12.2.5. Spelling and Language

It has also been noted that evidence is lacking that Christian commentators would have employed Hebrew in response to John’s text. “The earliest Christian commentators never looked to a solution in any language other than the Greek. . . . the Sibylline Oracles, which is a Jewish document composed in Greek, does its gematria in Greek rather than Hebrew.”1

Then too, in order for the calculation to work, the Hebrew spelling of Caesar must be abnormal. “The preterists’ calculation is built upon a defective spelling of the word Caesar. Preterists rely upon the abnormal spelling rsq [Hebrew reads right-to-left], while the usual spelling is rsyq. The addition of the yod would obviously damage the Neronic gematric calculation.”2 Although such abnormal spelling is attested, it is not the common spelling.

Beale points to other variables which provide additional degrees of freedom to make the calculation conveniently come out.

Identifying the name with Nero mistakenly assumes a knowledge of Hebrew and of the Hebrew system of gematria among native Greek readers. Furthermore, to choose the name “Caesar Nero” is too convenient for the Neronic dating, since there were many possible titles and names for Nero. Also in transliteration of foreign names into Hebrew there was considerable latitude in treatment of vowels and three possible equivalents for s [ס, , ]. And why would the author not use a Greek form instead of a Hebrew form?3

Mounce pithily observes, “What is not generally stressed is that this solution asks us to calculate a Hebrew transliteration of the Greek form of a Latin name, and that with a defective spelling.”4


1 Andy Woods, “Revelation 13 and the First Beast,” in Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice, eds., The End Times Controversy (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2003), 246.

2 Ibid.

3 Gregory K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1999), s.v. “Nero not Number of Beast.”

4 Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1977), 264.