616, the Neighbor of the Beast — or, the manuscript that could doom dispensationalist literature


Photo of Daniel Wallace taken following the Gr...

Daniel Wallace (Image via Wikipedia)

Admit it. The following paragraph, from a book published earlier this year, is pretty darn funny:

For example, consider a textual problem in Rev. 13:18, “Let the one who has insight calculate the beast’s number, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.” A few years ago, a scrap of papyrus was found at Oxford University’s Ashmolean Museum. It gave the beast’s number as 616. And it just happens to be the oldest manuscript of Revelation 13 now extant. This was just the second manuscript to do so. (This manuscript, not quite so early, is a very important witness of the text of the Apocalypse and is known as Codex Ephraimi Rescriptus.) Most scholars think 666 is the number of the beast and 616 is the neighbor of the beast. It’s possible that his number is really 616. But what is the significance of this, really? I know of no church, no Bible college, no theological seminary that has a doctrinal statement that says, “We believe in the deity of Christ, we believe in the virgin birth of Christ, we believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ, and we believe that the number of the beast is 666.” This textual variant does not change any cardinal belief of Christians – but, if original, it would send about seven tons of dispensational literature to the flames.   

— Daniel Wallace, in The Reliability of the New Testament: Bart Ehrman and Daniel Wallace in Dialogue (Fortress Press, 2011)

Imagine the consequences for fans of Iron Maiden’s The Number of the Beast

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2 responses to “616, the Neighbor of the Beast — or, the manuscript that could doom dispensationalist literature

  1. One would have to say that seven tons of dispensational literature in flames is a good start.

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  2. Amen, brother!

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