Trump and 666 is a marriage made in hell, or in the popular imaginations of many, but not at all can be found in the Apocalypse.
We’ve been exploring the terribly understood final book of the New Testament canon in recent posts here, here, and here. Specifically, we’ve been going into 666 and the sky beast over the sea that numeral represents. Now let’s contrast all that with popular U.S. Christian imagination and its obsessions. Are there any connections between President Donald Trump and 666?
Please watch the video here…
Nero and 666
Christianity and Judaism may have been conceived in the first century, but neither of these twins was born until the fourth. Much eventful time and passed. Evolution happened. The Decian and Diocletian persecutions of the second and early third centuries seasoned the memory of newborn Christianity. In this light, the newly fashioned Christian “New Testament” library was re-contextualized accordingly.
Revelation or Apocalypse did not escape this. The sky beast over the sea and the numeral of 666 in Revelation 13:1-18 began being associated with the name Caesar Nero. Nero Caesar, you see, was remembered as the first emperor to persecute “Christians.” This grew as legends do.
How the Nero Association Happened
The association between Nero and 666 did not happen earlier than the third century. It was probably introduced by an unknown copyist and promoted by Victorinus of Pettau (d. 303/304). Later, in the third century, the association was then popularized through more recent horrors contrasted by change of fortunes with Constantine. Not everyone was sold, but a number of Christians, Nero became the Beast. In any case, the result was that the original astral meaning of “666” had been lost.
But neither John the Seer, first century Israelite astral prophet (Revelation 1:9), nor his anonymous “Compiler” (Revelation 1:1-3), had these fourth century concerns or ideas. Neither they nor their audience were thinking about Nero or the Roman Empire as far as Apocalypse was concerned. As we will see momentarily, originally, the mark or tattoo of Revelation 13:16-18 didn’t name Nero Caesar.
Instead, it consisted of the name or numeral of the sea beast in the sky.
Nero Does Equal 666, But…
Many rightly explain that the name of Nero Caesar, when spelled out in Aramaic as Qaisar Nerōn (QSR NRWN), does equal 666. But then again, lots of lots of names associated with the Roman Empire can made to service the infamous 666, in Hebrew and in Greek also. But we are getting ahead of ourselves. How do names relate to numbers, and how can numbers be names?
Letters and Numbers
In our 21st century Western country, literate Americans have the luxury of a plethora of alphabets and symbols to use in various ways. From these ancient symbols and characters, we pick glyphs to represent our numerals. But first century Mediterranean peoples weren’t so fortunate. They didn’t have spare alphabets lying around to do this. Whatever the Greek or Semitic languages a first century Mediterranean used, his or her own alphabet double-worked as collection of numerals.
All words in the Bible are therefore numbers. That’s because every letter of every word has a numerical value. Thus any word or name was also a sum, a set of numerals. Just by adding up the letters of a name gave you its number. Hence every word and every name equaled a numerical value. Please watch the video carefully to visualize this.
Trump and 666 Cannot Be
That is what is going on with Revelation 13:18. John the Seer informs his readers that “666” is a name. What did he mean by that? What would his readers, his fellow astral prophets (not average believers!), understand by that?
Certainly not that re-contextualization of later fourth and fifth century Christians. And certainly not what 21st century Christians fundamentalists, pick your stripe, would either. Any relation between Trump and 666? Is Donald Trump a gigantic constellation? Was he alive in (mythic) antediluvian times? No? Then there is no connection between Trump and 666. Or Clinton and 666, Obama and 666, or any 21st century person and 666.
Again, some Constantinian Christians interpreted Nero, the first of a line of Roman emperors who persecuted the faithful, as the Beast of Revelation 13:1-18. They recalled that his name equaled 666 when spelled out in Hebrew. Caesar Nero or Kaisar Nerōn becomes QSR NRWN. So, voila!—Nero is the Beast!
Like Trump and 666, Nero and 666 Cannot Be
Except he couldn’t have been. First, just like 21st century Trump, first century personalities like Nero did not live before the Flood. As we explained here and here, everything in Revelation 12:1—16:21 takes place in mythical antediluvian times, before Noah.
Besides that, Nero was not a colossal sky entity! He may have been big time, being Roman emperor, but he was a just a tiny speck when compared to what John was actually seeing in vision. The sky Beast is a gigantic constellation, ascending over the sea. Nero is not Cetus! He was nothing like this celestial Beast.
Also, stop a moment and try to imagine people tattooing onto their foreheads or hands QSR NRWN! That takes up too much room! And what good would that do to a mostly illiterate public?
Context Group scholars Bruce Malina and John Pilch offer a more reasonable approach. They point away from Rome and up to the sky to discover what 666 means. Maybe 666 has an astronomical equivalent? Perhaps it is a constellation?
Watch the Video!
There is much more to this! It’s all laid out in the video presentation above. It lays out why it do great violence to the Scriptures to imagine that Donald Trump or any 21st century person was what John the Seer had in mind. Reading Revelation respectfully prevents associating Trump and 666. Trump may be a monster, but he’s not the monster John the Seer had in mind.
Please leave your thoughts below.