CUFI Speaker: "666" is "In the Name of Allah"
Richard Bartholomew printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Jul 01, 2008 at 04:08:23 AM EST
When Joe Lieberman gives credibility to the upcoming Christians United for Israel with his attendance, he won't just be lending his reputation to conspiracy-monger John Hagee. Also on the CUFI line-up is Walid Shoebat, the self-proclaimed former Palestinian Muslim terrorist-turned evangelist. Various sources have challenged Shoebat's account of his former terrorism, with the Jerusalem Post in particular raising questions about his story that so far have not been answered.

Shoebat also fancies himself as a bit of a Biblical scholar and palaeographer, and in a video clip that I have just been made aware of he expounds his theory that the "Number of the Beast" mentioned in the Book of Revelation is in fact a reference to...Allah.

The argument is that the author of Revelation was shown the Mark of the Beast in "video" form from God - obviously following Hal Lindsey's idea that the visions in Revelation, rather than being symbolic, in fact are John's interpretations of images from the future he couldn't understand ("locusts" being helicopters, and so on). With the Mark of the Beast, John saw some strange squiggles, which he incorporated into the text. For centuries, readers thought these squiggles were the Greek letters for either "666" or "616", but finally Shoebat has cracked the mystery: the squiggles are in fact Arabic, and they spell out "In the Name of Allah"!

Apparently Shoebat has been promoting this "theory" for a few years, and it appears in an obscure book by a certain Simon Altaf, entitled Islam: Peace? or Beast? (Altaf and Shoebat collaborated on an equally obscure book entitled This is our Eden, This is our End.) Some details are here (and more at sites such as this one), including the supposed evidence, from the Codex Vaticanus:

Not the Codex Vaticanus

One small problem, however, is that the Codex Vaticanus does not include the Book of Revelation. One website adds the unpromising caption:
Very Old Text (Rev. 13:18) in glass display at Bob Jones University Library - Greenville, S.C.
The above in fact is from a much later supplement, and the Greek is in a "miniscule" script which came in only centuries later. Irenaeus in the Second Century discusses the text as consisting of the number "666", and there are no fragments of Revelation which predate this source: therefore any ancient copies we have must have been written by scribes who certainly intended to write Greek characters.

Shoebat, meanwhile, prefers to give his credulous audiences his own version of what he says he saw in the Codex Vaticanus, which allows him to elaborate further:

Shoebat 666

It's worth comparing Shoebat's interpretation with the earliest fragment of the text we have, identified in 2005 from the Oxyrhynchus Papyri:

Oxyrhynchus 666

This follows the "616" variant reading, and so does not include the Greek character which Shoebat finds the most suggestive.

[UPDATE: The Codex Sinaiticus, which Shoebat also assures his audience he has seen, spells out the number in letters:

Sinaiticus 666

That's "six hundred and sisxty-six".]

One obvious question is how this strange twist on 666 fits with the wider context, which speaks of a "number of a man" which will be obvious to he who "has understanding" (most scholars take it to be a reference to the Emperor Nero). Shoebat claims that it simply can't be a numerological code, because that would be "Gematria", which God has nothing to do with. I've always found it interesting that fundamentalist Christian Zionists, while appropriating all kinds of things from Judaism, have a horror of Jewish mysticism, which is seen as occultic.

Text has been amended (June 2009) following input from a reader. The "Very Old Text (Rev. 13:18) in glass display" fragment is from the supplement to the Codex Vaticanus; I had originally doubted this.

Actually, 666 is Ronald Wilson Reagan.

by haroldf on Tue Jul 01, 2008 at 04:31:12 AM EST

Trust Hagee to have this nutball (gotta love that name though - Shoebat) speak at the CUFI conference. Is Liberman still going to attend? And to top things off Hagee is going to make a "major announcement" concerning Zion Oil and Gas. As reported recently on this web site, that's the organization that God has personally chosen to find oil in Israel. Right. And, since you can get shares in this company for (Tuesday's AMEX close) about $6.00 we should just run out and buy some. Please note that originally shares were offered for $9 in their IPO. Also an SEC filing in late May (as well as a public announcement) offered shares at $10 per. I am assuming that if you buy at the higher price you are throwing in a "love offering" (sorta, kinda). There's more in other filings, but it's late in the evening and frankly reading that stuff is rather tedious. By the by, Mr. Bartholomew has pointed out that Hal Lindsey and Ralph DeVore (two more interesting characters from the Religious Right) are both listed on the board of Zion. But, I stray. What I really wanted to point out is that the squiggles that appear to be 666, or even 616 are actually a prediction of the odds against Zion O&G actually making a profitable find. Or the name of -------- (ask Hagee; he knows the name of the antichrist). Of course they could just be squiggles. Shoebat. Play with that name for awhile.

by SemiDiscerning on Wed Jul 02, 2008 at 01:11:06 AM EST

When I posted this story on my blog, I received a comment from Joel Richardson disputing my claim (based on scholarly sources) that the Codex Vaticanus does not contain the Book of Revelation. He directed me to an 1868 facsimilie edition of the Codex, and told me that Shoebat had consulted this. This 1868 edition reproduces the Codex, and it also adds the missing material at the end of the book as a supplement. In other words, Shoebat drew his paleographic conclusion based on an 1868 Greek typeset which he thought was a fourth-century manuscript (and which bears no relation to his drawing anyway, by the way). More here.

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