Thoughts on ancient gospels and the like

30 March 2007

666 the mark of Mark

Filed under: Gemetria,Mark,structure — markandmore @ 16:13

There is a slight whiff of sulphur in the idea that Mark – the gospel wherein only the demons know who Jesus is, where we are told that the teachings are in parables otherwise they might be understood, where the only witnesses to the resurrection do not tell anyone, and so we cannot know, the gospel of unreliable narration – that Mark, alone in the Bible, has 666 verses.

There is an interesting structural appropriateness.The first six chapters of Mark have been described as “the little gospel”.These six chapters have 248 verses.Now 247 (apparently in Gemetria one is allowed ±1) is the value of θηριον (therion=beast, as per Revelation 13:11), while 666, the full gospel, is the value of τομεγαθηριον(to mega therion = the great beast).

Is this true?Well, like many other things biblical, it depends on which translation you are using.The classic King James Bible has 678 verses, but of course the KJB has Mark as including 16:9-20, which are not in the best early Greek manuscripts, and scholarly consensus says that these twelve verses should not be included.

678 – 12 = 666, so the answer is yes.

Except!If we look at a modern scholarly translation such as that of The Complete Gospels by Scholars Press, the end of Mark is at 16:8, but the verse-count is still not 666.By the same process of textual criticism that removed 16:9-20, some other verses have also been removed: 9:44 and 9:46 (both identical to 9:48); 11:26; 11:28 – which gives a verse-count of 662.

The 248-666 structure is tempting, and leads one to want it to be true that the original version of Mark (which of course we do not have) had 248 verses in the first six chapters, and 666 verses in total.However, this would require that we retroject the versification back into the first century, when it was certainly not in use.

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