In 1958, Bank of America started issuing credit cards with the name BankAmericard. In 1976, they changed the name to VISA to go international. The name VISA was chosen because it sounded the same in every language.
In the late 1970’s I receive a mimeographed paper explaining how the new VISA cards were the “Mark of the Beast.” The Mark of the Beast is one of the things Fundagelicals are on the lookout for. The dispensational narrative says that the Antichrist, leader of the one world government, will force people to accept the mark and that no one will be able to buy or sell without it. Those who accept the mark will be damned. (Revelation 13:16-17)
The paper pointed out how the name VISA was the number 666 in different languages, and 666 is the “number of the Beast.” (Revelation 13:18) Everyone Panic! Don’t get a VISA! Bank of America is working with the Antichrist!
Let’s look at their argument. Here’s a modern day example of this persistent rumor.
The VI =6 in Roman numerals, the S = six in the Greek Alphabet, and the A= 6 in the Babylonian alphabet. So VISA is a combination of three sixes, 666!
However, facts do get in the way of this little narrative. VI is 6 in Roman numerals. However, the sixth letter of the Greek alphabet is zeta; it doesn’t look like an “S.”
It’s related to our letter “Z.” In its minuscule form, it looks like this. Although this form is a much later creation than the composition of the book of Revelation.
Miniscule is the equivalent of a small letter as opposed to a capital letter. So maybe if you squint a bit, and ignore the extra curlicue, you might get an “S.”
The whole thing falls apart when you get to the Babylonian 6. I suppose most people would just accept the claim that a Babylonian 6 looks like the letter A. In 1976 the internet as we know it didn’t exist and wasn’t easily available. To figure out what a Babylonian six looked like, you would have to go to the Library. However, images of the Babylonian cuneiform alphabet are easily obtainable now.
Check out that letter “A” does it look like a six? Are there six parts to it? is it the sixth letter of the alphabet? Oh, wait, cuneiform has a number system too. They didn’t need to use letters as numbers, let’s take a look, shall we?
Ummm… does this look like the letter “A”?
It looks like the Fundagelical conspiracy theory has fallen apart. VISA isn’t the Mark of the Beast or even the Number of the Beast. It’s just another example of irresponsible people creating and disseminating scare stories. The person who made the mimeograph paper and passed it out never bothered to check and see if what they were distributing was true. Too often we pass on these “true” bits of information and never fact check. Fake News isn’t a new phenomenon.
Fundagelicals claim they are centered on “THE TRUTH” In fact; it’s why they are better than the rest of us who live in error and delusion. Their interpretation of the Bible is the truth; their interpretation of scripture is the truth, and their interpretation of morality is the truth. Except, their version of “the truth” is as full of misinformation, distortions, and fallacies as this VISA card example. It’s this kind of thing that led me to start doubting the teachings of my fundamentalist upbringing and become a Progressive.
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If i’m going to make i’m going to have to burn.