JOHN, HEBREW, AND 666

PMT 2014-034 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

In my last two blogs I have been considering an objection to the postmillennial, preterist’s understanding 666 Nero 2of 666. We believe it has John using a Hebrew spelling of “Nero Caesar” for understanding his meaning. Some reject this analysis because Revelation was written to Asia Minor and not to Israel.

Below I will continue responding to it, using the enumeration began previously.

Sixth, similar Hebraicism’s elsewhere

The use of Hebrew names is not unique to identifying the beast. In other places John will use Hebrew names. For instance, in Rev 16:16 we read: “And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called HarMagedon.” Elsewhere we read: “They have as king over them, the angel of the abyss; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in the Greek he has the name Apollyon” (Rev. 9:11).


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Technical studies on key issues in Revelation, including the seven-sealed scroll, the cast out temple, Jewish persecution of Christianity, the Babylonian Harlot, and more.
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We also see the Hebrew word “Satan” used by John, which is interpreted into Greek as “the devil”: “the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan” (Rev. 12:9). Other Hebrew words appear, as well: “Amen” is said to mean “truthfully” (Rev. 3:14). The Hebrew “hallelujah” is not even translated into a Greek equivalent (Rev. 19:1, 3, 4, 6).

Thus, it would not be an unparalleled situation for John to be referring to a Hebrew name here in Rev 13:18. His hearers would see this in other contexts, which might serve as a hint to that possibility in the text before us.

Seventh, the scholarly consensus

Noteworthy New Testament scholars accept the Hebrew name “Neron Kaiser” as the solution to the mystery of 666. No one could dismiss these scholars as failing to note a misspelling or overlooking John’s Asia Minor setting.

See for instance: B. C. Birch, “Number,” in Geoffrey W. Bromiley, ed., The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (2d. ed.: Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982), 3:561. See: DLNTD 909. Metzger and Coogan 1993: 700. Brent C. Butler, ed., Holman Bible Dictionary (Nashville: Holman, 1991), 1030-31. Allen C. Myers, ed., The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987), 956. Schmitz in Brown, New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 2:684.

Interestingly, a textual variant at Rev 13:18 gives the number as “616,” which happens to present the value of Nero’s name when spelled in Latin. As renowned Greek scholar Bruce Metzger (1971: 752) says: “Perhaps the change was intentional, seeing that the Greek form Neron Caesar written in Hebrew characters (nrwn qsr) is equivalent to 666, whereas the Latin form Nero Caesar (nrw qsr) is equivalent to 616” (cp. Aune 770–71; TDNT 1:462–63).

In my next and concluding article, I will deal with the problem of the defective spelling of Nero.


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A biblical and historical argument for Nero being the beast of Revelation.
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8 thoughts on “JOHN, HEBREW, AND 666

  1. Howard L. March 19, 2014 at 8:58 am

    Good Job! I really liked your post JOHN, HEBREW, AND 666!

  2. March 27, 2014 at 3:23 am

    There are a number of problems with this theory. Nero was Roman, and his language was Latin, not Greek or Hebrew. The number of a man is calculated in his own language and alphabet. ‘Caesar’ was his title, not his name. Revelation is about what to John were future events, and when he wrote it in 96 AD Nero had been dead for 28 years. But in any case the beast is not a man, it was a country. It only had the number of a man.

  3. Kevin Klosski March 30, 2014 at 6:10 am

    This is really helping me a lot due to a lot of criticism of your Book, “Before Jerusalem Fell”

    Thanks

  4. Kenneth Gentry April 6, 2014 at 9:00 am

    I believe you are wrong on every point. How would you write Osama bin Laden’s name? Almost certainly in English characters (unless you know Arabic). Likewise, John as a Hebrew, presenting himself in very Hebraic imagery, regarding the demise of Israel wrote Nero’s name in Hebrew characters, just as the majority of modern scholars recognize.

    Revelation was future. To John’s time, but not ours (Rev 1:1, 3). He did not write in AD 96 but around AD 65-66, as we see from the standing temple (Rev 11:1-2, 8), the sixth emperor (Nero) on the throne (Rev 17:9-10), the approaching judgment of Israel (Rev 3:9-10), and more.

    John says the beast was a man (Rev 13:18).

    Otherwise your note is nearly compelling. 🙂

  5. April 6, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    Bin Laden’s name would be calculated in his own language, whatever that was. That is irrelevant, as he was not the Beast.

    The majority of modern scholars recognize…what?

    Thomas Ice writes:

    “It does not matter at all whether the Temple is thought to be standing in Jerusalem at the time that John sees the vision since that would not have any bearing upon a vision. John is told by an angel to ” measure the temple” (Rev. 11:1). Measure what Temple? He is to measure the Temple in the vision. Even if there were a temple still standing in Jerusalem, John was on the Island of Patmos and would not have been allowed to go and measure that Temple. Ezekiel, during a similar vision of a Temple (Ezek. 40- 43) was told to measure that Temple. When Ezekiel saw and was told to measure a Temple there was not one standing in Jerusalem (Preterists agree). Thus, there is no compulsion whatsoever to conclude that just because a temple is referenced in Revelation 11 that it implies that there had to be a physical Temple standing in Jerusalem at the same time.”

    John did not say the beast was a man. He said it has the number of a man. Other verses in Revelation indicate it is a country.

    You have assumed Revelation was written in the 60s AD, but there seems to be no evidence to support this, unless you have something new?

  6. Kenneth Gentry April 7, 2014 at 8:44 am

    There are so many errors in the reader’s statement regarding Bin Laden and his continuing interaction, that I will dedicate a whole article to responding. I hope my complainant will find this helpful (though I doubt it). It will appear as my April 16, 2014 posting.

  7. April 7, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    What errors? It was a very short statement, there can’t be that many. And what ‘continuing interaction’ does a dead terrorist have?

  8. Kenneth Gentry April 8, 2014 at 11:28 am

    I will be pointing out the errors in the full blog on April 16. Each paragraph had errors, some of them common, some distinctive. The his before “interaction” refers back to you, not Bin Laden.

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