Publication Details

Michael, M. G. (2010). Demystifying the number of the beast in the book of revelation: examples of ancient cryptology and the interpretation of the “666” conundrum. In K. Michael (Eds.), 2010 IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society (pp. 23-41). Wollongong: IEEE.


As the year 2000 came and went, with the suitably forecasted fuse-box of utopian and apocalyptic responses, the question of "666" (Rev 13:18) was once more brought to our attention in different ways. Biblical scholars, for instance, focused again on the interpretation of the notorious conundrum and on the Traditionsgeschichte of Antichrist. For some of those commentators it was a reply to the outpouring of sensationalist publications fuelled by the millennial mania. This paper aims to shed some light on the background, the sources, and the interpretation of the “number of the beast”. It explores the ancient techniques for understanding the conundrum including: gematria, arithmetic, symbolic, and riddle-based solutions. Is the “number” in any way related to advanced automatic identification technologies such as microchip implants? And what of the social implications of integrating such advanced technologies to citizenry who may not wish to buy-in into such schemes (e.g. national healthcare) which are in apparent conflict with their religious beliefs?



Link to publisher version (DOI)