""Numbers are language, and John of Patmos, author of The Revelation of John, loved numbers. Sixes, obviously, in triplicate, a few 10s, and sevens -- especially sevens: Seven messages to seven communities, seven seals, seven trumpets, seven bowls. It is the author's "single most insistent motif," writes Jonathan Kirsch. Adele Yarbro Collins calls it "an organizing principle" of the whole of the work." But why sevens? Why not twos, eights or nines? Collins tells us that the late Pythagoreans as well as Philo of Alexandria, Jewish biblical interpreter and philosopher, agreed that "all reality is ordered and that order is expressed in patterns of seven ... [because] ... [t]he symbolic significance of this number is cosmic." And, as Kirsch points out, it was God's resting on the seventh day that signified creation's completion, making seven a "symbol of divine wholeness in Judaism."
All this would have made sense to the seven communities John had in mind and as he took up his pen, around the year 95 C.E., he was writing to them, not to us, and in a language of symbol and imagery that were as current and familiar to them as it is ancient and weird to us. Which brings me back to Fred, an obviously bright fellow, yet whose assumption about the meaning of 666 is characteristic of the inevitable flattening-out that results when ancient, complicated texts are read as if they are stories from old newspapers. """
Nietzsche on the Book of Rev: (warning--not PC):"""How, on the other hand, did the Jews feel about Rome? A thousand signs tell us; but it suffices to recall the Apocalypse of John, the most wanton of all literary outbursts that vengefulness has on its conscience. (One should not underestimate the profound consistency of the Christian instinct when it signed this book of hate with the name of the disciple of love, the same disciple to whom it attributed that amorous-enthusiastic Gospel: there is a piece of truth in this, however much literary counterfeiting might have been required to provide it.) """