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 of 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).
Navigating the Book of Revelation (by Ken Gentry)
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.