Is the true Number of the Beast 666 or 616? What is the Mark of the Beast according to Aleister Crowley? We’ll answer these questions and more in this, our latest myth-busting post.
Note: For more myths about Aleister Crowley, check out all our posts under the “Crowley Myths” category.
Every once in a while, you’ll see some tabloid publication or other proclaiming that the real number of the Beast is 616, rather than 666. This argument relies on one of the volumes from the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, an ancient text which contains fragments of Revelation from the New Testament. In this text, we find the verse (Rev 13:18) which mentions the Number of the Beast:
“This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is ….”
And that is where the contention lies. Is his number 666 or 616? In the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, which is the earliest known copy of Revelation, the number given is 616. In other copies, it’s 666. Which one is correct? Here are some facts to consider, which require a few minutes of thought and research and therefore are far beyond the comprehension of most newspaper journalists.
1. The Old Testament mentions 666 twice.
In Revelation, most of what we find is a recapitulation or expansion on ideas first introduced in the Old Testament. The number 666 appears four times there, but the number 616 appears nowhere in the Old Testament.
2. This is not news.
Irenaeus was alive in the 2nd century e.v. and he mentioned that he had found this copying error in some copies of Revelation. It turns out that 616 is the ancient equivalent of a typo, which has been known for more than 1800 years. The kicker is, Irenaeus wrote about this typo before the manuscript in question was found. That’s right, about a hundred years before the existence of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, which is the only evidence used to support the claim that the number is 616.
3. Aleister Crowley said it, and that settles it.
As we explained in our post, “Top 10 Crowley Myths which are Actually True,” we pointed out that Aleister Crowley was the Great Beast 666 prophesied by John the Divine. He made it pretty clear what his number is, and he even created the Mark of the Beast seen at left. (By the way, there are still a few AC2012 commemorative coins left, which bear this Mark.) So, this really settles the question. He even explains that Nuit told him so, in “The Comment Called D” on Liber AL I:25-26:
“Nuit proves to Aleister Crowley that he is in truth 666 by means of a riddle and a Sign. I, asking Nuit: Who am I? and: What shall be the sign? (that I am who I am) was told by means of a Riddle, so that I might be sure that the answer came from Her and not from mine own mind, that I was 666. Also the sign was shewn me in a Riddle, as well as in the English of the Text. These matters will I set forth elsewhere.”