666: Not as Evil as You Think

If the triple sixes of today's date have made you decide to skip voting and huddle under the blankets at home instead-- or worse, tempted you into planning to go see The Omen-- forget it. The only things you have to fear are the choices on the ballot, and the prospect of shelling out hard earned cash to see the remake of movie that wasn't that good in the first place. Today's date doesn't echo the Number of the Beast, last Thursday's did.

Last year, British scholars revealed that according to the oldest known manuscript for the Book of Revelation, the evil number of choice is 616, not the old favorite, 666, which appears to be clerical error made by a copyist. (This means centuries of fear and loathing and theological reasoning have been based on a typo.) And the hidden meaning of 616 is pretty straightforward, according to Professor David Parker, Professor of New Testament Textual Criticism and Paleography at the University of Birmingham: "This is an example of gematria, where numbers are based on the numerical values of letters in people's names. Early Christians would use numbers to hide the identity of people who they were attacking: 616 refers to the Emperor Caligula."

While this numerical news may be disappointing to the producers of the new Omen-- and certain residents of southwest Michigan, who have 616 as their area code-- the rest of us can probably learn to live with the new, old number if we try. Fortunately, Satanists are ready to help. As Peter Gilmore, High Priest of New York's Church of Satan told the English newspaper The Independent on Sunday: "By using 666 we're using something that the Christians fear. Mind you, if they do switch to 616 being the number of the beast then we'll start using that." Satanists, always willing to lend a hand, god love 'em.


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