up the universe.
But, sad to say, the universe is still here, so if you are a pious soul and expert in Bible Prophecy, you'll have to start from the premise that the Beast of the Apocalypse hasn't come yet or, at least, hasn't been identified. So you had better brush up on Greek numerals and the simple rules for writing modern names in Greek letters. And if you are vigilant, who knows? You may be able to steal a march on all other True Believers and win the honor of being the very first to recognize the horrid Beast and scare yourself silly.
(1) The evidence is, of course, very complex, and I only follow the lucid historical analysis by H. Lilliebjoern, "Ueber religioese Signierung in der Antike mit besonderer Beruecksichtigung der Kreuzsignierung" (Uppsala, 1933); for the arithmetic, see p.45.)
(2) Charles Renouvier starts his "Uchronie" (Paris, 1876), a tour de force that gives the history of Western civilization as it might have been, with Marcus Aurelius and supposes that the Emperor had the wisdom to clean up the Empire by shipping all the Christians across the Euphrates.