Andrew Cunaj ’25
It’s commonly accepted that the book of Revelation, the final chronological book of the New Testament in the Christian bible is a foretelling of the end of days, known as Armageddon. However, upon closer inspection, as well as foreknowledge of current events at the time of the book’s writing, many contemporary scholars have suggested that the book of Revelation is actually written in code in order to defame the then Christian-persecuting, pagan, Roman Empire.
One of the main examples of this is the comparison of the city of Rome (or the larger empire, the distinction is not made clear) and the ancient doomed city of Babylon. Most notably, the coming of an Armageddon-figure known as “The Whore of Babylon”, likely meant to symbolize the savagery of the Roman Empire’s persecution of Christians at the time.
Firstly, the elaboration that the Whore is the mother of Harlots, and the Abominations of the Earth can be interpreted as general sexual degeneracy as a whole, as stated in Leviticus 18:22,
“You shall not sleep with a male as one sleeps with a female; it is an abomination.”
This action was taken by the then-emperor of the Roman Empire, Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, who had a young boy castrated and taken as his own wife, perhaps out of grief from kicking his previous female wife to death while she was pregnant with his child.
Concurrently during this time, Emperor Nero is believed to have started the great fire of Rome in order to make way for a thirty foot tall statue of himself in a garden, which was blamed on the minority Christian populous of the Roman Empire at the time, leading to widespread persecution and torture, as well as murder and forced-gladiatorial executions of numerous Christians. Furthermore, the number most commonly associated with Satanic imagery and prediction, 666 is actually code for the words “Nero Caesar”, stylized as “Nro Qsr ”, though transliterated from Koine Greek (Ancient Greek) into Hebrew.
Moreover, many sources (though some apocryphal and thus not entirely canon within the Catholic Church) state that both apostles Peter and Paul were executed under Nero’s reign, further giving possible credence that the book of Revelation may have been written as a defamation of the Roman Empire as a whole, as the Catholic Encyclopedia notes that the book of Revelation was written “…In the latter half of Emperor Domitian’s reign, likely A.D 95 or 96.”
With this in mind, the further speculation that the use of the words “Nro Qsr” could actually be a reference to this Emperor will be discussed further. Many scholars have stated that Domitian’s reign was similar to Nero’s, and he heavily taxed the people of Lydia (Asia), to which the book of Revelation was originally addressed to, and the use of Nero’s name was actually a reference to Domitian instead, possibly being used as a way to relate the struggle of Christians to the people of Lydia. According to some Roman sources, there was a widespread belief following his suicide in A.D 68 that Emperor Nero would return, and this turned out to be true, as at least three people had risen during that time who had claimed to be Nero redivivus (resurrected).
In its entirety, the book of Revelation is shrouded in many apocalyptic ideas and subjects, though it is not without its nuances, and even if one isn’t religious, the philosophical and literary trends that were found and spread because of the bible cannot be denied. Coupled with the mystical aspects of the book of Revelation, many of the ideas of beginning and end carry on into today’s philosophies.