Revelation 13:18 – DCLXVI, The Number of the Beast
There is much symbolism in the New Testament. One example is in the infamous referral to the number of the beast. Some historians have shown a relation to Hebrew numerology and the name of Nero.
I see a multilayer of anti-Roman sentiment especially in the use of the basic Roman numeral system of representing letters for numbers to also identify the beast. "This calls for some wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number. His number is DCLXVI." - Revelation 13:18
(D = 500 + C = 100 + L = 50 + X = 10 + V = 5 + I = 1) 500+100+50+10+5+1 = 666
Of course one cannot fully discount the numerology attached to the Hebrew alphabet which would possibly have the number of the beast to be a disguised slap at the anti-Jewish, anti-Christ persona in the form of the Roman dictator Nero.
Numbers like words are symbols. They cross reference thought, sound, meaning, and visual expression but in a perhaps more precisely calculated manner. If one is looking for the deepest possible meaning to John's new "riddle of the sphinx", so to speak, one has to probe deeper.
The polyglot language of the Roman world shows us how not one, but many languages, were in use at the time. This is evidenced by examples of slightly pre-Roman artifacts such as the Rosetta Stone. Good communication meant use of many of the best words of many base languages and, or, bold interpretations of other exotic, possibly esoteric languages and communications to convey the new Christian message.
The fishermen of souls were of a varied degree of backgrounds and educations. Their message was meant to reach the greatest possible number of souls. As such, I look at the simplest and the most complicated of people of that era and can say with confidence that the Roman numeral system was known to all the commerce and economies of Ben-Zebedee's world. Beyond the beast being a real person or a real event then, now or in the future, the true number of the beast is a simple and a complicated message.
The complicated answer I leave to the domain of scholars. For me, a simple man in a very complicated modern world, I, a visually oriented person, see the promises of Satan as a large amount, whether it be tallied in money or power etc.
To the ancient world, this was a large number. If one looks at it visually and in the basic six digits of Roman numerics, it is both a large number and a descending number of 500 ranging down to one.
The only thing missing is the Hindu-Arabic concept of zero which I add to my interpretation here.
The promise of Satan and of Evil is great but the promise and reality of the promise in the end equals itself to, or is less than, zero.
(June 6, 1998)