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Re: An Explanation for the reading H χιs (616) in Rev 13:18

The number of the Beast is six hundred SIXTY-six (lesser support for six hundred sixTEEN [χιϛ]). sixty = ἑξήκοντα in p47 (III), ℵ (IV), A (V), P (IX), Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Origen. teen= δεκα / ι [in χιϛ or χcs] in p115 (III/IV), C (V). U really have to be an expert to debate papyri dates, but my data indicates that p47 (Chester Beatty papyrus) is AD III & p115 is AD III/IV. In other words p47's reading is a tad earlier. (The Roman numerals = AD century.)

χιϛ or χιc 616 is in p115 & C which appear to be the only 2 significant mss for it, though the two differ in that while p115 has 3 number letters, C spells out the number(like six hundred sixteen). Six hundred sixty-six (or χξϛ / χξc is supported by p47, ℵ (Sinaiticus), A, P, minuscules, Church fathers (Irenaeus is supposed to have written in AD 202), and a bunch of ancient translations in diff languages. I'll go with six hundred sixty-six (not exactly the same as 666, since 666 suggests the repetition of 3 digits, which is not so in Greek: ἑξακόσια(ι) ἑξήκοντα ἕξ = χξϛ or χξc

Irenaeus endorsed six hundred sixty-six over 616, though he knew of the other reading. To evaluate a Church father requires looking at what he actually said in context. Here is how my Accordance p115 reads: "ⲉⲥⲧⲓⲛ] ⲏ ⲭ̅ⲓ̅ϛ̅."(Actually the final ϛ is written in p115 as a sigma (c). The left bracket (]) separates the actual text fragment from what is not there because the manuscript is a fragment. Then come a capital eta (H), then a big gap before χιc. That doesn't look reliable to me.

Actually p115 & C do not agree on 616 to the extent that C spells it out as ἑξακοσιαι δεκα εξ while p115 has the Greek number-letters χιc. That means that the 2 don't exactly agree, which lessens there value as two agreeing witnesses. It is interesting that both papyri use letter-number symbols, instead of spelling out the word (as for six hundred sixty-six). Which looks more mysterious χξϛ or 666?

p115 can be viewed at 2005/05/index.html and at

p115 is a tiny fragment where it probably has 616 in Rev 13:18. I can't see any explanation for the eta (H) & gap before the "χιc, exept for dittograph. Actually we expected the 3rd letter to be stigma (ϛ) for 6, not sigma (c); but in p115 the alleged stigma looks just like a sigma 2 lines below it. Sigma is the Greek letter used for 200! But u wud need an expert to tell us if stigma as a # was written same as sigma at this time in history. P47 also uses the same character for as for stigma.

At any rate, the H before the text leads one to suspect corruption at this point in p115, a corruption possibly caused by dittography.


Here is the testimony of Irenaeus (translation borrowed off the internet):

Irenaeus AD 202: "Such, then, being the state of the case, and this number being found in all the most approved and ancient copies, and those men who saw John face to face bearing their testimony [to it]; while reason also leads us to conclude that the number of the name of the beast, according to the Greek mode of calculation by the [value of] the letters contained in it, will amount to six hundred & sixty & six; that is, the number of tens shall be equal to that of the hundreds, & the number of hundreds equal to that of the units (for that number which [expresses] the digit six being adhered to throughout, indicates the recapitulations of that apostasy, taken in its full extent, which occurred at the beginning, during the intermediate periods & which shall take place at the end),

— I do not know how it is that some have erred following the ordinary mode of speech & have vitiated the middle number in the name, deducting the amount of fifty from it, so that instead of six decades they will have it that there is but one.


One can see photos of both p47 and p115 at

(It should be observed that while in modern editions of the Greek New Testament final sigma is written like a c, while initial & media sigmas are written as σ, apparently all the sigmas in these papyri are written as c. Also it may be noted that styles of fonts vary from time to time. What we write as eta [η] may look like an H or h in a papyrus.) In p47 stigma also looks like sigma (c, as in p115).

Now here is the possible dittography: You can see a couple of lines (almost directly) above χξc the letters "hφιc"(from ψηφισάτω, p47 using h for η). I am suspecting that p115 has dittography here; a scribe having misinterpreted the φ as χ. That cud account for p115 having "H χιs" (H for η).