Most of you already know about the Oxyrhynchus cache; for those outside the classical world's orbit, the documents, collected at the margins of a once-Greek ghetto at the Nile's bed, from a humungous ancient trash dump, contain very, very old versions of Greek classics, the Bible, etc., thought to be unreadable. Turns out if you look at them under infra-red they read like black on white arial, 14 point. The cache is at Oxford.
That springing sound you hear is a scholarly popping of wood the world over. While there is an equivalent reaction for female scholars, it is not so easily elicited, and will likely require the cache demonstrate its earning potential. (The Oxymoronus cache has been known to inspire irrational exuberance among female scholars; it contains a very racy play by Sophocles called Desperate Houspolloi, treating intergenerational relationships between lonely Greek matrons and their hunky male vintners).
One of the first hints at earning potential these elder texts have provided is the first supportable claim that the gematria-coded Number of the Beast, 666, has been mistranslated over the centuries, and ought to be 616. 666, considered by many theologians to refer to Nero (NRN KSR), would now fit the name of Caligula, who was likely Roman emperor during the time of Revelation's writing, and actually committed the Abomination of Desolation, by raising a statute of himself in the Second Temple's Sanctum Sanctorum. Though this number has been in disupte before (some held 665, for whatever reason), this is the first time such a claim has been backed with evidence actually available, not lost to the ages and merely incorporated by reference.
It calls to question oodles of theology and scholarship, not to mention throwing a monkeywrench into the machinery of pop-culture boogeyman making. Hollywood will twist over this one: 666 is an eerie looking trio, but 616? That's my McBill. In addition, much of Western numerological Occultism refers to the Number of the Beast for various Kabbalistic conjurings, and must now justify its own internal mythologies against not just the idea that Kabbalistic conjuring is silly and requires the wearing of funny hats, but also based on one of the biggest mishearings since Purple Haze had me singing about "excusing myself while I kiss this guy."
Agh! What will have to happen for the "the inerrant text," and its adherents, to give in, shut up, and take their ideas out of the world's overhead luggage bins and stow them in the damn cargo hold, where they belong?
farangi: you have outdone yourself, you cheeky bastard. And the dig at the inerrant text-wallahs is just low. LOW, I say. But, oh so sweet.
Luckily, "six-one-six" rhymes with "six-six-six". So, Iron Maiden could easily replace the number in it's song "Number of the Beast" without it sounding too different. Try it out: "616 the number of the beast Hell and fire was spawned to be released!" Sounds okay to me.
I've often though I need a text symbol/smiley to represent that bizarre noise you make when you expel the liquid you just drank back out through your mouth and nostrils (and possibly several other orifices) all over the keyboard, followed by several minutes hysterical cackling. (Anyone got any suggestions?)
sweet... farangi is now MY favourite writer...