It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.
The Mark of the Beast is perhaps the most frequently reference image from the Book of Revelation, the last book in the Christian Bible and the source of many of the Christian religions eschatological traditions. Yet in many ways it is also the most obscure--what is the "Mark of the Beast"?
Biblical scholarship is replete with theories about the significance of the mark, and the nature of the mark. Historians and theologians alike have myriad theories about what John of Patmos ("John the Revelator") meant when he described the mark.
Yet to my mind, such scholarly musings miss an essential point of sacred text: the question is never so much what did the author mean, or what did God mean, but what do the words mean to us? When John speaks of a mark, how do we conceptualize that mark?
As with all my Biblical ponderings, I have no grand theological or historical insights into the verse. I write as one ordinary man, grappling with a most extraordinary verse.